American Athletic Conference

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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.”

East Carolina head coach Jeff Lebo resigns

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After leading the East Carolina basketball program for the last seven-plus seasons, head coach Jeff Lebo has decided to resign. News of Lebo’s resignation was first reported by Brian Bailey of WNCT-TV, with the school due to make the move official Wednesday afternoon.

Michael Perry, who has been a member of the ECU coaching staff for the last 11 years, will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

East Carolina currently has a 2-4 record this season, with the Pirates having lost back-to-back games to Rutgers and North Carolina A&T. The North Carolina A&T defeat was ECU’s third at home this season, with Radford and Central Connecticut State having also beaten the Pirates at Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

Lebo, who took the East Carolina job in 2010 after spending six seasons at Auburn, leaves the position with a record of 116 wins and 122 losses. Lebo’s best season at ECU was the 2012-13 campaign, the program’s last as a member of Conference USA, with the Pirates winning 23 games at the College Invitational Tournament title.

ECU would follow that season up with a 17-17 mark in 2013-14, the first season of the American Athletic Conference. In the following three seasons ECU would finish below .500 in each, with last year’s team finishing with a 15-18 record. ECU was picked to finish 11th in the American’s preseason coaches poll.

Lebo has been a head coach at the Division I level for 19 seasons, posting a career record of 327-278 with stops at Tennessee Tech, Chattanooga, Auburn and East Carolina. Lebo played collegiately at North Carolina under Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith from 1986 to 1989.

Cincinnati lands 2018 point guard

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Cincinnati kicked off its Class of 2018 with a verbal pledge from a point guard from the west coast.

Logan Johnson, the brother of Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson, announced his commitment to the Bearcats on Twitter on Thursday afternoon.

The 6-foot-2 floor general had taken an official visit to campus at the beginning of this month. He had scheduled official visits to Saint Mary’s and UC Santa Barbara for later this month. He held nearly a dozen offers from west coast programs, including several from the Mountain West schools.

Johnson is listed as the No. 130 overall recruit in the class, according to Rivals. While Rivals lists him as a three-star prospect, Scout rates him as a four-star recruit. According to Rivals’ National Basketball Analyst Eric Bossi, Johnson’s stock rose following strong play during the July live recruiting period.

Although, his most notable performance came during April when he and his Tyler Johnson Elite team got the better of LaMelo Ball and the Big Ballers.

When Johnson reaches campus in the fall of 2018, he’ll one of three point guards on the roster, playing behind transfer Cane Broome and Justin Jenifer. Both will exhaust their eligibility at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season.

AAC plan men’s basketball tourney at new Texas arena in ’20

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The American Athletic Conference will hold its men’s basketball tournament in a new arena in North Texas in 2020.

AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco announced Wednesday that Dickies Arena in Fort Worth has been selected to host the tournament for three years, starting in March 2020. That is only four months after the facility is scheduled to open.

On the same day of a groundbreaking ceremony for the 14,000-seat arena last April, the NCAA announced that first- and second-round games of the 2022 NCAA men’s basketball tournament would be held there. The NCAA women’s gymnastics championships are scheduled there from 2020-22.

The closest AAC school to the new arena is SMU, with its campus in Dallas about 40 miles away.

Orlando will host the 2018 AAC tournament, which moves to Memphis in 2019.

Hamilton leads UConn over Central Connecticut 99-52

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Daniel Hamilton posted the 11th triple double in UConn history as the Huskies rolled to a 99-52 victory over Central Connecticut State Wednesday afternoon at the XL Center.

The 6-foot-7 sophomore finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists to become the 10th player in school history to accomplish the feat. Former UConn guard Shabazz Napier, who now plays for the Orlando Magic, is the lone Husky to do it twice.

Shonn Miller added a team-high 25 points to lead the Huskies (8-3), who head into the holiday break on a three-game win streak.

UConn was playing its second straight game without injured 7-foot center Amida Brimah.

Rodney Purvis added 16 points, Sterling Gibbs 12 and Kentan Facey 10. UConn shot over 60 percent from the field for the third straight time, finishing at 60.3 (38-for-63).

UConn played with a short bench minus Brimah (broken finger) and reserve guard Sam Cassell Jr. (sprained ankle). Brimah sat out Sunday’s win over UMass-Lowell with a testicular contusion, but returned to practice Monday where he broke his right middle finger. He was scheduled to have surgery Wednesday afternoon.

The Blue Devils (1-9) took advantage of Brimah, who ranks ninth in the nation with 3.0 blocks per game, being out in the first half. CCSU used a 15-6 run to pull within five, 30-25, with 4:46 to go in the first half.

UConn answered with a 16-1 run to close the half. Miller scored 14 points and the Huskies shot 58 percent from the field to grab a 46-26 lead. They also scored 15 points off 10 CCSU turnovers.

Miller stayed hot to open the second half and helped UConn pull away with an 18-8 opening run to lead 64-34 with 13:52 to play.

The fifth-year senior Miller sat the final 13:10 as UConn went to the bench.

Hamilton reached 10 assists and 10 rebounds early in the second half, but had only two points. He quickly caught up in the latter category before heading to the bench for the final 6:15.

The Blue Devils were led by 16 points from Austin Nehls.

The 47-point loss was the worst of the season for the Blue Devils, who are coached by former UConn assists Howie Dickenman.

TIP-INS:

Central Connecticut: The Blue Devils snapped an eight-game losing skid to open the season with a win over UMass-Lowell. … . The Blue Devils were just 4-for-17 from 3-point range.

UConn: The Huskies outscored CCSU 56-22 in the paint.

UP NEXT

CCSU is home against Yale on Wednesday.

UConn plays at Texas on Tuesday.

Cobb scores 20, No. 23 Cincinnati beats Norfolk State 75-59

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CINCINNATI (AP) Farad Cobb matched his season high with 20 points, Gary Clark added 19 and No. 23 Cincinnati recovered from its loss to crosstown rival Xavier by beating Norfolk State 75-59 on Tuesday night.

The Bearcats (9-2) had dropped two of three, including a home-court loss to Butler and a 65-55 defeat at No. 10 Xavier on Saturday. They were sloppy in the first half before pulling away.

D’Shon Taylor had 14 points for Norfolk State (4-6), which trailed by only four points late in the first half.

Norfolk State’s Jeff Short came into the game averaging 18.7 points in the last six games, but had a tough time finding shots against one of the country’s toughest defenses. He missed all four of his shots in the first half and his first one in the second half before hitting a 3-pointer. He finished with five points on 1-of-10 shooting.

The Bearcats are holding opponents to 59 points per game, the 10th-fewest in the nation.

The Spartans rely on the 3-pointer – they came in shooting 45.2 percent from beyond the arc – but missed 12 of their first 14 attempts and finished 7 of 24.

Cincinnati opened with a 15-0 run, scoring on each of its first five possessions. The only flaw was Octavius Ellis missing a showy dunk attempt on a fast-break alley-oop play. The Spartans had a shot clock violation on their opening possession and missed their first seven shots.

Cincinnati missed four consecutive free throws and seven of nine shots in one stretch of the first half, allowing Norfolk State to cut the lead to 23-15.

Turnovers were a problem in Cincinnati’s loss at Xavier on Saturday, and the Bearcats lost the ball four times during a four-minute span late it the first half on Tuesday. The crowd booed when Charles Oliver’s fast-break layup cut it to 30-26 with 1:30 left in the half. The Bearcats led 34-26 at the break.

Clark had three baskets during a 9-2 run that opened the second half and built the lead to 16 points. The lead was 61-35 midway through the half.

TIP-INS

Norfolk State: The Spartans have made as many as 14 3-pointers – a school record – and as few as two in games this season.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats are 19-0 all-time against teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

UP NEXT

Norfolk State: The Spartans will play the fourth of eight straight road games at Evansville on Thursday.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats play at VCU on Saturday.

Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay