Hall of Fame Temple basketball coach John Chaney dies at 89

Famed basketball coach John Chaney, who led Temple to 17 NCAA tournaments, has died at the age of 89.

The university said he died after a short, unspecified illness.

Chaney played 24 seasons at Temple, beginning in 1982-83, the only season his Owls did not make the NCAA or NIT tournament. He was among the elite five times, and in the 1987-88 season Temple was in first place, outscoring the Owls 32-2, 18-0 in the Atlantic 10.

Before taking over the position at Temple, Chaney worked 10 seasons at Cheney State, a Division II program about 30 miles from Philadelphia. He played in eight Division II tournaments and won a national championship in 1978.

“John Chaney was a great coach, but he was so much more than that. For generations of Temple University students, he was a wise counselor, a dedicated teacher, an icon of success and a passionate leader who always led by example and conviction,” said Richard M. Englert, president of Temple University, in a statement. “I am also honored to say that he was a dear friend.”

Chaney, who was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006, won 516 games at Temple and 741 games overall. He is still ranked in the top 40 basketball coaches and was the first black coach to reach 700 wins.

In 1987 en 1988 ontving Chaney de Henry Iba Coach of the Year Award van de American Basketball Writers Association.

“A lot of my players came from a background where they were told they couldn’t succeed,” Chaney told The Athletic in 2019, “I came from a time where it could be over before it became a reality. You have to go to a better place in our minds and for our future. Many of them were able to change who they were. Eventually they became what they had always been in the temple. Young diamond men, right next door, who were told they had the same opportunities as everyone else.

Our hearts are broken. Rest in peace, Coach. pic.twitter.com/RwtbbvG40H

– Temple Owls (@TempleOwls) January 29, 2021

On the court, Chaney was known for his zone game, a strategy that confounded opponents for decades and placed Temple among the best scoring defenses each year.

“If a team has never played the Temple Zone before, it’s really hard to see and launch the right offense the first time because you don’t know which side the defense is on,” former Temple Zone guard Quincy Wadley told the New York Times in 2001. “You think it’s one defense at a time, but it’s not. We play different defenses.

Chaney, who was born January 21, 1932, in Jacksonville, Florida, was an avid line coach who had his share of incidents with his opponents.

“I’m capable of anything,” Cheney told Sports Illustrated in 1994. “… I’m a person who can be out of control. Sometimes it’s better to be crazy than smart”.

In the middle of Cheney’s tenure at Temple, he had a promising rivalry with UMass and its then coach John Calipari in the conference. After a 1994 game in which Temple lost 56-55, Chaney was upset with the way Calipari treated the officials and interrupted Calipari’s press conference.

“Can I tell you this, please?” said Cheney, according to the New York Times. “You have a great ball club. But what you did to those officers there was wrong, and I don’t want to be at the party. Do you understand that?

“You weren’t there, Coach,” Calipari replied. “You have no idea.”

After a few more setbacks, Chaney climbed onto the stage and Calipari stood face to face with Chaney.

“I’ll kill you!” said Chaney as Mike Williams, the UMass guard, pulled them apart.

Chaney was suspended by Temple for one game and apologized a few days later. The two coaches later became friends.

Coach Chaney and I fought in every game, as everyone knows, sometimes literally, but in the end he was my friend. Throughout my career, we talked about basketball and life. I will miss those conversations and I will miss my friend. Peace Rest Coach pic.twitter.com/0JGcQ7JPOO

– John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) January 29, 2021

In 2005, Chaney was suspended after he sent a “bat” during a game against St. Joseph. He was upset that the Hawks were posting illegal screens, that they did not call the offense and blamed Nehemiah Ingram, a 250-pound man who later joined the Temple football team.

According to Philadelphia Magazine, Chaney said the day before the match that he planned to “send one of my henchmen and have one of these guys cut his throat or something.

Ingram received five fouls in four minutes.

“I’m sending a message,” Chaney said after the game. “And I’m sending what we did years ago…. I’m going to send assassins.” That’s what I’m going to do.”

After St. Joseph’s attacker John Bryant was diagnosed with a broken arm caused by one of Ingram’s fouls, Temple suspended Chaney for the remainder of the regular season. The coach apologized to Bryant and reportedly offered to pay his medical expenses.

“John Chaney was more than just a Hall of Fame basketball coach. He was a Hall of Fame for life,” said Fran Dunphy, Chaney’s successor after his retirement in 2006, in a statement. “He touched countless lives, including mine. He will be sorely missed, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.

Misunderstanding. specified.John Chaney led Temple to 17 NCAA tournaments, with the Owls reaching the Elite Eight five times and missing the postseason only once in Chaney’s 24 years at the school. Ronald K. Modra/Getty Images

Outside the courtroom, Cheney has been a strong advocate for helping poor teens improve their lives through education.

“What entity has the right to play for God?” asked Chaney in a 1994 Sports Illustrated profile. “You mean the NCAA can decide who lives and who dies among blacks? Education is food, it’s warmth, it’s protection. Who has the right to take that away from anyone? I’m from the country! I know what I’m talking about! What choice do we give kids who fail the SAT? A choice! Back on the street… …to a slow death.”

Temple’s current basketball coach, Aaron McKee, played for Chaney from 1991 to 1994 and spoke highly of his former coach.

“Coach Chaney was like a father to me,” McKee said in a statement. “He taught not only me, but all of his players to excel at basketball. He gave us life lessons that made us better on the court. I owe him a lot. He made me what I am today.

In 2019, Cheney told The Athletic that he “wants to be remembered as someone who cares.”

“What we need more of today – no matter how you look at it – is care for others, whoever they are,” Cheney said.

Temple will play next Sunday at home against Tulane (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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