Though its season thus far has not been as “Frantastic” as planned, the men’s basketball team has a chance to put a smile on its coach’s face at the Palestra Wednesday, as they take on his former team, the Quakers of Penn. Truth be told, this game has all the ingredients for the front page of a tabloid.
Dunphy was to Penn what John Chaney was to Temple. Dunphy holds the all-time win mark at Penn with a 310-163 record. He led the Quakers to 10 NCAA tournament appearances
while racking up nine 20-win seasons in 17 years.Accompanying Dunphy to Temple were his three assistant coaches, Dave Duke, Matt Langel and Shawn Trice, all of whom worked with him at Penn last season. Langel and Trice once donned the Quakers’ uniform under Dunphy.
Dunphy’s name popped up immediately
following the retirement of long-time coach and icon Chaney. In a television interview
with a local sports station, Dunphy declined to speak about the open Temple position and was adamant about his faithfulness to Penn. A few weeks later he was spotted in front of a large crowd behind a podium with a big “T” on it, discussing how pleased he was to be selected as the guy to follow Chaney.
Now he returns to face the fans who cheered him, the athletic department who paid him and the gym he called home for 18 years Not to mention the players he coached.
Penn is reaping the benefits of Dunphy’s recruiting as they are off to a 10-6 start. Last week they picked up their first Big 5 victory in a thrilling win over cross-town rival La Salle.
Coach Glen Miller is on track to continue Penn’s Ivy League dominance as the Quakers are undefeated in league play thus far. However, they will have to pick it up down the stretch if they are going to win at least 20 games for the seventh consecutive season. Dunphy and the Owls are hoping to find success on a smaller scale.
At 7-10 overall and 1-4 in Atlantic Ten Conference play, the Owls are sinking fast. They need to get hot soon as they head into the bulk of their conference schedule. Last week the Owls defeated Saint Louis to snap a five-game losing streak, and then lost a heart-breaker to A-10 leader Rhode Island at the Liacouras Center.
Sophomore Dionte Christmas has been a bright spot this year for the Owls and is primed to be the guy for the coming seasons. He leads the A-10 in scoring at 20.1 points per game and 20-point games with 12.
In the loss to the Rams, he netted a career-high 31 points while shooting a blistering six of 12 from behind
the arc.However, Christmas and the rest of the bunch are going to need to bring their A-games to pick up a win against a battle tested Penn team that has faced North Carolina, Villanova and Syracuse. And the importance of this game can’t be covered by smiles and textbook responses. A win against Penn would do more than just bring the Owls closer to .500, it potentially could revitalize a team and a season in desperate need of a boost.
Jeremy Drummond can be reached at email@example.com.