Temple held its men's basketball media day today, and I hopped on the Broad Street Line to pay a visit to Fran Dunphy and company.
(We pause here for dramatic effect, as I wasn't sure I'd be able to say that as of last night. If you had 12:05 a.m. this morning in the SEPTA strike pool, congratulations.)
It's been a while since we last heard from Dunphy, and he had plenty to say today. He was not restrained in stating that he doesn't think the Owls are where he wants them to be yet.
"Each team has a different personality each and every year," Dunphy said. "I still don't know what this team's personality is, and until we get into really tough games, I don't think you can predict that."
Dunphy named names as well.
"Mike Eric has done well, but he still has a ways to go to get to be a complete basketball player," he said. "Craig Williams is a talented guy, but he's not in as good shape as he needs to be [and] he doesn't work as hard as the game as he needs to. I can go all the way down the line if you want."
Dunphy continued before anyone could answer that, not that there would have been objections.
"Ramon Moore has got stretches of really good play and other stretches of inconsistency," he said. "I think that's probably the biggest thing you'll find in our team right now - we still have too many stretches of inconsistency."
Dunphy also talked about one of his top underclassmen, guard Andrew "Scootie" Randall.
"Some days, Scootie is right there" to get minutes, Dunphy says. "When Scootie throws the ball to the opposition, Scootie can't play for me. It's real simple."
Having said that, Dunphy also pointed out that his teams have improved over the course of the season each year he's been at Temple, and that has indeed been the case. This year's squad seems to have a lot of potential, from Ryan Brooks aand Lavoy Allen to highly-touted freshmen Khalif Wyatt and Rahlir Jefferson.
Dunphy said that Wyatt and Jefferson "played very well at Maryland the other day" in a scrimmage.
"They were the two brightest things that happened to us the other day - they both know the game," Dunphy said. "Khalif has the chance to be a very special offensive player, [but is] not nearly where he needs to be defensively yet. Rahir is getting better and better."
Dunphy then got to Allen, and said something that I found surprising. Or maybe I've been watching too many NFL coaches on TV lately.
"If Lavoy was a hard worker, we'd be in much better shape than we are, but he just gives you what he's got," Dunphy said. "He's our best basketball player, but we need him to get 15 points and 10, 11, 12 rebounds... It will be interesting to see what kind of commitment he has to that."
On Ryan Brooks: "He hasn't shot it particularly well right now - he's going to have to get his shots more and work five times harder than he ever has to get to be as effective as he's been over the last couple years."
But there was praise, too: "He's very low-maintenance, [a] hard-working guy, gets what's going on. He's a giver, not a taker, and you've got to have more givers than takers to be a successful basketball program."
There are plenty of talented teams in the A-10 this year, and if everything works out right Temple will be right there in the conversation. With a ferocious non-conference schedule that includes Georgetown and Kansas, it won't take us long to find out how high the Owls can fly.
About that date with the Jayhawks...
"Yeah, Kansas is pretty good," Dunphy said, and we all laughed. "If somebody was recording the top non-conference schedule this year, I think that we've got to be in the conversation."
We don't have any data for that yet. But in addition to Georgetown and Kansas, there's Siena, Virginia Tech, St. John's, Penn State, Villanova and Seton Hall.
The Wildcats are only ranked No. 5 in the nation. An easy game compared to Kansas, right?
"We're in the soup," Dunphy said.
Donald Hunt of the Philadelphia Tribune said the schedule is "John Chaney-like."
"It is. That son of a gun," Dunphy replied.
You can imagine the tone of the conversation pretty easily. And you can imagine how it sounded when Dunphy said this of his players:
"This is a spectacular life these kids have - not an easy life, but a spectacular life. You've really got to work at it and understand that every detail has to be covered. When all that happens, you're in pretty good shape."
And if it does?
"We hope that will be enough to get us to Atlantic City," Dunphy said. "Then hopefully we can get as fortunate as we got the last couple years."
I somehow don't think anyone is betting against that.
You can listen to Dunphy's remarks in full in the audio player below.