John Chaney, Hall of Fame Temple Basketball Coach, Dies at 89

John Chaney, Hall of Fame Temple Basketball Coach, Dies at 89

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Chaney was voted the most valuable player of Philadelphia’s public high school basketball league in 1951, but his family was too poor to buy a suit for him for the award ceremonies. He wore his stepfather’s suit, its sleeves and pants hanging down.

He became a small-college all-American at the historically Black Bethune-Cookman College in Florida, then played briefly for the Harlem Globetrotters and played for teams in Sunbury and Williamsport, Pa., in the semipro Eastern League, where he was named the most valuable player.

Chaney was the first Black basketball coach in Philadelphia’s Big Five — Temple, Penn, Villanova, St. Joseph’s and La Salle. His first Temple team went 14-15, but that was his only losing season with the Owls. His 1987-88 squad finished with a 32-2 record and went to a regional final. But Chaney’s teams were barely above the .500 mark in his last four years at Temple.

He had a record of 516-253 at Temple from 1982 to 2006 after posting a 225-59 record at Cheyney State from 1972 to 1982.

Chaney’s survivors include his wife, Jeanne Dixon; their sons, Darryl and John Jr.; and their daughter, Pamela Clark.

While Chaney’s temper memorably got the best of him at times, he apologized for the Calipari and St. Joseph’s incidents.

Chaney and Calipari, now the Kentucky coach, developed a friendship over the years.

But even after his retirement, Chaney seemed to enjoy reprising his provocative image. In a 2010 interview with The Temple News, a student newspaper, Chaney was asked if he had any regrets.

“The only regret I have is that I exposed so much of myself to the media,” he said. “Certainly, I regret the language I used with Calipari. I should have waited until after the game was over and then took him outside and beat the hell out of him.”


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