The day after suffering the disappointment of not being selected to the NCAA Tournament, Temple regrouped for a spirited practice in preparation for Wednesday's opening NIT game, 7 p.m. at the Liacouras Center against Bucknell.
The media gets to watch the end of practice and the players were showing great enthusiasm and intensity. It wasn't easy after the entire team had its collective heart set on playing in the NCAA Tournament.
"Last year at this time we were all doing workouts," point guard Will Cummings said. "There is no fun doing that. We are still out there competing every day having fun with each other, competitiveness, chippyness, having fun playing basketball and looking to try to get an NIT championship."
Actually, running around was the best thing for the players, a way to shake off the frustration.
"We were of course disappointed we didn't get in the (NCAA) tournament," said Temple swingman Quenton DeCosey. "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."
Everybody practiced. Forward Jaylen Bond, who sprained his ankle in Friday's 80-75 win over Memphis and was less than 100 percent in Saturday's 69-56 loss to SMU,
"It a little sore but able to play through it and practice through it," Bond said. "I got a lot of treatment the last few days and continue to do it and I will be fine."
Cummings, who injured his shoulder against SMU, was also a full practice participant.
"It is fine and as good as it is going to get," Cummings said about his shoulder. "I am playing Wednesday, there is no question about that."
There is also no question that despite the spirited practice, the Owls are still shocked that they are preparing for the NIT instead of the NCAA tournament.
"We talked about it and talked about how we thought we had done enough, obviously we didn't," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "Now we have to get ready for the next assignment, Bucknell, a really good basketball team."
Bucknell, the regular season Patriot League champion, is 19-14. Temple takes a 23-10 record into the contest.
"It was tough not hearing our name called," Bond said. "Now the goal is the NIT and we have to redirect our focus to that."