Temple Men's Basketball 2021-22 Season Preview
Updated: Nov 13, 2021
(PHILADELPHIA, PA) After finishing the 2020-21 season with a 4-10 record, Coach Mckie is looking to defy the odds and bring Temple Basketball back to a winning record. Although losing seniors J.P. Moorman and De’Vondre Perry in the offseason, Temple is looking to give plenty of opportunities for the younger players to lead this team to victory.
Key Players :
Damian Dunn (Guard, 6’5) Averaging 13.5 points last season, Dunn will look to bring an immediate impact to the Owls on the offensive side of the ball. Dunn is most comfortable driving to the basket in isolation situations, along with having an elite mid range game.
Jeremiah Williams (Guard, 6’5) Next to Damian Dunn, Jeremiah brings the defensive intensity this team needs. He’s a fantastic playmaker, shown as he averaged 4.1 assists last year, and will defend the opposing team's best player the full 94 feet of the court.
Khalif Battle (Guard, 6’4) After transferring over from Butler and being injured to start last season, Battle showed off his scoring abilities leading the team in scoring with 15 points a game. Battle is a 6th man who gets starter minutes, and is looking to be the teams top scorer again this season.
Jake Forrester (Forward, 6’9) Mainly playing the center position for the Owls last season, Forrester was a physical rebounding machine who is best in the pick and roll. As long as he isn’t in foul trouble, he will give the opposing teams issues in the paint, as he is the Rudy Gobert of this Owls team.
Key Factors :
Lots of time last season games would come down to the wire, and Temple rarely came out on top. Shown in games against USF on 3/11 (73-71), Cincinnati on 2/12 (71-69), and Wichita State on 2/7 (70-67), Temple struggled in close game situations. Lots of this came from the lack of experience in those situations, as lead guards like Jeremiah Williams and Damian Dunn would make careless plays down the stretch. Limiting turnovers will be a huge determinant of how the Owls season goes, especially in crucial moments in the second half. With lots of the players having a year of experience together under their belt, the team should feel more comfortable executing Coach Mckie's game plan at the end of games.
Big Man Rotation
Jake Forrester was the main center for the Owls last season, yet only had a few games where he could be an X-Factor due to foul trouble. There were many games where he showed his true talent, including against Houston on January 23rd where he finished with 15 points and 8 rebounds. Games like this are very promising, but knowing Forrester will be foul hungry, who will come in for him? Last year, J.P. Moorman, although being only 6’7, played the small-ball center a lot (Draymond Green style) and held his own. This season, Nick Jourdain, 6’8 freshman will be a great rotational guy for the Owls. Although only playing 11 minutes a game, he led the team in blocks a game with 0.8, and showed lots of versatility on defense. Although there will be some new faces added into the rotation, Jourdain and Forrester will be the main two guys in the rotation and will be needed to play off of the high-scoring guards in Dunn and Battle.
Three Point Shooting
Losing Brendan Berry, three point specialist out of Dartmouth this offseason, the Owls are in desperate need of a shooter off the bench. Berry was fantastic for Temple last year, averaging 7 points on 45.3% from three off the bench. He was the only rotational player who shot above 40%, as the team as a whole struggled shooting just 34%. With Berry leaving, expect a big jump from guys like Dunn and Battle to shoot more threes. Another guy who could look to take advantage of an increase in playing time is guard Quincy Ademokoya, who although just shot 27% from three looks very confident playing off the ball. Going into his sophomore year, he will get more backup guard minutes and in case of an injury occurring, be a great filler for the top guards on the team.
Temple basketball last season had a very good mix of veteran leadership and youth firepower, whereas this year looks like a full youth movement. The team is going to rely on players who haven’t been at Temple for a whole two years already, showing that this team is still growing. It is going to be up to guys like Jake Forrester and Sage Tolbert III (who only played one game last season) to be leaders for this young crew.
Increase in Competition
Last year we saw multiple successful teams come out of the AAC, with Houston being the top team making it all the way to the Final Four. We also saw Wichita State finish with an 11-2 record, and the Memphis Tigers go 11-4. Although Memphis ended third in the conference, they have two great freshman coming in with Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren, both five star recruits out of high school. Temple will be the underdogs in these games, but Coach McKie will continue to install lots of confidence into this young locker room. Even with the level of competition increasing, Temple is in a state where they are still developing the talent they have, while also having players that will compete every night.
With Temple having seven losses last season within a ten point deficit, a winning record isn’t out of the question for McKie’s team. They will need lots more bench production, along with a go-to scorer in closing situations. The team heavily struggled with turnovers last year, averaging 13.3 a game, which has to change if they want to be competitive. With having such high powered guards, none would expect their free throw percentage to sit at 71%, which has to improve this year.
There has to be more defensive intensity within the culture of this team to have a winning record, as only having one player average over a steal a game is unacceptable. Putting more pressure on the opposing teams, especially at the start of games is a crucial factor to winning basketball. Lots of times in the close games, Temple would start off very slow and have to work their way back during the second half. Expect more energy given right after the opening tipoff this season as opposed to previous years, where the will to win starts during the second half.
Although losing two starters in the offseason and really feeding into this youth movement, Temple is looking to earn Coach McKie’s first winning season as a member of the Owls. Their season kicks off November 10th at 7:00 PM against the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks.