MEMPHIS - It's a tough thing to say, when your streak of six straight 20-win seasons evaporates into the 9-22 thunderstorm Fran Dunphy and his Temple Owls just rode through. The one that ended with an excruciating 94-90, double-overtime loss to Central Florida in Wednesday's opening round of the American Athletic Conference tournament.
But despite a long list of to-do's, starting with his team's defense, Dunphy insists he likes the road his young team is on.
"Their attitude through a challenging and trying season was very good," Dunphy said after Temple's second OT loss in FedEx Forum in a month (the other an 82-79 loss to host Memphis). "Was there frustration and disappointment? Yeah, there sure was. But I thought they fought through it as well as you possibly could . . . I would tell you I like where we are, and I like where we're headed."
The offense is there, and save for leading scorer Dalton Pepper, will be there next year. Pepper struggled through a 14-point career finale (though he finished as the first player in Temple history to hit a three-pointer in every game). But sophomore Quenton DeCosey had a career-high 28 points, junior Will Cummings added 25 and junior Anthony Lee added 17.
"We have Q right here so we're going to hit him with some stuff some more," said Cummings, who had a career-best nine assists Wednesday. "And we have guys that didn't get a chance to play this year that were sitting out, so we're going to add all those guys to the team, and we're going to get better and start working when we come back to campus."
Transfers Jaylen Bond (6-foot-7, Texas), Jesse Morgan (6-5 UMass) and Devin Coleman (6-2 Clemson) will be eligible next season. Sophomore Daniel Dingle (6-7) will come back from knee surgery, and the Owls have a Top 100 recruit in 6-9 Obi Enechionyia of St. James School (Md.) who can help inside.