Question: Who would have thought that, on an average summer day eight years after he had graduated, Paul Chambers would be golfing with Penn men's basketball coach Fran Dunphy? Answer: Nobody. At least not 13 years ago. You see, 13 years ago, Chambers was a freshman at Penn with only dreams of playing at the Palestra. He had been recruited to play football for the Quakers. And he did, as a safety and cornerback. But the Episcopal Academy (Pa.) graduate's football obligations caused him to miss varsity basketball tryouts. So Chambers walked on to the JV squad. It was an inauspicious beginning for Chambers, and certainly not one that hinted at any future Dunphy-Chambers golf matches. But part of the reason for that was the fact that Dunphy was not yet a coach at Penn. Tom Schneider held the Quakers' reins during the 1988-89 season - Chambers' first year at Penn - but the coach didn't exactly keep the freshman guard back. Chambers garnered some varsity minutes that first year due to injury - but it was Dunphy who allowed the undersized point guard to become a starter in his sophomore season. "Dunph was the one who gave me a chance to play, and I'm always thankful and indebted to him because of that," Chambers said. Dunphy, though, seemed to help himself out as well. By the end of his three-year career, Chambers was No. 1 on Penn's all-time assists list. His mark of 396 has since been surpassed by Jerome Allen and Michael Jordan, but Chambers still holds Penn's per-game assists record at 4.63. "Most of it was due to hard work," Dunphy said of Chambers' success. "But he had great speed and quickness, and made good decisions, and was a tough guy." And Chambers provided leadership to the pre-Allen-and-Maloney Penn team. He was captain of the 1991-92 team and helped Dunphy mold a team that would post a 42-0 Ivy League record in the three years after Chambers graduated. "He and Vince Curran [1992 Penn graduate] taught me as much about coaching basketball as I've ever learned," Dunphy said. "It was just the way they approached the game every single day. They appreciated their opportunities." That competitive flair is still evident in Chambers. Each year, he returns for the Penn alumni game. This year he ended the game on the floor in despair after his team, the Earthquakes, missed a last-second three-pointer that could have sent the game into overtime against the Jordan-led Highballers. "The competitive juices are just always in you as an athlete," Chambers said. But Chambers - who owns a commercial printing and copy business in Malvern, Pa. - doesn't play much basketball any more. He had competed in various men's leagues in Upper Marion, Pa., and Media, but now his athletic passion is golf. "In golf, you don't have to be in that good of shape," Chambers said with a laugh. He golfs occasionally with Dunphy - quite unbelievable considering what each was doing a decade-and-a-half ago. But maybe even more amazing than that was what transpired when Dunphy and Chambers hit the links in Maryland last summer. On the eighth hole, Chambers' tee shot went right into the cup. A hole-in-one for the man Dunphy describes as a "great competitor." "It was a pleasure to watch it go in," Dunphy said dryly. "Of course, I had to hear about it the whole rest of the night, too."Comments powered by Disqus
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