The Temple basketball team knew it was going to have to tread water through the early stages of its season while star point guard Josh Brown recovered from an Achilles tendon injury. The Owls' hope that if they can stay afloat, they will be an even better team upon Brown's return because of the experience gained by some freshmen and sophomores who otherwise might have been on the bench.
Temple coach Fran Dunphy openly admits he's still eager to get Brown back on the court, but he liked the little glimpse of the future he got Sunday afternoon during his team's much-needed 88-67 victory over Manhattan at the Liacouras Center.
Freshman Quinton Rose (14 points) and sophomore Shizz Alston Jr. (17) combined for 31 points in the victory while freshman point guard Alani Moore contributed six points and three assists in another turnover-free performance. Moore has committed just one turnover in four games this season for the 2-2 Owls.
"This past week Josh worked with us in a half-court situation live, but not full court," Dunphy said. "When he's on the court even in a practice setting there is a great comfort level that he gives out certainly to the coaches and most of all me, but I think to the players as well. He's got a great voice out there and he understands the game tremendously."
Dunphy said he doesn't know exactly when Brown will return, but he's optimistic that it's getting close "if close [means] a couple of weeks."
Close is what Sunday's game against Manhattan was when Temple's top scorer - junior forward Obi Enechionyia - went to the bench with 10 minutes, 1 second remaining in the first half after being called for his second foul. The Owls led by 13-12 and were not doing anything particularly well at the time.
As much as the freshmen and sophomores contributed to the win over the Jaspers, it was senior Daniel Dingle who provided the calming influence after Enechionyia departed.
"Obi leads us in scoring, so definitely when he's out of the game somebody has to step up and fill that gap," Dingle said after scoring 15 of his career-high 22 points in the first half. "I kicked it out a lot, too, and our guys hit shots."
The Owls shot a season-best 53.4 percent from the field and also connected on 19 of 22 free throws after struggling badly in both categories in their previous two games against New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
"It's nice when guys make shots," Dunphy said. "It looks like you know what you're doing. Obviously the last two games we didn't make many shots. Some of that was because the defense was good, but also we didn't make shots."
Eleven of Dingle's points came in the final 10 minutes of the second half, when Temple pushed its lead from one point to 19.
"He had a similar game against La Salle and probably not as good of games as he would have liked in the next two," Dunphy said. "When he plays well we got a chance to do OK."
Enechionyia, who finished with 17 points and a team-high seven rebounds, hit a three-pointer at the start of the second half and made all four of his shots after halftime as the Owls pushed their lead to 31 at one point before settling for the 21-point victory. Rose contributed eight points and a couple of electrifying slam dunks during a 22-13 run at the start of the second half.
Manhattan (1-3) got a game-high 28 points from Zavier Turner.
Temple's next game is on Thanksgiving against Florida State at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Owls will play either West Virginia or Illinois on Friday and play at St. Joseph's to close out the season's first month Nov. 30.
None of the above teams had a loss going into play Sunday, so Temple definitely needed a victory as it treads water until Brown returns.