PHILADELPHIA -- March Madness arrived five days early at McGonigle Hall.
Last night, Chaney didn't appear on the floor until five minutes before tip-off, and after a raucous recognition of his senior stars, he threaded his way through a sea of minicams to the UMass bench. He shook hands with Calipari and the two shared what appeared to be a half-hearted hug.
They weren't friendly when they met at UMass. Chaney's threats -- he said "I'll kill you" to Calipari and warned he would have his players go after Massachusetts players when they met again -- during the post-game news conference earned the Temple coach a one-game suspension.
The joke in some parts of the Atlantic 10 Conference said that Chaney's being forced to miss a trip to Olean, N.Y. (St. Bonaventure) in the dead of winter was a reward, not a punishment. Atlantic 10 commissioner Ron Bertovich came under criticism for not adding to that one-game suspension, which was levied by the Temple president.
For one night, Chaney promised to lay off on his feud with Calipari, who has taken a program that was in the doldrums six years ago to the verge of its third straight A-10 regular-season title.
The 3,900-seat McGonigle Hall was sold out long ago, but Spike Lee got in. The 1,000 Temple students allowed into the game free were seated at 7:30 p.m., two hours before the game. The pep band was playing the ESPN theme at 8:15.
Temple administrators and Chaney had spent the 11 days since his blowup pleading for calm. But the T-shirt of choice last night read "The Brawl at The Hall 2-24-94" on the front and had a "Tale of the Tape" between the two coaches on the back. It listed height, weight and age, and then added basketball accomplishments like NCAA appearances. The final item was "Favorite Food." Under Chaney it said "Fried Calipari" and under Calipari it said "Spam."
Calipari, meanwhile, let his intentions be known in yesterday's .. editions of the Philadelphia Daily News.
"I'm not in any way trying to intimidate or anything," Calipari said, "but if my team is compromised safety-wise in any way, we will walk off the floor. We will not go in the gym. If, in any way, it's compromised, we won't play the game.
"But I really feel that's not going to be the case."
Chaney seemed genuinely embarrassed that his behavior had taken the focus away from the final home game for Owls seniors Eddie Jones and Aaron McKie, and also lost in the fuss was the announcement that fund-raising for a 10,000-seat arena was proceeding.