When it comes to the Temple Owls, we’re in a fact-finding period. It’s not just the outside world looking at an officially impressive 7-1 start. The Owls are finding out a little more about themselves each game.
Obviously, they’ll find out a lot more Wednesday night at Villanova. Let’s stop and look at what we’ve seen so far:
According to KenPom.com, Temple is 31st in the country in turnover percentage (per possession) and 41st at creating turnovers. What a winning formula that is, since you are essentially creating extra possessions. The Owls are first in the nation in steals per possession. The only schools higher than Temple in the first two categories are (not surprisingly) Virginia and (maybe surprisingly) St. John’s, both undefeated.
Everyone playing for the Owls seems to be contributing to that. Adding to that, Temple is 17th in Division I at limiting opposing offensive rebounds. Another big-time winning stat.
All that is vital because Temple doesn’t shoot very well from outside, and the Owls don’t always stop opponents from shooting well, especially from beyond the arc. Temple opponents have made 38.5 percent of their threes, which puts the Owls 314th among 353 D-I schools in that defensive category.
Let’s stay on the glass-over-half-full side of things and point out Quinton Rose is averaging 17.1 points without heating up yet from the outside. If Rose was making 45 percent of his threes, you’d think he’d revert to his mean, toward last season’s 34.5 percent. Instead, he’s at 16.2 percent. That number, you’d have to believe, will go up. Rose’s percentage on two-pointers, 52.7 percent, is the highest of his career. His turnover rate, while still not great, has come down as a percentage of his possessions. So he’s playing well, just not shooting well.
A big thing for Temple is that the Owls don’t have just depth, but also, experienced depth. That’s the plus side of not having any rotation freshmen. They have rotation sophomores and juniors, each contributing.
So an upset is brewing Wednesday on the Main Line? Let’s slow down. Villanova will have a lot to do with that, either way. We can stipulate, however, that in recent seasons, the likelihood has never been higher.
Give it to St. Joseph’s fans for their standing ovation for Temple coach Fran Dunphy in his last head-coaching trip to Hawk Hill.
Here’s how I see it: La Salle prices its tickets high for the Villanova game, and I don’t blame La Salle. If your season tickets for La Salle get you in there, you’re good. If you’re a Villanova fan and want to get in, too, it costs $50.
La Salle is trying to make budget. Why should it make the crowd less of a La Salle crowd unless it’s worth it financially? Simple as that. Crowd was 6,522, heavily for the Explorers. The atmosphere was great.
Some team was going to come out of the St. Joseph’s-Temple game Saturday feeling good about itself. It wasn’t St. Joe’s, which has lost four of its last five. St. Joe’s is set up to score, and when the Hawks are held to 7-for-24 three-point shooting, as they were against Temple, that’s not the kind of stat they easily overcome.
Let’s look at those turnover percentages for this squad. St. Joe’s is tops in the nation at fewest turnovers per possession, number one, which makes sense with two strong point guards playing together in Fresh Kimble and Jared Bynum.
At the other end, however, opponents are both shooting well and not turning it over. Opponents don’t just make a lot of threes -- they also shoot a lot of threes. That’s a tough combo to beat if you’re not hot yourself.
You didn’t expect to see La Salle freshman Jack Clark back so soon after tearing his ACL last January? Makes two of us. You didn’t expect the Cheltenham High graduate to get on the court for the first time Saturday and just drop in his first three against Villanova, making it look easy? Then drop in another one, no big deal?
Beyond the excitement of giving Villanova a real scare after going up by 32-20 in the first half and hanging in, the winless Explorers needed to show themselves things are headed in the right direction.
Another big reason that happened is that, with center Jared Kimbrough out with a foot injury, freshman Ed Croswell got his biggest minutes and really impressed. The St. Joe’s Prep grad has great hands and used them to great impact. One offensive rebound was good for a put-back. Another resulted in a La Salle three-pointer. Croswell and sophomore Miles Brookins played well together and separately.
Albany transfer Joe Cremo had his most effective stint of the season, and that helped ‘Nova get away from La Salle alive. Cremo made 2 of 3 three-pointers, but he also added 4 assists in 24 minutes, which will keep getting him minutes.
It was great for Penn that freshman guard Bryce Washington, thrust into a starting role after Ryan Betley’s season-ending injury, led the Quakers with 16 points in 17 minutes last week at Delaware State, making three three-pointers. Maybe bigger: Washington had 8 rebounds, 6 at the defensive end. Guards who can rebound are guards who get playing time.
What team did the Dragons play Saturday? (Robert Morris.) Did they win? (Yes.) Did you notice? (Maybe not.)
Ben Simmons and Kendall Jenner were there.