Coming into the season, many questioned who would replace the playmaking abilities of Will Cummings and Jesse Morgan. Most knew that Quenton DeCosey would score, but the next few scoring options were up in the air. Could Jaylen Bond put the ball in the hoop consistently, after finishing the 2014-15 season with 8 straight single digit games? Could Devin Coleman and Obi Enechionyia become steady three point threats after both shooting below 30% from deep last year? But little did Temple fans know that the x-factor and success of the team would ultimately lie in the hands of Daniel Dingle.
If you look straight up at Daniel Dingle’s statistics, you’ll probably disregard the redshirt junior. Only 4.4 points per game? Only 36.8% from the field? How could someone averaging such pedestrian statistics be the key for a top tier program?
Multiple aspects of his game have allowed him to have a large role in Temple’s success. Dingle’s offensive versatility make him as talented as anyone when he gets it going. The forward can put it on the floor. He can thread the defense and make the right pass. He can shoot the three. And at 235 pounds, Dingle is hard to stop when his momentum gets him rolling towards the basket.
The stats back him up. When Dingle is good, Temple is good. The team is 7-2 when Dingle just scores more than 5 points. When he scores double digits, they’re 3-0 and all three of those wins have been against the top teams of the American Athletic Conference, Cincinnati, SMU, and Connecticut.
Dingle has also played solid defense. Often matched up with the other team’s power forward or, when they go small, their center, Dingle doesn’t back down. He does a strong job of playing post defense and denying the ball down in the post, as well too. His versatility and quickness for a man of his size additionally gives him the ability to cover perimeter plays when necessary.
Normally when a player is playing well, they see their minutes spike. Dingle has earned that treatment, as he has averaged 28 minutes per game in his last five games. Regardless of whether he scores a lot, when Dingle is playing well and earning himself more minutes, Temple is better off. The team is 6-1 when the forward plays 25 minutes or more.
Nevertheless, Dingle has struggled with consistency. One minute he will get to the rim and make an acrobatic finish that a man of his size should not be able to put together. But minutes later he will come down and shoot a fadeaway midrange shot five seconds into the shot clock. And occasionally, he’ll disappear and you’ll forget Dingle is even on the floor. He needs to make sure he stays aggressive, especially attacking the basket, but controls that aggression. When he does, Dingle is a unique combination of craft and bulk.
Furthermore, early in the season Dingle proved to be a liability in the final moments of games. Against Utah, he missed two gigantic free throws that would have tied the game at 70 with 16 seconds left. Weeks later at Memphis, Dingle committed a foul with 2 seconds left in a tied game that allowed the Tigers to escape with a 2 point win. Despite his struggles, head coach Fran Dunphy has stayed committed to the junior, playing him late in the game most recently against UConn and Houston. As a result of getting more comfortable in the waning moments of contests, Dingle has avoided the major mistakes and has played more under control.
The bottom line is, when Dingle is feeling it, it brings up the play of the entire team. His versatility and ability to do so many things on the offensive and defensive end makes him hard to stop. However, he needs to make sure he stays aggressive and does not get out of control. If he can do that, he could be the ultimate x-factor for the Owls, who could use a consistent playmaker to pair with Devin Coleman off of the bench.
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