The three-time defending Atlantic-10 Tournament champs are coming off their best season in a decade. That is something to say considering how competitive the A-10 was last season. With all but two key contributors returning, the Owls should compete with Xavier, Dayton and Richmond for conference supremacy.
Fran Dunphy went with a three-guard look last season in his starting lineup, but only returns point guard Juan Fernandez from that mix. Fernandez was the Owls' second-leading scorer last season and top assist man while also shooting an impressive 46.3 percent from three. With Ryan Brooks and Luis Guzman gone, Fernandez must elevate his game and take on even more of a leadership role.
Replacing Brooks and Guzman in the starting five figures to be junior Ramone Moore and sophomore Rahlir Jefferson. Both players were significant contributors off Temple's bench last season. They will bring more size to the starting lineup but are not dangerous threats from the outside. Expect freshman Aaron Brown to push those two for minutes.
The interior will once again be anchored by double-double machine Lavoy Allen. Six-foot-11 junior Michael Eric returns to join Allen in the starting linep. Six-foot-nine senior Craig Williams is more of a perimeter-based forward and will bring some versatility to the frontcourt. Monmouth transfer Dutch Gaitley provides some experience and muscle off the bench.
Temple has never been shy about scheduling challenging non-conference opponents and this year is no different with Seton Hall, Maryland, Georgetown, Villanova and Duke on the slate. Plus, a trip to Orlando for the Old Spice Classic should give the Owls three more games against talented major conference teams.
They catch a bit of a break with their conference schedule as they only play Dayton, Xavier and Richmond once, and get to feast on conference bottom-feeders La Salle, Saint Joseph's and Fordham twice.
Player to Watch: Lavoy Allen, PF
Allen's resume is impressive: First Team All A-10, A-10 All-Defensive Team, Wooden Award Top 50 Finalist, played with the USA Select Team this summer, and barring injury, will likely become the school's all-time leading rebounder sometime this season.
He is not the most talented scorer in the world, but his a non-stop motor and relentlessness on the glass fits in perfectly with Temple's stout defensive aspirations. Allen should find his way onto an NBA roster at this time next year, but will try to help the Owls earn their fourth-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament before he worries about playing in the NBA.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/17 at Mississippi
11/25 vs. Stanford (76 Classic)
11/26 vs. UNLV/Tulsa (76 Classic)
11/28 vs. Virginia Tech/CS-Northridge/Oklahoma State/DePaul (76 Classic)