Off Campus: Penn assistant tweets sayings of ex-Temple coach Chaney

Posted: December 27, 2011

Penn assistant basketball coach Dan Leibovitz said he used to mock anyone who was on Twitter - until he began tweeting himself.

Earlier this fall, after a Quakers player was late for a team function, Leibovitz, a former 10-year Temple assistant under John Chaney, tweeted, " 'Late is another word for fail' - Coach Chaney."

Leibovitz had only about 20 Twitter followers at the time, he said, but Quakers senior point guard Zack Rosen was one of them, and Rosen told Leibovitz something like, "We need more of that, more Chaney."

Leibovitz realized that Twitter and Chaney were an interesting marriage. He began tweeting one Chaney-ism every morning and is still doing it. At last check, @Coach_Lebo had 260 followers, including former Temple players who have signed on, college coaches from around the country, some high school coaches, and several international followers.

I covered Chaney during his last 10 years at Temple and developed a working theory: Every time I thought Chaney was crazy, he'd show he knew exactly what he was doing. And every time I thought he knew exactly what he was doing, he'd do something that made me believe he was crazy. I still think Chaney liked that equation. With a couple of notable exceptions, keeping everyone off balance worked for him.

Leibovitz's tweets show the philosophizing side of the Hall of Fame coach. Leibovitz, who went on to become head coach at Hartford after Temple - and has a son with the middle name Chaney - said he has books of what Chaney said at practices, but he's never had to refer to them. The tweets are the Chaney-isms he won't soon forget.

"You must buy what I'm selling. If I tell you a flea can pull a plow - hitch 'em up!!"

"If you don't like somebody in this room, u must find something to like about him. Fall in love with his big toe if you have to."

"Face up to your problems. A MAN walks in and out of the FRONT door. A RAT is always looking for another hole."

Leibovitz said he often tweets a thought that has something to do with a situation facing the Quakers - "I'll just hear what he'd say." Many are basic X and O basketball tweets.

"Sooner or later all basketball comes down to one thing - Pick and Roll. It is still the hardest action to defend."

"You can't stop everything. What are you willing to give up?"

Of course, the basketball tweets often are delivered in Chaney fashion.

B aware of surroundings+situation on floor. "Can't see 9 guys in a dark alley w/ baseball bats+ask 'em- Where's the game y'all?"

There was one tweet Leibovitz thought twice about hitting the send button on, but decided to do it and it "flipped the most interest," he said, getting retweets and more followers. It was this one:

"Off the ball defenders must have their head on a swivel - like a white guy walkin' through North Philly."

If Chaney detractors want to use that as evidence that Chaney is racist, anybody who spent time around him would laugh at you. He is entirely capable of judging people as individuals. Of course, he had biases of a different kind.

"The great athletes are pigeon-toed like Jackie Robinson. If you see a kid whose feet stick out like a duck - keep on walkin'."

"You must recruit toughness. I want guys with teeth in their stomach."

Leibovitz said that he told Chaney what he was doing, that his former boss was a little hazy on how exactly Twitter worked, but that he liked the concept of getting the word out. He asked only that Leibovitz not tweet a couple of things he'd said. (We'll assume that certain Chaney adjectives might not be fit for a wider audience, as much as that audience might enjoy them.)

Political correctness was never Chaney's thing. Like his advice for freshmen that was tweeted: "Find an ugly girl who can type."

Woven in are some of the classics heard by his players over and over.

"Stupid is forever."

"Our WILL will be greater than our SKILL."

"Make yourself indispensable. If you do 1 thing well; do that 1 thing well every day. I should look down bench + know what I'm getting."

With Chaney, you never quite knew. That's why @Coach_Lebo keeps picking up followers, tweeting such Chaney chestnuts as "Go with the known, leave the unknown alone."

Leibovitz figures he has about 30 or 40 tweets left in him off the top of his head, but then again he isn't sure he'll ever run out. He said Penn head coach Jerome Allen, while not a Twitter guy himself, enjoys them and encourages them.

"He thinks I should write a book," Leibovitz said.


Contact Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489, mjensen@phillynews.com or @jensenoffcampus on Twitter. Read his "Off Campus" columns at www.philly.com/offcampus

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