DAYTON, Ohio — There aren’t any games left for him to prepare for at Temple University. But coach Fran Dunphy will still review Tuesday’s game film.
Dunphy’s 13-year career at Temple ended with a 81-70 loss to Belmont University in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament at University of Dayton Arena.
For Dunphy, the season included receiving standing ovations from crowds at Memphis, Wichita State and The Palestra, where he coached Penn for 17 years before joining Temple. The regular season culminated with a home win against ranked Central Florida, standing ovations from the Liacouras Center crowd and congratulatory video messages from San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and other basketball greats.
The Big 5 lost two of its most recognizable faces on Tuesday. Before Dunphy coached his final game, St. Joseph’s fired coach Phil Martelli, one of his long-time friends and opponents.
“I will reflect in the coming days,” he said. “And again, I’m very appreciative of what Temple University gave to me, what the University of Pennsylvania gave to me. And I’m a pretty fortunate guy.”
“I’m at peace with it, very much at peace,” Dunphy added. “I’ve been the luckiest guy I know.”
Both Dunphy and Belmont coach Rick Byrd had received criticism for their past NCAA Tournament records before Tuesday’s game.
The Owls returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2015-16 season, making their eighth appearance in Dunphy’s tenure. They returned to the arena where the program last won an NCAA Tournament game in 2013.
But rather than advancing to play the University of Maryland on Thursday, Temple lost to Belmont, and Dunphy finished his Temple career with a 2-8 NCAA Tournament record. Byrd, who won his 800th career game earlier this season, claimed his first NCAA Tournament win.
“I was fully prepared to be fully happy for him if we were unable to win this game because it’s his last year,” Byrd said.
The Owls sought to reach the tournament all season to give Dunphy a final run. Getting there but not advancing was bittersweet, sophomore forward Justyn Hamilton said.
“It was good that we got here, but at the same time, it’s not that good being that we lost in the first round,” Hamilton said. “But I just use that as inspiration to be here in the next coming up years.”
As the program turns over to Aaron McKie, Dunphy likes where he’s leaving the Owls partly because of the Owls’ sophomores. Hamilton, who played just 11 games as a freshman, played 20 minutes off the bench against Belmont in the Owls’ most important game of the year. J.P. Moorman II earned a starting role late in the season and scored 10 points against the Bruins on Tuesday.
Basketball-wise, Dunphy will help his players however possible, like trying to get Shizz Alston Jr. a spot in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, an annual event for college seniors to play in front of NBA scouts.
As far as off-court goals, he said he “should probably” finish his doctorate, but he might be too “lazy” to do it at this point, Dunphy said. He earned a master’s in counseling and human relations from Villanova in 1979.
He’ll continue to teach in the Fox School of Business and isn’t closing the door on coaching just yet.
“Does anybody out there ever say never?” Dunphy said. “But I will tell you that I’m at great peace, and I’m grateful for what these guys gave to us.”