Temple kicks off season at Kent State

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Will Cummings (left) and T.J. DiLeo should both see a lot of time at point guard for the Owls. (Photo: Julie Smith)

Anthony Bellino (@Bellino_Anthony)

The Temple Owls get their 2012-13 season underway tomorrow when they travel to Kent, Oh. to play the Kent State Golden Flashes as a part of ESPN’s 24-hour tip off marathon in the noon time-slot.

Kent State, (1-0, 0-0 MAC) has already knocked off one local team in the past week, defeating Drexel 66-62 in overtime. Temple coach Fran Dunphy credited the Golden Flashes with a very hard performance and knows his squad will have to put forth a total team effort if they want to walk away with a victory.

“They played really hard, they had a plan and they were very well coached, so we’ll have our hands full,” Dunphy said. “They were dedicated to stopping Drexel on the defensive end and then getting good shots on the offensive end and they just had a degree of toughness that’s really what we all want.”

The Owls have one of their deepest teams in recent memory this year, and the subject of what Dunphy’s starting lineup would look like was one of the more talked-about topics in the city this summer. However, it seems Owl fans might finally have answer. When Dunphy was asked whether or not sophomore guard Will Cummings would be starting at point he responded by saying, “yeah, probably.”

Cummings will most likely join seniors Khalif Wyatt, Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, and Scootie Randall as well as sophomore Anthony Lee in the projected starting lineup. He stressed that it wasn’t about who would be starting the game but rather who would be the person to finish.

“I don’t ever hear anybody report on who finished,” Dunphy said “It’s amazing that stat’s out there and guys worry about that, and players do the same thing they worry about who starts, I would be worried about who finishes.”

Dunphy said that Cummings earned his shot to start and that he has to show he deserved it. As a freshman, the 6-foot-2 Florida native started two games and averaged just over one point per game in about six minutes per contest.

“(Cummings) improved, he deserves the opportunity, the problem is for example so do many others,” Dunphy said. “He’s rewarded with this opportunity now go prove that you deserve opportunity.”

For the Owls to have success against the Golden Flashes it all starts with limiting 6-foot-8 senior forward Chris Evans. The junior-college transfer averaged 9.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per contest as a junior. Friday against Drexel he had his coming out party scoring 21 points while shooting 63.6 percent from the field (7-11), grabbing nine rebounds and blocking two shots. Evans paired with senior guard Randal Holt to form a one-two combination as Holt added 17 points of his own against the Dragons. It is likely that Hollis-Jefferson will be matched up against Evans and Cummings will guard Holt to start the game. Dunphy said that the Golden Flashes are a team that’s done a lot of good in the last few years and they’ll be a difficult team to handle.

“They’ve won a lot of games over the last 10 years and really have been a terrific basketball program I think (coach) Robbie (Senderoff’s) doing a terrific job with them,” Dunphy said. “They’re blending in a lot of new guys this year and from what I saw against Drexel they blended them in really nicely, I just think they have a degree of toughness that’s going to be really difficult for us to handle tomorrow.”

Temple comes into the year with a balanced scoring attack led by Wyatt. He is the only returning Temple starter who averaged double-figures scoring last season, and was a preseason First Team All-Atlantic 10 Conference selection. Another thing Owls fans should look out for is the return of Randall, a senior who missed all of last season while recovering from offseason knee surgery. Randall averaged 10.7 points per game as a junior in 2010-11 including 15 points per game in A-10 play. Dunphy said that Randall is a more knowledgeable person now and is ready to finally play.

“I think for the most part he knows himself better, he knows us better, he knows what to do on the court a little bit better,” Dunphy said of the versatile Communications Tech grad. “He just that much more mature in every sense of the word, he’s taking advantage of every opportunity that’s presented to him.”

There will also be several players making their Temple debuts Tuesday; transfers Dalton Pepper and Jake O’Brien will likely make an immediate impact. Pepper transferred from West Virginia where he was a part of the team that went to the final four in 2009-10. O’Brien came from Boston University and will help stretch the floor on the offensive end; the 6-foot-9 senior plays an inside-out game and isn’t afraid to let it fly from behind the arc.

Freshmen Daniel Dingle, Quenton DeCosey and Devontae Watson’s roles have not been defined yet but Dunphy thinks very highly of the trio heading into game one of the Owls 31 game regular-season.

“I think all three of them have what it take to really be good college basketball players each in their own dimensions,” Dunphy said.

Dunphy will begin his seventh season with the Owls and 24th as a head coach still when asked if he got butterflies in his stomach before the first game of the season he said it was more than just that one game.

“How about every game, no matter how long you’ve been doing it, when that doesn’t happen it’s time to give it up,” Dunphy said. “Every game you nervous, apprehensive and not sure of what’s going to go on.”

CoBL’s 2012-13 Temple Season Preview

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