Chaney's career over as Temple falls in NIT first round

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- John Chaney missed a scary ending to his Hall of Fame career.

The Hall of Fame coach skipped Temple's 80-73 overtime loss to Akron in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament on Tuesday night because of his wife's health issues and missed star guard Mardy Collins leaving the game on a stretcher with an apparent neck injury.

Chaney retired Monday after 24 seasons at Temple, ending a 34-year coaching career that reached 741 wins but never the Final Four. Chaney was not on the bench because his wife underwent a procedure for an undisclosed health problem. Assistant Dan Leibovitz took his place.

"The emotion of this week has been overwhelming," Leibovitz said. "It's like losing someone in your family."

Chaney also missed quite a serious scare with about 30 seconds left in the game for one of his favorite players. Collins -- a projected NBA first-round pick -- crashed hard on a driving layup attempt and lay face down for several minutes.

With his pregnant fiancee looking on from behind the basket, Collins was turned over and tended to by Temple's medical staff for about 20 minutes before he was fitted for a neck brace and left on a stretcher.

Collins was Temple's (17-15) leading scorer with 16.6 points. He finished with 22 points and eight rebounds.

There was no foul called on the play and the game was not televised, making it difficult to tell exactly how he landed. He was taken to Temple University Hospital and there was no immediate word on his condition. Athletic director Bill Bradshaw and Leibovitz said Collins had movement and was responsive. Chaney was on his way to the hospital.

"This is your biggest nightmare as a coach," Leibovitz said. "The kid's going to make a lot of money. Right now I don't care about that game. With 30 seconds left, essentially, in your career ... he's going to be all right. It's not a great feeling."

Leibovitz said Chaney was in great spirits earlier in the day and his wife's procedure went well.

The locker room was somber, a third straight season ending without a postseason win and their best player and coach nowhere around.

"Mardy's tough, man, he's tough," said Mark Tyndale, who led the Owls with 23 points. "Hopefully he'll be all right and this don't mess up his NBA chances."

It all overshadowed quite a win for the Zips, playing in their first postseason tournament since 1988-89 and winning their first career postseason game in the Division I era (1980-81). Akron had played in two NITs and one NCAA Tournament, in 1986 under Bob

Akron (23-9) plays Thursday night at Creighton (19-9).

"For us to come in after 17 years of never being in the postseason since Coach Huggins was here, you couldn't write a better script then to play Temple," Akron coach Keith Dambrot said. "For a fledgling group like us, to come in and be able to play them is just a great honor."

Darryl Peterson and Nick Dials each scored 17 points for the Zips.

Collins' jumper with 35 seconds left in regulation put the Owls ahead 66-64 and seemed poised to give Chaney a chance to coach another day. Instead, Dru Joyce's layup tied it with nine seconds left and sent the game into overtime.

Romeo Travis opened overtime with a three-point play for the Zips, and Cedrick Middleton hit a 3-pointer to give them a six-point lead.

"That's embarrassing, losing in the first round to Akron," Tyndale said. "They're a good team, they play hard, but we've been going through a lot of things as a team."

The Owls caught a discouraging view of life without Chaney. There were barely 1,000 fans in the stands, and there was no audible cussing or foot stomping coming from across the court on Temple's bench.

He was still introduced as their coach, but there was no other recognition for Chaney. The Elite Eight, conference championship and Hall of Fame banners served as the only reminder of Chaney's storied stamp on the program.

Bob Knight, Eddie Sutton, Lute Olson and Mike Krzyzewski are the only active coaches with more career victories.

This season, Temple made the NIT for the fifth straight season, a dramatic decline for a program that was once an NCAA Tournament regular.

Chaney's last game was a 79-53 loss to Saint Joseph's on Friday night in the Atlantic 10 tournament semifinals in Cincinnati.