If we’re trying to put that 16-16 season behind us, this is a pretty good start. Lacking a real go-to guy and true leadership in the 2016-17 campaign, Josh Brown returning is a welcoming sight for sore eyes. Cue Josh in a gold clock riding into the Liacouras Center on a stallion like Jaime Lannister.
Daniel Dingle, Mark Williams, and Jake Robbins are all gone now. Did these three have their positives? Sure, but them leaving will open up more playing time for some of the younger guys. Let’s just be honest here: they can’t suck anymore than this crew did. Yes, Dingle was about the only guy that could penetrate last year, and he even stroked it from three pretty well at 38.5%. Other than that, these three didn’t have much to offer.
It’s time for the new guys to step up and become contributors. Who better to lead them than Josh Brown? Brown is the heart and soul of this team. In the 2015-16 season, Brown Assist Rate sat at 15.7%, good for 198th in the country. I understand that doesn’t sound all that impressive, but take into account there are 351 teams each with about 12 guys on the roster – you can do the math. With premier shooters like Shizz Alston, Alani Moore, and Obi Enechionyia back next year (Obi will be back, let’s be real), they will finally have a guy that can get them open looks. Lacking that true point guard last year, we saw the Owls settle for contested three after contested three. We can expect an increase in some shooting percentages next year with some more open looks and less settling from Temple.
Add in All-Conference Rookie and bright spot from 16-17′ in Quinton Rose and the potential return of Trey Lowe and all of a sudden this roster is looking pretty solid. If Ernest can take that next step and be more than just a rebounding machine – 44th in offensive rebound percentage and 228th in defensive – then we won’t have to constantly rely on a small line-up and our shooters always being on. Throw in those four 4-star recruits I mentioned earlier and Fran’s new willingness to give minutes to freshman, and all of a sudden Temple has depth out of nowhere. Depth was something Temple sorely lacked last year due to the injuries to Brown and Lowe, which was apparent by the fact that Shizz, Dingle, and Obi all played over 80% of the teams minutes for the entire season – each of them ranking in the top 300 in percentage of minutes played in the country last year. This depth can hopefully take away some of the tired legs we saw at the end of last season.
What else does Brown add other than his ability to distribute the rock to our shooters? Brown is a lockdown perimeter defender and has been since he stepped on the court his freshman year. Temple ranked 168th in defensive efficiency last season. A school that often relies on its defensive due to its lack of big men, better defensive is a must for the Owls; Brown can only help in this area. Another area that Brown can help? Defensive rebounding. When you think of a guard like Josh Brown, you probably don’t think of his rebounding ability. With the lack of a true, proven big man, Temple needs all the help it can get on the boards. In 2015-16 Brown’s defensive rebounding percentage sat at 13.5% for the season, and he ranked 25th out of all players in the AAC in conference play in this category. Sitting at 1.1% on offensive rebounds, it’s clear that Brown looks to attack the boards when he can on defense. With not the strongest Temple D, limiting 2nd chance opportunities is a must. Temple ranked 294th in allowing offensive rebounding to opponents last year, so they can use all the help they can get.
What did Temple miss the most last year with Brown out? His ability to come through late in games. Temple was 1-5 in games decided by 3 points or less last season. Brown has made some pretty big shots in his career. Most notably? This winner on the road against a ranked UConn team that gave the Owls back-to-back wins on the road against ranked opponents.
Welcome back, Josh Brown.