Temple may be the only school in the country that holds basketball practice before the sun comes up.
The Owls, who visit Allen Fieldhouse for an 8:38 tipoff tonight, begin their daily workouts at 5:30 a.m., so the players can get practice out of the way and take care of all their other responsibilities from 9 to 5 and into the night.
But that's not the only unusual aspect of 12th-year coach John Chaney's program.
"They are unique in they play a matchup zone," said KU coach Roy Williams, identifying Chaney's trademark defense. "When you play Temple, you play somebody different. Very few teams play like they do."
Williams' teams have had success against Temple and its unorthodox defense. The Jayhawks prevailed, 97-73, in the 1991 Golden Harvest Classic and also, 95-78, in a game played in Atlantic City, N.J., back in 1988.
"Both times we had veteran teams. It will be interesting to see how this bunch does," Williams said of his 4-0 NIT champions.
Temple, 0-0, has won a pair of exhibition games, tripping the USA Verich Reps, 84-72, on Nov. 18, and Lithuania's National Team, 73-67, on Monday, also in Philadelphia.
"In my opinion they no doubt are the best team we'll face to date," said Williams.
The Jayhawks have already beaten former top 10 teams in California and Minnesota and a top 20 team in Massachusetts, plus MAC favorite Western Michigan.
Temple, which went 20-13 last year, losing to Michigan in the NCAA West Regional finals, returns three of the Atlantic Ten's top players in Eddie Jones, Aaron McKie and Rick Brunson.
Jones, a 6-6 senior, averaged 17 points and seven rebounds last year. He played for Roy Williams' Under 22 team last summer.
"What you see is a young man with tremendous leaping ability to the basket, who can also throw it in," Williams said, noting Jones and Minnesota's Voshon Lenard were the two most impressive players at USA Basketball's tryouts last summer in Chicago. Jones' 22 slam dunks led Temple last year.
McKie, a 6-5 senior, averaged 20.6 points and 5.9 rebounds last year. He was player of the year in the Atlantic Ten. He topped 30 points three times. McKie played for the USA Select team that visited Europe last summer.
KU lost to the Australian National Team, 93-82, in double overtime Monday. Williams was displeased with the defense.
"We were fat and happy. The coaching staff was fat and happy and we played like it," Williams said. "I saw it once live and on tape and it almost was enough to not make me alive."
@reefer: * For a halftime update and the final score, call the J-W Sports Connection, 865-5000, category 6000.