By Ed Benkin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It has been a tough stretch for Temple offensively in recent weeks. The Owls are hoping a more aggressive approach will change their fortunes.

Temple has gone cold from beyond the arch resulting in four losses in five games. On Thursday, the Owls will begin play in the American Athletic Conference Tournament. Instead of settling for shots from long-range, players such as Shizz Alston, Jr. believe it’s time to take the ball to the basket.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who can shoot the ball,” said Alston. “But I think we settle for three’s too much. We need an inside presence. Teams post against us a lot, so we need to start doing that also.”

The theory by many wearing cherry and white is that more inside scoring will benefit every part of the offense. It can’t get any worse than the start of Temple’s regular season finale, when the Owls fell behind, 24-0, at Tulsa. Coach Fran Dunphy thought his team played better after its slow start as the Owls got to the basket more. Dunphy is hoping to see more of that aggressive approach in the tournament.

“I think we needed to take it to the rim a little bit once we weren’t getting our jumpers right away,” Dunphy said. “Let’s take it to the rim and see if we can’t get to the foul line and get some points a little bit easier. ”

The Owls’ first opponent will be Tulane. The two teams split their regular season series, with each team winning on the other’s home court. while the Green Wave should provide a tough test, the Owls have shown they can play with anybody in the conference. Despite the team’s recent struggles, victories over teams such as Wichita State and non-league opponents such as Clemson and Auburn have the Owls believing they can beat any opponent they face. Guard Quinton Rose says the Owls must bring the same intensity into every game.

“It’s all about our focus and our approach going into a game,” said Rose. “I feel like in the Tulsa game, we weren’t focused as opposed to Auburn and Clemson and Wichita State when we were just locked in. We came out strong and we threw the first punch.”

In this roller coaster season for the Owls, this tournament represents a clean slate. The Owls will have an early exit if they play like they did in the opening moments at Tulsa. However, the Jekyll side of this Jekyll and Hyde squad could be dangerous if it finds its touch again on the offensive end.

“I think it’s spring trainingish,” Dunphy said. “Everybody’s starting anew. You’ve got a chance to make some noise in the tournament. Everybody in our league feels like they can beat anyone else. That’s a real healthy thing.”

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