Dunphy coached an Ivy League team and lost to one in the tournament. He had a team lose in overtime, another by 20. Florida got him twice.
Of course, Dunphy would love a better postseason record. Fair or not, coaches are judged on how their teams fare in March not December. Dunphy can stack his regular-season resume with the active coaching greats of the game.
“He’s one of the best-kept secrets in all of college basketball and has been for a number of years,” said his predecessor, Hall of Fame coach John Chaney. “Very little is talked about when we talk about his greatest accomplishments.”
Some coaches are tagged the greatest never to make a Final Four. Dunphy surely has to be the best of a handful never to make a second weekend.
Dunphy said he has no time to look back on past tournaments, nor does he feel additional pressure to make sure this is finally the year the Owls bust out of the first round for the first time since 2001.
“I think a coach feels pressure every game to get his team to play the best that his team can,” Dunphy said. “I don’t think this NCAA tournament game will be any different. I’m going to be nervous and filled with angst throughout the preparation and throughout the game. Hopefully, our players will respond and do a good job.”
“This is as big of a win as we’ve had in a long time,” Dunphy said after the game.
The Quakers, who played without scholarships, followed with a second-round loss to Florida. Then came Alabama (1995), Florida (1999), Illinois (2000), California (2002), Oklahoma State (2003), Boston College (2005) and Texas (2006). The Quakers also lost to Massachusetts in 1993.
The Owls have lost to Michigan State (2008), Arizona State (2009) and Cornell.
Dunphy’s defenders of his track record point out that no Ivy League team had won an NCAA tournament game since 1998 _ at least until the Big Red scored one vs. Dunphy. He acknowledged he needed longer than usual to recover from a season-ending tournament loss.
“There’s no question about his ability. None,” Chaney said. “He has nothing to prove.”
Maybe not, but a long run would help show Dunphy has mastered March the same way he has the first 30 games.
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