Temple looks to put NCAA snub in the past, focus on Bucknell and NIT

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Temple really got hosed Sunday.

With more impressive quality wins than UCLA, more total wins than Texas and an overall better NCAA Tournament resume than nearly a half-dozen teams, the Owls were victims of anumbers game, and perhaps bias when the selection was through.

“Honestly, it is never going to settle in,” senior guard WillCummings told reporters after a difficult weekend. “I will always have that chip on my shoulder, that anger, just knowing that we didn’t get in with all the hard work we put in, and then try to build our resume.”

But there is a silver lining. Though not the glamorous and high-profile event that the NCAA Tournament is, Temple owns a No. 1 seed in the NIT tournament, a competition that features high-profile teams like UConn, Pittsburgh, Miami and Stanford.

The NIT can be a rebuilding block for many teams, and after a 9-22 season in 2013-14, Temple has improved leaps and bounds to 23-10. Perhaps a strong performance, or even a title in the NIT can help springboard the team to national competitiveness next year. It did for SMU, which went deep in last years National InvitationalTournament and this year won the AAC’s regular season and tournament championships.

Temple is back in practice, a year after being home this time of year. There are still games to be played, and with three possible home games (the first against Bucknell Wednesday at 7 p.m.), a lot of work left to do.

“We were of course disappointed we didn’t get in the (NCAA) tournament,”Quenton DeCosey said to reporters of their preparations.“Coach told us before practice we had to refocus because we have a chance to win the NIT Tournament. Guys came out and practiced hard.”

The Owls are making their 18th NIT appearance and first since 2006, and the first ever for this year’s AAC Coach of the Year Fran Dunphy.

Bucknell won this year’s Patriot League regular season title, but fell short of a conference tournament title and admission into the NCAA Tournament. They sport a 19-14 record and hold the No. 8 seed.

The Owls, with a win, would face the winner of George Washington and Pittsburgh this coming weekend in the second round.

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