European Vacation

Nothing picks up the spirits of a college sports fan watching a struggling football team than the knowledge basketball season is around the corner. And while there is still much to look forward to on the gridiron as the Temple football team tries to turn around an 0-4 start, the start of basketball practice on Monday - after a summer Europe trip - was a sign hoops season is near.

Nothing picks up the spirits of a college sports fan watching a struggling football team than the knowledge basketball season is around the corner.

And while there is still much to look forward to on the gridiron as the Temple football team tries to turn around an 0-4 start, the start of basketball practice on Monday was a sign that hoops season is right around the corner.

The Owls will open the men's basketball season in just over a month when they play Penn at the Palestra on Nov. 9. The home opener is two days later against Kent State.

While Monday was the first day of practice for the season, the inexperienced Owls gained some valuable practice and team building time on a European trip this summer.

"We're not as behind offensively as we typically would be," agreed coach Fran Dunphy. "That doesn't mean we're cooking on all cylinders. The comfortability sense of each other, more than the X and O thing (was gained), the team concept — we got to know each other a little better. We won't be as rushed to put everything in for the first game."

Junior point guard Will Cummings, who will assume more of a leadership and scoring role this season, agreed the time together as a team over the summer should have some carry-over effect.

"We lost the first game, were down in the second and came back to force overtime," recalled Cummings. "That was the hill we got over, even though we lost that game because we won our last few games.

"Everybody knew we had to get better, step up as a young team. We've been in a gym over the summer, and the young guys didn't have to come in and learn a whole new offense or concepts on defense. I remember what that was like for me freshman year, first day of practice. So that really helped us."

Dunphy admitted he might have to be more patient with a team that graduated five senior contributing players.

"We're more inexperienced than we are young," said Dunphy. "I hope the longer I've been in this, the more patient I've become. .. Some might disagree with me. But with the newer guys we'll have to guide them along.

"I hope we have a better understanding of the game because of the games we played over there, but we need to grow up in a hurry. We're moving ahead at a pretty good pace. The European trip put us in a different spot."

That spot, despite the youth and a chance from the Atlantic 10 to the American Athletic Conference, is chasing a seventh straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

"There's no such thing as rebuilding," said Cummings. "You want to win every year. If you're not trying to make the NCAA Tournament, it's a waste of time. There's no sense playing a basketball game."

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