The departure of Temple standouts Ramone Moore, Juan Fernandez and Micheal Eric certainly are significant.
But Owls coach Fran Dunphy has a roster full of talent and vast amount of options up to fill the void for the three aforementioned senior starters from last season.
“What I notice is that as I watch our team practice, there’s a bunch of guys that I would have a lot of confidence in being out on the court at any specific time,” Dunphy said. “I think that this is the deepest team we’ve had since we’ve been at Temple.”
Replacing Moore, Fernandez and Eric are the likes of Scootie Randall, Dalton Pepper and Jake O’Brien, who all have viable college basketball experience.
Randall redshirted last season after a standout junior season on North Broad that was cut short by a knee injury; Pepper transferred from West Virginia after a stellar high school career at nearby Pennsbury; and O’Brien comes to Temple from Boston University, where he scored more than 1,000 points in three seasons for the Terriers.
“Although we lost three guys that played a lot of basketball for us, we have a lot of experience.” Dunphy said.
Players and coaches are raving about the addition of O’Brien, who sat out last year because of a foot injury. Dunphy said he’s not sure he has ever had a big man at Temple that can shoot like O’Brien can.
“I don’t think we’ve had somebody with that ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter as a four man,” Dunphy stated.
“Jake is really good,” Temple guard Khalif Wyatt, one of two returning starters, said. “Offensively he can shoot. He’s probably one of our best shooter and he’s versatile.”
O’Brien couldn’t be more thrilled about the opportunity to play at Temple.
“I thought Temple offered everything that I was looking for,” he said. “It offered a place I could come in and play right away and also a place I could win. My ultimate goal is to win as many games as I can and go to the NCAA tournament and I thought Temple offered that for me.”
Aside from O’Brien, Temple has two other veterans who are looking to revive their careers.
Randall is 100 percent healthy after a knee injury caused him to miss all of last year and Pepper is eligible to play after sitting out last year due to transfer rules.
Both are itching to get back on the court.
“I’m just excited to get back out there and play with those guys,” said Randall, who averaged 10.7 points and 4.7 rebounds two seasons ago. “It’s been a year and a half and there’s been a lot of things going through my mind. Just to have a group of guys last year and this year just to support you and keep you up and to keep your spirits high is my main thing. My main thing is to be out there with those guys”
Pepper, on the other hand, had no other choice but to watch a team that won 24 games and captured an Atlantic 10 regular-season title a season ago. Pepper will play a big role this year off the bench and has the ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor.
“It feels like forever since I played in a real game,” he said. “It’s real exciting and I can’t wait to get on the court and compete with my teammates who I’ve been practicing with for the last year.”
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