The headline may read "Moore, Brooks lead No. 20 Temple past Dayton," but the Owls wouldn't have outlasted the last remaining true test on their schedule, Dayton, last night, 49-41, on North Broad without LaVoy Allen and his 17 rebounds.
If you don't know about Temple's 6'9" junior power forward, let me make it simple for you: He's the best rebounder in the nation you never really heard about. Need proof? How's 10.5 rebounds per game sound for you? That's how many Allen is averaging this season for Temple, 10.5 rebounds, good for 11th in nation. He's grabbed double-digit rebounds in 18 of Temple's 28 games. And he's been especially spectacular against stiff competition, his paltry 5 rebounds against No. 1 Kansas as the exception.
In Temple's second game of the year, a heartbreaking loss at Georgetown, Allen hauled in 14 rebounds going up against Greg Monroe. In an early-season victory against the ACC's Virginia Tech, he grabbed 10 boards. In the huge 75-65 upset over Big 5 foe and Big East beast Villanova, LaVoy had 17 rebounds. And he did this all season long. Twelve boards against Seton Hall, 14 in a loss at Charlotte, 15 against Duquesne, 19 in a loss at Richmond and 17 yesterday in the victory over Dayton, keeping Temple on pace with Richmond for the A-10 regular season title if the Spiders slip up.
The guy is just a spectacular rebounder. Of his 10.5 boards per game, he three and half of those come on the offensive glass. He has some of the softest hands of any frontcourt player in the nation. If he can get his hands on it, he will haul it in. He uses his big frame to get position, always seems to know where the ball is going off the rim and has some of the best anticipation instincts I've ever seen.
While Ryan Brooks has been Temple's best player, Ramone Moore its emerging young star of late and Juan Fernandez its most exciting playermaker, Allen has been the team's most consistent producer, going out there and snatching up every board, defending every team's top post player, quietly leading the team with all the little things.
But it's not as if LaVoy is a one-trick pony. Far from it. He has a nice offensive game, using those soft hands to catch anything around the rim, showcasing a reliable mid-range jumper and plenty of moves on the block and touch around the rim. That's why he's averaging a double-double, with 11.3 points per game to go along with his 10.5 boards per contest. And he's shown he's capable of carrying the load offensively, scoring 18 against Virginia Tech, 20 against St. Joe's, 16 at Rhode Island, 16 in a win against Xavier, back-to-back 16-point showings against Richmond and Rhode Island, and 16 more against St. Joe's in the epic battle at the Palestra Saturday.
Add to that some excellent passing skills (2.4 assists per game), great court vision, excellent awareness, strong defense (1.6 blocks per game) and a high field goal percentage (51.6 percent this season, 55.3 percent for his career), and you have more than just a banger who hauls in rebounds at an alarming rate. Allen has incredible basketball smarts, rarely making mistakes. Sometimes he can coast through games here and there, but lately, he's been putting that habit to rest. He's beginning to take over, and he's become not just a good rebounder on a good team — he's become an elite rebounder on a team that is certain to make some noise come March.
Temple is no joke, and LaVoy Allen — the best rebounder you never hear of — is a big reason why.