When Daniel Dingle suffered a torn meniscus right before the New Year last season, he was rounding into form and appeared on the verge of breaking into the starting lineup.
Dingle is back this year, but the process of earning playing time has been a challenging one for the redshirt sophomore because of the recovery from the knee injury and a deeper roster than was on last year’s team.
The 6-foot-7 forward saw his stock rise on Thursday when he contributed seven points, two rebounds and a block in 16 minutes off the bench in a 73-48 win over South Florida.
“It felt good getting out there, playing hard and just playing with my teammates, contributing in some type of way,” said Dingle. “I’ve had my ups and downs. I’m just trying to stay positive, stay ready. They might need me defensively, offensively, just giving guys a breather. My mentality is just staying focused.”
The 16 minutes were the most he played since also seeing the court for 16 minutes against Delaware on Dec. 18 and the seven points were the most since he scored 11 against Towson on Dec. 10.
"He's getting back to himself," said senior point guard Will Cummings. "We just tell him stay confident, and when he has a chance to step on the floor to be ready. You saw a glimpse of that. He's been working hard in the gym, and when he gets his chance we expect him to contribute."
Dingle’s time has suffered the most since guards Jesse Morgan and Devin Coleman became eligible after transfers. The play of junior Jaylen Bond and freshman Obi Enechionyia has also cut into his playing time.
“(Dingle) can improve his conditioning still, but he’s a knowledgeable guy with a great basketball IQ,” said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. “He can play multiple positions. We went with a small lineup and I thought he responded very well.
“He tipped an offensive rebound out to Jesse and he hit a shot. He’s a valuable guy. He could play eight minutes or he could play 28 and I think he can handle that."
Dunphy even commented that if Cummings couldn’t go because of a muscle strain Thursday, he was prepared to give Dingle work at point guard.
“This whole week I learned all the point guard positions, I had to guard Josh (Brown in practice),” said Dingle. “Coach just said you might have to play the one, you might have to play the four, just be ready.
“I think I can bring some versatility. I can bring the big man out if I have a 6-10 slow big man on me, I can create for others and get others shots.“
Dingle admitted he isn’t full recovered from the injury.
“I’m still coming back, it’s not an easy injury to come back from,” said Dingle. “Every day my body feels different. I might feel great one day, I might feel just good one day, I might not have it one day. It’s a lot of ups and downs, but I’m pushing myself every day to get stronger.
“It’s just not having the strength. I’m not the most explosive guy, but just having that explosiveness to go for a left-hand layup and get contact and finish … That’s definitely something I’m going to work on this summer.”
Dingle agreeed playing just a couple minutes one game, not playing all the next and then getting an extended run can be challenging. But he feels it’s a challenge he’s up to.
“It’s mentally preparing me for life itself, one day things might go your way, other days things might not go your way,” said Dingle. “I’m not getting mad, I’m just giving it my all. If I’m on the bench, I’m going to be the best cheerleader we have. In practice, I’m going to go hard like I’m going to play 40 minutes.”
Daniel Dingle working way back after injury
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