(James On Basketball)
John Chaney finest season on North Broad St. came during the 1987-88 season.
In my lifetime, few men have had an impact on me as a person the way Hall of Fame coach John Chaney has. I’ve never met him personally, but in listening to him speak, he opens the pages of his soul. Pouring out immeasurable quantities of what life has to offer. An engaging personality — whether it was giving a referee the “One-Eyed Jack Stare” for a bad call or weeping openly about the young men he’s surrogately fathered. Many of whom overcame the stigma of being casualties of Proposition 48 and became college graduates.
In the 1987-88 season, John Chaney’s 32-2 Temple Owls gave us the best they could offer - led by an unbelievable freshman,
In only his 5th season on North Broad St. John Chaney took the city of Philadelphia on a magical ride which ended short of a championship, but set the tone for the rest of his coaching career.
Two seasons removed from Villanova’s miracle season, Chaney had the Owls in prime position to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. If the Owls were to bring it all home, this celebration would be different. While Nova took their title back up to the Main Line and shunned its Big Five roots to go commercial. This title would belong to Philadelphia, The Big Five and the North Philadelphia Community Temple embraced.
John Chaney’s Owls rolled into the 1987-88 season full of veteran leadership in seniors Tim Perry - a shot-blocking machine and sophomore Mike Vreeswyk was a dependable scorer from deep. Howie Evans was a good a point guard as there was in the country Center Ramon Rivas possessed the body of an offensive guard with a shooters touch which made him a valued reserve.
Mark Macon has one of the most memorable seasons by a freshman.
But the spark was a freshman from Saginaw, Michigan named Mark Macon. Macon was Chaney’s prized recruit and the team’s offensive catalyst. Macon was an excellent shooter, slasher and defender who played with a savvy and moxie not possessed by most freshman.
The Owls jumped out to a 14-0 start with their biggest wins coming against UCLA and LaSalle. Their streak would end in the desert with a 59-58 defeat at the hands of UNLV. Despite that loss, John Chaney and his team were now a national story, engineering a 15-game win streak which included a memorable win in Chapel Hill against a talented North Carolina squad which included Rick Fox and J.R. Reid.
The Owls went into the NCAA Tournament as the overall #1 seed, the Owls defeated Lehigh , Georgetown and Richmond before bowing out to Duke in the first of five Elite Eight appearances for Chaney.