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Hall of Fame Coach 'Led By Example'

John Chaney mentored athletes off the court while winning more than 700 games
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2021 4:05 PM CST

(Newser) – In 24 seasons as Temple's head basketball coach, John Chaney's team was left out of the NCAA or NIT tournament precisely once. He won consistently despite having only one consensus All-American in that time—Mark Macon, a guard. "Many of my players came from environments where people said they couldn't do it," he later said, adding: "So many of them were able to change who they were. They ended up being what Temple's statement has always been. Young acres of diamonds, right from the neighborhood, being told they could have the same kind of opportunity as everyone else." The university announced Chaney's death at age 89 on Friday, ESPN reports. He was a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the College Basketball Hall of Fame, and he won the Henry Iba Award for coach of the year twice. Chaney won 741 games overall, 516 of them at Temple, and was the first Black coach in US history to achieve 700 victories. "He was a Hall of Famer in life," said his successor at Temple, Fran Dunphy.

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Before moving to Temple, he coached at Cheyney State, where he won a Division II title. Chaney later gained fame for his matchup zone defense, which baffled opponents for years. "If a team has never faced a Temple zone, it's really difficult to see and have a proper attack for it the first time, because you don't know what defense is on," a former player said, adding, "It's several different defenses that we play." Off the court, he was a vocal critic of standardized NCAA tests for players that he considered racist and culturally biased. And Chaney was a demanding mentor to his players, per the New York Times. Temple's president called him "a passionate leader who always led by example and with conviction." Chaney once conceded: "Sometimes I'm a little nasty. But underneath I still carry with me a strong feeling of concern for youngsters. I'll do just about anything to convince a youngster he can be a winner, and not just a winner in basketball but a winner in life. I want players to take up my value system." (Read more obituary stories.)

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