Owls in solid shape heading into league play

The Temple men’s basketball team is 9-4 with the non-conference portion of the season completed, having played three top-10 teams. It’s a record coming off a 9-22 season the Owls would have gladly taken before the year started with a good deal of turnover and two players – Jesse Morgan and Devin Coleman – who wouldn’t be eligible because of transfer rules until the team’s 11th game of the season.

The Temple men’s basketball team is 9-4 with the non-conference portion of the season completed, having played three top-10 teams.

It’s a record coming off a 9-22 season the Owls would have gladly taken before the year started with a good deal of turnover and two players – Jesse Morgan and Devin Coleman – who wouldn’t be eligible because of transfer rules until the team’s 11th game of the season.

The Owls managed a 6-4 record without Coleman and Morgan, who has developed into their top offensive threat, and picked up a nice early-season win over Louisiana Tech. They have gone 3-0 with the two players, including a stunning 77-52 win over No. 10 Kansas.

“At one point in the season I was concerned, but over the last number of games we’ve gotten the rotation down where we want and defensively we’re in decent shape,” said Dunphy. “We have to build on that. We’re deeper, we’re more experienced. Devin and Jesse bring an aspect of being able to make shots we were lacking last year.

“Our record is what it is. Having the opportunity to beat Kansas was good for us. Having these two guys in the lineup is good for us. We’re a team that is going to embark on a tough, tough trip and I’m hoping we’re ready for it.”

The victory over the Jayhawks along with the rest of its resume has Temple ranked No. 36 in the RPI heading into the American Athletic Conference schedule beginning New Year’s Eve at defending national champion Connecticut.

A 36 RPI would put the Owls in solid position to return to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in eight years. The selection committee will also pay special attention to how Temple plays with Morgan and Coleman in the lineup.

“We’re worried about Connecticut Wednesday and that’s all we’ll talk about,” said Dunphy. “We have 18 league games and every one of them will be a great challenge, and the chips will fall where they may at the end of those 18 games.”

But certainly the Owls have to feel good about their position. At this point a year ago, the Owls were 5-5 and already teetering heading into conference play.

Now, they head into UConn with some momentum and hope.

“We believe in our team and believe in the things we can do,” said junior forward Jaylen Bond, one of the new players who have aided in the turnaround.

Said Morgan: “We still have a lot of work to do.”

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