John Smallwood: Temple flaunts its own tradition in win over Duke

Posted: January 05, 2012

PHILLIES shortstop Jimmy Rollins knows a little something about pace and tempo.

So, sitting courtside at last night's Temple game against Duke at the Wells Fargo Center, Rollins could clearly see that the Owls' trio of ball handlers - Juan Fernandez, Ramone Moore and Khalif Wyatt - was dictating the flow of the game.

"If Temple can keep playing at this pace," Rollins said, "they'll have a chance."

But then Rollins added, "Now it gets interesting because we'll see what adjustments he makes at halftime," while motioning toward Blue Devils Naismith Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Sure enough, Coach K made his halftime adjustments and Duke did some different things.

Temple coach Fran Dunphy isn't in the Naismith Hall of Fame, at least not yet, but when it comes to the X's and O's of basketball, he doesn't take a back seat to anyone.

Coach K made his moves, and then Dunph countered.

When all was tallied up, the Owls had come up with a huge 78-73 victory over the fifth-ranked Blue Devils.

"I think there was only one way we could win and that was to manage the game with [Fernandez, Moore and Wyatt]," said Dunphy, who saw Temple snap a nine-game losing streak to Duke dating back to 1996. "They're pretty good basketball players and they are going to make good decisions with the ball.

"Overall, those three guys did exactly what we needed them to do."

It was a masterful display of control and discipline by three upperclassmen that allowed Temple to beat a top-10 team for the fourth straight season.

Still, while wins over No. 8 Tennessee in 2008, No. 3 Villanova in 2009 and No. 10 Georgetown in 2010 were big, this was Duke.

This was Duke with Coach K, the winningest coach in Division I history with his four national championships and gazillion trips to the Final Four.

This was the standard-bearer program of the past 3 decades.

Before the game, Temple presented Krzyzewski with a plaque honoring his contributions to college basketball.

"The quality and success of that program and what Mike has done has been outstanding," said Dunphy, who became friends with Krzyzewski in the early 1970s when they both were serving in the Army. "It's an incredible basketball program and for us to come out on top tonight is very nice for a lot of people, Temple folk, Philadelphians, and certainly our team and our program."

This was about Temple imposing its will over a team that was on paper more talented and certainly much bigger than the Owls.

"It's something we believed we could do coming in," Moore said. "We carried out what coach Dunphy emphasized and we managed the game.

"We wanted to come in and play a good game and we did that."

Maybe the Owls' ride on the Broad Street Line from Temple down to the Wells Fargo Center stirred their Philadelphia attitude a bit.

"The reason why we do it is because that's Temple," Dunphy said. "Over the course of Temple's lifetime, people would ride the subway to school, go to class, get back on the subway, go to their part-time jobs in order to afford their education and then go home.

"That's who we are and we wanted to let everybody know that we appreciate what Temple University is all about."

Duke (12-2) had run off five-straight wins since losing to then No. 2-ranked Ohio State in November. The Blue Devils had early wins over Michigan State, Tennessee, Michigan, Kansas and Washington.

Duke had won 14 straight against unranked opponents.

Each time the Blue Devils got close in the second half, the Owls responded with big plays to regain control of the game.

Temple (10-3) earned its full measure of respect.

"I want to congratulate Dunph and his team," Krzyzewski said. "They know how to play. They played with great toughness and camaraderie.

"Their perimeter really controlled the tempo of the game. We obviously didn't play very well, but that doesn't take away from how well they played."

Duke is one of the five elite programs in college basketball. Its tradition takes a back seat to none.

But Krzyzewski is a student of the game. He knows that greatness exists outside of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East and other power conferences.

"Well, [Temple] should [play with belief]," he said. "They've won the Atlantic 10 3 out of the last 4 years.

"It's not a team that we were playing. We were playing a program. Temple's always had a program with [John Chaney] and now with Dunph.

"You're playing tradition here. You're not playing a singular team. Temple has one of the rich traditions of college basketball. They're going to get good kids that believe they can win. And they do."

The shortstop saw it early.


Send email to

smallwj@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

www.philly.com/Smallwood.

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