"Some of us still look pretty good," said Lamont Ferrell, the event's master of ceremonies and one of its organizers. "And some of us don't."
With that, the tall, middle-aged men pounded fists on tables, shook their heads, and shrieked in laughter. For about an hour they laughed, off and on, as former player after former player told stories about Chaney, like how he once berated a Japanese tour guide who stumbled into one of Chaney's infamous 6 a.m. practice sessions, and how the foreigners matched each ineffective F-bomb with a smile, a wave, or a camera flash.
All the while, Chaney, 80, sat at a table in the back right corner of the restaurant. Wearing a white hat, he laughed and clapped as the players he used to make tremble now roasted him.
Chaney retired in 2006 after a 40-year career coaching high school and college basketball in the Philadelphia area, the last 24 of which he spent at Temple. But when he retired six years ago, he slipped away, quietly. He doesn't like to go to many Temple games now, his daughter-in-law said, because he doesn't want to receive attention.
"I'm not the guy who wants a lot of broo-hah," he said. "I don't do that. I like to sit on the sidelines and see these guys develop and prosper like they all have."
Chaney said he likes the peace, but his players wouldn't let him have it, if only for one afternoon. Darrin Pearsall, Derrick Brantley, and Ferrell began planning the banquet in April. Pearsall and Ferrell, who used to hate each other as high school rivals at Chester and Penn Wood, have talked for years about honoring their old college coach. But they never acted on it, not until January, when Ferrell's brother, Jamar, died of lymphoma cancer.
"You just don't know how long you have left with some people," Ferrell said the day before the banquet. "I'm not suggesting that Coach is going to die anytime soon, but why wait to let him know how much we appreciate him? Why wait until it is too late?"
On Saturday, players roasted Chaney, but some also quieted the crowd by spilling their hearts to their coach. For some of the about 40 former players in attendance, they might not get another chance.
The day also gave players an opportunity to reflect on how college basketball has changed, how coaches like Cheney don't exist anymore. With the exception of Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Duane Causwell said, no coach yells at his players enough, disciplines them enough. And that, he said, means they don't love them enough.
"We have that saying, 'Without the man upstairs I'd be nothing,' " Eddie Jones said. "I'm not trying to put coach Chaney on that level, but without that man we'd be nothing. He created something for us."
Chaney, of course, was famous for his discipline, for cursing out players and for calling their sanity into question for making mistakes. But he said that was part of teaching them. Like a father, he said, he raised his players, and the tall men stand together today, like brothers.
"They seem to have the same DNA," Chaney said. "Every one of them seems to transcend from one era to another."