Owls lack scoring punch in loss to No. 21 UConn


Owls lack scoring punch in loss to No. 21 UConn


They were struggling to win before. And that's when Quenton DeCosey was making more than half of everything he threw at the basket.

The Temple Owls failed to follow up their upset win over No. 23 SMU, falling on Thursday night to No. 21 UConn, 68-55, at the Liacouras Center (see Instant Replay).

The loss drops Temple to 7-18 this season and a 2-11 in the American. Temple's 18 losses are tied for its most under Dunphy -- the 2006-07 Owls had 18 his first year -- and are also tied for the most in his 25-year coaching career.

"We're in a stretch where [we're playing] five Top 25 teams in a row," Dunphy said.

"I think, we've looked at it, we will have played 12 times against teams that have been in the Top 25 at some point during the course of the year. But that's what you want, you want that challenge, and we've been presented with that."

DeCosey led the way with a team-high 16 points on 5 for 15 shooting. Nothing any of the Owls did Thursday could be called efficient. Temple went 19 for 56 shooting from the field (33.9 percent) and 5 for 18 from three (27.8 percent).

Though the defense was much improved from the last time these two teams played -- when Temple let UConn score 90 en route to a 24-point loss -- it was the offense that cost the Owls this time around.

Temple went through two different stretches -- one lasting 6:27 and one lasting 9:48 -- without a field goal.

"We struggled to score against a really good defensive team," Dunphy said. "[UConn center] Amida Brimah changed a bunch of shots, but we had our share of open looks from the perimeter. Obviously, we didn't do a great job of knocking some of those down.

"There were other times when we had some poor choices. We needed to come to jump stops, and look for more drive-and-kicks than we did trying to drive all the way to the rim."

Still, Dunphy said he was pleased with most of the looks. His team just couldn't knock down its open shots.

DeCosey went 0 for 5 from three and senior leading scorer Dalton Pepper was a disastrous 4 for 18 from the field. DeCosey did, however, grab a career-high eight rebounds.

It's been a tough stretch for DeCosey, who started the season so well. After a poor opening game against Penn, the sophomore wing ripped off a 13-game stretch in which he was shooting 52.5 percent from the field. He had scored in double figures in 17 straight games.

But in his last nine outings, in which Temple has gone 2-7, DeCosey has made only 37 of his last 118 attempts (31.3 percent).

Dunphy has been leaning on DeCosey -- and Pepper, for that matter -- heavily. During a five-game stretch in January, he had played 198 of 200 minutes, participating in three straight games in which he never came off the floor.

"I'm just in a little slump," DeCosey said, "but I'm trying to work hard every day and doing whatever I can to get out of it."

DeCosey, like Dunphy, was asked about Temple's schedule, especially this murderer's row of five straight games against the Top 25.

"It's a tough schedule. It's a change coming from the A-10 to this conference," DeCosey said.

Temple was 5-5 before opening league play. The Owls are now 2-11 in the American and have dropped 13 of 15 games since closing 2013 at .500.

"After we got a couple of losses, we kind of got down on ourselves, started feeling sorry for ourselves," DeCosey said. "We stopped competing hard every night."

"During the SMU game, we kind of got that back, and we're trying to carry that over through the end of the season."

Temple has just five regular-season games remaining. The Owls visit No. 24 Memphis and No. 11 Louisville before returning home for games against Houston and UCF and finally finishing at USF.

The inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament tips off in Memphis on March 12.

The Owls currently find themselves tied for last place in the league with UCF. USF sits just barely ahead at 3-11.

All 10 conference teams make the tournament. And half of those might end end up going to the real tournament.

"It's been a tough road to hoe," Dunphy said, "but we've got more in store."

Sans Spellman, challenges face Villanova in run to repeat

Sans Spellman, challenges face Villanova in run to repeat

VILLANOVA, Pa. — Darryl Reynolds said it hurt. And he wasn’t alone. 

A month ago, Reynolds and the rest of the Villanova Wildcats found out five-star freshman big man Omari Spellman would not be eligible to play in 2016-17.

And despite Spellman — at 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds — being the biggest competition cutting into Reynolds’ playing time for his senior year, Reynolds understood the ramifications from losing what was expected to be a key cog in Villanova’s next run for glory.

“We lost a — no pun intended — big piece to the puzzle,” Reynolds said Tuesday at Villanova’s media day. “He went down, but everybody else has realized that we need that much more from everybody else.

“Me and Omari are close, in more ways than on the court. It would’ve been exciting to play with him. But it also provided that much more motivation.”

Motivation because Reynolds, a Lower Merion grad, also understands what the ramifications mean for him, too. The 6-foot-9, 240-pound senior may arguably be the most important player on the 2016-17 Wildcats. 

For three years, Reynolds has largely taken a backseat, hidden by the shadow of Daniel Ochefu. Now he’s front and center.

“He battled through that,” fellow senior Josh Hart said. “Never complained. Never had any down moments. Brought it every single day. We know he can play at this level.”

Reynolds heads a position in which Villanova was supposed to have depth. Now it has question marks. Reynolds and Spellman were going to be a 1-2 punch inside and a perfect supplement to a bevy of offensive talent around them. The question marks up front include sophomore Tim Delaney and freshman Dylan Painter. How quickly the two of them get going will be big. And so, too, will be figuring out where Fordham transfer forward Eric Paschall fits in the rotation.

Coach Jay Wright, who said Reynolds would be a starter, talked more about the other pieces behind Reynolds when asked what he’d be expecting from the senior big man.

“I think part of our challenge is Tim Delaney and Dylan Painter,” Wright said. “Which one of them, if not both of them, can step up and give us the depth that Darryl gave us last year up front when we needed size? Down the stretch in big games against big-time teams, you need that size. We’ve got to develop Tim and Dylan and see how they do with that, see how Eric Paschall can do. Can he play bigger? We definitely have our challenges.”

Those challenges also include replacing leadership roles vacated by Ryan Arcidiacono, Ochefu and a trio of walk-ons.

Insert Reynolds there, too. The Wildcats will start three seniors this year. Hart and Kris Jenkins may do most of the scoring, but they’re pretty reserved off the court and when talking to the media.

“Obviously Ryan (Arcidiacono) was a great leader for us. He was our rock,” Hart said. “When you look at this team, a lot of times we look at [Reynolds]. He calms everybody down. He vocally tries to make sure everybody’s on one accord. Basketball-wise, he’s always been good. You saw the Providence game last year when we needed him to step up and he had, what, like 19 and 11?”

Hart remembers the numbers well, even if he added an extra rebound to the ledger. Reynolds was 9 for 10 from the floor and had two blocks in 36 minutes of action to help the Wildcats earn revenge with a road win after the Friars beat them in Philadelphia two weeks prior.

That game was the last of a three-game stretch in late January into early February when Ochefu was sidelined with a concussion. Reynolds’ minutes over that stretch: 29, 31 and 36, respectively.

That experience, Reynolds says, coupled with the rest of 2015-16 — when he saw an uptick in minutes from his sophomore season’s 5.4 per game to 17.1 per game — will be easy to draw from in 2016-17.

“There’s nothing like getting out there and actually playing,” Reynolds said. “You see a lot from the sidelines. You learn a lot playing spot minutes. You get different things. But just being out there throughout entire games, playing 20-plus minutes, it teaches you things that you could never have learned from another perspective. I learned a lot from those experiences and I think it made me the player that I am in many ways. It’s the same thing with this year. I’m still going to learn a ton in a sense of being out there that much more and not having Daniel. 

“In many ways he taught me a lot. So not having him, not having that voice in my ear, not having that guy to go against in practice, it will make me grow up. 

“Nothing wrong with that,” he said with a smile.

Temple picked to finish 6th in AAC preseason poll

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Temple picked to finish 6th in AAC preseason poll

This is starting to become a trend. One Temple hopes to continue to prove wrong.

For the third straight year, Temple was chosen to finish sixth in the American Athletic Conference preseason poll. The poll, which was released on Monday, is voted on by the conference's head coaches.

Also selected to finish sixth last season, the Owls posted a 21-12 overall record and a 14-4 mark in the AAC to reach the NCAA Tournament. In 2014-15, TU tied for third in the AAC with a 13-5 record and was one of the last teams left out of the Big Dance.

Cincinnati was tabbed to win the American title in the poll, just ahead of UConn.

Temple, who returns three starters from last season's team, opens the 2016-17 campaign against city rival La Salle at the Liacouras Center on Nov. 11.