Women’s Basketball

Point-Counterpoint Will there be an inside presence other than Candice Dupree? Point: The new acquisitions to Dawn Staley’s bench enhance her team’s ability to matchup against bigger lineups, but inexperience could doom the Owls. Senior


Will there be an inside presence other than Candice Dupree?
Point: The new acquisitions to Dawn Staley’s bench enhance her team’s ability to matchup against bigger lineups, but inexperience could doom the Owls. Senior center/forward Rachel Marcus returns after taking a season off because of health concerns. Freshmen forward Nicole Pittman and centers Lady Comfort and Amanda Piribauer, all six-foot or taller, do not have a good enough grasp of Staley’s offense to make an immediate impact but will bolster the Owls’ frontcourt. Basically, if Dupree falls victim to injury or foul trouble, then the Owls will find themselves in trouble.

Counterpoint: Dupree thrives in the paint, and senior forward Ari Moore has proven to be similarly effective. Moore’s best looks last season came on short drives from the high post to the rim. She has the ability to create her own scoring opportunities in man coverage. As the regular season was wrapping up, Kamesha Hairston turned her game up. Now a sophomore, Hairston is expected to provide a mid-range threat to Staley’s offensive arsenal as well as the occasional baseline drive.
Has the Owls’ perimeter shooting improved since last season?
Point: It sure has. When senior point guard Cynthia Jordan has a hot hand from behind the arc, she is unstoppable. According to Staley, Jordan doesn’t take enough shots for the coach’s liking. In addition, freshman guard Ashley Morris, a Central High graduate and Philadelphia native, plays bigger than her size would indicate. Her ball handling and accuracy from the outside make her an immediate threat.

Counterpoint: The Owls’ outside shooting is as weak this season as it was last season and opposing coaches know it. Returning three starters, the Owls are primed for success but Atlantic Ten coaches like Massachusetts coach Marnie Dacko have pinpointed outside shooting as Temple’s Achilles’ heel. “Take the ball out of Candice’s hands and they are like anyone else [in the A-10],” Dacko said.
Will the team advance to the second round of the NCAAs?
Point: Temple’s bench is deeper. Their starters are more experienced. Their non-conference schedule is more rigid. The Liacouras Center is host to the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament again this season. This team was built to compete on the national level and will prove it come late March.

Counterpoint: Unquestionably, Staley is coaching the premier program in the A-10. The Owls’ recent success in recruitment has bolstered the level of competition within the conference. The Owls have the makings of a two-time A-10 championship team, but do not possess what it takes to scale the national plateau quite yet.

Five Games To Watch This Season

  • Tuesday Nov. 23 vs. LOUISIANA STATE- A home-and-home series brings the preseason No. 2 LSU Tigers to the Liacouras Center. In last year’s contest, the Owls kept the game close in the first half, before losing 68-52. Coach Dawn Staley thinks last year’s struggles against ranked opponents will create opportunities to knock off a top 25 team. In her four years at the helm, Staley’s teams have yet to beat a ranked opponent. “[The schedule] is what it is,” Staley said. “We’re playing tough teams but we have enough talent, enough diligence to win. This year we could do it too.”
  • Sunday Nov. 28 at TENNESSEE- Part of Staley’s grand scheme to build a stronger program nationally involves a visit to No. 1 Tennessee. Volunteers coach Pat Summit is considered one of the greatest coaches ever. Year-in and year-out, the Vols are perennial contenders. They thrive on second-chance baskets, so Staley’s forwards and centers will have to step up on the glass to stand a chance against Tennessee at the Thompson-Boling Arena, where the Vols went 12-2 last season.
  • Tuesday Dec. 21 at VILLANOVA- Big 5 rival Villanova has potential and momentum coming into their 2004-05 campaign, especially after advancing to the Elite Eight last season. Despite graduating its top scorer, Courtney Mix, the Wildcats return juniors Liad Suez and Jenna Viani to pace their offense. Both have a knack for three-point shots, posing a huge threat to Temple’s perimeter defense, which failed on more than one occasion last season to protect the perimeter.
  • Thursday Jan. 27 vs. GEORGE WASHINGTON – The perennial favorites to win the Atlantic Ten West Division visit the Liacouras Center behind the offensive firepower of center Anna Montanana. This game could be a preview of the A-10 tournament, which will be played on the Colonials’ home floor in March.
  • Sunday Feb. 27 at SAINT JOSEPH’S – The Owls visit Hawk Hill in a rematch of last season’s A-10 Championship game. In the last game of the regular season, playoff positioning will almost certainly be at stake. The Hawks return just one starter from last season’s team, which advanced to the Women’s NIT. This rivalry is sure to be a close game; each of last season’s three meetings between the teams was decided by five points or less, with Temple the victor in each one.

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