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October 25, 2012Temple's men's and women's basketball teams have been practicing on their new courts at the Pearson-McGonigle complex for the last 10 months while the all the finishing touches were still being added around them.
Now that everything is officially done, men's coach Fran Dunphy invited the media in Thursday afternoon for an official tour of the new facility, which includes training and weight rooms, locker rooms and lounges, touch-screen video monitors on the courts and a theater for watching game and practice film. Dunphy hosted a group of reporters for more than a half hour before his team, which will open its season Nov. 13 at Kent State (noon, ESPN), practiced on the Donald and Nancy Resnick court.
The 30,000-square-foot facility for the men's and women's teams is available to the players 24 hours a day and is part of a $58 million overall renovation to Pearson and McGonigle Halls, the latter of which was the home of Temple's basketball programs before the Liacouras Center opened in December of 1997.
It has also been a hub for area high school players in the Philadelphia area to conduct workouts, and NBA teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat have practiced there during their trips to Philadelphia to play the 76ers.
Dunphy, who has led Temple to five straight NCAA Tournament appearances, certainly appreciates all the new amenities. From his office, he can look out onto the practice floor, and the veteran coach joked that if one of his players disputes taking an ill-advised shot or not hedging on a screen during workouts, Dunphy can immediately walk over to the video screen on the sideline and show him exactly what he did wrong.
But Dunphy, who played at La Salle and is now six wins shy of 450 career coaching victories, has always been a man who never loses sight of tradition. He poked fun at himself for not being the flashy type, but it would have been hard to wipe the smile off his face as he pointed out the various pictures of past Temple greats like Mark Macon or trophies in the new glass case in the lobby.
The facility itself rests on the third floor of Pearson and McGonigle Halls, and that not-so-subtle symbolism isn't lost on a Philadelphia guy like Dunphy.
"They had a small little locker in the basement of McGonigle Hall here," Dunphy said, referring to the great teams coached by Hall of Famers John Chaney and Harry Litwack, "and beat the pants off a lot of teams with not a lot of the stuff that we now have."
So will the new facility help with recruiting as Temple enters its final season in the Atlantic 10 and prepares to enter the Big East in 2013-14?
"It certainly helps," Dunphy said. "Today's world is a little different than a number of years ago. Instant satisfaction and instant gratification could be the words of the day, and kids want to see what we've got going on. But we have put ourselves in the neighborhood of all the great programs in the country in terms of the facilities that we have."
That's one of the keys. Temple's facility is now in the same stratosphere as anything you'll see in the ACC, the Big Ten or the rest of the country.
"Ours is different," Dunphy said. "Ours is unique. It's not necessarily better, it's just unique. If you want wide-open spaces and a very quiet, subtle atmosphere, this is not it. If you want action, things happening all the time and challenges, well, then, this is what you want. Me? I'm a challenge guy. I want the action."
In addition to the demands of practice, Dunphy gave his team a homework assignment recently.
"I made them provide for me a one-page reflection paper for where they're going to be when they're 40 years old," Dunphy said. "While I want them enjoying all this today, I also want them thinking about what's going to happen tomorrow and the many tomorrows that are provided for them."
"This here doesn't ensure what you're going to do tomorrow," Dunphy added, pointing to the team's new locker room in the Pearson-McGonigle complex. "What this here does is give you a great opportunity. Where are you going to be? Are you going to be a businessman? Are you going to be philanthropic? Are you going to be a schoolteacher? Whatever you're going to be, be it right, be it well, and do a good job with it."
OwlScoop.com editor John Di Carlo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @OwlScoop_com or @jdicarlo