(Joseph Labollito/Temple University)
The Temple Owls ( 7-17) are close to concluding of one of their more disappointing seasons in recent memory. Against the No. 23 ranked SMU (20-6), the Owls kept things simple, outhustling the Mustangs for a 71-64 upset.
The Temple University family celebrated the birthday of Hooter the mascot and the Owls continue to play like the season still mattered. Fran Dunphy’s group were 1-10 American Athletic Conference play heading into their second meeting with Larry Brown’s No. 23 ranked SMU Mustangs. After suffering a blowout loss to Louisville on Friday, the Owls survived an early run by the Mustangs to take a 34-30 heading into the intermission.
Temple only shot 39 percent in the first half compared to 50 percent for SMU, but managed to make six three-pointers and holding the visitors to one. SMU resembled a nationally ranked squad for the first 5 to 7 minutes of the first half before Temple was able to gain control of the tempo. The Owls were able to control the offensive boards scoring 7 second chance points. The Owls took their first lead of the game with a 25-24 advantage with 4:15 remaining in the half.
SMU plays Larry Brown basketball, which includes defense and plenty of passing. Despite an athletic lineup, the Mustangs were unable to impose their will against the determined Owls. When it looked as if the Mustangs were going to pull away the Owls managed to get back into the game.
After trading leads about eight minutes the Owls took the lead for good at the 11:19 mark on a dunk by Devontae Watson. The Mustangs missed seven of their last eight free throw attempts, preventing them from cutting into the Owls leads. The Owls took a 69-59 lead with :34 remaining and would coast to their seventh win of the season.
The Owls were led by Dalton Pepper with 24 points and 13 points each from Will Cummings and Quenton Decosey. Markus Kennedy and Nic Moore paced the Mustangs with 18 and 15 points, respectively. The Owls controlled the boards 38-25 and second chance points 15-2.
Larry Brown has never stopped teaching the game.
As for Larry Brown, nothing has changed. In his second season at SMU, he still blames himself for poor preparation on days like this. Brown wasted no time in talking about his days in Philadelphia and what coaching the 76ers meant to him. He even has former 76ers George Lynch and Eric Snow on his coaching staff.
When asked if there was a difference in coaching a group of young players year after year compared to coaching the same group for a number of years was any different Brown gave a surprising answer.
“People don’t read pro players right. If they know a coach is trying to help them get better, they’re all in. If they think a coach doesn’t care or can help them get better, they’ll move on to the next guy.” Brown continued, “I was lucky enough to do that in the NBA, I don’t see much difference. I think we’ve hurt college basketball, allowing these kids to come out (early). We’ve got kids transferring everywhere and expect to play right away.”
“I’m not saying LeBron (James) shouldn’t have come out, he deserved to come out. If he was a magician or a golfer, he would’ve been allowed to come out.” he added, “We gotta have that baseball rule, let the NBA people who know advise kids that are ready to come out and the ones who don’t still have access to the best minor league system in the world.”
Before closing out the presser Brown mentioned he would be unable to attend the jersey retirement ceremony for Allen Iverson on March 1st, but was more than willing to give us his sentiments on his relationship with The Answer.
“I’m not going to be here on the 1st and I’m sick. We got a game and I can’t get the T.V. people to change our time.” Brown explained, “I know a lot of people think we banged heads, but I know God put me here to coach him, he may not think that (laughter) but I feel that way. The more I’m away from him and around younger people — and people stop me everywhere — I realize the impact he had on our game.” Brown closed with his voice cracking, “I’m thrilled that this is being done for him because nobody deserves it more and in this community, I know he was accepted, and that makes me feel great.”