Penn men's basketball is one of the most decorated programs in the Ivy League, having won 21 outright league titles in addition to several deep March Madness runs. Over the years, numerous talented men have been at the helm of the team that calls the Palestra home. We take a look at Red and Blue's greatest coaches of all time.
Honorable Mention — Lon Jourdet, 1914-20, 1930-43
Jourdet coached the Quakers in two separate stints for a total of 19 seasons. His first run started poorly with a 9-10 finish in 1915, but ended on a high note with the 1920 season where the Quakers finished 21-1 and went undefeated in the Eastern Intercollegiate League. His second spell as Penn head coach was more inconsistent, with the team only finishing with a winning record in five out of thirteen seasons. A highlight of Jourdet’s second stint was the 1937 season where Penn finished 17-3 overall and went 12-0 in EIL play.
5. Howie Dallmar — 1948-54
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Dallmar’s Penn coaching career is that during his tenure he was also playing professional basketball for the Philadelphia Warriors and coaching baseball for the Quakers. Dallmar held a 105-51 record in the EIL as a coach for Penn basketball, helping lead the team to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1953.
Dallmar was posthumously inducted into the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.
4. Jack McCloskey — 1956-66
Coaching Penn for ten seasons, McCloskey was the key to transforming a decent Penn basketball program into an Ivy League powerhouse heading into the 1970s. McCloskey’s first year as coach was not particularly impressive; in that 1957 season, the Quakers went 7-19 overall and 3-11 in Ivy League play. After average years in 1958 and 1959, McCloskey led an era of seven straight winning seasons. In 1966, he helped Penn to its first Ivy League Championship, and in 1963, its first Philadelphia Big 5 title.
McCloskey’s final year as head coach, 1966, reflected the impact he had on the program. The team finished with an impressive 19-6 overall record and 12-2 against Ivy League opponents — the most conference wins since the 1937 season.
McCloskey would go on to coach the Portland Trail Blazers, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Indiana Pacers before becoming the Detroit Pistons' general manager. As GM, he would partner with another former Penn head coach in Chuck Daly to win back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990.
McCloskey was inducted into the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.
3. Chuck Daly — 1971-77
Though Daly’s coaching resume may be more accomplished than others on this list, there were two other coaches who just beat him out.
Overall, Daly was an impressive coach while at Penn. He holds one of the best win-loss ratios in Penn history, recording 125 wins to only 38 losses. He helped the team to four Ivy League titles and four NCAA Tournament appearances in his six years. Additionally, he led the team to an Elite Eight appearance in 1972.
After coaching at Penn, Daly continued his success in the NBA. In the 1977 NBA season, he became an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers and proceeded to coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers, New Jersey Nets, Detroit Pistons, and Orlando Magic. In Detroit, Daly had the greatest success, managing to win two NBA championships with the Pistons in 1988 and 1989, getting through Michael Jordan on the way.
Daly’s most iconic coaching position, however, would not come until 1992, the year in which he took the head coach position for the USA’s Olympic Basketball Team. That team, which would go on to be known as the Dream Team had all-time NBA talents such as Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, and Charles Barkley. Led by Jordan and Daly, the team won the 1992 Olympic gold medal in Barcelona.
Daly was inducted into the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.
2. Bob Weinhauer — 1977-82
The 1978 season was Weinhauer’s first as head coach after being promoted from assistant coach. That season, Weinhauer would continue Penn’s Ivy League dominance, winning the Ivy League title and beating St. Bonaventure in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
What Weinhauer is best known for, however, is coaching the historic 1979 Penn team to a Final Four run. The Quakers went 13-1 in the Ivy League and entered the NCAA Tournament seeded ninth in their region. The Quakers squad established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in defeating Iona in the first round and top-seeded North Carolina, 72-71, in the second round. Penn’s 1979 win against UNC at Raleigh’s Reynolds Coliseum still stands as the Tar Heels’ only in-state playoff loss in tournament history. The Quakers would advance to the Final Four before falling to No. 4 ranked Duke, 84-80.
In Weinhauer’s five years at the helm, the Quakers won five Ivy League titles, made four NCAA Tournament appearances, won the Philadelphia Big 5 Tournament twice, and went undefeated at the Palestra (35-0).
Weinhauer was inducted into the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.
1. Fran Dunphy — 1989-2006
Dunphy was the head coach of Penn basketball for 17 seasons, in which he won ten Ivy League titles, 310 games — the most by any Penn coach — and had five undefeated seasons in the Ivy League during his tenure. With Jerome Allen as a freshman in the 1992 season, the player-coach combination partnered for a record 48-game winning streak in the Ivy League from 1992 to 1996.
The Quakers also reached the NCAA Tournament on nine occasions with Dunphy as head coach.
Dunphy was perhaps best known for his recruiting. His ability to attract historic talents such as Jerome Allen, Michael Jordan (not that one), and Ugonna Onyekwe helped him pivot the Penn basketball program from an average Ivy League team in the late 1980s to an Ivy League powerhouse in the 1990s. Additionally, he helped develop several Quakers into NBA caliber players.
After Dunphy’s departure for Temple in 2006, it took over a decade for the Quakers to win another Ivy League title, speaking to the impact he had on the program.
Dunphy entered the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017, as the winningest coach in Penn history. He has been the acting Athletics Director for the Owls since June.