Depleted Temple set to host tough Memphis team

Temple's Anthony Lee battles for the ball with South Florida's Zach LeDay (left). "We're in the soup," said Owls coach Fran Dunphy of injuries on his team.
Temple's Anthony Lee battles for the ball with South Florida's Zach LeDay (left). "We're in the soup," said Owls coach Fran Dunphy of injuries on his team. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 12, 2014

After Temple lost at home to South Florida on Thursday, the man rallying the Owls in the postgame huddle was on crutches.

Daniel Dingle, standing on one leg and wearing a light blue shirt, a dark tie, and khakis was playing the role of vocal leader in place of junior Will Cummings, who left the game in the first half with concussion-like symptoms.

The hobbled Dingle rallying his teammates is the image of this Temple season thus far. The Owls are hobbling through a crucial stretch of conference play, dealing with injuries to some of their top players on a roster that already had depth issues.

Temple hosts No. 24 Memphis (11-3, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Tigers beat No. 12 Louisville, 73-67, on Thursday, handing the defending national champion Cardinals their first home loss of the season.

"It's a terrific league . . . now in successive opportunities we have Memphis and Connecticut coming up, so we'll have our hands full," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "We're in the soup here and we have to figure out a way to get out of it."

Temple (5-8, 0-3 AAC) has nine student-athletes on scholarship as opposed to the maximum of 13. One of those players, Dingle, is likely out for the season after having surgery Monday to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Dingle averaged 6.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in about 20 minutes per game before getting hurt.

Mark Williams, a forward who has made six starts, is day-to-day after spraining his left ankle at Central Florida last Saturday. Dunphy said Williams was available for the South Florida game, but chose not to use him.

Cummings' status is uncertain. He has started all 12 games and leads the team with an average of 17.8 points.

"It's just one of those things that happens in sports," Dunphy said after the South Florida loss. "We have to keep our head up and keep plugging away. There's a lot of season left."

"It's heartbreaking a little bit," said Anthony Lee, a junior forward who played 37 minutes on Thursday as part of Temple's six-man rotation. "We don't have many bodies, so it's a tough challenge. You really don't have many people that can step up."

Entering a stretch of competition against premier competition in the newly formed American Athletic Conference, the injuries make it possible that the Owls could have just six scholarship players suiting up.

Weekend in the City Six

A look at this weekend's other City Six games.

No. 8 Villanova (14-1) at St. John's (9-5)

Saturday at 1 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)

Villanova has won its first three Big East Conference games after suffering its only loss of the season at Syracuse on Dec. 28. Playing at Madison Square Garden, St. John's will be looking for its first win against the Wildcats since February 2011.

St. Joseph's (9-5) at George Mason (7-8)

Saturday at 8.. p.m. (CBS3)

St. Joe's had a five-game winning streak snapped on the road against No. 19 Massachusetts on Wednesday. Halil Kanacevic had 19 points and 13 rebounds in the unsuccessful upset bid. The Patriots will be looking for their first ever win against the Hawks. St. Joe's won the series' first game last year.

Drexel (8-6) vs. Northeastern (4-11)

Saturday at 2 p.m. (TCN)

Drexel has lost three games in a row, including its conference opener at William and Mary on Wednesday, 85-73. Northeastern has won its last two games and is 1-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Huskies won the last meeting, 59-52, in February 2013 at home.

Princeton (11-2) at Penn (2-10)

Saturday at 6 (NBC Sports)

In the 229th meeting of this series, Penn will be looking for its first win since Nov. 26. Princeton has won 10 of its last 11 games, including nonconference wins against Penn State and Rutgers. The Tigers have won their last three games against the Quakers.

La Salle (8-6) at Duquesne (8-5)

Sunday at 2:30 (NBC Sports)

The Explorers have struggled to score this season: Their 70.4 points per game ranks 227th in Division I. They host a Duquesne team that averages close to 80 points per game and has won five games in a row, including its conference opener against Fordham on Wednesday.

- Joey Cranney

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