Fernandez finds his shot

Juan Fernandez
Juan Fernandez
Posted: January 20, 2012

Juan Fernandez said nothing was different.

The Temple point guard didn't think too much about his slump. Fernandez just went out Wednesday night and shot the ball as he normally does.

Unfortunately for La Salle, the 6-foot-4 point guard had much better results than in the Owls' previous five games.

Breaking out of his shooting slump, Fernandez played a major role in Temple's 76-70 Atlantic Ten Conference victory at the Liacouras Center.

The preseason all-A-10 selection finished with 12 points after making 3 of 7 field-goal attempts and 5 of 6 free throws.

And his points came during clutch situations.

After La Salle pulled within one point, Fernandez hit a floater to give Temple a 66-63 advantage with 6 minutes, 10 seconds remaining.

Then, after the Explorers closed the gap to 68-67, his foul shots gave the Owls (12-5) a three-point cushion and much-needed breathing room with 2:05 remaining.

This was a big difference from Fernandez's previous outings.

He shot a combined 2 for 19 from the field in the two games before Wednesday, against St. Louis and Richmond. Fernandez shot just 27 percent (12 for 44) during Temple's five contests prior to Wednesday.

Thanks to his teammates, Fernandez said he never lost his confidence.

Even when it appeared he deserved to take a backseat, Fernandez was instructed to keep shooting the ball.

"I try to stay closer to [his teammates] when I am not having good games," he said of battling through the slump. "And they helped me through all this.

"It's actually to their credit."

One would assume Fernandez's ability to deal with past shooting slumps also helped.

Apparently, that wasn't the case.

"I try not to look at the past," Fernandez said. "You got to move forward. There's no point.

"If you look at the past, it's only to learn. You have to move forward."

Next on tap: Temple will entertain Maryland at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Palestra.

Before Tuesday's setback at Florida State, the Terrapins (12-5) had won nine of 10 games. As has been the case since Micheal Eric injured his right kneecap, the Owls are at a huge height disadvantage in the post. Maryland center Alex Len is a 7-1, 225-pounder from Ukraine. The freshman, who has only three seasons of eligibility, is averaging 8.9 points and 6.9 rebounds after being suspended the first 10 games of the season according to NCAA guidelines.

Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-7081, kpompey@phillynews.com or @pompeysgridlock on Twitter. Read his blog, "Owls Inq," at www.philly.com/OwlsInq

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