"I would hope these guys are beginning to believe that we can be a good ball club," John Chaney said after his Owls won their fifth game in a row to improve to 9-7 overall and 3-0 in the Atlantic Ten.
When Dayton coach Oliver Purnell talked about Temple, he concentrated on point guard Lynn Greer: "We didn't defend Greer. . . . Greer was great offensively. . . . Our inability to stop Greer cost us."
The unflappable junior shot 8 for 12 from the field and scored 24 points as he led a Temple offense that turned the ball over just once in the second half, when center Kevin Lyde was called for an illegal screen.
So there wasn't much for Chaney to complain about. "No turnovers" were the only words he had written on the blackboard in the Owls' locker room. He underlined them a few times.
Of course, that has been Chaney's philosophy for decades. But another statistic - a more surprising one - was just as significant last night.
For the second straight game, the Owls made 15 of 17 free throws (88.2 percent) - this from a team that was shooting less than 65 percent from the line going into last weekend.
Lyde, who began the night shooting 42.9 percent from the line, went 8 for 8 after Purnell had instructed his players to foul him.
"I've been talking to his folks, threatening him," Chaney said of Lyde. "That might have helped something. I'm very pleased. He's been going to the foul line so much. Maybe this will give him a lot more confidence."
Temple will play host to Fordham tomorrow, and Dayton will visit St. Joseph's on Sunday. If the home teams win both games, St. Joe's will be visiting the Owls on Tuesday with first place in the A-10 on the line.
Right after halftime last night, Temple, as usual, had stepped up its defense, looking to trap. But the Flyers, up by two points at the break, maneuvered right through the defense, splitting the traps, moving the ball to the weak side or finding openings for medium-range jumpers. They scored on seven straight possessions. Chaney later talked about how Dayton also was doing a good job of using its big men to screen off Temple's weak-side help.
The Owls' counter was to go to a 2-3 defense, which, Chaney said, clogged up the corners. Ahead by 47-35, Dayton came up empty on its next five possessions, and Temple got back in the game and eventually moved ahead.
"We addressed it in the locker room - we've got to put away teams when we have them down," said Purnell, whose team fell to 10-5 overall and 2-1 in the A-10. "We've done this [against] two or three good teams."
Early on, Flyers guard Tony Stanley - who grew up in Southwest Philadelphia and played tennis for years at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Center before he moved to Virginia for high school - was trying to do way too much, forcing up shots and driving into the teeth of Temple's zone.
At one point, Stanley had made 1 of 6 shots and had fired up two air balls, while the rest of the Flyers had made 7 of 10 shots, including five three-pointers.
At the other end, Temple went to Lyde almost every time for the first six minutes. He took five of the Owls' first seven shots, making two of them.
As he had in a victory over St. Bonaventure on Saturday, Greer kept the Owls in the game. He made his first four shots, taking away Dayton's early momentum.
After Dayton took an 11-5 lead, Greer drove for a basket, was fouled, and completed a three-point play. He then stole the ball and added another layup before hitting a pull-up 15-foot jumper while defended tightly. The Owls wound up scoring on six straight possessions for a 24-22 lead.
Dayton went ahead when Brooks Hall connected for his fourth three-pointer of the first half. But Greer then hit another three over Stanley, giving him 13 points in the half.
After halftime, Hall missed all of his three-point shots. Meanwhile, Quincy Wadley joined Greer in making some important jumpers, Alex Wesby hit a big three, and freshman David Hawkins made a couple of hustle plays that helped turned the tide.
Mike Jensen's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org