As grave as the health problems of Utah head coach Rick Majerus and Louisville head coach Rick Pitino might be, news of such losses to college basketball stole the spotlight from one of basketball’s greatest coaches, John Chaney.
Chaney, who is the head coach at Temple University, won his 700th career game Wednesday against St. Bonaventure, joining the likes of legends Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, Bob Knight and Eddie Sutton.
Chaney, however, is the first black to enter the exclusive fraternity.
In his 32 years on the sidelines, Chaney has a career record of 700-278 with a winning percentage of .715. He spent his first 10 seasons at Philadelphia’s Cheyney State compiling a 225-59 record and an astounding .792 winning percentage. In those 10 seasons Chaney led the Wolves to eight Division II playoff appearances, along with a national title in 1978 and a third place finish in 1979.
In 1982, Peter Liacouras, former Temple president, hired Chaney to resurrect a struggling program. In his 22 years on the sidelines not only has Chaney resurrected the Temple basketball program, he brought national attention to the small school. Chaney has led the Owls to five Elite Eight appearances, while compiling a 475-219 record. The match-up zone used by Chaney defenses helped him compile 23 seasons of 20 or more wins, which is good enough for fifth all-time.
A native of Jacksonville, Chaney was a star at Bethune-Cookman College. He was named an NAIA All American in 1953 and MVP of the NAIA championships that year. He went on to play professionally for a few years and coach at the high-school level before being hired at Cheyney State. His induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001 proved he is truly one of the greatest in the game of basketball.
Like the late Al McGuire, who coached at Marquette for years, Chaney teaches his players that there is more to life than a 15-foot jumper. “When you see kids expressing honest emotion, a feeling we don’t see too often you can’t help but have a lump in you throat,” he said Wednesday after his milestone victory. “It certainly makes me feel taken aback by that. I recognize there are still some good people in the world.”
Chaney was right, there are still some good people in the world. However, there would be more good people in the world if teachers of basketball – and life – were more like him.
Will Brown is a sophomore broadcast journalism student from Rockledge. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org