While their teammates traveled to away games during the 2014-15 season, junior forward Ruth Sherrill and sophomore guard Donnaizha Fountain were forced to stay behind.
Due to an NCAA rule that prohibits transfer students from traveling with the team, the two spent most of their time away from the squad together on the practice floor.
“We just bonded over those times, we’d be in the gym,” Sherrill said. “We’d be doing extra workouts with o.ur conditioning coach. We’d be doing extra basketball workouts. We spoke into existence what we wanted next season. We knew we were going to do this. … We were going to do great things, and that made us push each other so much more.”
Before transferring to Temple in 2014, Sherrill played 49 games in the first two years of her college career at Hofstra University. In her sophomore year, Sherrill had seven starts in 29 games averaging 5.8 points per game and 4.6 rebounds per game.
Fountain spent her freshman year at Georgia Tech University, where she averaged 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 21 games.
Both players cited “unhappiness” as the reason they decided to transfer.
“Being a student-athlete, being a scholarship basketball player, basketball is your whole entire life at school,” Sherrill said. “So if you feel like that aspect of your life is lost or not there then it really has an effect on everything that you do.”
Fountain said the coaches who recruited her to the Yellow Jackets left within the first week she got there, starting a year in which she didn’t form a relationship with the new coaching staff and was “too far from home.”
Her connection with Temple’s coaches, which began when she was recruited out of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, drew her back to Philadelphia, much closer than Georgia to her hometown of Roxbury, Massachusetts.
“Before college was in my rear view or front view, Temple was just loving,” Fountain said. “They were open arms. The coaches were like family, and that’s a big thing. We’re like a family here.”
Sherrill said the top-to-bottom recruting effort from players and coaches helped develop chemistry between and the squad.
“I felt connected to [the coaches] right away, and the team as well,” Sherrill said. “I really jelled with them. There was more of a chemistry with the players and coaches than I had ever felt before. I felt right at home.”
The Owls return seven players from last year’s team. All of them played in 25 games or more in 2014-15. Out of those returnees junior centers Safiya Martin and Taylor Robinson are the only front court players.
Sherrill and Fountain, both six feet tall, bring a versatile presence to the roster.
“They play with a lot of intensity, a lot of passion and a lot of toughness that definitely is going to help us,” Cardoza said. “Both of them can rebound the heck out of the ball, both can be pretty good defenders for us and they both can score. They just bring a lot, and that added depth is definitely going to be where we really need them.”
Cardoza has also noticed the close relationship the two transfers share, and she thinks it can help the team this year.
“Because they were left behind on trips, they were the two that didn’t get to travel, you know, they were always together,” Cardoza said. “So I definitely feel like there’s a special bond between the two of them.
Matthew Cockayne can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MattCockayne55.