With just two games remaining in the regular season for the Temple, the Owls are living on the bubble despite owning 20 wins. If the Owls are to play tournament basketball this month, senior guard Will Cummings will be a big reason why. The Jacksonville native, once named the American Athletic Conference player of the week, will play a key role as Temple looks to finish the season on a string note.
Cummings has averaged 33.8 minutes and 13.8 points per game this season and he has been trustworthy from the free throw line with a 77.5 free throw percentage. Twice this season, Cummings has added double digits from free throws, and this is one reason why. Temple head coach Fran Dunphy should want to see his senior guard take it to the basket often. Cummings should refrain from taking three-point shots though, as he is just 14-of-78 from beyond the arc.
Earlier this season, Cummings joined the 1,000-point club, the 50th player in Temple history to reach such a milestone. Cummings has not been able to achieve so much alone of course. This season he and teammate Jaylen Boyd have showed some good chemistry, making for a nice 1-2 combo on occasion for Temple.
Because of his stats, Cummings is hardly a household name outside of Philadelphia, but that does not mean he does not have the respect around the conference. Former Philadelphia 76ers head coach Larry Brown, now the head coach at SMU, certainly has paid attention to what Cummings means to the Owls.
“I don’t think Cummings gets any credit around the league,” Brown recently said, according to Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “You hear of all different guys, but he is great. I love the way he plays.”
When a coach with the basketball mind of Brown pays that kind of respect, that should carry some weight. Brown has always been a coach who wants his teams to play basketball with a certain team philosophy. This is hard to do in a sport that can be dominated by one player, the way Allen Iverson once did under Brown. With the Sixers. Cummings embodies many of the qualities Brown likes to have on his team. Cummings can run the offense and distribute the ball to his teammates, and he can take advantage of his opportunities when given. Cummings is not going to light up a scoreboard or pad his number sin the box score after the game, but he will play the right way.
Cummings and Temple face a road contest at East Carolina and a home finale against Connecticut before the American Athletic Conference tournament gets underway next week. Temple can lock in the third seed in the conference tournament with a pair of wins, although the regular season championship will be out of reach as Tulsa and SMU take the regular season championship race down to the final game. Last month against East Carolina, Cummings had 17 points, six assists, two steals and two blocks. He was seven-for-seven on his free throw attempts as well as Temple sent the Pirates home with a 66-53 defeat. Another performance like that might be enough to put Temple in the win column once more.
This was originally published by CBS Philly.