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It was the fall of 1977 when Chuck Daly -- owner of 125 wins, four Ivy League titles and a place in Penn lore as one of the greatest head basketball coaches in the history of the program -- called a team meeting.

His players sat in front of him, resting on their locker room stools, unaware of the bombshell they were about to receive.

"He started talking about the 76ers and we all said to ourselves, 'Where was this thing going?'" remembers Stan Green, a shooting guard and a pesky defender from 1974-78.

And then Chuck Daly delivered the message, clear and succinct. He would be leaving his post at Penn to become an assistant coach with the Sixers, and Bob Weinhauer, a Quakers assistant, would be taking over.

"Our mouths were all wide open," says Green. "[Weinhauer] had a reputation for being tough...

"It turns out he was exactly what we needed."

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It's only fitting that Bob Weinhauer will be inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame -- at halftime of tomorrow's Penn-St. Joe's game -- a year after his mentor and predecessor, Chuck Daly, received the very same honor.

After all, when Rollie Massamino left Penn to take over the head coaching vacancy at Villanova, it was Daly who gambled on a little-known high school basketball coach from Long Island to replace him.

It was Daly who brought Weinhauer to the city, the gym, the team that would change his life.

It was Daly, with Weinhauer's assistance, who recruited the coveted Class of '79, arguably the greatest crop of talent ever to grace the Palestra hardwood.

When Daly moved on to test his luck in the NBA that fall of '77 after a disappointing season that saw the Quakers finish second to Princeton, it was Weinhauer who was faced with the daunting task of filling Daly's very large shoes.

"I had coached for 12 years prior to coming to Penn. You have to have confidence in your own abilities," Weinhauer said Wednesday night from his home in Savannah, Ga. "The thing that I tried to do was to get the players to play with a great deal of determination and enthusiasm."

And quite different from Daly's walk-it-up and pound-it-in halfcourt offense, Weinhauer opened up the floor and let his talented players control the flow of the game.

The results? Four Ivy League championships in 5 years, two Big 5 titles and the most miraculous season this campus has ever seen.

"He made the game enjoyable again," said James "Boony" Salters, a guard from 1975-79. "And we responded."

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Bob Weinhauer wasn't much the intimidating presence.

His tussled hair, never in a clean part, and bushy eyebrows matched his short, modest frame. "He wouldn't like me saying this," said Tony Price, a co-captain on the '79 team, "but he didn't look like much of an athlete."

He didn't like to raise his voice or scream or holler. He didn't throw chairs or butt heads or throw tantrums.

"He didn't like all of that showtime stuff. He discussed things with us like we were men, and that got the most out of us," Price said. "Chuck [Daly] was more flash and show, Weinhauer was more laid back."

If a player made a mistake, Weinhauer would let him know about it, but in a way that was characteristic of his demeanor.

"He'd say to the team during a timeout, 'I'm not going to name any names, but if Green didn't miss those foul shots...,'" Green recalled with a hearty laugh. "But he always had the players best interests at heart."

But his players also knew when they did something right. They'd see a big, distinctive smile plastered across their coach's face, which typified the special rapport Weinhauer had with his players.

"That smile and that wink," Green said. "Like we got everything under control."

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What Weinhauer was able to do in his first two years as Penn's head coach is nothing short of astonishing.

He took an Ivy League team into the NCAA tournament against the very best teams in the nation -- and he expected to win.

In 1978, Weinhauer's troops advanced to the second round of the tournament, where they ran into No. 1 seed and basketball powerhouse Duke. The Quakers played the Blue Devils tight, but let the game slip away in the end.

Still, that game showed the team -- and the nation -- that Penn basketball was for real.

"Coach instilled in us the confidence that we could beat those guys," said Green. "It doesn't matter if they were ACC and we were Ivy League. We can beat anyone we played."

The following year, the Quakers did almost that.

After winning a second straight Ivy crown in 1979, Penn upset Jim Valvano's Iona squad -- "After we won that game," Weinhauer said, "I knew we were good enough to win the East [Regional]" -- shocked No. 1 seed North Carolina to advance to the Sweet 16, and then dispatched of Syracuse and St. Johns to earn their first-ever berth to the Final Four.

The Final Four.

"You can't imagine the enthusiasm and the excitement,"

Weinhauer said. "The campus was on fire."

Penn ran out of magic when they ran into Magic Johnson and the Michigan St. Spartans, but the '79 team will always be remembered for its unprecedented and historical run to a place that nobody thought they could reach.

Nobody, of course, except for Bob Weinhauer.

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Weinhauer left the Palestra after the 1981-82 season to become the head coach at Arizona State.

He since has had a distinguished career at the professional level, as the assistant coach or general manager of five NBA teams, including the two Houston Rockets championship teams of the mid-90's.

But Weinhauer will always remember his West Philly roots.

"I look at my nine years at Penn as a turning point in my life," he said, now retired after his most recent stint as general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks. "It was an educational opener, a growth opener, and an opportunity for other things that came after Penn."

"We've got a secret" -- that was the motto of that miraculous '79 team. "The secret was we knew how good we were," Salters said. With a damn good coach.

Well, the secret is out.

Welcome back to the Palestra, Mr. Weinhauer.

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