The Temple Owls will play in front of hometown fans for the first time since their season opening game against Rutgers over a month ago. The Owls are young and are learning how to play together as a team while fighting through a typically tough schedule. Temple coach John Chaney doesn't believe in playing against inferior opponents. Instead, the Owls play one of the toughest schedules in the country and this year is no different. Temple lost six of its first seven, but Chaney has always believed playing against the best will lead to his team being their best at the end of the year. With this in mind, the Owls will certainly not be intimidated when they see the Hoosiers' cream and crimson jerseys on Saturday.
The Owls will get a boost from playing at home and the return of their Hall of Fame head coach John Chaney, who returns after missing the past two games. Chaney will be sure to use several different defensive sets against the Hoosiers, but Indiana will primarily see the matchup zone: a defense unlike any other in the country.
The matchup zone is a mix of a zone and man-to-man defenses. The Owls will occupy space like they would in a zone, but when opposing players fill those spaces, the Temple defenders come up and guard the opposition like they would in a man-to-man defense. When the players leave that space, the Temple defenders do not follow them but instead stay in their zones. Coaches have tried for years to figure out the best way to attack the zone, but 21 years later, coach John Chaney still confuses his opponents with his defense. It's that same matchup zone that makes coaches sick to their stomachs upon discovering they have to play Temple in the NCAA Tournament.
Assistant coach John Treloar might have to act as head coach if Indiana suspends head coach Mike Davis. Temple, with its complicated defensive schemes, will be a difficult first test for Treloar if he assumes head coaching responsibilities for Indiana.
Indiana will need to be more accurate from behind the arc if they want to beat Temple on Saturday. The matchup zone is different from most zones because defenders guard the ball more intensely, but it is still a zone and will leave open shots for Indiana's perimeter shooters. Normally, this would work right into the Hoosiers' strength, but Indiana is a dismal 9-for-46 (19%) in their last three games from behind the arc including a 5-for-17 performance against Kentucky last Saturday. IU will need to return to form from three-point range if they want to beat the Owls on Saturday.
The other key against the matchup zone is getting the ball inside, which means getting the ball to Jeff Newton. Newton single-handedly carried the Hoosiers at the end of the game last Saturday against Kentucky. While the rest of the Hoosiers looked flat in the second half, Kentucky didn't have an answer for Newton. Temple's matchup zone makes it difficult to get the ball inside, and the Owls always have athletic big men down low. If Newton can continue his stellar play, the outside game will be opened up for Indiana's perimeter shooters, making IU a more potent offensive team.
While better perimeter shooting and getting the ball down low are important for Indiana, perhaps most important is focusing on their opponent and not allowing the distractions of the past week to affect their play.
Temple's matchup zone could give Indiana trouble
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