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Next Up For Duke Basketball - Temple

The Owls are coming off of a tough season, but there's reason to think the Owls might be much better now.

Matt Jones rises for a jumper against Michigan State's defense.
Matt Jones rises for a jumper against Michigan State's defense.
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Duke's next opponent is Temple, a game to be played in Brooklyn as part of Coaches vs. Cancer.

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It's a nice occasion to remember the irrepressible Jim Valvano and his brilliant refusal to accept cancer's opinion on how to finish out his life.

We might also add that it's a nice chance to remember our late friend Gloria Borges who fought her cancer with equal parts of courage, ferocity, grace and power. You may remember that we publicized her fight here whenever we could.

We think about her all the time and what a tremendous legacy she left. We would ask all of you to at least visit the Wunderglo Foundation in her honor.

Temple is well past the John Chaney era - Chaney retired in 2006 - and Fran Dunphy has been pretty successful since taking over.

His first season was just 12-18 but since then, until last season, he's been highly successful. Take the first and the last season of his tenure out and he's averaged 24 wins a season.

Last year though the bottom fell out and Temple finished 9-22.

It may have had something to do with the first season in the AAC, but whatever it was, it was atypical.

Before moving over from Penn, Dunphy was 310-163.

He's a solid coach, in other words.

So far this season, Temple is 2-0 with wins over American and Louisiana Tech, neither a powerhouse.

The American win was just 40-37, a score Herb Sendek would have appreciated but which would put most people to sleep.

Temple shot just 22.9% in that game. It's kind of amazing to win when you shoot like that, but there it is.

Against the LaTech Bulldogs, Temple got up to 43.1%, which puts them at 33.3% for the young season.

That's about half of what Duke is hitting (60.2%).

On the bright side, as Dunphy's teams usually do, Temple is defending pretty well, holding opponents to 36.8%.

Temple has been a favorite opponent of Duke's for some time. Chaney always seemed to enjoy playing the Devils and since 1999, Duke has won 10 of the last 11.

Last year was obviously depressing for Temple, but on the bright side, the Owls return 13 experienced players including three seniors, five juniors, four sophomores and a grad student.

Obi Enechionyia is the only freshman.

Jaylen Bond is one of the disgruntled who left Texas over the past couple of seasons and he should help the defense considerably.

Daniel Dingle, who sat out last season with a torn meniscus, should also be a major asset. And while he can't play Friday, former Clemson Tiger Devin Coleman is also on the roster. He has to sit out the first 10 games.

Dunphy has a pretty clearly established rotation, with just eight players seeing the court so far and everyone getting at least 14 mpg.

Will Cummings (6-2 senior) is averaging 13.5 mpg. Quenton DeCosey (6-5 junior) and Quenton DeCosey (6-7 sophomore) are averaging 11 ppg.

The guy who Dunphy thinks might be the most improved though is 6-3 soph Josh Brown, currently averaging 10.5 ppg.

Temple's primary concern is going to be stopping Jahlil Okafor, something no one has managed to do so far.

The Owls have a bit of size to throw at him - Devontae Wilson is 6-11, Jimmy McDonnell is 6-10, Enechionyia 6-9 and Mark Williams nd Jaylen Bond 6-8.

Dunphy says that defense is the key to turning things around after last season's poor record, and that he has even mixed in a bit of zone.

It won't surprise us to see it pop up against Okafor, but with this team, you have to pick your poison: if you're not careful, then Duke can just as easily gut you from the perimeter.

Pretty clearly, Duke will be favored, but we'd urge to look at Temple's record last season as an anomaly. Dunphy has a good bit more talent to draw on this season and good defense usually leads to happier results.

For Duke, this weekend is another chance to get a glorious freshman class some solid competition in a big-time atmosphere.

After Friday's game, Duke will play either Johnny Dawkins' Stanford or UNLV in the second game.

Either way, Duke will play UNLV in the not too distant future: the teams will meet in 2016.