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Philly lifer Dunphy set to say coaching goodbye to Temple

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PHILADELPHIA — Fran Dunphy has a book about Tiger Woods on his night table and piles of books in his office at Temple that are mostly unread.

With the Owls on the brink of securing an NCAA Tournament bid, Dunphy’s in-season page turners are mostly scouting reports.

“When I wake up at night, I’m looking at film,” Dunphy said.

It’s the kind of late, late show that’s nearing the final credits.

Dunphy is set to step down at the end of the season — and with the Owls at 22-8, March Madness could prolong that final bow — and call it a career on one of the great runs in Philadelphia basketball history.

Up next for the 70-year-old Dunphy, the home finale Saturday against No. 25 UCF and a chance for the Owls to knock off one more Top 25 team and send him out of Philly a winner.

Dunphy’s arc has touched nearly every Big 5 school in some way — from distinguished tenures on the bench at Penn and at Temple, to scholarly stops at Villanova and La Salle. He’ll turn the program over next season to former Temple and Philadelphia 76ers star Aaron McKie.

And then?

“I would love to represent Temple in any way they see fit,” he said.

Dunphy has lasted almost 50 years without a sniff of scandal and perhaps a collection of as many good guy awards (including the 2018 Dean Smith Award for charity work and community service) as conference championships. As his coaching career ticks down to the final seconds, Dunphy has been loath to boast about his accomplishments, even as this season has turned into a farewell tour that earned him standing ovations at hated city rivals Villanova and Saint Joseph’s. He called the celebrations “understandingly uncomfortable” and would “just assume crawl underneath the bleachers” rather than have the game come to a pause just for his brief wave of acknowledgment to a generous crowd.

Dunphy has waved off much of the tributes Temple had planned for Saturday and asked for the focus to stay on seniors such as star Shizz Alston Jr.

“I haven’t given it a whole lot of thought that this is going to be my last game,” Dunphy said.

Plenty of Dunphy fans — from former players to famous coaches — have shown their respect though a series of testimonials posted on Temple’s website.

— “You’ve always been a coach’s coach and I tell people all the time that you are the most genuine person in our profession.” — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

— “I consider you to be my ‘brother.’ To stand beside you has been an extreme pleasure and unsurpassed honor.” — Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli.

— “All your success on the court are obvious. But more important, I believe, is the way you conducted yourself and the reaction that other people had toward you.” — Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

Dunphy (579-323) is not necessarily retiring from coaching — or retiring, period. He will continue to teach his “Management, Theory & Practice: From the Locker Room to the Board Room” class at Temple’s business school and may expand the course to the spring semester. Some of his contemporaries moved on after leaving their long-time schools (like Princeton’s Pete Carril to the NBA or UConn’s Jim Calhoun to a D-III program), and Dunphy won’t rule another coaching gig, though it would take a heck of a job to leave Philadelphia.

“You would be foolish if you said never to anything. Who knows? Right now, it’s not a plan that I have,” he said.

Dunphy is ingrained in the Philly hoops fabric like few others in the city’s storied history. He played basketball at Philly high schools and went to games at the Palestra as a kid. He was co-captain under Tom Gola at La Salle, earned a Master’s degree at Villanova, won four Ivy League titles in 17 seasons at Penn and has lived in the same home since 1984.

He’s been at home — with or without his bushy mustache — on North Broad since he replaced the often-controversial and outspoken Hall of Fame coach John Chaney at Temple in 2006.

Dunphy led Temple to some of its biggest upsets in program history, including wins over No. 3 Villanova in 2009, No. 5 Duke in 2012, No. 3 Syracuse in 2012, No. 10 Kansas in 2014 and No. 8 SMU in 2016.

“It’s the faces you remember,” more than the scores, Dunphy said.

The lone blemish on Dunphy’s career is his lack of success in the NCAA Tournament. The Owls have won only two games in the tournament under Dunphy and the Quakers, out of the Ivy League, had one win in his 10 trips to the tournament.

“Would have loved more success in the postseason, no question,” Dunphy said.

Dunphy still had two years left on his contract and when word spread at the Final Four of Temple’s transition plan, it was before he had time to tell his family or his team. The headlines that hit Philly (“Replacing Fran Dunphy another wrong decision by Temple”) fueled speculation that Temple pushed out Dunphy before he left on his own terms.

“I think the timing of this has been great, to be honest with you,” Dunphy said. “We sat down, we had great talks about how we’re going to do this thing. I’m very much at peace with how this whole thing has been handled. I’m grateful to Temple and I’m happy for Aaron McKie and the new chapter in his life.”

McKie takes over at a program that has had remarkable consistency on the bench. He’ll become just the fifth coach at Temple since 1952. The Owls haven’t played in a Final Four since 1958 and they haven’t reached the Sweet 16 or Elite 8 since 2001.

But the Owls have continued to matter, even in the American Athletic Conference, and won plenty of big games because of the Big 5 lifer on the bench.

“I’ve been celebrated enough by being given this opportunity to coach college basketball in Philadelphia,” Dunphy said. “No one’s been more fortunate than me. That’s how I feel about my life.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.