The 2013-2014 men's basketball season will be a season of change in more ways than one as Temple…
Coach Fran Dunphy doesn't know the answer to that question yet. He's already preparing for 2013-2014, but the time will come when he looks back at a 24-10 season which included the program's second NCAA win in three years and evaluate what the Owls accomplished.
"We're still a ways away from reflecting back," said Dunphy in an interview with owlsdaily.com this week. "I think sometime in May when we can't work with our players is when we'll look back and say what went well and what didn't.
"Right now, we're practicing with the eight guys we have coming back and seeing next year's team come together."
Dunphy did lament the last-minute loss to Indiana in the second round of the NCAA tournament, a setback which prevented the veteran coach from taking a team to the Sweet 16 for the first time. After an opening 76-72 win over North Carolina State in which the Owls were spectacular in most aspects of the game, they followed it up with another strong showing against the No. 1 seed.
But the Hoosiers scored the last 10 points to knock off the Owls, 58-52, in a game that wasn't decided until the final seconds. It was just Temple's second loss in the last 10 games – the other coming to Massachusetts in the Atlantic 10 Tournament – after a stunning home loss to Duquesne seemingly put the Owls on the wrong side of the NCAA bubble.
"I didn't think we played our best against UMass," said Dunphy, who credited the Owls for bouncing back from what he termed a "disturbing" loss to the Dukes. "I feel we did play our best against N.C. State and Indiana, up until the last two minutes of the Indiana game. We had our chances, we defended really well up until that last possession, and it would have been wonderful if we could have pulled that out so the guys on this team would have that to look back on."
Asked if the Owls answered any questions about their ability to compete in the NCAA Tournament after going 1-5 the previous five years, Dunphy noted they have generally played well in recent tournaments even if the results didn't necessarily show it.
"I thought we played very well defensively (in a 2012 loss to South Florida) and just didn't finish," said Dunphy. "I thought we played great in a (2011 second-round loss to) San Diego State. We've had some pretty good performances. Other games – like Cornell (2010) – we didn't play as well. But I thought this year we played our best basketball and were more prepared."
This season's biggest success was the play of Khalif Wyatt, who played just 19 minutes as a freshman but blossomed into the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and an All-American as a senior.
"He matured," said Dunphy. "The staff did a great job with him, and he couldn't have asked for two better teammates than Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and T.J. Dileo. They were great with him and added to his natural maturation."
The next step for Wyatt? Dunphy believes it can be the NBA.
"The biggest thing for him will be the shift from 35 seconds to 24," said Dunphy. "He'll have to go a little quicker, but with his array of offensive moves, he can definitely translate his game."
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