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Temple's working to fill void in backcourt

Temple players came through the practice gym on North Broad Street one by one Thursday afternoon, following Owls coach Fran Dunphy to the center of the court, where cameras and tape recorders waited.

Temple players came through the practice gym on North Broad Street one by one Thursday afternoon, following Owls coach Fran Dunphy to the center of the court, where cameras and tape recorders waited.

Whether it was Dunphy or senior point guard Josh Brown, who hopes to get back on the court, or sophomore Shizz Alston, or freshman Alani Moore - who each will have a load to carry - the questions and answers in an exchange with the media told a similar story from different angles.

Temple's backcourt depth took a major hit with Trey Lowe out for the year as he recovers from a car accident. And Brown's availability after surgery for a torn Achilles tendon remains up in the air and is unlikely to be resolved by next Friday, when the Owls open against La Salle.

The filter-down: Alston will be on the court, ready to play the point or off guard. He can handle both spots. He's the definition of a combo guard.

In ordinary circumstances, Moore may have been a depth guy this season. Now, the 5-foot-10 freshman from Washington will be at center stage, where he seemed comfortable, by the way. Another freshman, wing player Quinton Rose, also will see a lot of court time and be counted on for scoring.

Brown's combination of grit and smarts was such a big part of last season's NCAA tournament campaign, it's natural that the first question to Dunphy was about him.

"He's been doing some running," Dunphy said. "No live action at this point. He wants to play. I broke our huddle the other day and he wouldn't break eye contact with me, kept staring at me. I get it, I understand it."

Dunphy noted that Brown is trying to get on the court ahead of the normal recovery time for his surgery. "I think he's getting close to getting some live action, two weeks maybe," the coach said.

"Just a matter of time," Brown said. Of when he will know he's ready: "Once I start participating in practice, full practice, I feel my legs are under me and I'm back to myself."

Asked if there might be a time when redshirting becomes an option, Brown said, "I haven't really thought about that. My mind-set is I'm playing."

Ticking off the names of players Temple needs a great year from, Dunphy started with Alston.

"He had a scrimmage the other day, he had seven assists and no turnovers," Dunphy said. "Can't expect no turnovers from him. I'd like to get four or five or six assists from him - score it while he's at it. Be ready to play some good defense. And be ready to lead us. He's really the most experienced guy with the ball that we have."

Alston has a simple formula to define a successful season. Getting back to March Madness, period. "Then it would be successful for me and successful for the team," Alston said.

One big message he took out of his freshman year, according to Alston: "The aggressor always wins in college basketball. . . . You can't defer too much. I remember last year when I played against Ryan Arcidiacono, he was aggressive from the beginning of the game. He didn't care if I was a freshman or not."

The hoops world is used to players intersecting and overlapping, ending up together on a travel team or a school team or at a camp, separating and then reuniting. Alston and Moore might be in the starting backcourt opening night. It's happened before, at a Hoop Group camp at Albright College in Reading. Alston was a ninth grader, Moore in eighth.

"Way back," Alston said. "We were on the same team for a week. We played 10 or 15 games together. I was all two guard back then and he was all point guard."

What does Alston remember about the eighth-grade Alani Moore? "He was the same exact size, same exact quickness," Alston said. "He's the same guy."

"We clicked as soon as we played there," Moore said. "The chemistry is really ongoing."

"I think they're doing very, very well as freshmen," Dunphy said, speaking of both Moore and Rose. "Now they're having two good days and two bad days. Let's get to three on and one off. I'll take that from them. Hopefully, they're not off on the same night."

"Expectations are always going to be high," Moore said of the need to lead as a freshman, but he doesn't sound nervous. One goal is to show why he's here. He described himself as a feisty, small, "very hard-going" point guard who can shoot. It's a lot of weight, he said of his role, but added that Brown has told him he'll be ready.

Dunphy described his team as "interesting at this point." Temple's coach then translated: "I'm not real sure where we are or who we are."