Philadelphia native John Chaney led the Temple Owls to 17 NCAA tournaments in 18 years. During his Hall of Fame career, the Owls played an unorthodox and physical matchup zone that no other team could replicate, forcing far more talented teams to leave contests against Temple both bruised and befuddled. Temple’s offense was often equally as brutal, but they hit just enough shots for Chaney to win 516 games in his tenure on North Broad Street. At their best, the Owls were a team that suffocated the will out of their opponents, routinely leading the nation in scoring defense and turnover margin. You had to beat Temple — they would not beat themselves — and opposing coaches would openly complain when they drew the Owls in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
He was not a saint, and there were parts of him that was pure South Philly. But you always knew where he stood. Chaney retired at the end of the 2006 campaign, but at the age of 80, he still closely follows the game. Earlier this week, we caught up with the legendary coach to discuss Temple’s impending move to the Big East, his former nemesis, John Calipari, and scouting tips on some of the nation’s top teams.
You’ve seen the recent upheaval with Temple finally making the move to the Big East. Would you have liked to coach in the Big East?
I’m kind of ambivalent about it. Years ago, the Big East had a vote as to whether or not to take us into the league. And at that time, they took us in football, but not in basketball. And at that time, we were playing as good or better than most of the teams in the Big East. It didn’t make sense, but I really didn’t give a damn about the Big East.