Written by: Sam Cohn
Photos by: Mike Zingrone
During the offseason the Temple Owls promised they would play a fast-paced brand of basketball.
In a 70-62 opening-night victory against Drexel, they did just that.
First game jitters and sloppiness may have gotten the best of both sides considering the 28 total turnovers — 11 for Temple and 17 for Drexel.
“When you [turn the ball over] you beat yourself. We work too hard to just give a game away,” said Temple Head Coach Aaron McKie. “If someone’s going to beat you, you want them to beat you straight up.”
It may have felt like the Owls turned the ball over too much or showed poor decision making early on but they were able to make up for their first-half mistakes and seal the win.
“We started focusing more on the defensive side, especially on my end. I was a little out of it in the first half and I usually bring the intensity defensively,” said junior captain Nate Pierre-Louis.
The Dragons and the Owls were neck and neck on the boards with 31 and 30, respectively, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
Drexel grabbed 16 offensive boards while Temple hauled in just 8.
“We failed. We failed in that department,” said captain J.P. Moorman II. “We have big goals and big aspirations but if we don’t rebound the ball we can just throw those out the window.”
With 16 points and 7 rebounds, Dragons freshman forward T.J. Bickerstaff caused problems for the Owls on defense. He scored at will and made a few big plays to keep the game competitive.
“We’ll be at our best when we play downhill, we’re on the balls of our feet, and we’re aggressive,” said Drexel Head Coach Zach Spiker. “[Bickerstaff] was probably the best example of that today.”
Looking forward, the Owls have a handful of things to improve upon from the win.
Rebounding, execution on offense, and transition defense were the things Moorman cited. Coach McKie added the feeling of everyone trying to do too much.
“Everyone was out there trying to win the game on one play and that’s not how we practice, that’s not what we talked about throughout the summer, it’s not what we talked about leading up to this game,” said Coach McKie. “We talked about sharing the game and playing as a team.”
Sitting at a clean 1-0, they’ll stay at the Liacouras Center hosting Morgan State on Saturday looking to improve on a lot of the little things.
WHIP Player of the Game
Junior captain Nate Pierre-Louis was the spark plug the Owls needed at both ends of the floor in the second half. In addition to his five steals, Pierre-Louis posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 boards in 29 minutes. He’s always been the guy to push others around him to play their best and it came in handy on opening night. He shot 50% from the field and went 6-9 from the stripe but it’s the intangibles that he brings that make him such a crucial member of this team. With Quinton Rose missing much of the second half due to injury, Pierre-Louis stepped up in a major way.