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Carlos Previews Temple!

This year, the NIT final will pit a team that is best known for its trademark
defensive style which forces a lot of turnovers against a team that is best
known for…. its trademark defensive style that forces a lot of turnovers.
Both Duke and the Temple Owls are teams that play a set defensive style for
99% of the season. In the case of Duke it is the high pressure man-to-man
that overplays the passing lanes. In the case of Temple it is the matchup
zone which will aggressively attack the ball in a manner that may make casual
basketball observers wonder if it isn't a man defense.

In fact, the overplaying, strong help/rotation man defense that Duke employs
shares more in common with Temple's matchup zone than it does most man-to-man
defenses. The matchup uses many man to man principles once the ball is in
the halfcourt. Owl coach John Chaney has been using the matchup zone since
he was a high school coach in the Philadelphia area and is the game's most
renown practitioner of the defense. Much like Dean Smith and the Four
Corners, Chaney didn't invent the matchup zone, but he has become synonymous
with the style.

Duke shares something else in common with the Temple Owls. Both teams have
not had the luxury of using a deep bench so far this season. For the Devils
the bench has mostly been limited to Chris Duhon who has played more minutes
than some of the starters have logged. For Temple the situation is similar
but not exactly the same. Temple has played their 7th and 8th man some, but
the big issue is the number of minutes seen by several of their key starters.
Lynn Greer has played 160 minutes in 4 games. That's 40 minutes a game.
That's 4 games without leaving the floor. So far he has been the king of the
marathon but he's not the only guy in the race. Inside man Kevin Lyde is
playing 35 minutes per game, Quincy Wadley is playing 33 minutes, and Alex
Wesby and David Hawkins are logging 27 minutes.

But the short bench is not the thing that leaps out at you when looking at
the Temple team. What stands out is the size of the Owls. They're not a
team with t a series of 7 footers though. They are a team that has guys
going 290 pounds (Ronald Rollerson) , 280 pounds (Carlton Aaron), and 260
pounds (Kevin Lyde). To put it in perspective, those three guys are bigger
than the center and two guards….on the Owl football team. Fortunately for
Duke the 280 pound guy doesn't play much. Unfortunately the 290 pound guy
starts alongside the 260 pound guy. Duke will try and counter that with 270
pounds (Boozer) and 220 pounds (Battier).

Temple made the NIT final after an opening round victory over the Delaware
Blue Hens who are coached by former Duke assistant David Henderson.
Following the tight 56-49 victory were a 12 point win over New Mexico and a 8
point defeat of Indiana in the semi-final. Sandwiched in between the
Delaware and New Mexico games was a non-NIT game against Memphis. The
contest was probably the brainchild of some ESPN executive who was watching
Celebrity Death Match on the day John Calipari was named the Memphis coach.
The only things missing for the night were ring announcer Michael Buffer and
a set of Chaney / Calipari claymation figures. On a side note, Temple won
the game 67-62.

As most Duke fans are aware, the Devils advanced to the finals with wins over
Princeton, Villanova, and Texas. The Princeton game was an easy 87-50 win
over a game but overmatched team. With no starter over 6-7 the Tigers were
forced to play a sagging zone that often had 4 defenders surrounding the ball
when Duke would feed the interior. The tradeoff for Princeton was allowing
open looks on the perimeter and Duke capitalized with Shane Battier hitting a
school record 9 threes. The Villanova game was much tougher as the Duke
defense focused on containing the Wildcat three point shooters. Villanova
center Michael Bradley took advantage of the opening to score 28 points in
helping the Cats keep it close. Duke watched a comfortable second half
margin of 17 points slip all the way down to 9 before finishing the game off
for a 13 point victory.

In the semi-final game against Texas, Duke utilized their dribble penetration
to continually draw first half fouls. Duke concentrated on hitting the
defensive boards to key their transition game and sprint out to an early
first half lead. From there they never looked back and the game was out of
reach early in the second half.

Thanks to a scheduling quirk, Duke and Temple will play again in 9 days.
That, combined with the oddity of playing a non-exempt game in the middle of
the NIT tournament, gives Temple the honor of the NCAA's strangest early
season schedule. That's no small accomplishment when you remember that this
is a year that saw the defending national champs play an exhibition game
against the Harlem Globetrotters in a nationally televised broadcast.


As mentioned above, the Temple interior players are extremely large. The
usual starters are Kevin Lyde and Ron Rollerson. Lyde is a 6-9, 260 pound
junior who was a high school teammate of Duke's William Avery (and also
Villanova's Jermaine Medley). Lyde has come a long way since his high school
days when he was a big strong body but lacked refinement. Still, Lyde was
impressive enough in high school to merit a selection to the McDonald's
All-Star game. Last year Lyde posted 6.4 points and a team-leading 7.6
rebounds per game while starting alongside now departed forward/center Lamont

This year Lyde has improved in just about every facet of the game. The
rebound total has gone up to 9 per game and he's averaging 12 points per
game. His scoring average is slightly inflated thanks to a 21 point output
against Delaware, a team that lacks a dominant inside presence but he still
uses his size well and is a strong rebounder. Against a big New Mexico team
he grabbed 10 rebounds and in the Memphis game he had 14 rebounds including 6
on the offensive end of the court. His game has evolved to become less
reliant on power moves although he still is very strong with the ball in the

Rollerson is a real load. He may be listed at 290 but somebody should really
call for a recount. When you picture Rollerson think Nigel Dixon of Florida
State or Robert Traylor of Michigan. Rollerson's game falls somewhere in
between those two. Like both of those guys, Rollerson is surprisingly nimble
for a guy his size although in his case he could stand to be playing at
around 275. If he were to drop 15 pounds he would be a much more effective
player. As it stands he's still pretty tough in stretches but he has been
playing on a bad ankle and it limits him at times. At 6-10 he is the second
leading shot blocker on the team.

Containing them will be the responsibility of Shane Battier and Carlos
Boozer. While they may give up a considerable amount of size, Boozer and
Battier have shown themselves to be just as capable on the glass as their
Temple counterparts. Boozer is coming off two solid games with an especially
impressive game against Texas. The Longhorns' Chris Owens entered the game
averaging 18 but was held to 5 points by Boozer. That's a great improvement
for Boozer over his performance against Villanova's Bradley.

Nobody ever questions the defense of Shane Battier and for good reason.
Battier will win the Defensive Player of the Year award this season. Take
that one to the bank. Against Texas he had 3 steals and 2 blocked shots.
But Battier's defensive prowess stretches beyond statistics. He's become the
kind of defender who is able to completely take his man out of the game.
Battier will end up tormenting his guy to the point he'll either take bad
shots or no shots at all.

Offensively Boozer is an opportunistic player. Against a man defense, Duke's
motion offense generates a great deal of dribble penetration and Boozer makes
sure he is positioned to rebound or receive a pass. Against a matchup zone
like Temple's, Boozer must look for the seams and be prepared finish against
the bigger Temple players.

Battier continues to expand his offensive arsenal. He's currently hitting
56.5% of his three point attempts. In the last few games he's shown a
willingness and ability to take his guy off the dribble. Depending upon how
Duke attacks the Temple zone the Devils could find openings for the three.
Shane could have a big game in that instance.

Off the bench the Owls usually prefer to substitute for a smaller lineup
rather than bring in any reserve interior players. Although they have a few
reserve interior players on the team the only one who has seen significant
action is 6-9, 280 pound freshman Carlton Aaron. Aaron's averaging about 7
minutes a game although his numbers have fallen off in the last two games
where he's logged a total of 7 minutes. Against Indiana he only saw 1
minute's worth of action. Down the road Aaron could become a major impact
player for the Owls. Right now he offers a big body who can bang and grab a
couple of rebounds.

Duke has to be concerned about their interior reserves. Although there is
depth available there is also a considerable talent drop-off when Duke needs
to go to the bench inside. Some of that is attributable to the fact that
Duke's two starters on the inside are both Naismith nominees. But more of it
is attributable to the fact that two of Duke's reserves were brought in to as
developmental players. The unexpected losses of some Duke players two years
ago, coupled with a small recruiting class last year, has forced Duke to play
Casey Sanders and Nick Horvath earlier than they originally intended. Both
players have added strength and weight coming into the year but at 6-11, 218
pounds and 6-10, 221 pounds Sanders and Horvath often give up a lot of
strength to opposing interior players.

Sanders has earned more playing time this year, seeing decent minutes in the
Princeton opener and the Texas game. He compensates for his relative lack of
strength by utilizing his quickness and leaping ability. Offensively Sanders
is still very raw which is where he differs from Horvath. Horvath has a
solid offensive game which will continue to blossom as he sees more playing
time. Right now, he plays a little tentative but the skills are there.
Horvath's progress was limited by an injury early this year but he returned
for his first regular season action with 13 minutes against Texas.

Sanders and Horvath could have trouble in this type of game facing such a
physical opponent. Reserve Matt Christensen, if healthy, could provide some
additional bulk in the paint. At 6-10, 247 pounds Christensen would present
more of a defensive challenge for the Temple big men.


Temple starts 6-6, 190 pound junior Alex Wesby at the small forward. Wesby
is a second year player after sitting out his freshman year due to NCAA
eligibility requirements. He spent most of last year on the bench watching
Mark Karcher lead the Owls in scoring. Karcher found himself in a tough
position at the end of last year. He was one year away from being a first
round pick but he was also trying to support his two children, one of whom
has sickle-cell anemia. Sadly, the Sixers cut Karcher after they selected
him in the second round.

Wesby is trying to use this opportunity to build on his 3.4 ppg average from
last year. So far this season he's contributing 8.5 points and 4 rebounds
per outing. He is a good outside shooter although not consistent shooting
around 35% from the arc. Wesby had a 1-7 night against New Mexico but also
hit 3-5 against the Hoosiers.

On the other wing is returning starter Quincy Wadley coming off a year where
he was the Owls' second leading scorer at 12.8 points per game. Wadley is a
6-4 guard who entered Temple as a non-qualifier but earned a fourth year of
eligibility after graduating in four years. That experience allows him to
provide the team with a leader on the court. He is particularly dangerous
beyond the three point line where he has scored more than half his points.
Although Wesby and Wadley are capable of driving the ball to the hoop, both
are more content to shoot the long ball. 47 of their combined 77 shot
attempts came from beyond the arc.

Duke's starts 6-9 Michael Dunleavy at the small forward and 6-6 Nate James at
the off guard. Defensively they are looking to rebound from the Texas game
where the Horns were able to score 35 points from the wing thanks to the
efforts of Maurice Evans and Brandon Mouton. Many of those baskets came in
garbage time but Mouton in particular was impressive hitting several baskets
with pull up jumpers. Dunleavy and James were able to take the three point
shot away from the Longhorn wings forcing them into a 2-9 performance. That
effort mirrored the 1-7 nightmare they inflicted on the Villanova guards in
the previous game. The success that opposing wing players have had against
Duke has been primarily inside the arc. For the Owl wings (sorry) to be
effective they will have to reverse their earlier tendencies and look to beat
Duke off the dribble.

If Wesby and Wadley constitute a formidable outside shooting threat with
their 35% and 37.5 % shooting then Dunleavy and James would be even more
frightening. Dunleavy is currently shooting 50% and James is shooting 44%.
Despite those figures, and Duke's reputation as being too reliant on the 3
point shot, both players have been effective taking the ball to the hoop.
Dunleavy is shooting 11-13 from inside the arc while James is 14-18. Those
are some unbelievable numbers, although many of those baskets come in the
transition game.

If Chaney is looking for someone to provide dribble penetration from the wing
he can turn to David Hawkins. Nobody is going to confuse the 6-4 freshman as
a shooter or finesse player. What he is though is an explosive athlete who
looks to drive the ball. He averages 7.5 points per game and has some
impressive rebounding statistics. Hawkins pulls down 3.5 boards per contest
but what really stands out is that 2.1 of those rebounds are on the offensive
end. His versatility and strength on the inside allow Chaney the luxury of
going to his bench without having to play one of his lesser talented interior
reserves. Hawkins has seen extended minutes in recent games when he comes in
for Rollerson.

The other wing/backcourt reserve for the Owls is Ronald Blackshear. If that
name sounds familiar to ACC fans it's because he was originally signed with
Clemson but was unable to qualify. Temple was able to take Blackshear as a
non-qualifier and he spent last year getting his academics in order. Finally
getting a chance to play, the 6-4 sophomore has slowly worked his way onto
the court. Blackshear played 15 minutes against New Mexico and 9 minutes
against Indiana after playing just 8 minutes total in the first two games.
His development would probably come a little more quickly if Blackshear
showed a bit more conscience in his shot selection. So far this season he is
just 3-12 from the field with one of those baskets being a three point heave
from just this side of the center jump circle. It was the kind of shot that
would make Duke assistant coach Chris Collins question the selection.
There's no telling what was going through Chaney's mind at the moment.

Duke also has a thin backcourt bench, relying almost exclusively on freshman
Chris Duhon. Duhon has stepped in and performed like a seasoned veteran from
the start. Offensively he can be generous to a fault. Early in the Texas
game Coach K admonished him for over passing. Duhon came into Duke with a
reputation as a three point shooter and has struggled early to find his
range. After hitting 4-6 against Villanova it appeared he was settling in
but he followed that up with an 0-3 performance against Texas.

Despite his shooting difficulties Duhon has been an essential contributor for
Duke this year. He can play both guard spots which allows Duke to maintain
their intensity when starting guard Jason Williams is out of the game. On
defense Duhon is rapidly emerging as Duke's best perimeter defender. He has
amazing quickness but is rarely out of control.

Also on the Duke bench is another freshman, 6-6 Andre Sweet. The Devils
don't expect much out of Sweet on the offensive end. Sweet can contribute on
defense but at this point he is unlikely to see action in close games.


Last year Temple relied upon rock steady point guard Pepe Sanchez. Normally
losing a guy like Sanchez would create a huge void in a team, especially one
running as deliberate an offense as Temple. Enter Lynn Greer, a 6-1 junior
who was the team's 6th man last year and their third leading scorer. Greer
has stepped it up big time so far this year, which is good news for the Owls.
He leads the team in minutes, points, 3 point %, assists, and steals. Even
more impressively is that he has played all those minutes and committed just
2 turnovers. Greer is equally at home hitting the long ball as he is
penetrating into the defense. When Temple needs a basket or when the shot
clock is running down they will spread the offense and let Greer try to take
his man off the dribble.

That strategy may be a little more difficult to pull off when the defender is
Jason Williams. Williams' defense has really benefited from the arrival of
Chris Duhon. With a reliable backup at the point Williams is able to more
aggressively on the defensive end. If you call Duhon the best perimeter
defender on the team then you have to look at Williams as their best on the
ball defender. At 6-2, 196 pounds Williams has the size to physically check
most opposing point guards and the quickness to stick with them.

When Duke has the ball Williams is the key to their offense. Although Duhon
is a more than adequate point guard Williams can be absolutely magical. As a
freshman Williams could be erratic and turnover prone. This year he has put
together a string of fine floor games and is currently sporting a 3 to 1
assist-to-turnover ratio and 8 assists per game. He's hitting 33% from
behind the three point line which does not reflect his accuracy from long
range thanks in large part to an 0-7 performance against Villanova.

What Williams brings to Duke on offense is the ability to control the game
when facing most man-to-man defenses. There are very few defenders that
Williams cannot breakdown. That creates the penetration that sets up much of
what Duke likes to do against a man defense. Williams is able to create easy
offensive opportunities for Duke's inside players or wide open three point
looks for the perimeter players.


Duke's defensive pressure has been outstanding in forcing 66 turnovers in the
first three games. They will be hard pressed to keep that pace against a
Temple team that is averaging less than 8 turnovers a game. The Owls are
very conservative with the ball as witnessed by the infrequent turnovers as
well as an equally low assist totals of 8.25 per game. Chaney probably
expects that number to increase as the Owls have yet to face a team that
pressures the ball with the quality of athletes as the Duke squad. He should
also expect Duke to really come after Lynn Greer to try and make him work
hard for the 40 minutes he's probably going to play. As he tires he may
become more turnover prone against the aggressive Duke pressure. The number
of turnovers Duke can force will have a major impact on the outcome of the

When Temple gets into their halfcourt offense they have a number of options.
Backcourt players Greer and Wadley offer most of the firepower on the outside
while Lyde is the principle weapon inside. Much of what Temple wants to do
with their deliberate offense will run through their Greer. Duke may
approach this game much like they did with Villanova and try to take away
Temple's three point shooters. That means Greer, Wadley, and Wesby.
Bradshear may be able to contribute from the outside also but it's
questionable if he will see significant playing time in this type of game.

If Duke is successful in taking the three point shot away Temple will most
likely look inside to Lyde or to Greer and Hawkins to create opportunities
off penetration. Look for Battier to lock up on Lyde down low and limit his
opportunities. Lyde will be a handful on the low blocks for Battier who will
be giving up 40 pounds. Hawkins has been very effective taking the ball to
the hole and in this type of a game he should see major minutes. Dunleavy
will be severely challenged to stop his forays to the basket although if
Temple is in their small lineup (Hawkins in the game for Rollerson) you may
see Battier drawing that defensive assignment with Boozer defending Lyde
inside. In either case, Hawkins will still be tough for the Devils as he has
shown the ability to drive against bigger defenders.

When Duke has the ball and is facing that matchup zone the key must be
patience. The Temple defense will allow the opposition open looks at the
three but the key is not to take the first shot available. Chaney would love
for Duke to hoist quick shots instead of rotating the ball and stretching his

Few coaches in the game today have enjoyed as much success against Chaney as
Coach K. Duke is 3-1 against Chaney's teams with the lone loss being a 1
point game in 1996. Part of the reason for that success is the style of team
Coach K likes to put on the floor and how that works against the matchup
zone. Temple's defensive philosophy is geared towards forcing teams into an
outside attack. For most teams that means giving up higher percentage shots.

Sometimes it can make for some big nights for opposing players. Trajan
Langdon had 23 points against them in 1999. Little used Ty Hall had 6 three
pointers for Seton Hall in last year's tourney. Memphis' Marcus Moody went
5-6 from the three point line this year. You get the idea. Coach K's teams
at Duke have always been built around a strong perimeter attack and this year
is no different. Duke can put 5 guys on the floor at the same time who are
all excellent three point shooters.

In order to create those three point opportunities Duke try to split the
zone. If Williams and Duhon are able to get into the heart of the defense
then Dunleavy, Battier, and James will find themselves open on the outside.
James in particular could be in a position to have a big game as one of the
areas where the zone could have some openings is in the deep corners a spot
where James is particularly comfortable. Duke will also run several screens
off the ball to free up shooters.

If the Devils are able to create and hit their outside shots the Temple zone
will have to extend which should soften things up for Boozer on the interior.
Temple traditionally will try a trapping defense if they start to give up
too many open looks on the perimeter. Chaney went to the trapping defense
against Duke in the 1999 tournament and while the defense did slow the Devils
they were eventually able to overcome it thanks to William Avery's ball

Ideally though, Duke would like to avoid facing the Temple set defense all
together. Duke will, as always, want to get out and run- either off
turnovers or from defensive rebounds. Duke won't relish playing against that
big front line of Temple's and if they can get out and run they may be able
to dictate a smaller lineup from the Owls. Rollerson in particular may have
trouble playing a full court game and the Devils matchup much better with him
out of the lineup.

The last time Duke was in the preseason NIT finals they met up against a
solid Indiana squad with a red-hot player. If Temple is to win they won't do
it with a 39 point performance for any one guy. Instead they will look to
their defense to limit Duke's scoring and keep the score below 75 points. If
they're going to do that they'll need some help from Duke in the form of
missed shots. The Devils should be able to get some open shots and if they
hit them they can force Temple into some uncomfortable situations on both
offense and defense.