Andrew Koob (@AndrewKoob)
As the season wears on, Temple coach Fran Dunphy has been known to tighten his bench, having only seven or eight players see the floor by year’s end. That might change this year with the depth the Owls plan to showcase in the upcoming season.
Temple opened up its doors to the press for media day on Thursday, and the main focus was the how deep this team can be for the 2012-2013 season.
“We do have depth. This is the deepest we’ve been since I’ve been at Temple,” Dunphy said. “It’ll be interesting, I’m going to have to manage a lot of minutes out there, so that’ll be our toughest chore as a basketball staff, although those things have a way of handling themselves.
“We did it last weekend trying to scrimmage with Niagara and I thought they did a better job than we did, but we were doing a lot of just trying to probe and think about how we’re going to play with different combinations of guys. Are we going to play zone with this group or are we going to push the ball with that group? It’ll be a lot of feeling around as we go along, but we’ll see how that all works out.”
While the team lost three key seniors in Juan Fernandez, Ramone Moore and Michael Eric–who averaged a combined 37 points per game last year–to graduation, the Owls still have plenty of experience, especially in three players that did not suit up for Temple last year.
“We have three guys who did not play for us last year, but have great college basketball experience: Scootie (Randall), Dalton Pepper and Jake O’Brien,” Dunphy said. “While we’re missing Juan (Fernandez), Ramone (Moore) and Michael Eric, we also have these three guys who, while they are not all that familiar in terms of Jake, a little more familiar with Dalton and a lot familiar with Scootie, haven’t played in a year. It’ll be interesting to see how they make that adjustment.”
“We’ve got some new faces, but we’re pretty much going to do the same thing,” Owls guard Khalif Wyatt added. “Dalton can step in and do what Ramone was doing, Scootie can help do what Juan was doing and we’ve got some guys that will help out a lot. Three freshmen that are going to be good, not sure how much they’ll play, but they can definitely help us. Jake O’Brien, he’s going to give us a little bit of what Mike (Eric) gave us last year. We just have a lot of different pieces and we’ll see how they work together.”
Replacing the seniors’ impact on the court will be hard enough, but when it comes to replacing the leadership that they brought to the team, Randall won’t hesitate to be the one to stand up and lead his team.
“The leadership that we have as seniors, that should play a huge role in this program, I think I made the best decision (to redshirt last year) for me and as well as those guys,” said Randall. “They needed a leader like myself to come back and lead those guys and I think my vocalness and aggressiveness keep those guys going.”
“We need Scootie,” Dunphy added. “We need his voice, we need his toughness, we need his shooting ability, we need his experience. Any time you can get that much of an opportunity to play somebody like that, it’s helping your team.”
While a mix of new and old faces will contribute this season, one question mark still remains for the Owls. Fernandez had the starting point guard position set for the past three years, but with his graduation, who steps up to take the spot?
“There are three very different approaches,” Dunphy said. “Khalif has more knack for the game as anybody I’ve ever coached, but he’s not the speed and quickness kind of guy. Will (Cummings) has great speed and quickness and we’re going to have to use that and we’ll have to push it up the floor a little bit when he’s in the game and take advantage of that, but I might have to put up with some turnovers that he throws up there. And a guy like T.J. (DiLeo), he’s just a solid, solid kid. He may not have the speed and quickness of Will or the craftiness of Khalif, but he takes very good care of the ball. Every single day we go over the practice stats and it’s 5:1, 6:2 (assist:turnover ratio), it’s never the opposite. And that’s very valuable to us.”