Penn basketball alum Matt Maloney elected to Big 5 Hall of Fame
Former first-team all-Big 5 player will be inducted Feb. 21
February 7, 2012, 8:45 pm · Updated February 10, 2012, 1:45 am·
The years of absolute dominance by Penn basketball in the early 1990s are referred to by the names of the two stars that defined the period: The Allen-Maloney era.
Jerome Allen, the point guard, first, then Matt Maloney, his fellow guard second.
It was Allen who came to Penn in 1991 to play for then-coach Fran Dunphy, and Maloney, who transferred from Vanderbilt and joined the team in 1992.
Allen won Ivy League player of the year in ’93 and ’94, Maloney took the honor in ’95.
So it is fitting that, after Allen was inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame in 2009, Maloney will be enshrined with the class of 2012. He will be inducted in a ceremony at the Palestra on Feb. 21.
“He was everything from a guard standpoint. He defended, he had unlimited range, he could take you off the dribble,” Allen said of his former teammate. “He wasn’t a super-duper athlete in terms of playing above the rim, but he was so strong and so quick that he could get a shot off in traffic and he was tough to defend.”
Maloney, a native of Haddon Heights, N.J., is no stranger to Philadelphia basketball. His father Jim was an assistant coach under the legendary John Chaney at Temple from 1973 until his death in 1996. In Maloney’s junior and senior seasons, he was a first-team All-Big 5 selection.
Matt, who currently resides in Houston, could not be reached for comment.
After playing his freshman season at Vanderbilt, Maloney transferred to Camden Community College before joining the Quakers for the 1992-93 season. He told The Daily Pennsylvanian in 1992 that he returned to Philadelphia to be closer to home.
“I hate to use [the phrase] ‘culture shock,’ but everything’s slower down there,” he said.
From his first Red and Blue scrimmage in November 1992 to his final game, a loss to Alabama in the NCAA tournament in March 1995, he dominated Penn’s backcourt alongside Allen. The Quakers did not lose an Ivy League game during his Penn career. In three years, he finished with 244 three-pointers, now second to Tim Begley, who hit 253 in four years.
“He is probably one of the most influential people in my life, in terms of basketball,” Allen said. “How he came and just not only bought in from day one to what we were trying to do, but just his drive, his competitiveness, his skill, him as a human being, we kind of clicked from the start.”
Unlike Allen, Maloney was not drafted into the NBA, but landed on the Houston Rockets’ roster for the beginning of the 1996 season. He started all 82 games that season as the Rockets advanced to the Western Conference Finals before losing to Utah in six games. He played three seasons for Houston before moving on to Chicago and then Atlanta, where his career ended in 2003. Allen, who played for Indiana shortly after coming out of college, remembers squaring off with Maloney in the NBA.
“In Houston he had a much bigger role than I had with Indiana, but it was cool,” Allen said.
“It was a testament to coach Dunphy and coach [Fran] O’Hanlon and coach [Steve] Donahue and coach [Gil] Jackson just to have two young men that they helped groom playing at that level.”
And when Maloney is enshrined at the Palestra in two weeks, it will be a testament to his stellar career.
“I was humbled by that opportunity,” Allen said of his 2009 induction. “To just think about the number of people that have been associated with the Big 5 over the years, to be included in that company says a lot. Obviously Matt is deserving. He’s one of the all-time best to ever play and I’m happy for him.”