It’s not a question many Temple fans think of due to Fran Dunphy’s success as Temple’s head basketball coach. On the court, Dunphy seems to always keep the Owls in the game even if it is against a much better team.
Off the court, however, is a completely different story. Dunph’s inability to recruit top players have caused many die-hard Temple basketball fans to question whether Dunphy is the best man for the job.
Temple basketball isn’t just some regular college basketball program. They have the sixth most wins all time, above programs like Indiana, UCLA, and St. John’s. The Owls are coming off one of the worst seasons they’ve ever played at 9-22, it was the first time the team had ever had at least 20 losses in its 129 year program.
A major reason for the Owls failures last season was the lack of a deep bench and suitable backups to players who went down. At one point in the season, the Owls pretty much had six playable players on their roster (excluding Nick Pendergast). Injuries are part of the blame for that, but another person to point a finger at is the coach.
The fact that the Owls only had nine (really eight) players going into the season was a problem on it’s own. Connecticut, who won the national title last season, had 16 players on their roster at the start of the season. That’s double the amount of players on a team whose history is not nearly as prolific, nor in a major basketball city.
Philadelphia basketball is a tradition like no other. Many consider it the best basketball city in the country and rightfully so. From the Big 5 to the Philadelphia Catholic League, basketball is beloved in the city. It consistently produces great players, and it seems very few of them select Temple.
The Owls have a few more names to fill the roster next season (see: Projected starting five for 2014-15), but right now they only have one freshman coming in: Obi Enechionyia.
Temple has lost good potential recruits to other teams for this upcoming season. Mikal Bridges, a four star shooting guard from a high school right outside of Philadelphia chose Villanova over Temple a year ago. Another four star shooting guard, Jared Nickens, who went to the same local high school as Temple basketball star Khalif Wyatt, decided to play at Maryland rather than stay in Philadelphia.
Tariq Owens is a three star power forward who looked to be coming to play for the Owls, but at the last second decided to go down south and play for Donnie Tyndall in Tennessee. Add that on top of the infamous Rysheed Jordan decision (a five star point guard who played and grew up in Philadelphia) to break Owls fans’ hearts everywhere and play at St. Johns over Temple.
The list goes on and if Dunphy could just snag a few of these Philadelphia stars, the Owls could be a contender year in and year out.
I will give credit where credit is due. Enechionyia is a major recruiting victory for Dunphy, especially because he hasn’t had many of late. Off the court issues and last season aside, it’s hard to complain about the success of Dunphy’s teams.
Temple has knocked off a ranked team in each of the last seven seasons, and that’s not easy playing most of their games in the Atlantic 10. They’ve knocked off powerhouses such as Duke and Syracuse in games where Dunphy has straight up out coached some of the best coaches in the game.
They were even on the verge of knocking off one seeded Indiana in the third NCAA tournament. The Owls outplayed the Hoosiers all game, but couldn’t hold on to their lead in the final minutes.
Dunphy is 264-167 as the Owls head coach. That’s a .655 win percentage, and it’s one that’s tough to complain about. While it’s not on par with the likes of John Calipari and Mike Kryzewski, Dunphy just doesn’t have the talent to put on the court that those guys do.
Dunphy needs help with recruiting, it’s hard to question that. With a better recruiting technique, Temple could contend for the AAC Title for years to come.
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