"He's been a great, longtime friend," Speedy Morris said Wednesday about Chaney. "I admire and respect him. He tells people I'm his brother. That's how he introduces me, 'my brother Speedy.' For him to take the initiative to nominate me, it meant a lot. I'm really humbled by it and it means a lot coming from John Chaney."
Morris, 70, who is about to begin his 12th season as head coach at St. Joseph's Prep, has posted 904 victories in 44 seasons of coaching, all in the area. He spent 27 seasons coaching at Roman Catholic, Penn Charter, and the Prep. He also spent 17 years in the college ranks with the La Salle women's and men's teams.
Chaney, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001, got the campaign rolling last summer after he said he realized "Speedy should have been in the Hall of Fame before me."
"My God, his overall commitment and the overall fulfillment of what he has done in coaching . . . I mean, you can go back as far as you can; this guy was instrumental in the lives of thousands of guys and kids," Chaney said. "He impacted me when I was coaching Gratz many years ago in high school. He's a special human being . . . a guy I love like a brother.
"I found when you get Keith on something, he's like a possum or a groundhog or something. He just dug himself right into a situation where we sent out almost an encyclopedia. Everything in that portfolio is outstanding. They cannot refuse this man."
Eighty-seven coaches are members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, with Chaney joining fellow Philadelphia legends Harry Litwack, Herb Magee, and Jack Ramsay. Three of the inducted coaches worked in high school - Morgan Wootten of DeMatha (Md.), Bob Hurley of St. Anthony (N.J.), and Ernest Blood of Passaic and St. Benedict (N.J.).
"I've coached against Morgan - he's a good friend - and I met Bobby when he first started," Morris said. "That school [St. Anthony] wouldn't be there if it wasn't for Bobby Hurley. He is one of the great coaches of all time."
Even with all the winning he has done at the high school level, Morris said he believes that two of the most important seasons of his career were the two he experienced coaching the women at La Salle, where he was 43-17 from 1984 through 1986.
"Those were great years," he said. "I wouldn't have gotten the men's job if it wasn't for what the women did. I'll always be indebted to those women."
The process from nomination to induction can be a tedious one. A screening committee considers the new and holdover nominees and announces the names of Hall of Fame finalists in February. Those names are considered by a 24-member election committee, with 18 votes needed for induction. The winners are announced in April at the NCAA Final Four.
Morris attended the induction ceremonies for Chaney and former Princeton coach Pete Carril, and recalled the trips as "fantastic weekends." He said his philosophy is to take it as it comes.
"The committee has got a tough job with people being nominated," he said. "If I get in, I'll be very, very, very happy. If I don't, I'll respect the decision they make. But it's an honor to be nominated."
Chaney is hopeful.
"The committee is going to take a strong look at Speedy and his contribution," he said. "I've never seen anything like his portfolio. If you see it, it will blow your mind. I'm going to be [upset] if anybody votes against him."
A Celebration of Speedy
Speedy Morris' career highlights:
Career record: 904-388 in 44 seasons as head basketball coach.
First coach in NCAA history to go from coaching women to men.
Career-victories leader at La Salle University (men) and St. Joseph's Prep.
Winningest coach in the 93-year history of the Philadelphia Catholic League.
Winningest coach in Philadelphia high school boys' history (623-169).
St. Joseph's Prep: 235-73 (12th season)
Penn Charter: 41-14 (two seasons)
Roman Catholic: 347-82 (14 seasons)
La Salle University men: 238-202 (15 seasons)
La Salle University women: 43-17 (two seasons)
Contact Joe Juliano at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @joejulesinq.