When the Owls returned from their scrimmage against Penn State in State College, Pa. on Oct. 26, coach Fran Dunphy sneaked into his office to do some late-night work. As it turned out, he wasn’t the only one.
“I had my blind down and I heard the ball bounce, and I pulled the curtain up and there’s Dan Dingle,” Dunphy said. “If you had said to me, ‘There’s going to be somebody in here tonight after the scrimmage getting up jump shots,’ I’d say it was Dan Dingle. Nobody’s going to work harder. Nobody knows the game as well. Nobody’s as good a human being or as good a teammate as him. Now he has to have the requisite poise out on the court to make the best decisions so he gets the most minutes.”
Dingle is one of three sophomores on the team, along with Quenton DeCosey and Devontae Watson. The trio did not get much playing time last season, combining for 245 minutes, 75 points and 44 rebounds. That will change this year, since Temple lost five players to graduation after last season.
“We learned a lot from [the graduates],” Watson said. “We’re going to take the things we learned from them and apply it. We’re going to try to pick it up from where we left off last year. I think we can do it.”
Watson, a forward/center, received the least amount of playing time last season of the trio, collecting nine points and six rebounds in 12 minutes. He averaged 5.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game on the team’s trip to Europe in August. Watson said he and redshirt-junior forward Anthony Lee played at the same time for much of the trip, adding that “it went really well.”
“I think the way it’s going to be is when we play a smaller team that doesn’t really have… two bigs, then they’ll play four guards,” Watson said. “Besides that, if the team has two bigs, we’ll play a lot together.”
Watson said the main part of his game he needs to improve is his awareness.
“Being aware of how much time is on the shot clock,” Watson said. “Being aware of exactly where my teammates are and when they’re going to shift. Just being aware of where I’m at when I have the ball.”
Dingle played 38 minutes in 2012-13, scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds. He averaged 8.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in Europe. The 6-foot-7-inch student-athlete said he will be playing a hybrid of both forward positions, similar to what Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson played last year.
“[I’ll be] handling the ball a little bit,” Dingle said. “Doing all things, doing many things. I’m not going to be a guy who gives you 20 every night. I’ll probably be a guy who gives you 11, seven and five. I’ll just fill out that stats, and that’s what we need. We got Quenton, [Lee], and [junior guard] Will [Cummings] and [redshirt-senior guard Dalton Pepper]. They’ll probably take care of all of the scoring. I’m just doing the little things.”
Dingle said he was “very chubby” last year and has worked to improve his body. He also said he wants to make more outside shots and better his postgame.
“I’m going to be having mismatches,” Dingle said. “I know I can dribble the ball, handle the ball, so when I get a four on me or a five, I can blow past them. If I get a two-on-one I don’t want to take all that energy to try to make a nice move when they’re probably three inches shorter than me and 20 pounds lighter than me. I’ll just have to go to the box.”
Of the three sophomores, DeCosey has the most experience and the highest expectations for this season. He scored 53 points in 195 minutes last season and averaged 14 points a game on the Europe trip, leading the team.
“He has to be either first- or second-leading scorer, I would think,” Dunphy said. “Maybe third … Quenton will be expected to score. What I would really like to do is to say to Q, ‘You take that first or second scorer and you guard him and really do a great job.’ I think he has every component athletically that he needs. It’s just getting that discipline and the mindset to say, ‘I have to be a complete player.’ But he’s a really talented kid.”
“Coach Dunphy told me I’ve got to pick up the scoring,” DeCosey said. “He told me that’s what I’ve got to do, just go out and score and look for my teammates, get involved and play defense.”
While Dunphy said his starting lineup is not yet set in stone, it’s probable that at least one and possibly two of the sophomores will be on the floor when the season tips off at University of Pennsylvania on Saturday. The trio said they’re ready to show their talents on the court.
“Since last year, I wanted to always contribute as much as I could to the team besides just cheering my teammates on and being moral support for them,” Watson said. “I wanted to be actually on the court and go through the struggle of trying to get wins and trying to play the best you can and get on the floor with time running. I want to take on the challenge.”
“I’ve been working hard and I feel like the opportunity finally presented itself,” Dingle said. “I’m just ready to show my skills, my talents, just showing that I can compete with the best.”
Evan Cross can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @EvanCross.