In his dual role as coach of the men’s basketball team and an adjunct professor of a class on leadership in Fox School of Business, Fran Dunphy has a saying: “Leadership wears many costumes.”
Not to be taken literally, Dunphy’s remark is a source of proverbial inspiration for his players and students. His message: Everyone has the ability to contribute as a leader and only need to find their niché.
For redshirt-senior forward Scootie Randall, Temple’s best shooter, perimeter defender and communicator, his leadership role is a bit more pronounced.
“The toughness that he brings, the ability to make shots, the key rebounds he gets for us, he’s not afraid,” Dunphy said. “There’s not an ounce of fear in his game.”
“I know other guys have a lot of ups and downs on and off the court,” Randall said. “So I just try to be the best person and leader to those guys and let them know that I have their back no matter what.”
Randall redshirted last season after surgery on a meniscus tear in his left knee in the summer of 2011 that kept him in constant pain. Now, he said he’s 100 percent healthy and ready to play a major role in Temple’s last season in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“I know coach Dunphy. I’ve been around him five years,” Randall said. “I know what he expects of me and what he expects me to do and how he expects me to lead those guys.”
Randall decided to redshirt in December 2011 after discussions with his family and Dunphy. Dunphy told Randall at the time he would like him to play, but the coach left the decision up to the player, and Randall spent the whole season on the bench, often acting as an extra coach.
“It was difficult knowing that I could have been out there with those guys, guiding them through,” Randall said. “But with me being the leader, every time they came to the bench or every chance I got, I had to talk to them and tell them what I saw being on the bench and looking at the game. I had to help those guys out.”
In Randall’s absence, Temple often ran four-guard sets, when guards Aaron Brown and T.J. DiLeo were sometimes forced to defend bigger, taller forwards. Temple’s defense suffered at times as a result. In a loss to Texas on Dec. 17, 2011, Temple was out-rebounded 48 to 23.
Randall said it was difficult to watch his teammates struggle to guard opposition he’d normally be responsible for.
“It was tough, but I had to stay focused for those guys,” Randall said. “I knew they looked up to me a lot so I had to be a leader for those guys. I knew I had to give them what coach gives them. I had to see them from a coaching standpoint. I think it helped me with my knowledge of the game today.”
Brown transferred to Southern Mississippi in April, but DiLeo is expected to play significant minutes this year. DiLeo said his experience last year has increased his confidence.
“I was in the game during critical times for a lot of games,” DiLeo said. “I got experience guarding the other teams’ best player. This year that might be [my] role for some games, for some games it might be [Randall’s]. I think it’s good that I got that role last year, because I have nothing to fear this year. I’m up for the challenge of guarding everybody.”
Randall has guarded the opposition’s best player in the past, earning the distinction of the team’s best perimeter defender from Dunphy and teammates. DiLeo said Randall is also the best team defender, constantly communicating, calling out screens and helping with weak-side defense.
“We definitely missed Scootie, because he’s one of those guys that can get in the game and guard anybody and contribute on the offensive end too,” DiLeo said. “He’s a calming factor for us.”
Dunphy and players said Randall is also the team’s best shooter. In his last full season with the team in 2010–11, Randall had .495 shooting percentage and a .369 three-point percentage, while averaging 10.7 points and 30.3 minutes per game.
Dunphy said opposing defenses will have to respect Randall’s ability to shoot, allowing him opportunities to drive to the basket or create other offensive opportunities.
“He’s got a pretty good sense of not only making shots, but getting shots,” Dunphy said. “For you to make them, you have to get them. He’s good at understanding the game that way.”
With the addition of Butler and Virginia Commonwealth University to the A-10, Dunphy said he feels more comfortable having his best defender and most reliable player available to play this year.
“You can go down the list,” Dunphy said. “There’s probably a guy on each team in the A-10 that’s very hard to guard, and if Scootie gets stuck on any one of them, I’d be happy.”
Joey Cranney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @joey_cranney.