It was the day after Halloween and Temple Coach John Chaney looked as if he was still in costume. Sitting alone on a bench, the veteran coach had a patch over his right eye, but it was no disguise.
Chaney was suffering from sinus problems and it was the first time it had caused his eye to swell up. The coach didn’t seem fazed by it.
Nevertheless, he and his Owls were the first team on-hand for the annual Coaches vs. Cancer open practice at the Palestra last Saturday.
Admission was free to all students of the six city teams who participated and donations were collected throughout the event.
Each team – Temple, University of Pennsylvania, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s, Villanova and Drexel – ran practice for 45 minutes, followed by an autograph session for fans.
“Well, it’s what we’ve done before,” Chaney said. “I think it’s a great idea for us to come out and for some of the players to see the kids and watch them work out.”
Since its inception in 1993, Coaches vs. Cancer has raised more than $16 million for cancer research, tobacco education and patient services for the American Cancer Society. The event gives teams a chance to raise money and practice at the same time.
The Owls open up their season at home against Villanova in an unusual midnight start Nov. 21.
“The whole cause is good,” sophomore guard Maurice “Mardy” Collins said. “It’s important, it’s real important because cancer can affect everybody, so it’s good that we’re out here supporting that.”
Things were still business as usual for Chaney, who ordered his normal 6 a.m. practice. Because of the event they had to cut practice for the short trip across the city to Penn’s campus where the Palestra is located.
“We had to cut our practice short today and come here for an hour,” he added. “But when it’s over we’re going to go back to practice for an hour.”
More practice? Isn’t it the weekend?
“No break for us,” Collins said. “He’s just trying to get us to learn everything. We had a scrimmage with the referees there, so that was like our first time really going down the court.”
Tonight the Owls begin their first of two exhibition games. In a doubleheader, the women’s team will go on first at 6 p.m., followed by the men’s squad at 8 p.m. The game will be held at the Owls former home, McGonigle Hall.
Jason S. Haslam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.