One of college basketball’s greatest coaches will make his final stop at Koch Arena on Sunday.
This is the final season of coaching for Temple’s Fran Dunphy, whose 567 career wins ranks him in the top-50 all-time in Division I history. Dunphy, 70, has spent the last 13 seasons with the Owls and, after 30 seasons of being a head coach overall, will hand the program off to assistant Aaron McKie, a former NBA standout and Temple graduate.
Dunphy’s Owls (10-3) travel to Wichita for a 3 p.m. game broadcast on ESPNews against the Shockers (7-6) in a matchup between two teams looking for their first win in American Athletic Conference play. Due to the conference’s unbalanced schedule, this is the only regular-season meeting between the two teams.
“Wichita State is such a terrific basketball program and what Gregg (Marshall) has done is pretty remarkable,” Dunphy told the Eagle. “We’re playing a culture and a program on Sunday. We’re going to have to play our best game because we know how good they are in the Roundhouse.”
Dunphy is a Philadelphia legend and has spent the last 52 years involved in the city’s Big 5, an informal association which consists of Temple, Saint Joseph’s, Villanova, La Salle and Pennsylvania. He is the Big 5’s all-time winningest coach (he passed former Temple legend John Chaney in 2016) and has ties to four of the five schools.
He was a star player for La Salle from 1967-70 and served two stints there as an assistant coach. He won 10 Ivy League titles with Penn and appeared in the NCAA Tournament nine times in 17 seasons as head coach from 1989-06. He’s taken Temple to the NCAA Tournament seven times in the last 13 years. He also has a master’s degree in counseling from Villanova.
Dunphy is one of six coaches in Division I history to win at least 200 games and take two different schools to six or more NCAA tournaments each.
“A tremendous gentleman,” WSU coach Marshall said. “Really, really like him and respect what he does as a basketball coach. Not only at Temple, but at Penn before that. He’s led two teams to more than a handful of NCAA tournaments. Just does it in a very classy way. I like him and consider him a friend.”
As for the game itself, it’s one WSU desperately needs to win. The Shockers haven’t lost three straight games since 2015 and haven’t lost their first two conference games since an 0-6 start in the Missouri Valley in 2009. It’s a brutal opening to conference play, as WSU plays five teams with a combined record of 57-13.
Temple poses a difficult challenge for a WSU team currently struggling when pressured. The Owls rank fifth nationally in steal rate and are turning opponents over at a top-50 rate, as well.
But Temple’s defense has struggled defending the three-point line, as opponents have made 36.7 percent of their threes against the Owls. WSU has been ice-cold shooting to start the season, ranking in the bottom 100 teams in Division I in two-point, three-point and free-throw shooting.
“It’s frustrating because we know what we’re capable of,” senior Markis McDuffie said after WSU’s loss at Memphis on Thursday. “I don’t know what’s up. Maybe certain guys are mentally tired, mentally worn out. We’ve got to all come together as a team and believe in ourselves right now. That’s our problem: we’re not believing in ourselves. We’re letting certain guys put their head down. We’ve got to grow up.”
Dunphy was impressed by WSU fans in his first trip to Koch Arena last February.
“It was terrific and the fans were great and really respectful of our team and our players,” Dunphy said. “It’s a very impressive atmosphere and again the quality of the program is remarkable.”
Temple (10-3, 0-1) at Wichita State (7-6, 0-1)
When: 3 p.m. on Sunday
Where: Koch Arena, Wichita
TV: ESPNews (604 on UVerse, 245 on Cox, 207 on DirecTV, 142 on DISH)
Radio: KEYN, 103.7-FM
About the Temple Owls: Temple’s 10-3 start matches its best start to a season since the 2012-13 season. The Owls were picked to finish sixth in the 12-team conference by the coaches in the preseason poll ... Temple leads the all-time series 4-2, although WSU won two of the three meetings last season, including a win over the Owls in the AAC tournament ... Senior Shizz Alston and junior Quinton Rose have both surpassed 1,000 career points this season, becoming the 12th duo to do so in program history ... Alston leads the AAC in scoring at 19.2 points per game and has twice scored 30-plus this season. He has a streak of 24 straight games with a made three-pointer ... Rose is second in the conference in steals at 2.5 per game. As a team, Temple ranks 14th nationally with 9.4 steals per game ... The Owls are 9-1 this season when scoring at least 70 points and 35-8 since the start of the 2016-17 when cracking 70.
About the Wichita State Shockers: This is WSU’s first appearance at Koch Arena in 18 days since it defeated Oral Roberts 84-63 on Dec. 19 ... The Shockers are looking to avoid their first three-game losing streak since November 2015. WSU hasn’t lost its first two conference games since the Shockers started 0-6 in the Missouri Valley in the 2008-09 season ... WSU’s brutal early-conference schedule continues, as the Shockers play five straight KenPom top-100 teams to open. Temple is currently ranked No. 70 in KenPom’s rankings ... Markis McDuffie ranks second in the AAC in scoring at 18.8 points per game and has reached double-digits in scoring 12 straight games, which is the fourth-longest streak in the Gregg Marshall era ... Wichita State has had at least one freshman on the court for every second of every game this season. Freshman have accounted for 47 percent of the total minutes played. WSU has won 76 of its last 80 games at Koch Arena over the last six seasons ... According to the NCAA’s new NET formula, WSU has played the 41st-toughest schedule in the country to date.