Temple captain Jaylen Bond (above) and the Owls were picked sixth in the AAC preseason poll. (Photo: Josh Einbinder-Schatz/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
A year after missing out on the NCAA Tournament by the slimmest of margins, Temple has some work to do to make it back thanks to some key graduations.
That was reflected in the American Athletic Conference's preseason coaches poll, where the Owls were picked to finish sixth in the 11-team conference.
No Temple players were mentioned on either of the two league preseason all-conference teams.
The preseason favorite is last year's champion, Southern Methodist, though the Mustangs won't be the top seed in the AAC Tournament in Orlando next March--due to a "lack of control" charge levied against head coach Larry Brown, the NCAA has banned SMU from the 2016 postseason. Brown was found to have lied to NCAA investigators about his knowledge of whether a former assistant coach and staffer helped a player with his schoolwork to remain ineligible.
After SMU, Connecticut and Cincinnati were picked second and third, respectively, while Tulsa and its loaded senior class are fourth in the Golden Hurricane's second year in the three-year-old league.
After losing to SMU in the AAC semifinals a year ago, Temple's record was 23-10, with a 13-5 mark in conference play plus a win over Kansas in December. But that wasn't enough for the Tournament selection committee, who left the Owls as the first team out of the 68-team March Madness.
Now Fran Dunphy and company will have to move forward without two of their three leading scorers from a year ago, point guard Will Cummings (14.8 ppg) and Jesse Morgan (11.9 ppg), both of whom exhausted their eligibility.
Seniors Quenton DeCosey (12.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and captain Jaylen Bond (7.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg), as well as junior point guard Josh Brown (6.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg) and sophomore Obi Enechionyia (5.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg) are expected to form the core of this year's squad.
American Athletic Conference Preseason Poll
(First-place votes in parethesis)
1. Southern Methodist -- 98 points (8)
2. Connecticut -- 87 (2)
3. Cincinnati -- 84 (1)
4. Tulsa -- 76
5. Memphis -- 59
6. Temple -- 54
7. Houston -- 48
8. East Carolina -- 31
9. Central Florida -- 30
10. South Florida -- 20
11. Tulane -- 11
Preseason All-AAC First Team
Octavius Ellis -- Sr., Cincinnati
Daniel Hamilton -- Soph., Connecticut
Markus Kennedy -- R-Sr., Southern Methodist
*Nic Moore -- Sr., Southern Methodist
James Woodard -- Sr., Tulsa
* = Preseason PoTY
Preseason All-AAC Second Team
Troy Caupain -- Jr., Cincinnati
Amida Briham -- Jr., Connecticut
Sterling Gibbs -- Gr., Connecticut
Shaq Goodwin -- Sr., Memphis
Shaquille Harrison -- Sr., Tulsa