Changing the atmosphere at Temple

Around the perimeter

December 13, 2006|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun reporter

Players who keep normal college hours, man-to-man defense and a quicker tempo are in.

Pre-dawn practices, a matchup zone and games in the 50s are out - along with the inimitable coach who threatened a rival's life and admitted using a goon.

Temple comes to Towson on Saturday (2 p.m., Comcast SportsNet), and for the first time since 1982, John Chaney isn't on the Owls' bench. Maybe the most accomplished coach never to get to the Final Four, Chaney guided the Owls to five regional finals and a No. 1 ranking in 1988. What Mike Krzyzewski is to Duke, Chaney was to Temple, so how do you replace a giant?

"Most people say you're crazy to try," said Fran Dunphy, the first-year Temple coach after a long stay at Pennsylvania. "If it weren't for the fact that I know Philadelphia, know Temple and know John Chaney, I wouldn't have. John was great about saying I could do the job. Somebody had to do it."

Besides turning Temple into a national name again, Chaney gained infamy for taking some Atlantic 10 rivalries much too seriously. Once he had to be restrained from going after then-Massachusetts coach John Calipari; two seasons ago, an order to one of his reserves to foul hard and often turned into a broken arm for a Saint Joseph's player.

Dunphy has a considerably lower profile, but his own unique qualities.

He is the first to be head coach at two Philadelphia Big 5 institutions, and declined an offer to coach his alma mater in 2004, when La Salle had to replace Billy Hahn. Dunphy made Penn the dominant program in the Ivy League, winning 10 titles in his 17 seasons, six in the last eight. Rather than attempting to eclipse former Princeton boss Pete Carril as the most successful Ivy coach ever, Dunphy headed to Temple.

It would be unimaginable for a coach to move from Cincinnati to Xavier, or from Duke to North Carolina, but familiarity does not breed that contempt in Philadelphia.

"When you become exposed to that fraternity, you have no other choice but to join," Dunphy said. "We're adversaries only during games."

For all of Chaney's success, come next March, Temple will be six years removed from its last NCAA appearance. The 3-3 Owls were picked to finish in the bottom half of the 14-team A-10 and are coming off a loss to Cincinnati, but help could be on the way.

If his first-semester grades are good enough and posted by Friday, junior Mark Tyndale could play against Towson. Temple's top returning scorer would complement sophomore Dionte Christmas and senior Dustin Salisbery, who combine to score nearly 40 points per game. All three are 6 feet 5, as Dunphy is building the kind of interchangeable parts that made Penn go.

Together, again

Like coach Todd Bozeman, five of the players in Morgan State's eight-man rotation weren't in the program a year ago, but the chemistry between junior college transfer Jerrell Green and freshman shooter Reggie Holmes goes back several seasons.

Green, a 5-10 point guard, and sixth man Holmes led Southern High to the state Class 2A semifinals in 2003. A year later, they took the Bulldogs to The Sun's No. 1 ranking, before losing to Dunbar in the city title game and 1A regionals. Their old school was absorbed into Digital Harbor, so Holmes transferred to St. Frances, then did a year of prep school, while Green spent two seasons at a junior college in Kansas.

"I never looked at Morgan until Todd [Bozeman] got the job here," Green said. "The first time I met him, things clicked, so I tried to get Reggie and other guys to stay home with me."

Green had one assist in a three-game span, before Bozeman got the Bears to run the floor and spread it in the half-court when they couldn't. Voila, their new conductor broke a 30-year-old school record with 14 assists in last week's win over Coppin State. Several of Green's feeds came on three-pointers by Holmes, who made four in the second half.

Once a week, Bozeman predicts that Holmes will leave Morgan as its all-time leading scorer.

"I believe he can do it," said William Wells, his coach at St. Frances. "The kid is a gym rat, with all the skills and a lot of heart."

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