FRAN DUNPHY – FORMER PENN & TEMPLE MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 426

Fran Dunphy

Website – https://owlsports.com/staff-directory/fran-dunphy/17

Email – fdunphy@temple.edu

Twitter – @TempleOwls

Fran Dunphy completed his 13th and final season at the helm of the Temple men’s basketball program in 2018-19. The all-time winningest coach in Philadelphia Big 5 history, Dunphy was one of 25 active NCAA Division I coaches with 500 victories in his final season and is also just the fifth coach to win 200 games at two different Division I programs while also taking both schools to seven or more NCAA Tournaments.

A part of Big 5 Basketball for the last six decades, Dunphy was inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame in April, 2019.

Dunphy starred at La Salle as a player (1967-70) and served on the Explorer staff as an assistant coach before embarking on a 17-year stint as the head coach of the Penn Quakers (1989-06).  He became the first person to serve as the head men’s basketball coach at two Philadelphia Big 5 institutions when he took over the reins of the Temple program from Hall of Fame coach John Chaney on April 10, 2006.

His overall record stands at 580-325 which includes 18 20-win seasons, 17 NCAA Tournament appearances, 14 conference championships, eight Big 5 titles and one NIT trip. 

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Be ready to take some notes as you listen to this episode with Philadelphia Big 5 coaching legend Fran Dunphy.

What We Discuss with Fran Dunphy

  • Why it is so important to be yourself.
  • “Genuine people get the most out of others.”
  • “You’re insecure when you are younger.  You think that you’re going to conquer the world.”
  • Why head coaches need to delegate sooner rather than later
  • Sharing leadership with assistant coaches and players
  • “There’s really no fun in doing it all by yourself.”
  • “When the leadership comes from within the group, then you are much better served. You’re a much better coach.”
  • “We have to get to the point where it doesn’t matter who gets the credit or where the good ideas come from.”
  • “It doesn’t matter what you do. It matters how you do it.”
  • His experience as an assistant at American University with Gary Williams
  • Taking stock each night of how you did during the day
  • Why less is sometimes more when it comes to practice length
  • Being observant and reading body language
  • Changes in the game over the years from the 3 pointer, to changing defenses, to analytics
  • “Most of us are not creating any of that change. We’re just observing that change. And then we have to take advantage of that change.”
  • Why assistants should take initiative and look for creative ways to help their head coach
  • Getting feedback from your head coach or the senior assistant
  • Why working summer camps is so valuable to young coaches
  • Why you should be visiting college practices if you’re a high school coach
  • The willingness of coaches to share with one another
  • His special connection to the Big Five, Philadelphia, and The Palestra.
  • “You miss the juice of the competition. And there’s nothing that can replace that.”
  • “As much as I love being a coach, I probably loved being a player even more.”
  • “So many people would change places with us in a heartbeat. So respect the game, respect, the people that are coaching you, but above all respect those kids that you are teammates with and be the best teammate you can be.”

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THANKS, FRAN DUNPHY

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TRANSCRIPT FOR FRAN DUNPHY – FORMER PENN & TEMPLE MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 426

[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my co-host Jason Sunkle. And tonight we are honored to be joined by long time college basketball coach, current athletic director at Temple University, Fran Dunphy, Coach, welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast.

Fran Dunphy: [00:00:17] Thanks Mike. Happy to be here.

Well, I know you talked to a couple of my former guys and they sold me out and made me do it.

Mike Klinzing: [00:00:27] Hey, you came very, very, very, very highly recommended by the two of them. They both insisted that we reach out to you and have you come on and share some of the knowledge that you’ve obviously been able to share with them and many others through the course of your career.

When I look back at some of the podcasts that we’ve done, and it’s amazing, some of the tentacles that you’ve been able to sort of extend out into the coaching world and the people that you’ve been able to have an impact on. I think that’s one of the things that as a coach, if you can [00:01:00] have that kind of impact on your fellow coaches and on the players that you’ve coached, that’s really what it’s all about.

And I want to start out tonight by asking you a question, just reflective of your entire career, thinking about things that you’ve learned. During your many, many years on the bench that could apply in any situation. What are things just about coaching that you feel can apply to any situation? So whether I’m a first-year coach of a seventh grade basketball team, or I’m a division one head coach, what are some things that universally apply to coaching basketball?

Fran Dunphy: [00:01:42] Well, I think a couple of things, one might be that whatever you’re doing, whether it’s coaching or any other profession you choose to go into, or at what level you’re doing it at, whether as you just suggested at the elementary school level or at the college level, or even in the [00:02:00] pros, I think you have to be yourself.

You have to be really genuine. You can’t make up things that you think are important to others. People will see through you all the time that way. And I think that the genuine people get the most out of others and I think that’s critical. The other part that I think is really important is without those kids that you’re coaching or the students that you’re teaching, there’s really no need for you.

So they’re the most important product in all of this, without them, you’re not going to be teaching anything or coaching anything. So it’s all about the kids at this point. And it should be that way, whatever the level you are at and whatever time in your career it is, whether it’s you’re first starting out and you have a boatload of insecurities or you’ve [00:03:00] coached a lifetime and you feel like you’re pretty secure with who you are. It’s always about the kids that you were teaching or coaching.

Mike Klinzing: [00:03:08] Is that something that you realized right away when you went into coaching or was that something that you slowly learned over time as you became more experienced?

Did you realize right away that, Hey, this has to be about the players or at first like many coaches because you come off a playing career because. A lot of times when we’re younger, we think we know a lot more than we actually do. How would you describe you coming to that realization? Was that something that you knew right from the get-go or was that something that you learned over the course of your career?

Fran Dunphy: [00:03:38] Yeah, I would never give myself that much credit for being that wise when you’re young and it just doesn’t work that way. I mean, you’re insecure when you are younger.  You think that you’re going to conquer the world. You’re going to win every year. And the reality sets in and you find yourself having your [00:04:00] best years coaching when you have the best players and parts of it that I think it is important that the older you get, the more ownership you start to give.

And that as a head coach, you start to give it to your assistant coaches a little bit more every year, because now you realize that you can’t do it all by yourself. There’s really no fun in doing it all by yourself. And you want to give opportunities for those assistant coaches that are working very hard.

So giving ownership starts to be really important. And then when you really get your act together you start to give ownership to the best players and the leaders on your team. Because in my mind, when the leadership comes from within the group, then you are much better served. You’re a much better coach.

And the reality is it doesn’t matter who’s responsible in terms of [00:05:00] getting the credit. It’s more important that we all come together and put the best coaching out there that we can. And sometimes the kids can coach their fellow teammates and that’s really important. And you get to counsel them as to their teammateship when they get to be really good teammates.

And their team’s got a chance to be really good.

Mike Klinzing: [00:05:25] S what does that look like when you are delegating to assistants and to players? Because it’s easy to say, okay, you take this or player X I want you to be a better leader. You hear that from coaches all the time that you want to have a player led team.

But I think oftentimes, as coaches, we leave our players hanging in that, we say that we want them to be leaders, but then we don’t necessarily teach them or model for them what that looks like. So what advice would you have for a coach who [00:06:00] wants to be able to delegate more? Who wants to take some of those things off their plate, but isn’t quite sure how to do that, both with their coaching staff and with their players. And maybe you could tackle each of those separately or you can weave them together. However you want to answer that question.

Fran Dunphy: [00:06:16] I think we get to the point where it doesn’t matter who gets the credit or where the good ideas come from.

Let’s just get a good idea out there and put it out to the group and ask them how they feel about it. So, for example, when you get a little bit older and a little wiser at the end of games and the four minute timeout happens and you know where the ball going to go at the end of the shot clock and you grab your senior veteran point guard and you said, okay, wait, where do you want the ball?

We all do the same thing. We all run a big guy out and then tell him to set the high ball screen and space the floor, right? You tell the big guy to run out there and then slip the [00:07:00] screen so that your best player is not double-teamed, but maybe his guys gotta run the screeners, man.

Gotta run back to get them. And now you’ve got some space to go into the gaps and make plays, but you’re saying to a guy like, you’re a veteran guy, where do you want the ball? Who do you want to set that screen? What do you want them to? Do you want them to hold that screen? Do you want them to block and pop?

Do you want them to roll to the rim. Do you want them to screen away for another player? Because in reality, it doesn’t matter what you do. It matters how you do it and the decisions that you all make. And then you’re sitting in the film room with  either your whole team or with your best players and say, all right, let’s analyze this film right here.

What do you see and why do you think you’re thinking that way. And you teach me. We’re role reversed every once in a while and say, what would you do in this situation? Why would you have that [00:08:00] mindset about it? And show me what you know at this point. And again, it’s just giving that confidence and it’s mine. It’s as much that as anything else, the confidence to the kids, or actually out on the floor, or let me make this example as well, where one of your assistant coaches says, do you, before practice, you know, that pin down on the weak side. Can we do it as a wide pin down as opposed to a tight pin down and you said, of course. And as a matter of fact, we’ll make that change today. And at the 15 minute mark, right before we end practice, I want you to put it in. I want you to give  the lesson today.

And then what happens is he does a good job at it. And then the kids on the team get more confidence in that assistant coach. He shows it to the team. It becomes successful. And now everybody’s seen as having a role within the team and also [00:09:00] there’s a success there and we can all share it.

Mike Klinzing: [00:09:03] Yeah, I think that’s critical to be able to give those coaches and opportunity. I know I spent 14 years as an assistant varsity coach at the high school level. And one of the things that I always appreciated about my head coach, who I worked with for 12 of those 14 years, was the opportunity to do exactly what you just said, which is, Hey, I have an idea.

And he’s like, great. I want you to put that in. I want you to share it. And to your point, I think that always built the credibility that I had with our team, because they knew that it wasn’t just me standing over the sidelines, parroting what the head coach was saying. It was an opportunity for me to really get in there and teach or show demonstrate.

And then the players felt a lot better about me as a coach and my knowledge and whatever. Cause sometimes if you just see an assistant standing on the sideline, I think that. It’s easy for kids to say, ah, that guy’s just an [00:10:00] assistant coach because I don’t ever see him really doing anything or teaching anything.

He’s just kind of parroting what that coach has done. I, so I think giving assistant coaches is a great point, giving them that opportunity is tremendously, tremendously valuable. When you think back to earlier in your career, what were, or who were some of your early mentors in coaching and what were some of the lessons that you remember them sharing with you as a young coach?

Fran Dunphy: [00:10:29] Yeah. I don’t know that I had a lot of guys sit down and say, this is what we need to do. This is what you need to do to have a successful career. I think it’s as much just following their leads. So I’ll give you an example, one of my earlier jobs was coaching at American University and the head coach was Gary Williams.

And I never saw anybody be so ready to go out and practice every single day to the point of you wouldn’t [00:11:00] go near him before practice started because he was thinking, he was writing things down. He was gathering his thoughts. But he was more ready than the coaches were, the other coaches and more ready than the players were every single day.

And my guess is even sitting on a beach in July wherever he went in Maryland or Delaware or whatever, as he’s sitting on the beach, if he’s thinking. You know, we’re down three we have the ball underneath our basket. There’s three seconds left. How are we going to get a three point jump shot off here to tie it as opposed to me, I might be just reminiscing about a golf shot that I had two days ago.

He was never in that mindset. He was always in preparation mindset and I don’t necessarily advocate that for everybody. It takes a special guy or a special girl  to do that. But you know, that’s just how some people are wired. I think [00:12:00] others need distractions. I think you need to get away. Sometimes you need to have that day off.

But for Coach Williams, that wasn’t how he was wired. But we’re all different in how we approach things. And again, I think if you come away from the day and we all do this, we take stock every night at midnight, or whenever we finally try to sleep, you know, how did I do today? Did I do a good job?

Was I the best coach I could be today?  Was I the best husband, father, mentor, teacher, whatever it happened to be, did I do a good job and most of the time you say, yeah, you know what? I gave a great effort, but there’s other days that you come in there and think, you know, I didn’t talk to that kid the right way.

I didn’t give him enough confidence as I should have. And those days absolutely make you sleepless. The other days, if you’ve done a good job and you did your very best and most of those days are like that. If you have those select days where [00:13:00] you just could have done a better job, but you take stock of that.

And I learned that over the years from the people that I coached with, whether it was Gary or it was Speedy Morris, or the guy who gave me my break in college coaching Lefty Ervin, taught me some things. And a guy named Thomas Schneider at Penn taught me some things. You know, and when you’re young, you think you gotta be out there two and a half, three hours a day.

And then now these days less is sometimes is more. And you got to think of those things. You’ve got to really delve into it and get some good advice from other people that know probably more than you do.

Mike Klinzing: [00:13:37] So what was your system of learning over the course of your career in terms of when you would pick up something that you want it to incorporate into what your team was doing? Maybe it was an X’s and O’s thing. Maybe it was a situation of a coach told you, Hey, you should consider cutting down on practice to keep your players legs fresh, [00:14:00] or maybe it was just a way of taking notes or you read a book.

How did you go about incorporating the things that you were learning into? Your daily practices. Were you journaling? Were you keeping a three ring binder as things moved on where you keep it a computer file? Just how did you go about learning throughout your career?

Fran Dunphy: [00:14:21]  Yeah, I don’t know that my style  was the journal entry type thing or the three ring binder or the computer program or whatever.

I just think you store some notes in the back of your mind and you say to yourself, you know, it’s okay if two days before the game we’re gonna play. We only are out there for an hour and 25 minutes as opposed to 2 and a half, because it’s two days before, it’s not the day before, you know, you’re saying I can get this next play in and I can almost over-prepare.

And so again, the older you get, you have a [00:15:00] system, you have a plan and you get in what you think you need to give to these kids. And you’ve probably done this as well, you know that the film is such a phenomenal teacher to these kids, but at some point they get tired of it and the rule may be just make it a 15 minute exercise.

And you could do 15 minutes before practice. You could do 15 minutes after practice, but any more than that, you start to lose them a little bit and, and they’ll let you know, you can see. And that’s one of the things I think you have to be as a coach, you gotta be observant. You read body language every single day.

You can see what they’re taking in, and you can see that maybe you need to step off of that. Get off of that drill. That’s not having great success in a particular day and go to the next one. Well, maybe come back to it later on. So all those little tricks of the trade you learn, but I’m thinking you learn as much by spending the time at it [00:16:00] as you do reading books or taking down notes or absolutely studying films of other coaches and how they do things. You still in the end have to be yourself. And one other thing, you know, so when I first got into coaching, I said, if I ever get to be a head coach, I’m going to just sit on the bench like Coach K does and put two fingers up and call a play.

It’s usually going to be successful. Well, when I first started coaching, I couldn’t sit down and write. Yeah. I don’t think you’d plan any of that. Life just deals that to you and you have to make the necessary changes and adjustments.

Mike Klinzing: [00:16:38] Yeah, I think being yourself is hugely critical.

And I think we’ve all been around either someone or in a lot of cases ourselves where you have this vision of what you think a coach should be. And oftentimes, especially for young coaches, you just tend to mimic the coaches that you played for. If you [00:17:00] yourself were a player and. We all know that when you’re not yourself, that doesn’t work, you have to coach to your personality and be who you are.

Players can sniff that out when you’re a fake, they sniff that out really, really quickly. And so to kind of go along with that, when you think about the totality of your career and you look back from when you started to where you are today, you have to obviously evolve and adapt with the times. What is.

The biggest positive change in the game of college basketball, since you first started, maybe you can’t narrow it down to just one thing, but what do you think is the biggest improvement in the game? Something that you really enjoyed having been brought into the game of college basketball since you first started?

Fran Dunphy: [00:17:51] Well, I’m not sure exactly how to answer that Mike, other than, again, the game [00:18:00] changes a little bit every year, and then occasionally we’ll have a drastic change where I went from coaching in 1986 with no three point line to in 1987 with a three point line. And then the game changed again a few years later and it got lengthened and then it got lengthened again.

And you have to adjust to those kinds of things. And you will also see some teams early in my career that would zone you. And you were confused a little bit by the zone. It’s like when you see a zone, oftentimes you see man, you attack, you see zone you probe and you know, changing of defenses is something that has changed dramatically, I think over the years and the trapping, the first pass or doubling the ball screens or things of that nature or throw in a zone in every third possession or whatever, or coming out of a timeout, changing things. So there’s a lot of technology now that allows you to make [00:19:00] these changes and to study them.

And now you’ve got three or four assistant coaches that need other jobs to really feel like they are helping. And when I say other jobs with me you know, The analytics has totally taken over now. And so we always used it, but we didn’t use it quite the way we are doing it now. So there’s changes every year.

Most of us are not creating any of that change. We’re just observing that change. And then we have to take advantage of that change. So, maybe an example I might say to you, and again, it goes back to giving ownership to the younger guys, but also gives them the thought of always trying to do more.

And so one of the years most of the time I would have, we would grade our kids for the game that the assistant coaches or graduates assistants watched the film and graded your team. Well, one [00:20:00] year we lost a local game and  I got ticked off and I said, do me a favor to the graduate assistant and said grade the other team, just so that if they played really well, then I might not feel quite as bad about our poor performance.

It’s making me feel better today. And so one day later they came back with this report and showed me every little thing about it about, the grades of the other team. And I said, this is fantastic. Now let me ask you something. Why did I have to tell you to do this? And they looked at me like, what are you crazy?

I said, well, these are the things that are going to separate you and make you better at your job. Be creative and think of these kinds of things yourself and grade the other team. Maybe, you watch the Golden State Warriors play or whatever, and you show me five different sets of Steph Curry getting a shot, coming off a double stagger screen away. And that doesn’t mean that every shot is going to go in just like Stephen [00:21:00] Curry shoots some, but maybe it’s something you can show to our guys. And so it’s those kinds of things. And again, always probing, always looking for things that are going to make your team better, but trying to give as much ownership that’s out there.

The sooner you can give ownership as a coach, the better off you’re going to be.

Mike Klinzing: [00:21:21] Do you think being a self-starter is one of the key characteristics that you would say you look for in an assistant coach. In other words, somebody who’s looking for those opportunities, like you just described, and isn’t always waiting around for you to give direction about what needs to be done.

They’re kind of looking for opportunities of where they can fill in and make the program better.

Fran Dunphy: [00:21:41] Absolutely no question about it, like developing these relationships with high school coaches, AAU coaches, those kinds of things, and constantly being on the phone and never be being bothersome, but always having the give and take and building those relationships and yeah, those [00:22:00] things are important and doing the same thing on the x and o front or on the analytics or on the film front, you may say to your head coach, I have a breakdown of what we’re doing versus zone on the right side of the floor, it seems like we’re just constantly attacking that right side. And we’re not using the gray area enough,  we don’t dive the guy enough and maybe we’re putting our six foot nine center in the middle when maybe we should put one of our guards in there because they’re better passers and better decision makers, you know? So it’s those kinds of things that I think always being that creative guy makes that head coach say, man, this kid’s got some special here and the reality is somebody is going to call you about one of these guys every once in a while you’re going to say, yeah, he’s tremendous. I don’t want to lose him, but if you can get him, that’d be great.

Mike Klinzing: [00:22:53] How important is it in your mind for, and I’m thinking again, of a young assistant coach who [00:23:00] was just starting out in their career, how important is it for them to go to their head coach and solicit feedback and ask the coach, Hey, how am I doing?

What can I do better? What am I struggling with? What is it? What are my strengths? Because I think a lot of times coaches maybe are hesitant to go to their head coach to seek that kind of advice. Is that something that you look for that you would want your assistants to do or something that maybe you did as an assistant, going to your head coach and say, Hey, what am I doing well?

Or what am I, what can I do better? How can I improve myself?

Fran Dunphy: [00:23:34] Yeah, I think it’s very important. Although I don’t know that you, as a young assistant coach, you may not always, I think you can have that conversation with your head coach occasionally, but what you’ll probably wind up doing is having much more of a conversation and maybe grabbing a quick meal with the senior assistant coach out there who is even more willing probably than the head coach to give that kind of advice, to get that kind of [00:24:00] information in the conversation as much as much as possible. So there’s always somebody out there you can learn from. And I think it’s a good idea to go to the head coach, but I think it’s an even better idea to counsel with the senior assistants that you have in a coaching situation. Now, again, at the college level, you’ve got a number of guys on the staff, at the high school level it may be you and the head coach, and that is it. So in that case, you may say to yourself, next summer I’m going to work camp every week.

I’m going to work in a city like Philadelphia. I’m going to work Villanova’s camp and St. Joe’s camp and, and Temple’s camp and Penn’s camp and Drexel’s camp, and now you get it, you get different ideas about how people run things. And you’re asking questions and you’re seeing other coaches like you, and maybe a senior guy who’s at the high school level as a head coach, rather than an assistant coach somewhere.

So you pick everybody’s brain that you can, and. [00:25:00] I think those are important lessons to be learned.

Mike Klinzing: [00:25:02]. Yeah. I think that’s so important. Being able to, to learn from a variety of different coaches and exposing yourself to different programs and different philosophies. I think back to myself, when I was a player, I really didn’t have any idea that.

I wanted to coach. And when I got done playing, I kind of looked around and I’m like, wait, basketball is going to be done here. I got to figure out a way to keep basketball on my life. And when I got my first coaching job as a JV basketball coach at the high school level, the only thing I knew was what my high school coach had done and what my college coach had done, because I didn’t really think of myself as a coach or going into the coaching profession.

And so when I look back on my early years as a coach, I basically did what. The coaches that I played for had done. And I think your advice of, Hey, if you really want to learn, you got to get out and see as many different coaches as you possibly can to not only learn [00:26:00] what. They do that. You like, but I think in a lot of cases, you can also go and you can learn from maybe ways that they do things that maybe don’t fit with your personality or philosophy of the way that you do things.

And so I think for young assistants, that’s really, really a critical piece. Have you seen that over the course of your career, we’re going out and getting an opportunity to whether it’s visiting other college practices or going in the summertime and meeting with other coaching staffs. Are those, some of the things that some of your assistants did over the course of, of your time as a head coach?

Fran Dunphy: [00:26:32] Well, no question that. I think that’s critical in the learning process. And especially if you’re a high school coach, for example, typically your practices are going to start in earnest far behind when the college coaches start.

So that’s what I’ve found is that most people who are older than you are going to say yes to every question you have about coming to [00:27:00] practice and watching what it is you do, You sit there and you watch and you see how people, what they teach, but you’ll also see how they teach. And so it’s really neat to watch that kind of interplay, but the reality is we’re all coaches, we’re all trying to help each other do a better job.

And I’ve even found that the pro guys in Philadelphia, especially, and I’m sure they’re the same way in every other city, are so welcoming to trying to help and to have you come in and sit in on a practice. That’s been awesome over the years. And then again, in a town like Philly, we’ve got great high school coaches.

We’ve got great non division one college coaches who do a great job of teaching, oftentimes all by themselves and don’t have a lot of help with it. So there’s plenty of opportunity to go and visit other programs and see how people do their work.

Mike Klinzing: [00:27:52] Do you feel like that’s always been the case in the coaching profession where people have always been willing to share, or do you feel like [00:28:00] that is a more recent phenomenon in terms of, because everything is so open and because film exchange is so much easier because everything is.

Out there on social media. And it’s really hard, even if you wanted to keep something a secret, it’s almost impossible today. So do you feel like the coaching profession is more open than it is than it used to be? Or do you feel like it was always this open?

Fran Dunphy: [00:28:23] No, I think you’re making a good point.

I think it’s more open now. I just think people weren’t as generous with their time as they now are, because I think you can, in years past you thought you had to own everything yourself and now there’s there are no secrets anymore with film here. Cheating off of every game that you watch every single night and you can go back and YouTube things, or you can go and whatever the hell or any of the things that are available,  you’re copying plays from [00:29:00] everybody on  out of bounds underneath, gotta go the length of  the court in four seconds, you know, things like that.

You’re copying all those things all the time. And the reality is it’s not what you run. It’s how you run it. And I think we all have gotten to that point of what we demand we’d probably get and the kids are willing too, they’re willing participants, they’re willing learners, they’re willing passers to want to make the best play that they can.

And they don’t all don’t have to make that shot. They can make the pass that leads to the pass, you know, the hockey assist kind of thing. So I think kids are willing. I think they really want to learn. And again you get the occasional guy, who’s a little tough to deal with, but that’s the challenge. And again, it’s an unbelievable profession. It’s a great profession. It’s not an easy profession, but it’s a great profession.

Mike Klinzing: [00:29:54] There’s no question. There’s definitely  challenges and there’s [00:30:00] joys in being a coach. And I think you just hit on a couple of them.

I want to wrap up and be respectful of your time coach, by asking you about your relationship, your experience, you’ve spent a big part of your career as part of the Big Five Philadelphia, the Palestra, just share with us how important those things are in your life. When you look back upon your time as a head college basketball coach, what does the Big Five, Philadelphia, The Palestra,  what does that mean to you? Can you put that into words? How just important and honored you are to be a part of that tradition of college basketball?

Fran Dunphy: [00:30:46] Well, I can try to put it into words. You know, when I was a kid in the elementary school, you would go to the Palestra and watch doubleheaders.

And actually the first games that I saw at the Palestra was a triple [00:31:00] header. One of my buddy’s dads took us all down there and we just watched three straight games and great teams. And it was an awesome experience, but the place has an aura to it that is sort of electric and when you go down there and you see these older guys that are playing and how, how hard they’re working at it and how much fun they seem to be having, and when you’re young, you think every game is sold out and the places is loud as it possibly can be.

And then 50 years later, you look at the attendance figures and it was maybe half full, but then you get a chance to, I was lucky enough to play there in college. And then I got a chance to be a coach there at LaSalle. And then I finally got my first head coaching job at Penn, and I actually had the key to the front door of the Palestra, which was about as cool as it gets.

I can remember a number of times after practice was [00:32:00] over and everybody else was out of the gym, I’d get out of the shower and I’d get dressed and start walking across  the gym and there would be this single light bulb that was still on and I’d stop at half-court and pinch myself and say, you actually have this job.

And you better respect it. And I really didn’t have to talk myself into respecting it and I always always respected the coaching profession and those people that knew more than me, which everybody basically fell into that category. And that it was just fun to be a coach and it was fun to still be competitive.

And if it’s one thing you miss when it’s all said and done, and you missed the juice, you miss the juice of the competition. And there’s nothing that can replace that. So as much as I love being a coach, I, I probably love being a player even more. And I would always ask my players  to have that same respect for the opportunity that you’re blessed with.

Well, the last thing I would say to you guys would be [00:33:00] one of the things that happens when you get eventually to get to be a head coach, at the end of every practice you typically get to center court and you stand around in a circle and you make your observations for the day. Hey Bob, you had a great day, you’re doing great work and Joe, I know you had a tough day today, but tomorrow we’re going to get them. And I think getting your senior leaders to have that kind of mentality and to know that every day is not going to be perfect. Every practice isn’t going to go exactly how you’d like it to go, but there’s always tomorrow and let’s get them tomorrow because we have an unbelievable opportunity here.

So many people would change places with us in a heartbeat. So respect the game, respect, the people that are coaching you, but above all respect those kids that you are teammates with and be the best teammate you can be. And constantly be observing when one of your buddies is having [00:34:00] a difficult day and take care of them.

Mike Klinzing: [00:34:04] Coach, we are so thankful that you took the time out of your schedule to jump on with us and share your wisdom. We’re humbled that you would join us on the Hoop Heads Podcast, and we cannot thank you enough for sharing with our audience of coaches and to everyone out there we appreciate you listening and we will catch you on our next episode.

Thanks.

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