Daniel Dingle, a story of perseverance

Dec 29, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Temple Owls head coach Fran Dunphy talks with guard Daniel Dingle (4) during the second half against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Fifth Third Arena. Temple won 77-70. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 29, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Temple Owls head coach Fran Dunphy talks with guard Daniel Dingle (4) during the second half against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Fifth Third Arena. Temple won 77-70. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /

On Saturday Daniel Dingle will play his final home game for the Temple Owls as they take on Tulane at the Liacouras Center. Before that, I asked him to reflect on his career for the Owls.

The fifth-year senior is the unquestioned leader of the Temple Owls but it wasn’t an easy road for him to get there. It has been a road of doubt, questions, and perseverance that has led the Bronx native to where he is today. While the Owls have struggled this year, Dingle has been the stable figure to guide the team but this mentality didn’t develop overnight.

When Dingle joined the Temple Owls out of St. Raymond’s school in New York he came with expectations due to being named to the preseason Atlantic 10 all-rookie team. It was well deserved especially after ending his career third all-time in scoring at St. Raymond’s. But while that tag was a good thing, it also came as a curse for Dingle.

Dingle expected to play and contribute to the Owls immediately as a freshman but with guys like Khalif Wyatt ahead of him, it wasn’t going to happen.

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The lack of playing time was a new experience for Dingle and it caused him to be down on himself during the early days. He didn’t spend much time in the gym and also stopped going to class because as he said, “I came here for basketball and I’m not even playing, why am I going to class?” It’s a question that most top recruits ask themselves at some point in their career but luckily for Dingle, he was surrounded by a group of guys to keep him grounded.

When asked about who helped to keep him on the straight and narrow his freshman year, Dingle said, “in my freshman year Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, Scootie Randall, and TJ, as well as Will Cummings I think they did a great job in helping me become the man I am with just staying focused and staying in the gym.” They helped to keep Dingle focused while also teaching him some of the leadership qualities needed in order to help guide the Temple Owls this year.

After going through a trying freshman year, Dingle looked forward to playing more and contributing during his sophomore year. But after appearing in 10 games, Dingle tore his meniscus and had to be granted a medical redshirt, missing the rest of the season. As he explains it, it was one of the darkest times of his playing career. Dingle gained weight, kept to himself, and for a period, he thought that his playing career may be over. But just like his freshman year, teammates were there to pick Dingle up when he was down.

It was a humbling experience, this game of basketball, it comes and goes you know. Cherish the moment and give it my all. – Daniel Dingle on tearing his meniscus

Dingle said, “I had great teammates, Mark Williams was my suitemate and he made sure that I got to rehab on time every morning. Encouragement from Jaylen Bond and other guys on the team made me hungrier to get back on the court.” Through the work that Dingle put in during this time period he came back from his injury stronger than ever.

There have been memorable experiences for Dingle during his time in a Temple Owls uniform, most notably their two NCAA Tournament appearances with him on the roster. His broken wrist kept him from making the impact that he would have liked to make with last year’s conference championship team but last year contained one of his most memorable moments as an Owl.

When asked about it, Dingle said,

"“At home against UConn last year, coach called my number and I hit, I think five threes and scored one of my career highs last year. I had fun and it was so energetic in here, the crowd was amazing and they were doing a little chant like, ‘Daniel Dingle’ and that’s something that as a little kid, you dream of.”"

Dingle’s experiences have set him up perfectly to lead this Temple Owls squad that is currently 14-14 overall and  5-11 in  American Athletic Conference play. According to Dingle, this season presents a new type of challenge. When asked about that challenge he said, “Now we’re facing some adversity on the court and it’s gonna be hard but I’m not running away from those situations because I’m used to this.”

Fighting words from a guy – and a team – that fully believes that they have the quality to win the conference tournament and against all odds, continue playing into March. While these guys have had a tough season, it is pretty clear that no one has packed it in for the season. They still have a fighting spirit in their eyes and that’s a credit to the leadership in the locker room and from Fran Dunphy.

Dingle has also become a role model back home in the Bronx as people have been watching his story. Kid’s from his neighborhood are now going to division one schools and that’s a special thing to see.

Next: Temple Falls To UCF

As Dingle said to end the interview, his job with this team is far from over. The Temple Owls have two games left this season and then it’s off to Connecticut for the AAC tournament. Dingle is a clear example that you write your own story not that the narrative controls you. He has a chance to cement his legacy by pulling off a surprise run with this team after everyone has written them off. After that, he’s slated to get his masters degree in May.

Editors note: If you would like to listen to the full interview between Dan and myself, it can be found here.