On January 29, 2021, former Temple Owls basketball coach John Chaney sadly passed away. Chaney was known for his intensity and his match-up zone defense. But for me, the Temple Owls under coach Chaney, were incredibly disciplined, took care of the ball and understood how to control the game.
The Temple Owls were the first college basketball team I can remember seeing on TV and this was during the 1987-1988 season. Furthermore, freshman sensation Mark Macon was the first college basketball player I can remember seeing. This 1987-88 Owls team was ranked number one from February 9, until the start of the NCAA Tournament. During this span, Temple played such an impressive brand of basketball at North Carolina on Feb 21, 1988. Temple was No. 1 while UNC was No. 5, and the Owls won at Chapel Hill 83-66.
During the NCAA Tournament, Temple blew away their first three opponents but lost in their Regional Finals game against Duke. Temple would miss the NCAA tournament the next season, but would get back into Big Dance for the next 12 seasons. Perhaps Chaney is the best to coach to never make it to a Final Four. However, Chaney did make it to 5 Elite Eights.
Besides the 1987-88 team, Chaney’s best chance to get to the Final Four was during the 1999-2000 season. Temple was ranked No. 5 entering the tournament. They were led by point guard Pepe Sanchez who could really control the game and didn’t turn the ball over.
Unfortunately, the second-seeded Owls were upset by the tenth-seeded Seton Hall Pirates in the second round (67-65 OT). However, the Owls were able to get back to the Elite Eight the next season but lost to Michigan State while being the #11 seed.
John Chaney was one of my favorite coaches ever, but I was disappointed as to how it ended. In a game against St. Joseph’s in 2005, Chaney was upset that officials weren’t calling illegal screen by the Hawks. Basically, Chaney retaliated by sending in a player who has barely played to foul players on St. Joe’s. As a result, one of the fouls caused a St. Joseph’s senior to break his arm. Thus, the senior missed the remainder of the season including the NCAA Tournament. This event basically led to end of his coaching career at Temple.
John Chaney is a without a doubt a Hall of Fame coach. His tenure at Temple was impressive in a conference, the Atlantic 10, that was not particularly strong early on in his career. Chaney finished with a 516–253 (.671) record while at Temple from 1982-2006.