Jefferson Moving On Up

Rahlir Jefferson

With Temple's starting center Michael Eric sidelined for both games of the Philly Hoop Group Classic at The Palestra this past weekend, there were opportunities for several players to shine. Freshman Rahlir Jefferson made the most of his chance.

With Temple's starting center Michael Eric sidelined for both games of the Philly Hoop Group Classic at The Palestra this past weekend, there were opportunities for several players to shine.

Freshman Rahlir Jefferson made the most of his chance. A reserve forward, Jefferson stood out in Eric's absence and with foul trouble plaguing big men Lavoy Allen and Craig Williams.

In the 55-48 loss to St. John's Saturday, the 6-6 Jefferson set career highs across the board. He scored nine points on 3 of 11 shooting, grabbed 12 rebounds and recorded a block and steal in 29 minutes.

"Rahlir did a pretty good job, he was great on the glass," Coach Fran Dunphy said afterward. "I don't think we lost a lot not having Lavoy and Craig in there."

While he didn't shoot particularly well — no one did as the Owls finished 18 for 64 — Jefferson did hit some tough shots, a fact not lost on Dunphy.

"He made two big-time jump shots when we were struggling to score," he said. "He didn't do a good job of finishing in the second half, but I think there's some physicality out there he's not used to. He'll gather a little better. We'd like him to gather, shot fake and then finish plays."

Whatever Jefferson produces offensively is a bonus. The Chester product's value to the Owls is as a ferocious defender. In both games over the weekend, Jefferson saw significant time at power forward and more than held his own in the paint. With his length and athleticism, he can also defend the three position exceptionally well.

"Defense and rebounding (is my job)," Jefferson said. "I've got no problem playing against bigger people, no problem at all."

Dunphy is still figuring out his rotation after six games. T.J. DiLeo has worked in at guard, and Scootie Randall had a nine-minute run at forward against St. John's.

But Jefferson seems to have played his way into a significant role. He had been averaging about 12 minutes per game before the performance against the Red Storm, which didn't do anything to suggest the number wouldn't be going up.

Another bonus — Jefferson is shooting 69 percent from the line, the second-best total on what has been a woeful free throw shooting team.

"He does a lot of good things," Dunphy said. "He's going to be a real good player. (We like) his activity, he never stops competing."

Jefferson, who acknowledged the outstanding performance Saturday was diminished by the loss, said he hopes he has shown enough to warrant more playing time.

"I'm just staying patient and waiting for a chance to get in," Jefferson said. "It's still coach's decision."

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