Temple’s Khalif Wyatt: Oladipo ‘not the first good defender’

IUJMUITH0010DAYTON, Ohio — In a lot of ways, Temple’s Khalif Wyatt and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo are spitting images of one another. Both were under recruited and overlooked by most of the country when they were in high school, and both have blossomed into two of the best players in college basketball.

Wyatt, the player of the year in the stacked Atlantic 10 Conference, was rated as just a two-star recruit by Rivals.com. He had only three offers — Temple, Delaware and St. Joe’s. He was overlooked because of his uncommon build for a guard (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), and his rather unorthodox playing style.

Wyatt has found his niche with Fran Dunphy and Temple, though it didn’t work at first.

“In the beginning, he had his way of doing things and I had mine,” Dunphy said Saturday. “We were trying to get together on it, but he was a pain in the butt sometimes, and he’ll be the first to tell you. But he’s grown. … Now he’s a very low-maintenance guy. Early in his career he was killing me with high maintenance.”

Oladipo’s story is one you probably know much better. It’s been written and talked about time and again this season. He was an athletic, gregarious kid without a basketball skill set. He couldn’t shoot, dribble or score all that well, so he focused on defense.

When he got to Indiana, he worked and worked and worked, and grew into a national player of the year candidate. And the Big Ten’s defensive player of the year.

On Sunday afternoon in Dayton, Wyatt and Oladipo will meet. It figures to be some matchup to watch.

“He’s a good defender,” Wyatt said of Oladipo, “but, I mean, not the first good defender.”

Dunphy said what makes Wyatt a great player and what made him a recruiting target years ago is and was his fearlessness as a player. Wyatt averages more than 20 points per game on the season, and he has scored 30 or more in two of his last three games. He put 33 points on Syracuse in a winning effort earlier this season.

Wyatt certainly won’t be afraid of Oladipo.

“He’s really good,” Oladipo said. “This won’t be the first time I’ve seen him play. He can score the basketball in different ways.”

“Well, he knows he’s really good,” added Indiana coach Tom Crean. “I don’t know the young man, but he knows he’s really good. You can tell that there’s no moment that’s too big for him. The bigger the stage, it doesn’t make any difference, I would think, just to have the success that he’s had. And he can do he can get it to the rim, he can score on a pull-up, he can make threes from range, and he can find his teammates.”

Injury update

Wyatt injured the thumb on his non-shooting hand in Friday’s second-round game against N.C. State. He had X-rays taken, but they came back negative.

“It’s a little sore right now, but it will be fine,” Wyatt said Saturday. “It will be fine by tomorrow.”

Dunphy said Wyatt was able to practice fine Saturday and was able to catch the ball normally.

“I don’t think it’s real severe,” Dunphy said. “The doctor looked at it today and taped it up, and he did pretty well. So I don’t think it’s a huge concern. Even if it were, he’s not going to let me take him out of the game. He wants to play.”

Dunphy “concerned” with Indiana

When asked about the Indiana program on Saturday afternoon, Dunphy said he couldn’t possibly have greater respect for a school than he does for Indiana. He knows the talent the Hoosiers possess — and the speed at which they play — will pose serious problems for his team on Sunday.

“We’re going to have to do a really good job of resting on offense sometimes because we’re not going to be able to rest on defense,” Dunphy said. “Very impressive team.”

Quote of the day

“You could take a nap during some of these timeouts. They’re long. And for me, I don’t have that much to say. I’m not that interesting of a guy. I’m done in 20 seconds. That’s why we practice every single day. … You’ve got to sit there. I drink a little bit more water and think about it.”

— Temple coach Fran Dunphy on media timeouts during the NCAA Tournament

  • karen

    Some ammunition for Victor!

  • Kelin Blab

    I am sure IU nor Victor are worried about what Wyatt is saying….they have endured a ton of good and great players in the big ten. I have seen Victor make Trey Burke reluctant to handle the ball up the court….

  • J Webb

    Khalif is an extremely talented player… think Paul Pierce… slow and methodical with his movements. He is not athletic but uses that to his benefits and draws a ton of fouls. If he can get Oladipo in foul trouble it could be a cause for concern for IU

  • Ole Man

    At this time of year, the good players don’t need ammunition.

  • SCHoosier

    We beat UM because alltho Burke and Hardaway”got theirs”..the other guys were not a factor. Need to do the same thing in the Temple game. Their point has the ball in his hands a lot..so he’ll get to the line and get some points…he can have 40..if the rest of the team gets only 15..Go Hoosiers.

  • Fergy

    Then Remy Abell will hawk him as well. Temple will have their hands full with Cody and Christian.

  • Kelin Blab

    Not the type of player Victor will have trouble with. Will be stunned if this guy gets over 10 points

  • Kelin Blab

    Not the type of player Victor will have trouble with. Will be stunned if this guy gets over 10 points

  • papreps

    Didn’t IU lose to a team that finished BEHIND Temple in the A10 standings? Got to respect a team that beat VCU, St. Louis, North Carolina State, Syracuse and Villanova.

  • WisconHoosier

    I’ve not seen Khalif play. He sounds like what I expect Trevon Bluiett to be: slow, but gets his points. Good comparison or not?

  • SCHoosier

    Bigger concern is that these guys average 23 three pt shots a game..lot of potential points and lot of potential long rebounds that IU can’t get. Can not give them the open three..which we all know the Hoosiers have been prone to do..especially in the corners with the ever present problem “over helping”. Go Hoosiers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.toal.9 Peter Toal

    Is it just me or is the Big Ten a terrible rebounding conference? watching MSU yesterday and OSU today reveals that nobody blocks out…they watch the ball and wander toward the basket.

  • notfargj

    this is sort of a random victor comment but does anyone else find it fitting that IU is on par to play in DC, given his father has never – or, rarely – seen his son play in person? trusting we will advance today – and, that it would positively effect victor – let’s hope that his father would be there to see his son play. should fate have this play out, it would be an almost poetic turn of events.

  • SCHoosier

    This kid wants to get to the foul line..where he shoots 80%+..so expect a lot of fake drives..pump fake jumpers etc…VO has to stay on his feet and not go into the air to avoid serious foul trouble.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.toal.9 Peter Toal

    We can put Remy on him if we need someone to stay on his feet.

  • papreps

    The most ignorant comment about basketball I have ever read on any website. He had 10 in the first 3 minutes.

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