Fran Dunphy knows success. He experienced it in his 17 seasons coaching at Penn, and he expects to taste it again at Temple, on the other side of City Hall.
But the 57-year-old coach said he can’t do it alone.
Long speculated as the leading candidate to succeed John Chaney, Dunphy was introduced as Temple’s 17th men’s basketball coach Monday afternoon at the Fox-Gittis Room of the Liacouras Center.
In his first meeting with the media as Temple’s new coach, Dunphy admitted that he might solicit the help of Chaney, an old friend and a fellow Big 5 coach with whom he’s confided in many times before.
“His impact on me has been great,” Dunphy said. “…He’s been a great friend and someone I have counted on for counsel a number of times in my career.”
Dunphy’s introduction Monday put to rest a coaching search that lasted four weeks and featured at least a dozen interviewed candidates. Director of Athletics Bill Bradshaw poked fun at his lengthy hunt for Chaney’s replacement, calling the job an “enormous responsibility.”
“Four score and seven years ago,” Bradshaw said. “I know that’s how long some of you feel our search has gone on.”
Bradshaw was among Dunphy’s supporters – including La Salle coach John Giannini, Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli and Atlantic Ten Conference Commissioner Linda Bruno – who said Dunphy is a good fit for Temple’s program.
“Fran brings a wealth of experience and he is exactly right: Following John is not an easy task,” Bruno said. “I think whenever you follow a coach like that, it’s not easy, but Fran is certainly up to the task.”
Even Chaney provided a ringing endorsement for Temple’s fourth men’s basketball coach in the last 54 years.
“He’s going to have a bigger fight [to fit in here] than you might think,” Chaney said. “He’s the best. There is not a better coach [for Temple]. I said that four or five months ago. He’s not someone who you can take lightly. He’s one of the best coaches I know of.”
Bradshaw said throughout his search that experience would be greatly valued among the features of Temple’s candidates and Dunphy has a dazzling resume.
Dunphy arrives at Temple as Penn’s all-time winningest coach. This season, he became the first Penn coach to eclipse the 300-win plateau. He compiled a 310-163 record in 17 years at the Ivy League school. Prior to Dunphy’s hire yesterday, no Big 5 school had ever hired a coach with 300-plus wins.
Moreover, Dunphy, a former player and assistant coach at La Salle, is the only coach to work the sidelines at two Big 5 schools.
Dunphy brought Penn some national prestige in his time at the helm. During the 1992-93 season, the Quakers landed in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 1979.
A few challenges await Dunphy in his inaugural season with the Owls.
While recruiting at Temple might be a bit different than recruiting at Penn, Dunphy has the local ties to be successful. The coach attended Malvern Prep, a private suburban high school which competes in the Inter-Academic League. The league lately has been a hotbed for talent.
The Quakers won 10 Ivy titles under Dunphy, including six in the last eight years. But Penn’s play in the NCAA Tournament under Dunphy has been questionable, as they amassed a 1-9 record in the Big Dance.
With his wife and son on hand, as well as friends and extended family members, Dunphy was resolute in promising a successful run at Temple.
“I will try my best to do everything I can to help [Temple] be better,” he said. “That’s my job. …It’s been a tremendous ride for me already.”
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.