Temple: 2009 NCAA Tournament
Atlantic 10 (22-11, 11-5)
Big Wins: 12/6 at Penn State (65-59), 12/13 Tennessee (88-72), 3/13 vs Xavier (55-53)
Bad Losses: 12/22 at Long Beach State (71-76), 1/17 at Massachusetts (75-79), 2/26 La Salle (63-70)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, First Round loss to Michigan State
Coach: Fran Dunphy (1-10 in 10 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
Over the last few years Temple has built their team around stellar guard play. For the most part that has not changed with Dionte Christmas leading the way, but the frontcourt has stepped up this season. Lavoy Allen is the most notable frontcourt player after averaging 10.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots during the regular season. The 6-9 Morrisville, Pennsylvania native is just a sophomore and is only getting better and better with each passing game.
Allen has some help in the paint from Sergio Olmos. At 7-0 and 220 pounds, Olmos is the imposing presence under the basket. Olmos is not as effective of a scorer or rebounder as Allen, but he is a quality shot blocker and his presence alone makes the opposition think twice about driving the lane against the Owls. Even Craig Williams is starting to have a big influence on the frontcourt. The sophomore rarely played last year or early this season, but now he is playing a big role off the bench and he can be a decent scorer.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The talented frontcourt, with the help of Christmas, will give the Owls extra opportunities with their ability to rebound. However, Temple will not force many turnovers and they will commit quite a few themselves. The defense will not generate steals by pressing the team. They do play good, solid defense, but this is a team that will usually let the other team have more possessions than they have. They have to try and equal out the possessions on the glass and by not committing turnovers. Without Luis Guzman on the floor very much, Semaj Inge has been forced into the starting point guard role. He has done an admirable job and is an experienced senior, but the turnovers can be a problem, especially if Temple is playing a team that likes to pressure the ball handler.
Who To Watch:
The Owls live and die with Christmas. The 6-5 senior is one of the best scorers in Atlantic 10 history and is averaging an impressive 19.2 points per game during his final campaign in Philadelphia. Christmas takes nearly nine three-pointers per game and he hits over three per contest. But he is more than just a shooter. He will use his size and strength to attack the basket and, at the least, he usually ends up at the charity stripe. And even at the free-throw line he shoots very well. What makes Christmas so special is the fact that he is more than a scorer. He is second on the team in rebounding with 5.8 per game, second in assists with 2.9 and leads the team in steals. There is nothing that Christmas cannot do and when he is playing good basketball, Temple can beat just about anybody.
Semaj Inge, Senior, Guard, 7.1 ppg, 3.6 apg, 3.9 rpg
Dionte Christmas, Senior, Guard, 19.2 ppg, 2.9 apg, 5.8 rpg
Ryan Brooks, Junior, Guard, 10.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Lavoy Allen, Sophomore, Forward, 10.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.6 bpg
Sergio Olmos, Senior, Center, 8.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg
Juan Fernandez, Freshman, Guard, 5.7 ppg, 2.8 apg
Luis Guzman, Junior, Guard, 2.1 ppg, 2.1 apg
Craig Williams, Sophomore, Forward, 5.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.1 (150th in nation, 8th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.7 (72, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.7 (118, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.7 (51, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.7 (55, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.7 (69, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.4 (120, 2)
Rebound Margin: 3.0 (81, 5)
Assists Per Game: 15.7 (34, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.8 (80, 4)
Following the Bracket announcement, more team info will be added, including final RPI, final team statistical rankings, Joel's prediction, and more!