La Salle coach Fran Dunphy wins 600th career basketball game

La Salle coach Fran Dunphy applauds the team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Duke in Durham, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — La Salle coach Fran Dunphy won his 600th career game, hitting the milestone Sunday in the Explorers’ 81-62 win over Coppin State.

The 75-year-old Dunphy is the 43rd NCAA Division I coach to win 600 games.

Dunphy won 310 games as head coach at Penn from 1989-2006, and 270 at Temple from 2006-19.

“I’ve been in coaching a lot of years and am appreciative of the guys that played for me,” Dunphy said on Sunday.

Dunphy was coaxed out of retirement last season to lead the program where he served as co-captain and helped the Explorers to a 23-1 record in 1969 under coach Tom Gola. Dunphy led the Explorers to 15 wins last year and they are 5-1 this season.

Hired as coach in 1989 after one season as an assistant under Tom Schneider, Dunphy had losing seasons his first two years at Penn before leading it to a 16-10 mark in 1991-92. That started a run of Ivy League dominance that included 10 Ivy League titles.

The Quakers won 48 straight Ivy League games from 1992-96.

Dunphy succeeded Hall of Fame coach John Chaney at Temple in 2006 and led the Owls to eight NCAA Tournament appearances. He led the Owls to some of their biggest upsets, including wins over No. 3 Villanova in 2009, No. 5 Duke in 2012, No. 3 Syracuse in 2012, No. 10 Kansas in 2014 and No. 8 SMU in 2016.

He won the AAC championship in 2015-16 when the Owls went 14-4.

Dunphy also earned a master’s degree at Villanova and is the only person to coach three Big 5 teams.

La Salle won a national championship in 1954 and was national runner-ups in 1955. But NCAA Tournament trips have been quite rare through the decades. The Explorers haven’t been a part of March Madness since a Sweet 16 run in 2013. They haven’t had a winning record since 2014-15.

Yet, Dunphy explained shortly after he was hired last season he was excited about the chance to help lead La Salle toward better days on the court.

“I didn’t think it would happen like this, but there’s only one place where it would have happened, and that’s La Salle,” he said. “I appreciate their confidence that I could help. I’m doing a good job, then let me know. If it’s time for somebody else to do it, that’ll be OK, too.”

Dunphy was happy in retirement and wasn’t sure he wanted to return to coaching — even at La Salle — until “that last ask, I said, OK, I’ll try my best.”

His best has Dunphy at 600 wins and counting.

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