Close-knit Owls surviving without duo

Give Temple credit.

Even after Wednesday’s lopsided loss to Duke, none of the Owls used playing minus two injured starters as an excuse.

Without 6-foot-11 center Micheal Eric (season-ending fracture to right kneecap) and 6-6 swingman Scootie Randall (right foot injury), 24th-ranked Temple (22-6) lost a towering inside presence and arguably its hottest player.

But …

“Coach [Fran Dunphy] is letting us know everyday, ‘If this is the worst thing that happens to us in our lives, we will have pretty good lives,’ ”  sophomore reserve guard Khalif Wyatt said. “We miss Scootie and Mike.

“But they are not there with us. So everybody got to do a little bit extra. And so far, I think we are doing a pretty good.”

Actually, the Owls are 3-1 in the four games since Eric suffered his injury. Randall, who is listed day-to-day, has missed Temple’s last three contests.

The dou's absence has left the Owls with a seven-man rotation that has only one legitimate big man in 6-9 power forward Lavoy Allen. Rahlir Jefferson, a 6-6 sophomore forward, is the next tallest player in the rotation.

But as George Washington learned in the second half Sunday, the Owls’ lack of height hasn’t hindered them against Atlantic Ten competition. 

Playing scrappy defense, Temple limited GW to 15 second-half points 6 of 32 shooting (18.8 percent). All that led to the Owls’ 57-41 blowout.

What Massachusetts might find out Wednesday is the adversity has had a positive effect on Temple.

“I think we were always a close-knit group,” Wyatt said. “But when Mike and Scootie went down, we had to come even more together. We showed a little bit of toughest [Saturday], and we have been growing as a team since they went down.

“But it would be nice to have them back.”

Understandably so. However, for the time being, the Owls remain one of the conference’s elite teams.

-          Keith Pompey

Continue Reading