Jay Norman, an all-time great Temple University basketball player and assistant coach, died on Saturday Feb. 6, 2021. He was 87.
“Jay was not only a great basketball player, but [he was] a wonderful man who was loved by all,” acting director of athletics Fran Dunphy said in a statement. “He was an integral part of Temple basketball for four decades, starring as a player under Harry Litwack in the 1950s and then serving as an assistant coach for 21 years under [head coaches] Litwack, Don Casey and John Chaney. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”
Norman, who played for the Owls from 1955-56 through the 1957-58 season, helped Temple advance to two NCAA Final Fours. He played with Naismith Basketball Memorial Hall of Fame guard Guy Rodgers and Temple great Hal Lear during is career. Norman's teams put together a 74-16 record over those three years, winning a then record 27 games in each Final Four appearance (1956 and 1958).
Norman, a 6-foot-4 forward, played a lot bigger than his height. He was the first 1,000-point, 1,000-rebound player in Temple history. He scored 1,024 points and grabbed 1,019 rebounds during his career.
He was twice named first team All-Philadelphia Big 5. Norman was chosen in the seventh round of the 1958 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia Warriors. He would later play professional basketball in the Eastern League prior to joining Litwack as an assistant coach for the 1967-68 season. Norman worked mostly with Temple's big men. His tutelage helped John Baum become a 1,000-point, 1,000-rebound standout. Baum led Temple to the 1969 NIT championship.
“Jay Norman was a major reason [why] my 1969 team won the NIT championship,” said Baum, a longtime Owls’ radio color analyst and former NBA veteran in a statement. “His invaluable teaching to me and the rest of my teammates was the difference between winning and losing. He personally was the key to my success.”
In addition to helping Temple win the NIT, Norman was also on the staff for 13 other postseason trips. He was on the staff of Temple’s 1987-88 team that finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the nation. That squad was the first of Chaney’s five NCAA Final Eight teams.
Norman, a member of both the Temple Athletics and Philadelphia Big 5 Halls of Fame, would later serve a brief stint as the radio color analyst for the Temple basketball broadcasts. Norman was also inducted into the Temple Basketball Ring of Honor in 2016.
“There have been many great players to have worn the Cherry and White, and Jay Norman is clearly right there among them,” Temple head coach Aaron McKie said in a statement. “Unfortunately, I never saw him play, but his legend has been passed on from generation to generation of Temple players. As a man, he always carried himself with grace and dignity. A true ambassador for Temple Basketball and Temple University. He will be deeply missed.”