Temple's Dunphy on an NCAA losing streak

March 14, 2011 1:00:59 PM PDT
Fran Dunphy has a career coaching resume that anyone at any level should envy. He has 419 wins. Ivy League and Atlantic 10 titles. He leads the Coaches vs. Cancer campaign. Even teaches a class at Temple.

Dunphy has accomplished so much that matters - except lead his team into the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Dunphy's failures in March are the lone black mark on a head coaching career that started at Penn in 1989. Dunphy, in his fifth season at Temple, has the longest losing streak of any coach in the history of the NCAA tournament.

He has lost 11 straight tournament games dating back to his time coaching the Quakers. He is 0-3 with the Owls, including a loss last season as a No. 5 seed. Dunphy's lone win with the Quakers came in 1994.

Dunphy's NCAA tournament record is 1-12 and his .077 winning percentage is the all-time worst for a coach with at least eight games coached, according to STATS LLC.

Utah State coach Stew Morrill is 1-8. Utah State beat Boise State in the Western Athletic Conference championship game Saturday to earn the automatic bid. Morrill has lost six straight games after a first-round win over Ohio State in 2001.

Former Connecticut coach Hugh Greer also went 1-8 in the tournament from 1951-1960. Morrill and Greer's .111 winning percentage is behind Dunphy.

No coach in history has lost more than seven straight tournament games.

Dunphy has a chance to snap the inglorious skid this week when he takes Temple to the tournament for the fourth straight season. The seventh-seeded Owls (25-7) earned an at-large bid and will play No. 10 Penn State (19-14) Thursday in Tucson, Ariz., in the West region.

This was the first team in Dunphy's 13 tournaments that was not an automatic qualifier.

The Owls are the favored seed for the second straight year, having lost to No. 12 Cornell last year. Dunphy had never started the tournament as the favorite in any of his previous appearances.

Dunphy is about as calm off the court as any coach in the game. He doesn't lash out at his players, rip the refs or crack many one-liners at a postgame press conference. He's quick to label himself boring.

"He doesn't show a lot of emotion," Temple forward Lavoy Allen said.

Dunphy coached an Ivy League team and lost to one in the tournament. He had a team lose in overtime, another by 20. Florida got him twice.

Of course, Dunphy would love a better postseason record. Fair or not, coaches are judged on how their teams fare in March not December. Dunphy can stack his regular-season resume with the active coaching greats of the game.

"He's one of the best-kept secrets in all of college basketball and has been for a number of years," said his predecessor, Hall of Fame coach John Chaney. "Very little is talked about when we talk about his greatest accomplishments."

Some coaches are tagged the greatest never to make a Final Four. Dunphy surely has to be the best of a handful never to make a second weekend.

Dunphy said he has no time to look back on past tournaments, nor does he feel additional pressure to make sure this is finally the year the Owls bust out of the first round for the first time since 2001.

"I think a coach feels pressure every game to get his team to play the best that his team can," Dunphy said. "I don't think this NCAA tournament game will be any different. I'm going to be nervous and filled with angst throughout the preparation and throughout the game. Hopefully, our players will respond and do a good job."

The only time Dunphy celebrated after a tournament game was a 90-80 win over Nebraska in 1994. Jerome Allen scored 19 points and the Quakers led by as many as 18 points. Penn made 11 3-pointers.

"This is as big of a win as we've had in a long time," Dunphy said after the game.

The Quakers, who played without scholarships, followed with a second-round loss to Florida. Then came Alabama (1995), Florida (1999), Illinois (2000), California (2002), Oklahoma State (2003), Boston College (2005) and Texas (2006). The Quakers also lost to Massachusetts in 1993.

The Owls have lost to Michigan State (2008), Arizona State (2009) and Cornell.

Dunphy's defenders of his track record point out that no Ivy League team had won an NCAA tournament game since 1998 - at least until the Big Red scored one vs. Dunphy. He acknowledged he needed longer than usual to recover from a season-ending tournament loss.

"There's no question about his ability. None," Chaney said. "He has nothing to prove."

Maybe not, but a long run would help show Dunphy has mastered March the same way he has the first 30 games.


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