Owls' Allen an unsung hero

Just a leftover thought from last week’s Selection Sunday kind of win over Georgetown, the third consecutive December that Fran Dunphy’s guys have handed a Top 10 opponent its first loss of the season at the Liacouras Center.

I know that for 4 years now most people, including me at times, have tended to become preoccupied with what Lavoy Allen isn’t, instead of everything he does bring to the equation. And trust me, the good far outweighs the other stuff. No, he’s not going to be a 20-point scorer, even though he’s probably capable of doing it at least on a more consistent basis. There are games when he’s going to get in foul trouble, or go through prolonged stretches where he might not get involved enough at the offensive end. At this point in his career, that’s likely not going to change too much.

But what he is, is a winner. You think it’s a coincidence that the Owls have won three consecutive Atlantic 10 titles since his arrival? As Villanova is finding out this season now that Scottie Reynolds doesn’t play there anymore, Allen will be very difficult to replace. Because of his presence in the middle. Temple beats you mostly with defense. And a great deal of what the Owls do to you is predicated on having Allen as their focal point.

Sometimes, you don’t even notice it. That’s his way. If you look at the G-town box score, it doesn’t look like his contributions were anything off the charts. Ramone Moore had the big offensive night, Scootie Randall made some big shots early, Rahlir Jefferson gave them another good effort off the bench, Juan Fernandez provided his usual leadership on the perimeter. Yet it doesn’t happen without the big man. And he makes it look effortless, which is often why it doesn’t look like he’s necessarily being all he can be. Still, he makes the difference. And I think we’re all a little guilty of maybe not appreciating him nearly enough.

In another month or so, he’ll become the program’s all-time leading rebounder, breaking a record that has stood for some four decades. The Owls might win the A-10 again. That’s quite a legacy. Yes, it would be great if he’d score 18 or 20 instead of 12 or 14. But regardless, I’ll take his overall. Because he gives the Owls a chance to be something really special. And when he’s not around, perhaps we’ll all understand a little better exactly what that means to the equation. Not that the program’s going to become St. Bonaventure without him. But it’ll be different. So try to enjoy him while you can. It’s worth recognizing.

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