Temple’s men’s and women’s tennis teams are both looking to improve upon last season, but have different outlooks heading into this upcoming year.
The men’s team finished 9-10 overall last year, but 4-2 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Their season was capped off by a disappointing loss to George Washington in the A-10 tournament.
Coach Steve Mauro considers his men’s squad to be in a rebuilding stage. They are faced with a critical setback of losing four starters from last year, but are also welcoming some new athletes who they hope will contribute.
“It’s a different process,” Mauro said. “We’re in a rebuilding stage. We’re bringing in a bunch of good players, we just don’t know how they’ll do on the college level. We’re hoping for the best.”
Of those returning, sophomore Kristian Marquart is the only one to post a record over .500, finishing 9-7 in singles play. With three years left to improve, the 6 foot, 2 inch athlete provides a valuable young spark for the Owls.
The women’s team (14-11, 6-1 A-10) proves to be in a better position to make a championship run than the men’s team. They suffered a painful 4-3 loss in the A-10 title match last year to Massachusetts, but with six of eight players returning and a few new promising ones being added, they appear to be in an ideal position to make a title run.
“We expect to finish [No.] 1 or 2 in our conference,” Mauro said. “With those returning players and the addition of three solid players, we should be in the hunt for the A-10 title.”
Sophomore Maame Ama Osi stood out for the lady Owls last year, recording an impressive 19-9 record in singles play. This year, along with four juniors who Mauro hopes will step into leadership roles, she will attempt to lead her squad over the hump of the A-10 championship.
Coach Steve Addazio and defensive players, junior linebacker Blaze Caponegro, senior defensive back Justin Gildea and junior defensive back Zamel Johnson, spoke about the team’s ongoing concerns with depth at football training camp day 6, the first day of two-a-day practices.
When asked about his biggest concern with his team, Addazio didn’t hesitate to talk about the importance of keeping the offensive line healthy, which returns one starter in senior right tackle Martin Wallace.
“A couple of guys get dinged up, a couple of starters are out, and all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Oh man,'” Addazio said. “Depth up front is a huge concern with me.”
Addazio said junior left guard Jeff Whittingham and sophomore right guard Jaimen Newman, both projected starters, are out with minor injuries, adding more injury into the mix with an offensive line that struggled to stay healthy throughout last season.
“Nothing serious, but just enough to throw you some curveballs,” Addazio said. “But that’s camp. That’s going to happen. It’s nothing serious, that’s good, but it takes your execution out.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the concern isn’t so much with injury as it is with replacing six starters from last year who are no longer with the team.
Caponegro is the lone returning starter to the linebacking corps that loses the team’s leading tackler, Stephen Johnson, and defensive captain Tahir Whitehead, who was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.
“I don’t think there’s enough you can say about [Whitehead],” Caponegro said. “He was a leader on and off the field. He always had energy and was giving it to everybody else.”
Caponegro said he and fellow linebackers, redshirt freshman Nate D. Smith, junior Olaniyi Adewole and senior Ahkeem Smith, are “working together as a group to get better everyday.”
“We have a lot of young guys out here proving themselves, which is really key heading into the fall and the Big East with some tough competition,” he said.
The Owls also lose two out of their four starters in the secondary from last season in cornerback Kee-ayre Griffin and free safety Kevin Kroboth, who started a combined 25 games last year.
Johnson, who started nine games at cornerback last year, said that Addazio hasn’t given him the job of outright starter this year, and he likes it that way.
“Your spot is never set in stone, so you’re always battling, you’re always fighting and there’s always competition,” Johnson said. “Your job is just to keep getting better everyday.”
Addazio said that senior defensive back Vaughn Carraway is projected at free safety opposite Gildea, who started every game last year alongside Kroboth.
“[Carraway] looks really good,” Gildea said. “He fits really well into the position. He’s a tall guy and he’s very rangy so he can get across the field really well. If [Kroboth] wasn’t there, I could see him starting for us for a couple of years.”
“[Carraway] is looking really good out there,” Johnson said. “He’s making all kinds of plays. I’m definitely looking forward to playing with him.”
Sophomore Anthony Robey and senior Maurice Jones are also competing for spots in the secondary alongside Johnson at corner. Nate D. Smith and Adewole are projected starters at linebacker per Temple’s depth chart, last updated July 27.
The Temple athletic office named Mark Ingram the assistant vice president of athletic development, it was announced Wednesday. Ingram joins the Owl community after formerly being the Senior Associate Athletic Director at Tennessee.
Prior to working at Tennessee, Ingram served as the Assistant Athletics Director for Development for the University of Georgia and the University of Missouri.
“We are excited to be able to attract one of the top athletic development administrators in the nation to join the Temple Athletics staff,” Athletics Director Bill Bradshaw said in a press release. “Mark brings a track record of success to Temple, having led not one, but three successful athletic development offices at the highest level of Division I. He is clearly the right person to lead our efforts as we transition to the Big East Conference.”
Ingram’s resume includes planning and strategizing Tennessee’s Capital Campaign that raised $336 million during his tenure. He was also involved in project management for the $250 million Neyland Football Stadium master plan.
“It is an honor for my family and I to join the staff at Temple University; we couldn’t be happier,” Ingram said in a statement. “I am grateful for the confidence that Bill Bradshaw, Tilghman Moyer [Temple’s Associate Vice President for Development] and other university leaders have shown by entrusting me with this critical position. Temple is an institution with an excellent reputation nationally, both academically and athletically. We are excited about our upcoming move to Philadelphia and look forward to becoming part of the community.”
Ingram graduated from Tennessee University in 1996 with a degree in Sports Management and was also a two-year starter on the football team.
Fran Dunphy’s squad has added an extra component to their team, as power forward Jake O’Brien has transferred from Boston University to play for the men’s basketball team, it was reported Wednesday.
While normal NCAA transfer rules require the athlete to sit out one year, O’Brien will be free to play immediately. After BU elected to transfer from the American East to the Patriot League, they lost their ability to compete in postseason play, prompting the transfer.
O’Brien is a senior with one year of eligibility remaining, but his 6-foot-9 frame gives him the ability to contribute to a sometimes vertically challeneged Owls team. He will likely be competing with Anthony Lee and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson for playing time, giving the Owls an upgraded inside presence.
O’Brien was expected to be in the conversation for American East Player of the Year. O’Brien however, did not play last season due to a surgery he underwent on his left foot, his second such procedure.
As the Owls donned full pads for the first practice of training camp, the offensive and defensive players got a chance to play at the highest level of contact since camp began. One player who the offense won’t have to compete against, along with the rest of the Big East, is linebacker Tahir Whitehead.
Whitehead, who was a senior last season, was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the April NFL Draft. Whitehead led a defense that ranked third in the country in points allowed per game at 13.9.
“You can’t replace Tahir,” defensive line coach Sean Cronin said. “He was a tremendous leader for our football team, an outstanding player and a great playmaker. He was just one of those guys that made plays.”
One player who could lead the defense in Whitehead’s absence is junior defensive tackle Levi Brown, the only Owl who was named to the 2012 preseason All-Big East first team.
“It’s a good feeling,” Brown said. “I mean, it really doesn’t mean anything right now. I am just working each day to get better. I am working as hard as I have ever worked to try and play my best football this year.”
Brown isn’t worried about losing Whitehead though, and trusts his defense can get the job done without one of its top playmakers.
“We are running the same defense we ran last year,” Brown said. “We are just trying to stick to the same stuff and compete at a high level. We can’t focus on last year. We are going to throw somebody in there who is going to make plays and do what he has to do.”
John Youboty, a senior defensive lineman, could also be asked to carry a big load for the Owls, who are matching up against Big East competition for the first time.
“As a unit we want to put our team in the best position to win the game, which is getting the other offense off the field,” Youboty said. “Personally I want to be one of the leaders on and off the field for the defense. As far as that, as long as we are winning, I don’t care about personal stats.”
With the first day of full contact under their belt, staying healthy while staying competitive will be the focus moving forward. Brown described the practices as very “up-tempo” and that the whole team is focused. While the focus on the larger picture of a Big East schedule will eventually have to be addressed, the Aug. 31 season opener against Villanova is fast approaching.
“It felt great [putting full pads on] just to know that the season is right around the corner,” Youboty said. “Once we put those full pads on, we are closer to the first game.”
Matt Jelley, who served as head coach of the cross country team and distance coach of the track & field team, has resigned from Temple, athletic communications confirmed Wednesday morning.
Though communications couldn’t give a reason for his resignation, last night, Jelley posted a message on Twitter to his athletes: “Thank you for always working hard. Keep it up and you will kick butt. You made me look good. Love my owl family always.”
Jelley has been with the program since 2007, when he was hired as head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country teams and distance coach for the men’s and women’s track and field teams.
His arrival came just two years after the lifting of a 20-year hiatus of Temple’s cross country program, and his presence during the past few seasons has been largely influential in reviving it.
As offensive line coach Justin Frye looked at his group during football training camp day four, he noticed a stark contrast between this year’s line and last year’s, after losing four out of five starters.
With fifth-year senior right tackle Martin Wallace being the only holdover from last year’s starting line, the Owls will depend on a younger core up front come September. Despite the youth, Frye sees an ambitious group when looking at this year’s offensive line.
“I look at these young guys and they just seem to always want more,” Frye said. “They’ll do a drill and keep going at it over and over again, until finally their eyes light up and you can tell when it works.”
Helping Wallace lead this year’s young line will be redshirt-junior center Sean Boyle, who watched the previous two seasons unfold from the sidelines while his brother Pat flourished at left tackle.
Hampered by shoulder surgeries in each of the last two summers, Boyle has not played in a collegiate game since the fall of 2009.
“I’m excited to be out on the field and play with the guys again,” Boyle said. “Being out of the game for two years, I always had to sit and watch. Now, just being on the field with these guys again is great.”
“I’m playing the best football I’ve played in a while,” Boyle added. “I’m healthy and I feel strong again. There’s nowhere to go but up for me at this point.”
While Boyle continues to settle into his new role as the starting center, Wallace is beginning to embrace his role as a leader of the Temple offense.
A former transfer from the now-defunct Northeastern football program, Wallace has solidified his role as a consistent force over at right tackle.
“I want to have one of the best seasons I’ve ever had both individually and as a team,” Wallace said. “It goes hand in hand. I have to keep the same tough mentality throughout and I have to help lead these guys to that goal.”
In the long grind that is a collegiate football season, according to Wallace, toughness will be the key to success on a team that will have to rebuild its offensive line after last year.
“We have to be Temple tough,” Wallace said. “We have to keep grinding and working hard all year long. We do that, and we’ll be successful as a group.”
With 15 All-American scholar athletes, the gymnastics team has followed their 2011 National Academic Team title with a runner-up selection in 2012 by the College Gymnastics Association. Eleven Owls were named to the first team, with seniors Chris Mooney and Blake Collins headlining the team with four years of eligibility. Brett Statman, Alex Tighe, Zachery Aguiar, Assaf Zoor, Jeff Zack, Matt Martin, Evan Burke, Adam Al-Rokh and Taylor Brana were all selected to the first team comprised of 73 gymnasts.Scott Haddaway, Michael Bittner, Dashiell Sears and John Leonard were selected to the second team.
With a victory in the Eastern Coastal Athletic Conference Championship and a No. 10 ranking in the NCAA, the Owls have showed a commitment to excellence both in the gym and out. In April, the team recorded the highest aggregate grade point average and was awarded The Owl Trophy.
In a poll conducted by nearly 100 college basketball coaches, men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy was voted the most underrated coach in the country, CBS announced Tuesday morning.
Dunphy received 14 percent of the votes, beating out his peers, Randy Bennett of Saint Mary’s (9 percent), Rick Byrd of Belmont (7 percent), Bill Self of Kansas (7 percent) and Buzz Williams (7 percent), who finished second through fifth, respectively.
“I appreciate my peers thinking I have a clue about what I’m doing,” Dunphy told CBS. “We’re lucky to have the jobs we have.”
Dunphy has 444 career victories and 14 NCAA tournament appearances during his tenures at Penn and Temple. He has led the Owls to a tournament birth in each of his past five years with the team.