Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Farewell to John Chaney


Yesterday was a real sad day at Pound for Pound, as a Philadelphia and basketball legend called it a career. Temple University coach John Chaney retired after 33 years as a head coach here and at Cheney University. He is a legend of Philadelphia, and rightfully so, one of the greatest coaches ever in the greatest basketball city on Earth. It really is shocking to think that he will no longer be on the sidelines at a Temple game, no longer be the face of Temple basketball, no longer yelling at players in the Palestra. I mean, he has been a fixture in Philly for my entire life, and one kinda had the feeling that he would be here forever.

Over the past couple of years, Cheney has garnered more attention for his behavior than his teams. That is a shame, as a few stupid actions and comments should not take away what the man accomplished. He made Temple a national powerhouse from North fucking Broad Street, he took them to numerous Elite 8s and tournament runs despite the lack of money and fame that bigger schools enjoy, and he developed some of the best players in the country (Eddie Jones, Mark Macon, Aaron McKie).

More than anything, I'll remember him for being himself when no one really is. While everyone loves Coach K and Roy Williams, I loved Cheney for being that old, cranky guy who has no filter. I love that he threatened to kick the shit out of UMASS coach John Calipari after a game. I especially loved the shots he constantly took at the Philly sports fans, who seem to think they are above criticism because there hasn't been a championship here in 25 years. He called these overrated fans out for their booing, their cynicism, their boorishness at every chance, the only person with the balls to tell it like it is. I'm not even getting into his stands against Prop. 48, his willingness to stick his neck out for his players and what he believed.

Cheney's teams have always been the most successful of the Big 5 schools, although they never won the big one. I've always considered them the team to root for if you are a Philadelphian, the one team that reps the city, recruits its students, resides in the heart of North Philly and has brought us a succession of Philly guards to shine on the national stage. It's sad to have him gone, another era slipping away, I guess.

-Rich Hoffman has the best piece in the aftermath of Cheney's retirement, which is not surprising. It's kinda pathetic seeing these Philly writers laud the man, after years of belittling him and taking shots. I won't link to the rest of them, as there's little value in ever reading Stephen A. Smith or Sam Donnellon.

-Congrats to my alma mater, as the University of Pennsylvania men's basketball team won another Ivy League title and another trip to the NCAA tournament. For those counting, that's 5 in the last 6 years. They play #2 seed Texas Friday night. I smell an upset, or an ass-kicking, hard to tell, really.

-Hit up Yoni Cohen's College Basketball site for all your tourney needs, as it is the best resource bar none.

-On a sad note, R.I.P. Peter Tomarken, better known as the guy who hosted the best gameshow ever, Press Your Luck. It appears the whammies get everyone in the end.

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