- The Washington Times - Friday, December 17, 2004

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — John Chaney barely had time to savor one of his earliest games back in 1972 when an indignant fan abruptly remarked he wasn’t too happy to have the rookie coach around.

“I told him, ‘Well, I’m going to be here for a long time, so you better get used to me,’” Chaney recalled with a laugh.

Sure enough, Chaney is still on the sidelines 32 years after his college coaching debut at Division II Cheyney State in suburban Philadelphia. Chaney eventually moved on to Temple, but not much else has changed for the Hall of Famer.

From threatening opposing coaches to giving a ref an earful in his loud, booming voice to reaching out to another underprivileged kid, Chaney’s remained steady as ever through 999 games.

Chaney still seems restless and cranky, and his nattily attired appearance is usually in shambles after most games. As Chaney approaches his 1,000th career game, he knows his time on Temple’s sideline is nearing an end. But don’t go planning that retirement party just yet.

“I would like to stay as long as I can, as long as my health is good and as long as the kids keep listening to me,” said Chaney, who turns 73 in January.

When Chaney (711-288) coaches Temple against Princeton on Monday, he will become the 19th Division I coach to reach 1,000 games and the fifth active one, joining Lou Henson, Bob Knight, Eddie Sutton and Lute Olson.

Chaney, whose deep, dark eyes seem fitting for a school whose mascot is the Owl, is amazed he has lasted so long.

“I’ve never given it any thought,” Chaney said. “It surprised me when they told me I accomplished 700 wins.”

Chaney said though the games tend to run together, it’s the people, the experiences and the stories that stand out.

“I can’t remember all of their names, but sooner or later it comes back to me,” he said.

Soon, Chaney is off on another story, this one about cooking eggs for his players at Cheyney State because a flu epidemic had them quarantined. When Chaney tells how the eggs turned a Dr. Seuss-like green, he bursts into a fit of uncontrollable cackling.

Chaney dabbled as player-coach toward the end of his career in the Eastern Basketball League, then coached full time at Philadelphia’s Sayre Junior High (1963-66) and Simon Gratz High (1966-72).

When Cheyney State came calling in 1972, Chaney was torn. Chaney, though, was convinced he could affect more lives on the college level. Chaney had more concerns when he considered the Temple vacancy in 1982.

“I was very apprehensive,” he said. “I was happy with where I was. I always believed that success comes when you’re very happy with what you do.”

Chaney had little to worry about — he went 225-59 and won the NCAA Division II title in 1978 with the Wolves.

After a losing record his first season at Temple, Chaney took the Owls to the NCAA tournament 17 times in 18 years. Before his arrival, the Owls had never played in consecutive tournaments.

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