Top 10 sports stories of 2018

Men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy enter his final season as Temple’s coach, fencing coach Nikki Franke earned her 800th win, and the women’s soccer team defeated their first ranked opponent since 1995.

Coach Fran Dunphy addresses the media before practice on Oct. 11 at Pearson Hall. Dunphy hopes to return to the NCAA Tournament in his final season. | LUKE SMITH / THE TEMPLE NEWS
  1. Piece of city’s basketball ‘fabric’ enters last year by Michael ZingroneP
Coach Fran Dunphy addresses the media before practice on Oct. 11 at Pearson Hall. Dunphy hopes to return to the NCAA Tournament in his final season. | LUKE SMITH / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy is in the midst of his final season at Temple. After the season ends, associate head coach Aaron McKie will lead the program.

The 2018-19 season is Dunphy’s 30th as a head coach. He spent 17 seasons at Penn from 1989-2006 before coming to Temple.

Dunphy is the all-time winningest Big 5 coach and has won Coach of the Year awards in both the Atlantic 10 Conference and American Athletic Conference and a member of the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame.

Dunphy started his tenure with six NCAA Tournament appearances in his first seven seasons, making the postseason in six consecutive seasons from 2007-13. But the Owls made just one NCAA Tournament appearance in the five seasons afterward.

This year’s team enters conference play with a 10-2 record as Dunphy seeks to lead a team to the tournament for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

2. Manny Diaz leaves Temple to return to Miami by Evan Easterling, Michael Zingrone, and Sam NeumannM

Athletic director Patrick Kraft (left) and former Temple coach Manny Diaz address the media at a press conference on Dec. 13 at the Liacouras Center. Diaz will leave Temple to return to Miami as its coach, according to reports on Sunday. | MICHAEL ZINGRONE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple hired Manny Diaz to replace Geoff Collins as the Owls’ football coach on Dec. 13. Just 17 days later, Diaz returned to the University of Miami after the Hurricanes’ former coach, Mark Richt, retired after the school’s loss in the Pinstripe Bowl.

The move left Temple without a head coach and forced athletic director Patrick Kraft to begin his third coaching search in three years.

3. Coaches using Temple football as stepping stone comes with program’s success by Sam NeumannC

Former Temple coach Geoff Collins speaks at a press conference on Aug. 2 at Edberg-Olson Hall. | MICHAEL ZINGRONE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Collins chose to leave Temple in favor of Georgia Tech after just two seasons with the Owls.

By returning to his home state, Collins became the most recent coach to use Temple as a stepping stone by winning during his stint with the Owls and taking a Power Five job. Temple has been bowl eligible in eight of the past 10 seasons under four different coaches.

While frustrating, the musical chairs at head coach come with the program’s success and it will be something that Temple will have to live with.

4. Temple holds Maryland football without offensive TD in win by Sam Neumann and Taylor SnyderT

Redshirt-sophomore Center Matt Hennessy celebrates during Temple’s 35-14 win against the University of Maryland on Sept. 15 at Maryland Stadium. LUKE SMITH / THE TEMPLE NEWS

In Temple’s first win of the season, the Owls held the University of Maryland to 8 first-half rushing yards, while redshirt-sophomore quarterback Anthony Russo made his first career start.

As double-digit underdogs, Temple showed it could go toe to toe with any team by upsetting a Power Five school with a top-25 win.

The game proved to be the turning point of the season for the Owls. After starting 0-2, they won eight of their final 10 games to earn a berth in the Independence Bowl.

5. Field hockey coach steps down after four seasons by Jay NeemeyerF

Coach Marybeth Freeman instructs players during a practice on Aug. 26, 2016 at Howarth Field. Freeman stepped down after four seasons as Temple’s field hockey coach on Thursday. | PAUL KLEIN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Field hockey coach Marybeth Freeman stepped down after leading the Owls from 2015-18.

Freeman compiled a 21-55 record after succeeding Amanda Janney. The Owls’ 2-16 record in the 2018 season matched 1998 as the worst season for the program since the team started playing at least 15 games per season in 1977. Temple has not won a conference game since the 2016 season.

Kraft said in a university release on Nov. 8 that the university will conduct a nationwide search for a new coach. Assistant coach Ross Gilham-Jones, who was hired in September, will serve as head coach in the interim.

6. Temple football hosts blood drive for staffer with cancer by Michael Zingrone

Graduate student offensive lineman Aaron Ruff prepares to donate blood on Monday at Edberg-Olsen Hall. | MICHAEL ZINGRONE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple’s football program hosted a blood drive on Nov. 16 for assistant equipment manager Kane Ivers-Osthus, who is in remission from leukemia. The team learned of Ivers-Osthus’ diagnosis after its loss to Villanova on Sept. 1. Ivers-Osthus received more than 70 blood transfusions while in the hospital.

After learning of the blood shortage in Philadelphia area hospitals, junior public health major Sarah Galbraith, who is Ivers-Osthus’ girlfriend, decided to schedule the blood drive. The drive collected 108 units of blood to benefit local blood banks, according to the American Red Cross.

7. Fencing ‘legend’ Nikki Franke earns 800th career win by Michael ZingroneF

Coach Nikki Franke (center) watches as sophomore foil Kennedy Lovelace (left) and freshman foil Megan Ross practice on Feb. 1 at the Student Pavilion. | JOCELYN BURNS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Fencing coach Nikki Franke recorded her 800th victory in February. Franke, who has coached at since 1972, has helped the fencing team be one of the most successful programs at Temple.

Her milestone win added to a long list of accomplishments for Franke, whom former United States fencing Olympian Peter Westbrook said is a “true star of the fencing community.”

Franke won the United States Fencing Association National Foil Championship in 1975 and 1980. In 1983, Franke won her first United States Fencing Coach of the Year award. She won the award again in 1987, 1988 and 1991.

After 45 seasons, Franke’s record at Temple stands at 810-243-1. The Owls went 3-1 in their only dual meet this season.

8. First-year Temple men’s soccer coach adds 17 players by Maura Razanauskas

Then junior midfielder Hermann Doerner passes near the 18-yard box in Temple’s 4-1 win against Duquesne University on Sept. 19, 2017 at the Temple Sports Complex. | MICHAEL BARSHTEYN / FILE PHOTO

First-year coach Brian Rowland welcomed 17 players to Temple’s 29-man roster before the 2018 season. Rowland coached the Owls to a 5-10-4 record and a conference tournament berth. In the tournament, Temple lost to nationally ranked Connecticut, 3-1, on Nov. 6.

The 17-player class hailed from eight different countries, junior goalkeeper Simon Lefebvre, a Frenchman who started 17 games. As of Monday, the Owls have two Class of 2019 commitments, according to Top Drawer Soccer.

9.  Women’s soccer upsets nationally ranked South Florida by Alex McGinley

Teammates celebrate with freshman forward Gabriela Johnson after her overtime goal during the Owls’ 1-0 win against USF at the Temple Sports Complex on Sept. 30. | LUKE SMITH / THE TEMPLE NEWS

For the first time since 1995, Temple defeated a nationally ranked team. On Sept. 30 at the Temple Sports Complex, freshman forward Gabriela Johnson scored an overtime goal to propel Temple to a 2-1 victory against South Florida, which entered the game ranked No. 19 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll.

The win helped the Owls earn a spot in the American Athletic Conference tournament where they lost 3-0 to Central Florida on Oct. 30.

10. Negotiations underway for McKie to succeed Dunphy by Tom Ignudo and Evan Easterling N

Coach Fran Dunphy watches his team during its 63-57 loss to Penn State in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament at the Bryce Jordan Center on March 14. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / FILE PHOTO

After this season, associate head coach Aaron McKie will be the Owls’ new coach. Temple fans and boosters pressured the athletic department to fire Dunphy after Temple closed the 2017-18 season by missing the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the past five seasons.

McKie played shooting guard for the Owls from 1991-94 and joined the coaching staff as an assistant in 2014. During his career at Temple, McKie averaged 17.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game and won the Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year award as a sophomore.

McKie then spent the next seven seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers. He played in the NBA from 1994-2007 and won the Sixth Man of the Year award for the 2000-01 season with the 76ers.

In Dunphy’s final season, Temple enters American Athletic Conference play with a 10-2 record.

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