By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Temple Owls are 1-2 here in the early going and next up they travel to South Carolina to play in the Charleston Classic, opening things up against Clemson on Thursday.
All three of Temple’s games have been tight late. On opening night they were able to grab a win at the Palestra against Penn, but that was followed by tough losses to Kent State and Towson.
“We have to be a more balanced team in terms of playing better defense at certain times and better offensively at other times,” Temple head coach Fran Dunphy tells KYW Newsradio. “But we’ve been in position to win all three games, we just have come up short in the last two. That’s been disappointing to be honest with you. We need to finish games better than we have. The encouraging thing is we’ve put ourselves in good position, the disappointing thing is that we’ve got to finish games.”
Clemson is 3-0 as they head into Thursday’s game, chalking up wins over Stetson, Delaware State and South Carolina. They are being led by 6’6″ forward K.J. McDaniels. The junior is averaging 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds a game.
“McDaniels is a really good basketball player,” Dunphy says. “He’s got an unusual game to him in that, last year for example, he blocked 58 shots. For a perimeter player, that’s sort of extraordinary. I think what it speaks to is obviously he’s a very good athlete and a very good jumper, but I think he’s a very intelligent player, too. He knows where to be and he has that special feel that a shot blocker gets. He will certainly influence the game greatly. He has a wonderful impact on each game that he’s been in.”
Temple will play three games in four days during this appearance in the Classic. After Clemson on Thursday, they’ll get either Georgia or Davidson on Friday. Then on Sunday they will match-up with one of the other four teams in the field (Nebraska, UMass, UAB and New Mexico). That’s a lot of basketball in a short period of time, but Dunphy is confident they’ll be able to keep the squad fresh.
“I don’t know that it’s managing the minutes during the course of the game, I think it’s managing the time spent on the court working up to the game,” Dunphy says. “For example, we went pretty good (at practice Monday and Tuesday), we were off on Sunday. We’re going to be walking through every scenario we can think of (Wednesday). And by the time you reach game day, we don’t do much. Obviously we’ll rest throughout most of the day. But also, there’s so many different time-outs during the course of the game. So you get a chance to rest often. We’ll have plenty of rest during the course of the game. What we need to do is stay out of foul trouble and we need to take care of the basketball.”
Temple’s match-up with Clemson on Thursday tips-off at 8:00pm.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.