Looking at Temple
After another successful season, Temple coach Fran Dunphy faces a pair of challenges.
The first one is figuring out how to replace departed seniors Ramone Moore, Micheal Eric and Juan Fernandez, who combined for 45.6 points, 10.5 assists, 10.3 rebounds and 4.3 steals per game last season.
The harder part, though, might be determining who to replace the trio with, as the Owls are deeper than in recent memory. Of course, it’s a good problem for Dunphy to have but it can be a problem if roles aren’t clearly defined and players don’t buy into their roles.
One easy answer for Dunphy is inserting Khalif Wyatt into the shooting guard spot. The Philahoops Preseason Player of the Year, Wyatt emerged last season by averaging 17.1 points per game. However, he was dogged by disciplinary problems during the season with three benchings due to violations of team rules. And he drew national headlines in June when he was arrested in Atlantic City on charges of soliciting prostitution.
Starting beside Wyatt should be sophomore Will Cummings, who played limited minutes behind Fernandez last season. Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (9.3 points, 6.6 rebounds) and Anthony Lee (5.0 points, 5.2 rebounds) likely will be starters in the frontcourt.
It will be interesting to see what happens after that. Candidates for the final starting position likely are T.J. DiLeo, a strong defender; Scootie Randall, who sat out last season after a promising junior season ended due to a knee injury; transfers Dalton Pepper, a former Pennsylvania Player of the Year who scored 2,207 points at Pennsbury but made limited contributions in two seasons at WVU, and Jake O’Brien, who netted more than 1,000 points in three seasons at Boston University; and rookie Daniel Dingle from St. Raymond in the Bronx.
Two other freshmen, Quenton DeCosey and Devontae Watson, could play reserve roles, though you wonder whether redshirting one or both might be the way to go due to the Owls’ depth.
What could go wrong?
Wyatt could violate team rules again. You have to believe he’s an off-court mistake or two away from his last chance. He spoke honestly and admitted his mistake to me over the summer and wants to put the arrest behind him. That’s going to be difficult, though, because it will be brought up by media and opposing fans throughout the season.
As mentioned above, the Owls have depth and talent. Finding the right mix will be a challenge for Dunphy. If the chemistry isn’t right, it could spell trouble for the Owls.
Temple will have to be on its game every night because there’s added incentive for A-10 opponents, who likely will want to send the Owls on their way to the Big East with a defeat.
What can go right?
The Owls have the talent to make another run at the A-10 title. For that to happen, Wyatt will need to play like he did last season and stay out of trouble, Lee and Hollis-Jefferson need to raise their games, Cummings has to solidify himself as a dependable point guard and the likes of Pepper, O’Brien and Randall have to find their niche and contribute as they are capable.
What will happen?
Dunphy will figure out the rotation and the Owls will, once again, be one of the premier teams in the A-10. Come March, Wyatt and Company will be cutting down the nets in Brooklyn for the 10th – and final – time as league tourney champs. Another NCAA berth will end better than last season’s first-round exit.
More Temple coverage:
-Read the Temple season preview by staff writer Chase Senior HERE.
-Follow all of Philahoops’ Owls coverage on the Temple page HERE.