From one sideline of the Liacouras Center floor, the hollering never stops. Wild stomping is usually accompanied by catcalls directed only at Temple players.
History would indicate that Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach John Chaney is the man behind those bellows. Recently, though, it’s been 5-foot-6 women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley doing the hollering.
“You’d never think that you could get fire and brimstone from someone that small,” Chaney said. “The players call her Little Chaney. Her players do that, especially when she’s fussing. I’m pretty proud of that. I got somebody who’s picking up on some of my bad habits.”
In her first five seasons at Temple, Staley has heard all of the comparisons between her and Chaney. The connections between the coaches are unmistakable.
The two prefer morning practices, instead of in the afternoon. They both have a penchant for assembling some of the toughest non-conference schedules. And they both like to holler, but only when it’s justified, Staley said.
“We’re very passionate about [basketball],” Staley said of she and Chaney. “If we see someone cheating the game in any way, we feel it to the core of us. I think that’s what he sees when he’s watching me critique our team and our players. … That’s why we fuss so much. We try to put the fear in them that our voice is the biggest consequence.”
Similarities aside, Chaney and Staley will be under the microscope this season for completely different reasons. Chaney, following a self-imposed suspension, is assumed to be in his final coaching seasons. Fresh off overseeing the women’s program’s best season, Staley has found her rhythm as a coach.
Chaney assured reporters earlier this month at Atlantic Ten Conference Media Day that this will not be his last season. Senior co-captain Mardy Collins said he has no reason to believe otherwise.
Collins said Chaney has not given any indication that he will be resigning or retiring in the near future. But when the time comes, Collins said, Chaney will embrace it.
“He really hasn’t mentioned anything about this being his last year. He always says he’s going to coach until the youngsters stop listening to him,” Collins said. “As long as they listen to him, he’s still going to coach.”
Likewise, Staley is facing a season that is sure to be heavily critiqued. The Owls’ 28-4 season in 2004 earned them their first preseason ranking. But that isn’t enough to satisfy Staley. The coach is pushing her team even harder this season, when the Owls face perennial title contenders Tennessee, Georgia and Rutgers.
Some think Staley, who balances a full-time coaching job with a playing career, and management of her own foundation for at-risk youth, has too much on her plate. Junior co-captain Kamesha Hairston doesn’t see it that way.
Chaney has helped Staley stay composed in her first stint as coach, Hairston said. But, she added, Chaney’s impact exceeds the professional realm.
“When she’s out there yelling at us, it’s never as bad as [Chaney] doing it,” Hairston said. “I think he has shown her how to take control of the game. But she never singles you out like he will.”
The impressive run of Staley’s team last season left her with a career coaching mark of 102-51 and a .667 win percentage through five seasons. Though exceptional, Staley’s record does not eclipse Chaney’s mark over the same period.
Over Chaney’s first five seasons as a coach, he amassed a 102-34 record and a .750 win percentage at Division II Cheyney State. Through a half-decade at Temple, from 1982 to 1987, Chaney’s teams won 122 games and lost just 36.
Staley said Chaney’s record speaks for itself. As a North Philadelphia youth, Staley attended several of Chaney’s basketball camps. Though Staley knew of Chaney, she never developed a personal relationship with him until arriving at Temple in 2000. Chaney has an iconic status here, Staley said.
“He’s that antique chair you will never get rid of,” Staley said. “That’s what he means to Temple basketball, the university and North Philadelphia.”
Chaney said he doesn’t see his career in that way, saying his success is the result of a career that spans four decades. If there is one basketball coach at Temple to focus on, it’s Staley, Chaney said.
“We talk about a lot of things,” Chaney said. “I get pointers from her about some of the things she does. We talk about my zones. We talk about some of the defenses she runs. We’re both in tune. That’s one of the reasons why she’ll be in the hall of fame.”
If so, she might be a little hoarse for her acceptance speech.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at email@example.com.