Temple basketball: Expectations for the 2014-15 season

July and August are long months for college basketball fans.

There is not much going on in the world of college basketball, as most fans wait for football season to hold them over until it’s time for hoops. The only thing a basketball fan can do is consider whether or not their team will be good enough next season.

That’s what I’m here for, Temple fans. With over three months until the first tip-off of the season, it’s time to take a look at what my expectations are for the Owls in 2014-15.

It’s not easy to pick an exact record for this team. I can’t imagine anyone last August had Temple penciled in to have the worst season (loss wise) in the history of the program. A 9-22 season had many fans’ faces in their hands as the Cherry and White were knocked out of the first round of the AAC Tournament in Memphis.

That will not happen again this year, and I’m almost certain of that.

The Owls are a deeper, older, and more experienced team than they were a year ago. Losing only two players in the off-season (Dalton Pepper to graduation and Anthony Lee to Ohio State), the Owls have brought in four names that can all contribute to success.

I’ve talked very highly of Jaylen Bond (see: Related Article) and Obi Enechionyia as incoming forwards to replace Anthony Lee, the AAC’s leading rebounder last year. Adding in experienced guards like Devin Coleman (who cannot play until the spring semester) and Jesse Morgan (who needs an NCAA waiver to play past the fall semester) will make the Owls much more experienced on both ends of the floor.

That’s what the Owls have coming in, and that will only benefit the young players they already have. Josh Brown and Mark Williams will be entering their sophomore season, along with Daniel Dingle who earned another year of eligibility from the NCAA after an injury ended his season very early in last year.

Those three will not only learn more from the more experienced players like Bond, Morgan, Coleman, and senior point guard Will Cummings, but they will hopefully see more minutes too.

Quenton DeCosey is a huge x-factor when it comes the success of the Owls next season. There are aspects of his game that if he works on enough, could make DeCosey one of the elite players in the conference. DeCosey is my player to watch in 2014-15, given his potential to be a star.

A few months ago I wrote an article that may have led people to think that I’m not a huge supporter of Fran Dunphy. Although I do feel Dunph needs to recruit a little better, there are not many coaches in college basketball I’d rather have.

Dunphy knows how to win games and that’s what it comes down to. Last year was a bad year for the Owls, but all the blame can’t be put on Dunphy. Injuries really hurt them, and having  just a seven man bench makes a 40 minute game feel much longer. He kept them in a lot of games they shouldn’t have been in. I’m not sure if there is a coach in the nation that could have gotten a .500 season out of the team the Owls had last year.

Dunphy is 167-97 with the Owls, a win percentage of .633. In the eight years he has been at Temple, he has taken the Owls to six NCAA Tournaments, a very impressive stat for a team that was in the A10 for seven of those eight years.

Before Dunphy came in, the Owls had missed five straight NCAA Tournaments.

The conference is one thing that may keep Temple out of the NCAA Tournament this year. Not having to play Louisville twice is a huge break for the Owls, but that doesn’t mean the conference is weak.Sports Leadership Seminar

Even with the loss of Shabazz Napier, the UConn Huskies are the team to beat in the conference. Kevin Ollie looks like he can be one of the elite coaches in the country, and I expect him to show that this year.

Larry Brown’s SMU Mustangs are on the rise as well. CBS Sports has them in their top 25 preseason rankings. The Owls split the season series with the Mustangs last year, but SMU really struggled on the road all season. Given the incredible resume Larry Brown has, I think the Mustangs will be a much better road team and a better team in general in 2014-15.

Teams like Memphis, Cincinnati, and Houston all gave Temple trouble last season, and I don’t expect any of them to be easy wins for the Owls.

The full schedule hasn’t been released yet so I can’t give an exact record prediction, but I think this team will do well, but not well enough. They are still a young team that has time to grow and develop. I look at this year as a stepping stone year where the team will get used to playing with each other and come together as the season goes on.

I’m predicting an above .500 season, with the Owls just missing out on the NCAA Tournament. They have a very tough non-conference schedule highlighted by national powerhouses Duke, Kansas, and city-rival Villanova.

The team will get better as the year goes on, especially when Devin Coleman joins the squad mid-season. It’s sure to be an exciting year in the Liacouras Center…is it November yet?