The only hole in an otherwise superb coaching resume is a lack of NCAA tournament wins. Dunphy has never reached the Sweet Sixteen in 14 trips to the tournament, though he has almost always lost to a higher-seeded team because the tournament committee rarely gives the credit deserved to non-BCS conference schools.
“I would love to go deeper in the tournament, obviously,” he said. “Maybe sometimes we’ve been unlucky. But all I ask for year-to-year is that we get a chance to be in the tournament and try to take it from there. If this team does that and we get a shot then I’ll be very happy.”
It will have to improve a good deal between now and mid-March to do that. This isn’t Dunphy’s best team, but he will figure out a way to get them into the bracket on Selection Sunday. He changed his starting lineup on Wednesday and said after the game he’ll continue to tinker because he doesn’t want his players to feel entitled.
That was the way Temple played in the first half: As if it was entitled to win just for showing up. Even when the Owls figured out they were in a real game, they didn’t take a lead until Wyatt made two free throws for a 54-53 lead with 2 minutes 2 seconds left. GW had chances, including two missed shots just before the buzzer, but managed not to score in the last 7:43.
Credit Temple’s defense. Blame the Colonials’ inexperience.
The irony in it all is that GW’s basketball future is clearer right now than Temple’s: The Colonials are part of an Atlantic 10 that will lose Temple next year to what’s left of the Big East and perhaps Xavier, Dayton and Butler to the unnamed Catholic Seven league. The Atlantic 10, though, is on much more solid ground right now than the Big East.
“Who knows what will happen,” Dunphy said. “It’s all been football-driven and that won’t change. But there may be a dozen more changes coming before next season.”
He smiled a very tired smile. “Right now, all I can do is worry about St. Bonaventure on Saturday,” he said.
He headed into the night to do just that (the Owls ended up falling, 81-78, their first-ever home loss to the Bonnies). Lonergan was still in his locker room at that moment, not ready just yet to start thinking about Massachusetts on Saturday.
Wins are a lot easier to put behind you than losses.
For more by John Feinstein, go to www.washingtonpost.com/feinstein.