When Daniel Dingle was a freshman, his job was to watch and learn
Dingle totaled just 38 minutes in 10 games during his first year on campus in 2012-13. While he paid his dues on the bench, upperclassmen like Scootie Randall and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson showed him the ropes off the court.
Now a redshirt-senior, Dingle is averaging 35 minutes per game and has started all 28 of Temple’s contests.
“You’ve been through experiences and you’ve learned it,” Dingle said. “And you’re trying to teach the younger guys what to do, what not to do in order to be successful because you’ve learned from your mistakes.”
Coach Fran Dunphy has not had the luxury to be patient with the group of youngsters on this year’s team. Temple has eight active players averaging more than 10 minutes per game: two seniors, one junior, two sophomores and three freshmen.
After last year’s trip to the NCAA tournament, the Owls’ inexperience has been on display. Temple (14-14, 5-10 American Athletic Conference) hasn’t won more than two games in a row since starting conference play.
Temple will need to win four straight games in The American’s conference tournament in early March to earn an automatic spot in the NCAA tournament.
In his final season, Dingle still hopes to push his team on a late-season run to the tournament, but he understands he has another job. Like Hollis-Jefferson and Randall did before him, Dingle has to help prepare this team’s freshmen and sophomores for next year and the year after that.
“Coaches speak to me about it all the time,” Dingle said. “I gotta set the tone. It’s not about me. It’s about those guys’ development. … Those younger guys, they’re slowly learning, but each and everyday they’re taking one step at a time and getting to where they need to be.”
When the Owls started their season against La Salle on Nov. 11, sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr. and freshman guards Alani Moore II and Quinton Rose made up a very untested backcourt.
The maturation of the young backcourt appeared headed for a delay when senior point guard Josh Brown returned from an Achilles tendon injury on Nov. 30. But five games later Brown was back on the injury report, and Alston was once again the Owls’ oldest guard.
Dunphy said Brown is most likely out for the rest of the year after Temple’s game against Southern Methodist on Feb. 9.
Three months and 27 games after the Owls’ season opener, Moore and Alston have combined for 51 starts as the Owls’ primary ballhandlers. Alston has started all 28 of Temple’s games this season. Rose and Moore are both averaging more than 20 minutes per game.
“Obviously I’ve gotten more comfortable,” Moore said. “I learned the offense, learned the defense. The more I’ve played, I’ve learned more. The pieces to the puzzle have really just been connecting now.”
During the past five seasons, Dunphy has only had one freshman average more than 20 minutes per game, when Brown averaged more than 20 minutes in his first year with the team in the 2013-14 season. The team went 9-22, which is the worst record Dunphy has had since arriving at Temple.
The Owls won more than 20 games in each of the two seasons following that year. Moore hopes the growing pains of this season can translate to success down the road for this group.
“It gives us a lot of experience because we played in college basketball games, played a lot of minutes,” Moore said. “And as the future comes, we’ll be ready for when our moment is called.”
Owen McCue can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Owen_McCue.