Temple men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy, who has taught an honors class in the university’s prestigious Fox School of Business the past six years, obviously is serious about education.
Proof is the fact that the professor — who also taught a class at Penn during his 17 years at the Ivy League school — sacrificed his beloved, trademark mustache on Oct. 6, 2011, in order to see one of his former players complete work on his college degree.
Let Dunphy, who brings his (10-2) Owls to Allen Fieldhouse today for a 3:30 p.m., tip against (11-1) Kansas University, explain:
“Dionte Christmas (former Temple star now playing in Europe) had one course left to graduate. He was ticking me off a little bit that he didn’t do it,” Dunphy said in a courtside interview with the Journal-World during his team’s shootaround on Saturday night.
“I told him, ‘If you graduate, I’ll shave my mustache which I’ve had for 40 years (since his Army days).’ He texted me in August of 2011 and said, ‘Coach, get your razor ready.’ We made a big deal out of it (shaving in a ceremony on Temple’s campus in Philadelphia). The big deal was this kid getting the degree, which is really important to us.”
The 64-year-old Dunphy — he has a 144-67 record including five straight NCAA berths in six-plus seasons at Temple and is 454-230 overall — credits Dr. Lynne Andersson for working with him as team-teachers of the course “Management, Theory and Practice: From the Locker Room to the Board Room.”
The course is serious business. Temple’s business school ranks among the top 20 in the country according to BizEd Magazine.
“The opportunity to get in the classroom is a lot of fun for me,” Dunphy said Saturday. “I pontificate a few minutes of class and act like I know what I’m talking about. It gives me a different perspective of the kids and kids a different perspective of me. I think all college coaches ought to try it. You need some help with one (member) of the faculty who thinks you can add to the experience. I hope I continue to do it for a long time.”
Dunphy, who is 0-5 versus KU with a mustache (0-2 at Temple and 0-3 at Penn), today coaches his third game in Allen Fieldhouse. KU tripped the Owls, 71-59, on Dec. 20, 2008 after drilling Penn, 105-59, on Jan. 4, 2000.
In preparation for today’s game, Dunphy, whose squad defeated No. 3 Syracuse, 83-79, on Dec. 22 in Madison Square Garden, pumped in crowd noise into the Owls’ practice facility.
“No,” Dunphy said with a laugh, asked if that actually works.
“You know it’s going to work if we keep our poise and make some shots and pay attention to detail on defense. We figured we’d pump up the noise and see what happens.”
Dunphy said one of the keys to today’s game will be trying to prevent KU from rattling off 10 to 15 points in a row.
“Teams of this caliber can go on killer runs, runs that are really destructive. We have to manage that,” Dunphy said. “We can’t be letting ourselves get out of character. When we quick-shoot, we have to be successful on our quick shots. If they get a chance to run out and finish at the other end, that can be devastating to a team.”
Temple is led by 6-4 senior guard Khalif Wyatt, who scored 33 points off 8-of-17 shooting (2-of-8 from three and 15-15 from the line) in the win over Syracuse. He had six points off 3-of-15 shooting in a 90-67 loss to Duke on Dec. 8 in East Rutherford, N.J.
“The thing is, he can make great passes. He makes passes that are highlight-reel type plays,” said KU coach Bill Self. “He can create an easy basket for a teammate. He can score. He’s one of those guys if he gets on a roll he can score 30 any night,” Self added of Wyatt, who averages a team-leading 15.4 points a game with 51 assists against 30 turnovers. “They have power guards, which is a little different from what we’re used to seeing.”
Scootie Randall, a 6-6 senior guard/forward, averages 12.8 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Atlantic-10 Conference team. Anthony Lee, a 6-9 sophomore forward, averages 11.4 points and 7.1 boards for Temple, which last beat two top ten teams in one season in 1998-99.
“It (Syracuse game) was a great win for Temple on a neutral court and I think it will get our guys’ attention,” Self said. “From a selfish standpoint, it gives us a better strength of schedule, which does nothing but help us later on down the road.”
KU, the second-winningest team of all time (2,081 wins) will return the trip to Temple, the sixth-winningest program (1800 wins), during the 2014-15 season.
“It’s always a pleasure to get challenged by this group,” Dunphy said of KU which enters today’s game ranked sixth in the country. “It’s a great basketball program led by a great guy. I remember one of my years at Penn, Roy Williams called and said his two radio guys (Bob Davis and Max Falkenstien) wanted to call a game at the Palestra (historic building in Philly). It was easy for us to say yes. The last time we played, Bill was here and we played on (Temple’s) campus. It’s great for us to play the game.”
Of Dunphy, Self said: “Fran is a terrific coach and great guy and has some nice pieces. It’ll be a fun game to play.”
Players on Owls: KU senior Jeff Withey on playing Temple, a team KU leads, 7-3, in the all-time series: “Obviously they are a winning program. They have good players. It’s important for our program, good for recruiting (playing on CBS) and stuff like that. It’s going to be a good game. We know what they are capable of. They beat the No. 3 team. Syracuse is really good. They could do it here, too. We’ve got to come ready to play.”
Added senior Kevin Young: “They are a good team and I don’t think we can underestimate them. We’ve seen what they did to Syracuse. We’ve got to focus and be prepared.”
One bad loss: Temple would likely be ranked if not for a 72-62 loss to Canisius on Dec. 19 in Philly. That game preceded the Syracuse game.
“Against Canisius, they did not play as well. Even with that being said, it’s a tie game late and they didn’t make any plays down the stretch like Canisius did,” Self said. “The one thing I found out, the longer I do this, is that you can’t really compare scores or you can’t really say, ‘We’ll have to attack them the way Canisius did,’ because as of three weeks ago, Fran adjusted and corrected and (has since) done some different things. We just try to tweak within what we do or try to get principles involved. This is how they guard ball screens or this is how we want to attack them or this is how we want to guard ball screens based on how they attack.”
Recruiting: Dakari Johnson, a 6-10 senior center from Montverde, Fla., on Saturday orally committed to Kentucky over KU, Syracuse, Georgetown and others. He is ranked No. 13 by Rivals.com.