Fran Dunphy

Temple begins practice in preparation for trip to Europe

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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 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.

UConn commit tears ACL for second time

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UConn commit Juwan Durham, a four-star big man in the Class of 2016, has torn the ACL in his right knee for the second time in seven months. The Florida native committed to the Huskies and head coach Kevin Ollie back in September. The 6-foot-9 forward is regarded as the No. 31 overall prospect in the national Class of 2016, so he can really be a force when he’s healthy.

In a report from’s Bob Putnam, UConn was notified of the injury immediately and there is no change in plans with the commitment. The Huskies also own commitments from four-star point guard Alterique Gilbert and three-star power forward Mamadou Diarra in the Class of 2016. Having Diarra, an active, rim-protecting presence, helps with Durham’s recovery, since he can provide some more front court depth.

If Durham rehabs back to full speed, UConn has a very talented power forward who was just hitting his stride in the Florida state playoffs last February. UConn has a nice class so far with this group, especially if Durham can recover, With a year to recover until next season, Durham can hopefully play during his freshman season in 2016.

VIDEO: Arizona State’s Torian Graham dunks over teammate

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Arizona State fans won’t get a chance to see Torian Graham take the floor this season, but he did sky over fellow teammates (and transfer) Shannon Evans on Friday night at the team’s Maroon and Gold Madness. The 6-foot-4 Graham is a former Buffalo commit — Evans also came from Buffalo — and both players will have to sit out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer regulations.

Graham hasn’t had a chance to get into a Division I game, but he’ll be able to play for the Sun Devils next season. For now, fans can look forward to Graham’s athleticism on the wing in pregame dunk routines.

A former top-100 prospect, Graham also pulled off this ridiculous move in the dunk contest.