With three starters gone from a team that won 24 games and gave Indiana all it wanted in the NCAA tournament round of 32, the Temple Owls have some work to do as they approach their first season as a member of the American Athletic Conference.
With the need to account for the graduation of five seniors, this is probably a good offseason for head coach Fran Dunphy to have an overseas trip at his disposal. On Wednesday, the Owls had the first of ten practices they’re allowed per NCAA rules before leaving for a ten-day trip to France and Italy.
And with the number of contributors gone from last season’s team, most notably leading scorer Khalif Wyatt, these practices will be the first step in determining roles for the 2013-14 Owls according to Nick Menta of CSN Philly.
“Well, that’s one of the reasons why you [take this kind of trip],” Dunphy said Wednesday. “This is a critical year for us. We have a lot of inexperienced guys, who haven’t had that much of a chance to play college basketball.
“We’re going to need everybody.”
Wyatt alone finished the season with a possession percentage of 31.6%, a number that ranked 16th nationally according to kenpom.com. And of Temple’s returnees from last season’s squad, Anthony Lee was their most productive (9.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg) with Will Cummings (5.8, 2.2) ranking second in both categories.
It goes without saying that there’s plenty of room for players such as Lee, Cummings and Dalton Pepper (the team’s lone senior) to step up and the same goes for the likes of Quenton DeCosey and Daniel Dingle, who both saw little playing time in 2012-13.
Temple’s got some big strides to make as they look to avoid missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007, especially when considering the fact that they’ll play two games apiece against new conference foes Louisville, Memphis, UConn and Cincinnati (programs such as UCF, Houston and SMU could also be dangerous).
But even with that “pressure” on their collective shoulders, Dunphy is hopeful that his players will take full advantage of this overseas trip and not focus solely on the basketball.
“I have the opportunity two other times to take team, at Penn actually, to Italy and Spain,” Dunphy said. “I don’t know if they’ll appreciate today as much as they will five years from now. I think the opportunity to get together as a basketball group is important, but it’s equally as important for the educational and cultural piece of learning a new language for a few weeks and a new culture.
“I’m sure it’ll be a great trip for us in many, many ways.”
Temple leaves on August 14, and they’ll make stops in Paris, Nice, Florence and Rome.