Sunday, March 25|
Administration will meet with Chaney
By Andy Katz
ATLANTA Temple coach John Chaney said he will return to coach the
Owls next season and has no plans on retiring.
"I think so," the 69-year old Chaney said about returning, "unless
these boys don't go to class. Then I'll be pissed off and I'll start to quit
all over again."
But sources within Temple told ESPN.com that the administration is expected
to meet with Chaney in the offseason to pursue an endorsement of top
assistant and former player Nate Blackwell as the future head coach of the
The staff is getting hurt on the recruiting trail because the first
question asked by recruits is whether or not Chaney will be the head coach
the next season and for how long.
Blackwell and assistant Dan Liebovitz said Chaney is talking more
than ever about recruiting and the development of the underclassmen. The
staff is expected to push for a third assistant, too. The Owls never
replaced longtime assistant Dean Demopolous, who left to be the head coach
at Missouri-Kansas City last summer.
"(Coming back) comes down to the fact that I've had some good guys
all my life," Chaney said. "As I look back and count my blessings, I count
people you can count on and people you can count. That's the way I've been
all my life. There are people in this business who are true to their hearts and
when they're not, I get rid of them."
Chaney cried a few times after the game and during the postgame news
conference over coming up short for his first Final Four. This was Chaney's
fifth Elite Eight (1988, '91, '93 and '99) in what was possibly his least
The Owls were a three-shot foul away from being in the NIT after
Lynn Greer hit three free throws to beat George Washington in the Atlantic
10 tournament semifinals. Lose that game and the Owls might not have been an
NCAA Tournament at-large team.
This was a team that lost two players Carlton Aaron and Ronald
Blackshear after they bolted from the team. Injuries to Quincy Wadley, Ron
Rollerson and a nagging Achilles' injury to Kevin Lyde seemed to spell doom.
Having only seven players and using three players Lyde, Wadley and Greer who play mostly 40 minutes made a Temple run seem even more unlikely.
The Owls lose Wadley, but if Lyde stays in school they'll still be a
threat in the Atlantic 10 with the arrival of guards Brian Polk and Nile
Murry. Murry witnessed Sunday's game and saw how close the Owls came in a
69-62 loss to Michigan State in the South Regional final at the Georgia
Beating Texas and Florida in the first two rounds seemed even more
unlikely than coming close to the Spartans. That was all before a win over
Penn State put the Owls in the Elite Eight.
"I'm experiencing an extreme high and an extreme low," Chaney said.
"I'm certainly feeling low because I couldn't get these kids to the Final
Four, but at the same time I am high because they got me this far. One
missed rebound, one missed ball and it could have been different."
Chaney was wiping away tears while he was talking. Despite spending
the whole game grilling and correcting his players, the Owls have a fierce
loyalty to Chaney. They were crushed that they couldn't get him to the Final
Four and were in tears in the locker room and on the podium.
"We wanted to do the same thing for him that he wanted to do for us," said
Wadley, a fifth-year senior. "It's a tragedy, we couldn't do it. We were
right there. But we couldn't get over that hurdle. It means a lot
definitely. Coach is getting up in age. Every chance it seems like we're
right there, but we just can't get over that hurdle. It's a shame knowing
how hard we worked and how hard he's worked. Like I said before. He deserves
When Wadley finished talking, Chaney grabbed his head, leaned in and kissed
him on the forehead.
"All the praise and thanks goes to him for getting us this far," Greer said. "He got seven guys up and ready to work everyday. I
want to thank him for that."
With that comment, Chaney's hands went in front of his face and his eyes
watered even more.
"I want to give thanks to him," Lyde said. "He kept us together all year.
He did everything he could to get us there, but I think we let him down,
Chaney didn't. Not at all. And he plans on being back because this is what he
does and who he is: a teacher and a coach.
"(Getting to the Final Four) is something we all dream about, but very often
dreams come up short," Chaney said. "Very often you don't realize
everything. At the same time, you have to realize that the growth you see in
youngsters like these is probably the highest accomplishment you can reach
and you ought to be happy with that."
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
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|An emotional John Chaney was denied his first Final Four once again Sunday.||