Temple is back on the consistency track.
After riding a big-win, ugly-loss seesaw, the Owls are on an impressive four-game winning streak.
So what’s the difference?
“I think it is a combination of having [Micheal Eric] back as well as shooting the ball” better, said fifth-year senior guard Ramone Moore, whose squad entertains Fordham in an Atlantic Ten game Wednesday at the Liacouras Center. “We have been pretty effective shooting the ball.”
Eric has given Temple a big boost in a reserve role the past three games after missing the previous 13 with a fractured right kneecap.
The 6-foot-11 center gives the Owls (15-5, 4-2 A-10) an interior defensive presence that was missing during his injury.
Without him, Temple was often at a size disadvantage in the frontcourt. That forced guards to help out defensively in the low post.
Now the guards can concentrate on just defending the perimeter. And opposing guards are having a tough time against the Owls’ length.
Moore and his starting backcourt mates, Khalif Wyatt and Juan Fernandez, are all 6-foot-4. Reserve Aaron Brown is 6-5, while another backup, T.J. DiLeo, is 6-3.
“We are not the quickest group of guards,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “But I think these guys are very, very intelligent on the court.
“And they do have great size. So as long as they are in the right position, they can make up for that lack of speed and quickness.”
In addition to dealing with the Owls’ length, Fordham (9-11, 2-5) will have to deal with Temple’s improved shooting.
The Owls shot a season-best 60 percent in Saturday’s victory over St. Joseph’s and shot 53 percent in the last four games.
Some of that can be attributed to Fernandez shaking a shooting slump.
The senior point guard is averaging 13.2 points during the winning streak. He shot a combined 2 for 19 from the field against St. Louis and Richmond — the two games prior to the streak.
Fernandez shot a combined 27 percent during a five-game stretch against Delaware, Duke, Dayton, St. Louis and Richmond.
In the course of those games, Temple beat a less-than-stellar Delaware team in the closing seconds. Then the Owls upset Duke, followed by a disappointing loss to Dayton, a huge win at St. Louis and a disappointing loss at Richmond.
“Are we ready to assume being a great basketball team? We will see,” Dunphy said. “We are still a work in progress.
“I hope we are starting to play our best basketball as we gear down towards the end of the year.”