Atlantic 10 to induct first class of men’s hoops pioneers
John Chaney, former Temple head coach and Hall of Famer, leads the Atlantic 10 Conference inaugural class of Men’s Basketball Legends. The 2013 class includes 16 former players and coaches who made an immeasurable impact on each A-10 institution and its basketball program.
“The considerable contributions each of these gentlemen made to their institution and its basketball program played in an important role in shaping the foundation of men’s basketball in the Atlantic 10,” stated A-10 commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade. “Whether it was building a program that eventually became a founding member or furthering the conference as it grew into a basketball power, each of the honorees is a part of the fabric of A-10 history and we’re thrilled to be able to honor them.”
The Men’s Basketball Legends will be honored on March 16 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. prior to the 2013 men’s championship semifinals. The group includes 11 former players, three head coaches and two individuals who were both a player and a coach for their respective institutions.
Chaney led the Owls to 516 wins, 17 NCAA tournament appearances and five trips to the Elite Eight in his 24 years at the helm (1982–2006). The school’s all-time winningest basketball coach, who retired in 2006 with 741 career wins over 34 seasons, earned consensus National Coach of the Year honors in 1988, the year he guided Temple to its first and only No. 1 national ranking. He also earned USBWA National Coach of the Year honors in 1987.
In all, he led Temple to 23 postseason appearances in 24 seasons. He won 296 Atlantic 10 Conference games and was named A-10 Coach of the Year a record five times. His Temple teams won eight regular season Atlantic 10 titles and six A-10 tournament championships.
There’s plenty of local flavor with this class. Tom Gola and Mike Bantom will be honored as well. Gola is the NCAA’s all-time leading rebounder, pulling down 2,201 in his four-year career. The 6-foot-6 forward is the third all-time scorer at La Salle, pouring in 2,461 points in his career (18.7 ppg), while leading the Explorers to the 1952 NIT championship and 1954 NCAA championship.
Gola was a four-time All-American and was named National Player of the Year in 1955. La Salle compiled a 102-19 record during Gola’s playing career, two of those seasons under his captainship. A jack of all trades, Gola tried his hand at coaching too, compiling a 37-13 record as head coach at La Salle from 1968 to 1970. A 1961 La Salle Hall of Athletes inductee, his No. 15 jersey is retired and hangs from the rafters in the building named after him, Tom Gola Arena.
Gola was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in 1975 and is also a member of the Big 5 Basketball Hall of Fame, the Helms College Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. He was ranked 17th on ESPN’s “Countdown to the Greatest” college basketball players. Gola led La Salle High School to a Philadelphia Catholic league championship during his prep career and still resides locally, along with his wife Caroline.
Bantom was one of the greatest post players in Saint Joseph’s history. He earned All-American honors in 1972–73, was named to the NABC All-District first team twice, and was also selected to Philadelphia’s All-Big 5 first team as a junior and senior.
The three-time All-Middle Atlantic Conference selection ranks as the Hawks’ second leading all-time rebounder with 1,151 and is ninth in career points with 1,684. He averaged a double-double in his career with 20.0 points and 13.7 rebounds.
He led Saint Joseph’s in rebounding all three seasons and in scoring as a sophomore and junior, and posted career-best averages of (21.8) points per game and (14.8) rebounds per game in his junior year. He was selected by the Phoenix Suns in the first round (8th pick) of the 1973 NBA Draft, and tallied more than 8,500 points and 4500 rebounds in a nine-year NBA career with five different teams.
Bantom capped his career as a member of the 1982 Philadelphia 76ers team that reached the NBA Finals. He also played professionally in Italy, and was the first and only SJU player to be a member of the U.S. Olympic team, with his participation in the 1972 Summer Games.
He was inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame in 1979 and into the SJU Basketball Hall of Fame in 1981. He was also inducted into the Saint Joseph’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000. His uniform number (44) was retired by the school on March 1, 2003.
The other inductees include Paul D. “Tony” Hinkle (Butler), Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell (Charlotte), Donald “Monk” Meineke (Dayton), Chuck Cooper (Duquesne), Johnny Bach (Fordham), Arnold “Red” Auerbach (George Washington), Lou Roe (Massachusetts), Steve Chubin (Rhode Island), Johnny Newman (Richmond), Earl Belcher (St. Bonaventure), Anthony Bonner (Saint Louis), Gerald Henderson (VCU) and George “Skip” Prosser (Xavier).