Longtime Temple Coach John Chaney Passes Away At 89

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Legendary Temple University basketball coach John Chaney has died, according to multiple reports. Chaney was 89.

Chaney guided Temple to national prominence in the 1980s and ’90s, coaching the program to five appearances in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. The Owls made 17 tourney appearances under Chaney. He also won a Division II title at Cheyney State (Pa.) University in 1978.

Chaney was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, the same year as his retirement. He was known for his early-morning practices and his celebrated “matchup zone” defense, which was part zone, part man-to-man, and almost always effective.

In one of his most memorable moments, the always fiery Chaney stormed into a press conference of then-Massachusetts coach John Calipari and had to be restrained after shouting, “I’ll kill you.”

“He liked his basketball plain. Simple passes. Being in the right spot, passing to the right man,” wrote Mike Jensen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “‘He’s open for a reason,’ he’d tell guards who passed to a big man who dropped the ball. ‘Guard him like a windshield wiper,’ he’d tell a forward charged with a big defensive assignment during the NCAA Tournament, where a matchup with Temple was a dreaded ordeal for an opponent.”

Chaney’s most memorable team may have been the 1987-88 squad that finished 31-2 overall and 18-0 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. It featured star freshman guard Mark Macon, later of the Detroit Pistons and Denver Nuggets, and held the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press poll to end the regular season. But those Owls would lose to Duke in the Elite Eight.

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and NBA.com, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side, FortyEightMinutes.com.


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  1. his best move as a coach was losing his temper with another coach; john calipari i think.

    it was like a slow motion ‘hold me back’ moment where chaney kept saying ‘i’m gonna kill you man’ good stuff. (maybe old guy ufc fighting can become a thing)

    RIP sir.

    • I remember that memory of Chaney for sure. Another one for me is a time when Temple played WVU in Morgantown (used to be A-10 competitors and members) Chaney was so mad with the refs and how his team was playing he didn’t make it to the 2nd half of the game.

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