By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Temple Owls are coming off another successful season on North Broad Street. In 2012-13 they won 24 games, including an NCAA Tournament game against North Carolina State.
But as they prepare for their first season in the new American Athletic Conference, there are a lot of question marks surrounding the team. Several key members of last year’s squad have moved on, players like Khalif Wyatt, Scootie Randall and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson. But head coach Fran Dunphy says the 2013-14 version of the Owls is ready to get started and will do just that Saturday at the Palestra against Penn.
“Overall, I think they’ve worked very hard (in preseason camp) and now we’re about to see what we can do against an opponent,” Dunphy tells KYW Newsradio.
Returning starters, junior forward Anthony Lee and junior guard Will Cummings, as well as senior guard Dalton Pepper, will be counted on to play key roles this season.
“You want those guys that have the most experience to step up and really be leaders,” Dunphy says. “And now its their turn to shine. They’re not looking over anybody else’s shoulder. It’s their time.”
Dunphy says they have a lot of younger players they are going to have to lean on as well.
“The three guys guys who were freshmen last year and obviously are sophomores this year in (guard) Quenton DeCosey, (guard/forward) Dan Dingle and (forward/center) Devontae Watson are poised and ready to step up and see what they can do as well. It is also their turn. To include the two freshmen that are in our group, (guard) Josh Brown and (forward) Mark Williams, it’s their turn. So we have an opportunity for a lot of young guys to step up and play. It’s not an easy situation they’ve been thrust into, but it’s what they wanted when they signed on to come to Temple.”
On Saturday the Owls will play a Penn team that is almost at the opposite end of the spectrum from them, in that it is a team that has everyone back from last season. And of course, it will be a homecoming for Dunphy as he returns to the Palestra where he enjoyed 17 outstanding seasons as head coach of Penn, with one of his star players being current Quakers head coach Jerome Allen.
“We’ve won the game the last four years, but we haven’t played better than them,” Dunphy says. “So that’s the charge for us this year, to play better than Penn and hopefully a good result will happen for us. But I love Jerome, and love how he coaches. They are hard to guard and I think they’ve really got an aggressive style defensively as well.”
Temple and Penn tip-off at 5:00pm at the Palestra on Saturday.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.