|Chaney, Massimino headline Philly Hall class|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 29 January 2010 11:50|
No city bragging rights were up for grabs on the hardwood. Only spots in Philadelphia's basketball Hall of Fame.
Two of the most accomplished coaches in Philly's rich basketball history were inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame on Friday. Former La Salle coach Speedy Morris joined Chaney and Massimino among the basketball greats at the venerable gym.
``We're in a common place, the three of us,'' Chaney said. ``We're all guys that fought like maniacs. When the clock ticked and said it was over, that's when really everything began. That's the kind of friendship, the kind of situation you look forward to when you're in athletics.''
Chaney led Temple to 17 NCAA tournaments, five regional finals, and 516 wins before he retired in 2006. Massimino led eighth-seeded Villanova to an improbable 1985 national championship over heavy favorite Georgetown. It remains the only national title won by a Big 5 school - Saint Joseph's, Villanova, La Salle, Penn and Temple - in its 55-year history.
Morris was the last coach to have regular postseason success at La Salle, winning a record 238 games.
The trio of great Philly coaches made the day a celebration of the Big 3 at the home of the Big 5.
``It is still common ground for so many,'' Chaney said during his speech, ``and to see all these people come out today, is really a tribute to so many things.''
The famed floor was filled with their former players, assistants and today's coaching caretakers of the programs they all helped build.
Chaney and Massimino each directed remarks toward Villanova coach Jay Wright and told him he would win the national championship this season.
For now, Massimino stands alone. Massimino broke into the Big 5 as an assistant at Penn under Chuck Daly. Massimino recalled how Daly persuaded him to leave his head coaching gig at Stony Brook for his job with the Quakers - and a $6,000 pay cut. Massimino packed up the family and headed to Philadelphia, later starting a 19-year career at Villanova.
Massimino still coaches at Northwood, an NAIA school in West Palm Beach, Fla. Former players like Ed Pinckney, voted the most outstanding player of the 1985 title game, were in attendance.
He ended by making a humorous plea for Northwood to join the Big 5.
Northwood may have been one of the few names omitted in Chaney's 30-minute acceptance remarks. As only Chaney can, he wove amusing anecdotes about Chuck Bednarik, Kobe Bryant, Don Newcombe, Wilt Chamberlain and his former secretary into one witty, passionate speech.
``I'm a storyteller, man,'' he said.
He pointed toward the street outside the Palestra where he'd buy peanuts and pretzels from the street vendors for a pregame meal before another city-school game. Once inside, he'd make a mess of the bleachers with shells and mustard.
``Just thinking about that, and watching the guys run up and down the court here, watching them play, it was amazing,'' he said.
Chaney didn't stand at the podium in front of the Palestra bleachers solely to accept kudos and give a gracious speech. Not the cranky coach who often found himself in a series of heated situations.
``I wanted to touch upon some things that I think are wrong,'' he said, to laughter.
But his complaints were mundane. Too many relief pitchers in baseball. Players who lick their fingers before shooting free throws (``That's illegal!''). Longing for the days when a defender could put two hands on a player to guard him and not worry about being whistled for a finger-poke foul. Bryant bypassing a stint at La Salle to go straight to the NBA.
Morris might still coach the Explorers if Bryant somehow found a way to the school. Morris led the La Salle women's team to the NCAA tournament before taking over the men's program in 1986 - highlighted by a Lionel Simmons-led 30-2 record in 1989-90. He is now head coach at St. Joseph's Prep.
Morris laughed when he said his assistants kicked him under the table after telling Simmons during a recruiting pitch that he'd have to earn playing time at La Salle. Morris got him and Simmons was the AP Player of the Year in 1990.
Massimino said it was fitting he was inducted with his close coaching colleagues.
``There was no one more competitive than those two guys when it came time to play,'' Massimino said. ``When the game was over, I think we had one common bond. To make ourselves and our university a proud place to be and have fun doing it.''