Luis Guzman arrived a couple minutes late to his Amateur Athletic Union game last Wednesday.
Playing alongside the likes of Rick Jackson and Scoop Jardine, high school juniors who have committed to Syracuse, and Andrew Ott, a senior headed to Villanova next season, Guzman might not have been in the starting five even if he’d have arrived on time.
But the 6-2, 190-pound point guard from Paramus (N.J.) Catholic, who has committed to play at Temple next season, knows his time will come.
Guzman’s signing of a Letter of Intent to come to Temple mostly was decided upon Mardy Collins’ departure. The absence of the all-American-caliber point guard meant Guzman could become an immediate-impact player in a Temple uniform.
Another reason for his interest in Temple was the idea of playing for legendary coach John Chaney. With the Hall of Famer newly retired, though, Guzman is waiting to see if he can quickly establish a relationship with Fran Dunphy, who Temple hired yesterday as its new coach.
Chaney’s retirement after 24 seasons on North Broad Street has Guzman wondering if he’ll click with Dunphy. Guzman said he has recently received phone calls from teams in the Big East and Atlantic Ten Conferences.
If Dunphy doesn’t work quickly to establish a relationship with Guzman, the Owls might lose his services.
The gritty guard puts up some promising numbers. He had 11 points, seven assists and two steals in his AAU team’s 120-98 win last week at Conshohocken’s Fellowship House.
When asked of Temple’s search for Chaney’s replacement, Guzman said he might consider playing for someone like Dunphy. Guzman said he “would feel much better” if he were to receive a call from Dunphy.
The sooner, the better, he said.
“Right now, I’m just up in the air,” Guzman said. “Like I said, if I get a call from a coach saying, ‘We want to do this, this, this and this,’ just giving me some rules and some information about Temple right now, I’d be [feeling] much better.”
Guzman might not be alone in wanting to rescind his commitment, either. Letters of Intent are hard to take back, though, as each student-athlete is permitted to send just one during his career.
The four-week search to replace Chaney with Dunphy strengthened the cases of Temple’s committed recruits to opt out of their Letters of Intent.
Making matters worse, Dunphy might have to visit and re-recruit Temple’s committed players – including Guzman – all over again.
That might be a bit too much in too little time.
It might also be a bit difficult, considering that one of Temple’s three committed players for the 2006-07 season is from Los Angeles – 6-8, 245-pound power forward Matt Shaw.
Guzman said a personal visit isn’t a requirement to maintain a committed recruit’s interest. A phone call can go a long way.
Over the course of Temple’s search, Guzman said he had received a number of phone calls from Temple’s top assistant and recruiter, Dan Leibovitz.
Sophomore guard Mark Tyndale, with whom Guzman stayed during his official visit to campus in October 2005, had told Guzman that he would attend the recruit’s latest game. Tyndale was a no-show.
An open line of communication has been helpful, said Guzman, who was surprised by Leibovitz’s honesty throughout the search process.
“Coach Leibovitz said I can take my commitment back. …He’s been straightforward. It’s been a major [help] and has helped me a lot,” Guzman said. “He tells me everything. I believe [what] he tells me [is] the truth.”
In the 28 days since Chaney called it quits, every factor surrounding the men’s basketball team has been thrown awry.
But one thing is certain: the Owls are only as good as their next recruits.
The next step is Dunphy’s to make.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.