Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

John Chaney and Villanova

September 12, 2003 Columns No Comments

Big mess amidst the Big Five

by Michael Protos

For college basketball fans in Philadelphia, the Big Five round-robin means just as much in pride as it does in the standings.

The Big Five schools – Villanova, Temple, Penn, La Salle and St. Joseph’s – do not earn any national championships nor do they earn an automatic NCAA Tournament bid for claiming the Philadelphia title. But the Big Five games are always intense and often dramatic, as weaker teams frequently defy the odds to upset a cross-town foe.

But a childish scheduling dispute between Villanova and Temple threatens to tarnish the glory of one of the nation’s best local basketball traditions.

Temple Coach John Chaney is typically one of the classiest coaches in the NCAA. He is a superior coach who consistently manages to inspire his young athletes to play at a higher level to compete with the nation’s best programs. Rarely do top recruits opt to spend four years in North Philly to play for Chaney. Nonetheless, his genius has guided Temple to a history of success and nurtured NBA stars like Eddie Jones and Aaron McKie.

To match his coaching prowess, Chaney is the type of man anyone would want as a grandfather. He is 71 years old and full of fire. He always seems to have a gleam in his eye, even while berating a freshman for a careless turnover or, more likely, a seemingly oblivious referee for a questionable call. His friendship with comedian and Temple alumus Bill Cosby typifies Chaney’s ability to deliver light and up-beat banter shortly after a caustic diatribe directed at anyone who incurs his wrath.

If nothing else, Chaney is a passionate coach and a passionate man.

But when Temple plays Villanova this year at the ungodly tip time of 12:01 a.m., eastern standard time, on Friday, Nov. 21, it will mark a rare instance of misdirected passion from Chaney.

Villanova starts this season with several players finishing suspensions in the aftermath of last season’s telephone access number fiasco, which resulted in essentially the entire team receiving suspensions. Because of the suspensions, Villanova was in danger of becoming unable to compete in the Maui Invitation Tournament this season. Villanova needed to devise some creative scheduling to get enough players eligible for the tropical vacation to the Hawaiian island starting Nov. 23. The Wildcats must play two games for enough players to become eligible, but the regular season doesn’t start until Nov. 21.

So Villanova Coach Jay Wright scheduled games that should be easy to win, regardless of who he puts on the court – against Division III schools Claremont and Redlands. Redlands finished 10-15 last season, while Claremont fared better at 15-10, losing to national powerhouses like Vanguard University, Whitworth College and Concordia University.

Sarcasm aside, Wright’s scheduling shenanigans are clearly an attempt to avoid missing out on a pre-season tournament. In doing so, Villanova asked to move its Big Five game against Temple, which had been set for Nov. 21 according to Chaney, to a date in December, during Temple’s winter break. Villanova officials believed the game’s scheduling was tentative from the outset, but Chaney apparently was under a different impression and refused to switch dates.

Chaney’s rhetoric of honoring a schedule clouds the more compelling reason for keeping the Nov. 21 date – Chaney wants Temple’s students to be at school for the game to create a significant home court advantage. Ask any college coach – a deafeningly loud stadium can wreak just as much havoc on opponents as a stifling full-court press.

Throughout this scheduling debate, Chaney has hinted that Villanova is placing a lower priority on the Big Five games in exchange for premium competition. If Chaney is right, and that is not necessarily the case, then Villanova is ignoring one of Philadelphia’s best sporting traditions.

Wright would be making a terrible decision to spurn a Big Five game in favor of a pre-season tournament that only features Central Michigan, Chaminade, Hawaii, Ohio State, Santa Clara, Dayton and San Diego State. Although the mid-major conference representation should create some competitive games, only Ohio State and Dayton offer the marquis match-ups for Villanova that could help build a strong resume for an NCAA Tournament bid.

A game against Temple would qualify as a quality non-conference game while preserving the Philadelphia Big Five tradition. If Wright forfeited an opportunity to participate in that tradition for a relatively weak Maui field, he is belittling the Big Five.

Villanova is not, however, simply spurning Big Five competition. According to reports, Villanova has repeatedly attempted to work with Temple to switch the date since April when it was clear the suspensions would carry over into this season. Penn had backed out of a game against Temple on Dec. 28 because of a prior commitment, and Villanova offered to play Temple on that date. Chaney seems upset that he was not included in the discussions between the initial Nov. 21 plan and Villanova’s decision to play the two California cupcake opponents.

Chaney should respect Villanova’s suspension situation. If Temple steamrolls Villanova Nov. 21, then Villanova, and more importantly, NCAA Tournament committee members, can attribute the result to the undermanned squad Chaney forced Villanova to use. Chaney may gain an advantage in the Big Five standings, but his team will not gain anything in the long run.

Chaney should allow Villanova to come to Temple’s court in December during the school’s winter break. A talented and intact Villanova squad would make a formidable opponent for Chaney and the Owls. Now that game would match the competitive spirit of Big Five basketball.


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 26, 2018

April 27, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we spend a lot of time looking at what the Commission on College Basketball came up with, as their report was just produced. We also look at the NBA Draft and transfers, which have many rosters potentially in flux for next season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018 by

In our first podcast in the postseason, we look back one more time on the NCAA Tournament, which was just what we needed at this time. We also look at the NIT, CBI and CIT, as well as important transactions with players leaving early for the NBA Draft and coaching changes.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018 by

The 2018 national championship is in the books, and with it another season of college basketball. We break down the national championship game and some of its implications to wrap up the season.

College Basketball Tonight – April 1, 2018

April 2, 2018 by

Welcome to our Final Four edition of College Basketball Tonight. In this edition, we look ahead to Monday’s national championship game, and bring on two guests – long-time Villanova radio play-by-play broadcaster Ryan Fannon and Radford head coach Mike Jones – to get their thoughts and insights on the game.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 1, 2018

April 1, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we break d own the national semifinals, where one game went back and forth while the other was never really a ballgame thanks to an impressive performance for the ages by the winning team.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.