The Next Episode: Dre Perry adapting to his new role with the Owls

It could have been the one that sent Temple home happy after a back-and-forth battle with Miami.

De’Vondre “Dre” Perry lined up a corner three with 35 seconds to go in the game, got nothing but net, and the Owls took a 77-76 lead. 

“I had no doubt in it,” said the junior forward.

The lead didn’t last. Unfortunately for Temple, Miami would regroup and snag a tightly knit 78-77 win over the men from North Broad.

While it didn’t end up being the game winner, Perry’s shot was a microcosm of a major takeaway from Temple’s game on Tuesday night. 

Don’t forget about Dre.

The 6-foot-7 forward finished with a career high 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting (4-of-6 from beyond the arc) in 22 minutes of action. It’s only the fourth time in ten games this season that Perry has seen the court for 20+ minutes.

“I’d say I shot the ball well, but my teammates found me when I was open,” Perry said of his performance on Tuesday night. “They made it easy for me.”

A year ago, the Baltimore native was a bonafide starter, regularly seeing big minutes down low next to Ernest Aflakpui. That is in the past, at least for now, as Perry’s struggles combined with the emergence of fellow forward J.P. Moorman II, spelled the end of his starting job last January.

It took time for him to adjust. In the thirteen games he came off the bench last season, he averaged just 3 points on 33% shooting in about 14 minutes of action per game.

This season has been a different story as the junior is now averaging 7.4 points per game on 51.9% shooting from the field while seeing the floor for about 18 minutes per game.

“Throughout my journey it’s been about working on staying consistent and just doing all the little things well, paying attention to the little things, doing all the dirty work,” Perry said. “I feel like I’ve been doing pretty good at it.”

After a couple of quiet games for Perry, he’s turned on the jets in terms of scoring his last two times out. An efficient 4-of-6 shooting in the blowout win over St. Joe’s gave the forward 9 points in that game, followed up by Tuesday night’s big time performance.

The secret?

“From the staff all the way down, they’ve got full confidence in each other,” Perry said. “It’s just making the game fun and easier.”

His frame presents a persistent match-up problem for opposing big men. Couple his frame with his refined shot, he creates a predicament for opposing forwards who are accustomed to spending all their time in the post.

His abilities are magnified in the pick and roll, which can go a long way for the Owls to find an identity in the halfcourt game. He and the aforementioned Moorman have similar abilities which allow the Owls to run out a floor spacer at forward at almost all times.

“[Perry] certainly helps us at the three point line. He’s shooting the ball well this year [which] gives us another option that other teams have to concern themselves with,” said Temple head coach Aaron McKie. “Playing against bigger guys, he can pick and pop [or] put the ball on the floor and get around those guys.”

Perry’s re-emergence is a part of a much deeper bench than the Owls had a year ago. It was very rare a season ago to see the Owls get more than nine players on the floor and now it has become commonplace.

In 2018-19, Shizz Alston Jr., Quinton Rose, and Nate Pierre-Louis accounted for about two-thirds of the team’s points and each of them played over 34 minutes per night. This year, Rose, Pierre-Louis, and Alani Moore II only account for half of the team’s scoring output and none of them are playing more than 32 minutes per night.

The balance was evident on Tuesday night as the bench scored 36 points, led by Perry’s 18, Monty Scott’s 10, and Jake Forrester’s 8. If the team comes remotely close to this kind of bench production every night, the difference in this team will be drastic.

“One of our major concerns coming into the game was their bench. They got a lot of weapons and [Perry] is certainly one of them.” said Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga of the Owls’ roster. “They are going to be very, very tough to beat in their conference…they are long and athletic.”

While Larrañaga’s team found a way to win, the blueprint he discusses for the Owls is evident. With that said, the team has some work to be done before conference play opens in less than two weeks, including a home game against Rider on Saturday.

Nonetheless, on the night where Aaron McKie made a point of saying he hopes for his team “to be a reflection of himself,” he may have found the 6th Man of the Year version in Dre Perry’s ability to come off the bench. 


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