Don Casey's coaching assessment of Don Casey the player at Camden Catholic High School was candid.

"I didn't complain about a lack of playing time because I wasn't good enough to be involved," Casey said by phone from his San Diego home.

Casey's work as a coach was much different. He began his coaching career at Bishop Eustace High and ended it in the NBA. But it was in the middle, at Temple, when he earned a national reputation as one of the great zone-defense minds in the country.

Casey, whose last season on North Broad Street was 1981-82, went 151-94 in nine seasons at Temple. He guided the Owls to one trip to the NCAA tournament and three to the NIT in an era when postseason berths weren't as accessible as they are today.

Casey, 81, is one of 10 members of the 2018 Temple Athletics Hall of Fame class. The induction will take place Friday at Temple's main campus. On Saturday, the class will be honored during Temple's homecoming football game at noon against Cincinnati at Lincoln Financial Field.

"It's a great honor," Casey said of his induction.

Don Casey on the Temple sidelines in 1976.
TEMPLE UNIVERSITY
Don Casey on the Temple sidelines in 1976.

Also being inducted are gymnastics Olympian and national champion Rozanne Pierce, lacrosse All-American twin sisters Alex Ovchinnikoff Squeri and Claudia Ovchinnikoff, wrestling All-American Tony Mantella, National Wrestling Hall of Famer Phil Richards, quarterback and Canadian Football League star Henry Burris, baseball standout Tom Whalen, volleyball record-holder Mary Beth Wilson and basketball player Rick Reed, who was coached by Casey.

After seven seasons coaching at Bishop Eustace, Casey went to Temple as Harry Litwack's assistant in 1967. He served in that role until he was hired as head coach before the 1973-74 season. His best year was 1978-79, when Temple went 25-4 and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

"One of my great memories was that season we beat St. Joe's to get into the NCAAs," Casey recalled. "It was a tight game."

It was the East Coast Conference championship game, and Temple won, 61-60, to earn the automatic berth. The Owls then dropped a 75-70 decision to St. John's in a first-round NCAA game.

Casey left Temple after the 1982 season when former La Salle coach Paul Westhead, then head coach of the NBA's Chicago Bulls, hired him as an assistant coach. That began a string of 17 straight years in the NBA.

After one season in Chicago, Casey spent six years with the Clippers in San Diego and then Los Angeles, including the final year and a half as head coach. That was followed by six years as an assistant with the Boston Celtics and finally four seasons with the New Jersey Nets, including the final year and a half as head coach.

He is Temple's only basketball coach to serve as an NBA head coach.

Casey said he enjoyed all his coaching stops, but Temple was special. He coached in an era when the Big Five teams played doubleheaders at the Palestra.

"It was really neat," he said about the Palestra games. "Not only were the games great, but the Big Five luncheons were terrific. One day, they were your enemy, and two days later, win or lose, you were sitting with the other coaches at a luncheon. I had so many great memories from my time at Temple."

For more information on the induction ceremony, contact Lucy Cruz at lucy.cruz@temple.edu.