Alvin Loke | DP File Photo
The Quakers (3-14, 0-3 Big 5) will be taking on Temple (12-5, 1-0) Wednesday night in their final Big 5 contest of the season. Though this is Fran Dunphy’s seventh year as coach of Penn's Big 5 foe, this will be the first time he takes on former player Ira Bowman, who has latched onto fellow Dunphy alum Jerome Allen as an assistant coach. Both squads have faced a lot of a changes in the past year, but the Owls have continued to dominate. I spoke with Temple coach Fran Dunphy about this familiar matchup and what his plans are heading into this local game.
After your first year as coach of Penn, you lost your top three scorers and struggled the next year. Do you think the situation faced by Coach Allen has any parallels to what you inherited when you took the Penn job in 1989?
Dunphy: I hadn’t given it a lot of thought, but as I go down Penn’s roster and I see the young guys that they have and the hope for the future that they have, I think Jerome and everybody at Penn should feel very encouraged. I think that they are on their way to building a terrific basketball program and I think the future is very bright.
After 7 years, do you still get any special feeling when you play Penn?
Dunphy: You can’t be somewhere for as long as I was — and in this case the University of Pennsylvania — and not feel a special affinity for the place and the program and everything that it is about. Of course, then you add to it a guy that played for me and who I learned so much from as a person and as a player, so that’s a very special feeling for me. And then of course now you have on staff Ira Bowman, who also played for me. They were two great guys to coach and they have become two great friends as well.
I have tremendous memories of my days at Penn. I was the luckiest guy in America then and I am just as lucky now to have an opportunity to coach another team in the city of Philadelphia, so I feel very fortunate.
We just saw a sold-out Big 5 game at the Palestra between St. Joe's and Penn. Though now some of the games have moved to campus sites, do you ever wish that the Big 5 went back to playing all of the games there?
Dunphy: Well that’s certainly how I grew up and how it was when I was a player at La Salle for three years as well. All of the games were in the Palestra, so that’s what college basketball in Philadelphia was all about. Certainly the Palestra was college basketball’s arena. But now, times have changed, and we have all had to adapt to it. We have a very nice arena on campus. For us to go back to the Palestra to play all of our Big 5 games would be difficult for our university and athletic department at this point. Yet, I think the purist in all of us appreciates everything that went on back in the day. Would it be great to go back and do that again? Sure it would, maybe on a one year occasion or something like that if we could interrupt things. A number of years ago we tried to have all six teams play in the Palestra on a given day as a celebration of sorts, but there were too many other complications or things that got in the way to allow that to happen again.
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