Temple's Josh Brown was a key performer for last year's NCAA team, but whether the senior point guard leads the Owls this season remains uncertain.
Brown will be a leader whether he plays or not, but in his heart he believes he will be able to suit up at some point for Temple, which opens its season Nov. 11 against La Salle at the Liacouras Center.
On May 20 while playing in a pickup game, Brown tore his left Achilles tendon. He had surgery on May 25.
"In my mind, I want to play," Brown said Monday during American Athletic Conference media day at the Philadelphia Airport Marriott. "I'd better think I am going to play."
Brown says he is ahead of schedule, but he still hasn't been cleared to take part in team drills.
Temple coach Fran Dunphy said the decision will ultimately be up to Brown and the team doctors, and he won't even venture a guess as to whether the guard will be available this season.
"I can't really tell [how he is doing] in that I see him run around and shoot shots and he looks pretty good at what he is doing, but it is not playing basketball," Dunphy said. "That will happen over the next couple of weeks when the doctors will give him the OK to give it a try."
Dunphy says Brown has shown his leadership, coming to practice and advising the young guards such as freshman Alani Moore and sophomore Levan Alston. Whether those skills are seen on the court is anybody's guess.
"I think we are a long way yet from determining what his status is going to be," Dunphy said.
Known as a staunch defender, Brown also had a highly efficient and underrated junior season. He led the AAC in minutes played at 36.2 per game. Brown also was 10th nationally and first in the AAC in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.5 to 1.
His best all-around game at Temple came in the Owls' 72-70 overtime loss to Iowa in the NCAA tournament when Brown had 16 points (shooting 7 for 11 from the field) with nine rebounds, five assists and two turnovers in 45 minutes.
Brown made an impact with his steady, error-free play.
"He beat us at the buzzer last season," said Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie, referring to Temple's 55-53 win at UConn on Jan. 5 when Brown's winning shot actually came with two seconds left. "He is a great player, a great leader, they kind of follow him and he plays extremely hard."
Brown understands he can't push too much, so he is cautious in his rehab.
"I do two individual workouts and then take a break," he said. "Right now I am just working with the coaches on basketball drills."
He says his Achilles tendon is fine. "It is 100 percent now and that is the main thing," said Brown, a criminal justice major who is on course to graduate this spring. "I am making sure I have my full range of motion back; it is just about gaining strength and breaking down all the scar tissue."
He hopes he is strong enough to make a major impact for a Temple team that was picked to finish sixth in the AAC's preseason poll of 11 coaches. Of course Temple, led by Brown's guidance at the point, was picked sixth last year and won the regular-season title during a 21-12 campaign.