Wait for NCAA eligibility was taxing on UL guard Temple
Calvin Temple was walking to class last Tuesday — it was early in the afternoon, around 1:30 p.m. — when an incoming call popped up on his phone.
On the other end was UL basketball coach Bob Marlin, who had news.
Temple’s appeal to the NCAA for a waiver allowing him to play this season instead of sitting the year had been granted, just hours before the Ragin’ Cajuns were scheduled to open their 2019-20 season against Loyola of New Orleans.
It wasn’t exactly the word Temple, who made a late summertime transfer from IUPUI to UL following an unexpected coaching change at his old school, had anticipated hearing.
“I ain’t gonna lie,” said Temple, a guard from Memphis. “I really thought it wasn’t gonna come.
“So mentally I was already like, ‘Dang, I can’t play this year.’ So I was taking a backburner. But when it came, I was like, ‘Ohhhhh.’
“He (Marlin) was like, ‘Calvin, you can play. Be ready.’ I was like, ‘Oh, OK,'” Temple added. “I called my parents, then I went to practice and I was happy. It all worked out.”
Did it ever, and just in time for a Cajun club in dire need of help.
UL already was without suspended senior guard P.J. Hardy. Juco-transfer Durey Cadwell is out for the season following knee surgery. Senior walk-on Mason Aucoin is dealing with a back injury.
Juco-transfer big man Tirus Smith has been ill and unavailable. Guard Trajan Wesley reinjured his troublesome foot during the opening half of Tuesday’s win over Loyola. And now freshman Javonne Lowery is injured too.
That’s a lot of hurt for the 2-0 Cajuns to absorb, and it’s why after their 85-80 win over McNeese on Saturday night coach Bob Marlin said they can expect to face some “adversity” when they travel to face TCU of the Big 12 on Tuesday night — and maybe even when they return home to face Youngstown State of the Horizon League on Friday night.
“Until we have more bodies,” Marlin said, “we’re gonna have to fight and we’re gonna have to find a way to win games that aren’t pretty.”
So color the Cajuns fortunate that the waiver came through for Temple, who won All-State and USA TODAY Mississippi Player of the Year honors after leading Center Hill High to a Class 5A state championship in his senior season.
“We’re gonna need him moving forward,” Marlin said Saturday.
“He can make basketball plays,” the Cajuns coach added. “He can shoot the ball.”
Temple had four points, three steals, two rebounds and an assist while logging eight minutes in the opening win over Loyola.
With Wesley and Lowery out, his minutes more than doubled to 17 and Temple produced seven points, three rebounds and two steals while shooting 2-for-3 from the field against McNeese.
“He made some mistakes … but he’s getting a little bit of confidence back in his game,” Marlin said afterward.
Extra practice time has a lot to do with that.
When he wasn’t sure if he was going to be eligible — transfers are required to sit out a season until securing a waiver from the NCAA — reps for Temple often were infrequent.
But that changed as bodies fell last week.
“He got more and more,” Marlin said, “so this is good for (him) and (fellow freshman) Mylik Wilson.”
While others were getting more preseason practice time, Temple mostly watched and soaked in what he saw.
Figuring the Cajuns were going to be set with Cedric Russell backed up by Wesley at the point, he spent most of his down time eyeballing UL’s shooting guards.
He did so while worrying the whole while that he might have to sit out this season.
“It’s been hard for me mentally,” Temple said.
“I haven’t been able to practice a lot. I’ve been on the sideline … watching more of practice, just learning more of the plays and how Coach Marlin teaches.”
It’s good for UL that the combo guard did, because the Cajuns may have to call on him in the backcourt to spell Russell — and play alongside him or combo guard Wilson — in the weeks and perhaps months to come.
“I was watching more of the 2, because Tra’ (Wesley) and Ced (Russell) were more of a 1,” said Temple, a point guard his senior season in high school. “Then he (Marlin) threw me in (at the point on Saturday), and I just got my feet wet a little bit.
“They told me I was gonna play more (Saturday), and just ‘be ready’ when they call my name,” he added. “So … I was just waiting, and I knew if I got in and I did my thing he was gonna keep me on the court.”
With just eight players available, Marlin may have stuck with Temple either way.
But as it turns out it looked like he belonged, making more games with double-digit minutes likely going forward.
Temple is all for it.
“Confidence is definitely there,” he said. “It’s just me being a dog.
“And my teammates trust me, and my coaches trust me, so I just went out there and I was just playing.”
For someone with simple aspirations, that’s all that can be asked.
“I just want to bring energy to the team, and I just want to win,” Temple said. “That’s it.”
RAGIN’ CAJUNS BASKETBALL
UL (2-0) at TCU (1-0)
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Schollmaier Arena; Fort Worth, Texas
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
RADIO: KPEL 1420 AM and KHXT 107.9 FM
UL LEADERS: Jalen Johnson (21.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg), Cedric Russell (16.5 ppg), Kobe Julien (15.0 ppg), Dou Gueye (13.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg)