Former Temple men’s basketball coach John Chaney has always had a great deal of respect for Fran Dunphy.
Last week Dunphy was introduced as Temple’s newest men’s basketball coach and just the fourth coach in the last 54 years of the program – following Chaney, Harry Litwack and Don Casey.
“Franny’s somebody who is a great coach,” Chaney said after the 57-year-old Dunphy was introduced as his replacement last week. “In my opinion, I don’t know of anybody any better [than Dunphy].”
“Anybody,” Chaney said.
Sorry, Rick Brunson.
Chaney was not the only one who thought Dunphy’s hire was the best overall fit. Former Temple all-American and current Los Angeles Lakers guard Aaron McKie was happy to hear the news that his alma mater had finally made its coaching decision.
Throughout the Athletic Department’s search, McKie was very supportive of his NBA colleague and former Temple teammate Brunson to replace Chaney.
But in a phone interview last week, McKie could not deny that Dunphy was just the better man for the job.
“Coach Dunphy and I go back a long way,” McKie said. “He is a great coach. He did a solid job at the University of Penn, and I am quite sure he is going to continue the legacy and tradition at Temple University.”
McKie was happy Dunphy was given the position, but said he talked with Brunson extensively about his desire to become the Owls’ coach.
In the end, McKie said, experience was the deciding factor.
“I think [Temple] went in the direction of somebody with more experience,” said McKie, who added that he would later like to become a coach on the high school level. “Rick will get his opportunity one day.”
Asked if he felt Temple should have given Brunson a more-detailed look, McKie said: “We don’t want anyone to waste their time and be faked through the whole situation [of] being interviewed like you’re really going to give him the job, knowing that you are going to give it somebody else.
“I respect the way [Temple] handled the situation,” McKie continued. “I guess, from the way that I see it, [it] was Fran Dunphy’s job to give away.
“Like I said, he is a solid coach and I think he will continue to do a good job in the Philadelphia area with the Temple program.”
McKie said he has not yet spoken to Dunphy about his hire at Temple, but the former NBA Sixth Man of the Year plans to contact the former Penn coach in the next couple days.
When he gets in touch with Dunphy, McKie said he will be supportive.
“I will just let him know that he will have my support on anything that is going on around [campus],” McKie said. “If he needs my support, I am there for him.”
While McKie defended the Athletic Department’s hiring of Dunphy, McKie said he was upset to see Chaney – his former coach – call it a career after 24 years at Temple.
Chaney’s decision to step away from coaching without winning an NCAA Championship was tough for McKie, but Chaney’s legacy of being more than just a coach will always be remembered, the former Owl said.
“He is a Hall of Fame coach who did a lot of things on the basketball court as a coach but, more so, he did a lot for a lot of the kids that came to the university,” he said.
“That is a Hall of Fame person to me and that means more than anything else.”
Jabari Young can be reached at email@example.com.