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Thursday, March 23, 2006

John Chaney, Fran Dunphy Succession Derbies

I've blogged earlier about the John Chaney succession derby at Temple, and you can click here and here for links to my initial and follow-up thoughts on the subject. Having read the Philadelphia-area newspapers over the past couple of days, it looks like the Owls have narrowed the field to five finalists -- Penn's Fran Dunphy, Drexel's Bruiser Flint, Portland Trail Blazer assistant Dean Demopoulos, current Temple top aide Dan Leibovitz and current Houston Rocket Rick Brunson. Demopoloulos, as you may remember, was Chaney's top aide for years. Brunson played his college basketball at Temple.

Let's suppose that Dunphy, who in my mind is the favorite, gets the Temple job. Who would succeed him at Penn?

I speculated on that sweepstakes almost two years ago, when Coach Dunphy was seriously considering leaving Penn for his alma mater, LaSalle. Here's a link to that post.

Gil Jackson, then Dunphy's top assistant, is out. He just completed his first year at Howard as head coach and I don't think the timing would be right. Ditto for Siena head coach Fran McCaffery, a Penn alum, who, after several years at UNC-Greensboro, completed his first year at Siena, also as a head coach. Reports are that he might be signing a long-term extension shortly.

While I don't have time to link to the Penn coaching staff's page, I don't think that any of the current assistants will be a candidate. One, David Duke, looks to be a career assistant, while the other two, both Penn alums -- Matt Langel and Shawn Trice -- haven't been coaching long enough. The two leading candidates, in my mind, would be Cornell's Steve Donahue, who assisted Dunphy for ten years and remains beloved in Philadelphia, and Lafayette's Fran O'Hanlon, once a Dunphy aide and an outstanding coach in his own right.

The plus to Donahue is that he is relatively young (about 43), well-known to Penn, and well liked there. The minus is that in his six years at Cornell, he has lost many more times than he has won. He has turned the program around to a degree, but he hasn't built a perennial winner, at least not yet. Penn cognoscenti will say, "well, it's Cornell, what can you expect?" and have a point, but if that's the case, then Brown's Glenn Miller, who has fared much better in Providence than Donahue has in Ithaca, should be a serious candidate too (and I don't think he will be because of his lack of a connection to Penn).

The plus to O'Hanlon is that he's an amazing coach, a great strategic hoops thinker and someone who can do more with less. Before the Patriot League introduced scholarships, he built some fine teams. When other Patriot schools began giving hoops scholarships and Lafayette did not, his program suffered, but his teams still compete hard. The minus is that, while schools can't discriminate against age, he's in his late 50's and wouldn't seem to provide a 20-year answer the way Dunphy almost has. In addition, Lafayette will begin to grant hoops scholarships, and that could entice O'Hanlon to stay in Easton (but I doubt one would remain in Easton if he could coach at Penn).

Others will get mention. Both the Columbia and Penn student newspapers have suggested that Brown's Glenn Miller would be in the mix because of what he's done at Brown, but I don't think Miller would be a serious candidate. His teams haven't played good defense during his tenure there, and that's a Penn hallmark. He's fared better than Donahue has, certainly, but there's no real Penn connection and I just don't see a compelling reason for his hiring. I do respect him as a coach -- he's very good -- but I just don't see him at Penn.

My bet is that Steve Donahue gets the job if Fran Dunphy leaves.

I would offer it first to Fran O'Hanlon.

Put O'Hanlon at Penn and, in my mind, in the next several years, once recruiting classes mature, he could have the Quakers not only winning an NCAA playoff game, but also winning two.


Anonymous vusurfer said...

Fran O'Hanlon would be a great choice for Penn. He was a great player at Nova. Would love to see him back in the area.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are seriously underrating what Miller has accomplished at Brown (and at Conn College for that matter). The team was 4-22 before he got there and was playing for an Ivy Title on the last weekend 2 years later.

Plus, we saw with TN's Bruce Pearl that coaches can go from a defensively-minded team (UWM) to an offensively-minded one (TN) pretty seamlessly if they are a good coach.

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Rainbow" O'Hanlon is the best basketball coach alive not named Fran Dunphy.
Penn has rocks in their head not to pay Dunph whatever it takes to stay.
If he leaves they should beg O'Hanlon to take the job!
Methinks the EGO of one former Maccabiah scrubino who caddied for Dave Wohl at Penn in the early 70's is mucking up the process because he secretly wants the Penn job.
Any comments?

7:58 PM  
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10:18 AM  

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