By Jon Rothstein
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The first time I met Fran Dunphy was at a dinner at the New York Athletic Club. We schmoozed, talked hoops, and exchanged business cards.
He offered me an open invitation to a Temple practice and the trip to the Philadelphia school has become a regular occurrence each and every autumn.
We all should have the gift to engage people in a genuine fashion like Dunphy — but we don’t.
It’s what makes him a likeable person, a unique figure in today’s college basketball landscape, and maybe most importantly, a very effective recruiter.
Without good players, coaches can’t win games. Without great ones, they can’t compete for championships.
He dominated the Ivy League by going to nine NCAA Tournaments in 17 years at Penn and has made the field of 68 for five consecutive years since he moved across town to Temple.
Will he be able to have similar fortunes after this year once the Owls make the jump to the Big East?
Temple’s recent recruiting success suggests they have more than a legitimate shot.
The last three players the Owls have landed, starting with 2013 St. Anthony’s (NJ) point guard Josh Brown, who committed to Dunphy and Temple on Monday after decommitting from the Owls earlier in the summer, were recruited by several BCS level schools.
The first time I saw Brown he reminded me of former Providence guard John Linehan. He’s a ferocious perimeter defender who harasses opposing point guards. Brown, who is now ranked in the Top 100 of most recruiting services looks like a very good get for Temple — he’ll be a great one after he plays his senior season in high school.
Two of the Owls’ freshmen for the upcoming season, Daniel Dingle (St. Raymond’s) and Quenton DeCosey (St. Joe’s Metuchen) were also recruited by BCS schools. Dingle, a skilled point forward has a basketball IQ that jumps out from the first possession you watch him play and DeCosey who just turned 18, could develop into a lethal perimeter defender.
With Brown, Dingle, DeCosey, point guard Will Cummings, wing Dalton Pepper, and bouncy big man Anthony Lee, the Owls will bring a solid foundation to the Big East for the 2013-14 season.
That core coupled with Dunphy’s penchant for regularly playing a brutal non-conference schedule should more than prepare Temple as they get set to join what has arguably been the best conference in college basketball.
Before the Owls lock horns with foes this year in their final season in the Atlantic 10, they’ll play neutral site games against Duke and Syracuse, travel to Kansas and Villanova, and host CAA contender Delaware.
“I go to the John Chaney school for non conference scheduling,” Dunphy joked to me last summer.
And just like his predecessor, Dunphy knows one of the major keys to effective recruiting is being efficient.
Too often today certain programs are focused with making an elite player’s final five schools rather than honing in a prospect that they can actually land — Temple rarely makes that mistake.
Will that philosophy be enough for the Owls’ to become a formidable opponent on a nightly basis once they reach the Big East?
I’ve got no doubts.
Do you think the Owls will be a force in the Big East? Be heard in the comments below!