La Salle has (finally) decided on its next coach. After a two-week search that saw a long list of names linked to the job, and featured various twists and turns, La Salle announced the hiring of former Temple coach Fran Dunphy as its new men’s basketball coach.

After firing Ashley Howard following four seasons on March 21, La Salle opted for experience and familiarity in Dunphy rather than angling for a young up-and-comer like Colgate’s Matt Langel or Hartford’s John Gallagher. The 73-year-old Dunphy played at La Salle from 1967-70, and later did two spells as an assistant in the 1980s with the Explorers.

Dunphy, who amassed 580 wins and a .641 winning percentage over 30 seasons as a head coach at Penn and Temple, has been out of coaching since 2019.

A monumental task awaits Dunphy at 1900 West Olney Ave., as the Explorers haven’t posted a winning season since 2014-15 and haven’t won 20 games since their famous run to the Sweet 16 in 2012-13. The Explorers finished just 13-19 last season and have seen five key players already enter the transfer portal.

Dunphy’s arrival also coincides with the school’s need to raise money to help renovate Tom Gola Arena, with La Salle badly needing to upgrade its facilities to Atlantic 10 standards. Dunphy, though, has taken on tough jobs before as he replaced the legendary John Chaney at Temple, and most recently served as the interim athletic director at Temple during the pandemic.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

In honor of Fran Dunphy’s return to coaching, what coach (any sport) do you want to see make a comeback? sports.daily@inquirer.com

Extra Innings

Is Bryson Stott a star? No one knows that yet, including the Phillies, but they had no other choice but to give him a roster spot for opening day. The 2019 first-round pick’s play made that the only choice for the Phillies, who now will have to figure out playing time for Stott, who can play third base, shortstop and second, and 25-year-old third baseman Alec Bohm. We’ll find out if the decision pays off, but they needed to start the process of finding out if he belongs.

Matt Vierling wasn’t a blue-chip prospect or a sabermetrics darling. He’s just a guy who could always hit the ball really hard. Now he gets his chance with the Phillies.

What can you expect from the Phillies in 2022? We have you covered with our season preview.

Next: The Phillies’ final spring tune-up will be at 12:35 p.m. Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Early Birds

The Eagles have looked to upgrade their defense via free agency, and they’ll look to do so in the draft as well. After the trade of draft picks, here’s beat writer EJ Smith’s latest mock draft, and it includes another trade in the first round to snap up Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis.

Fletcher Cox might be returning to the Eagles on a one-year deal, but that contract length at this stage of his career suggests this will be his last year in Philly.

The Eagles on Tuesday also introduced linebacker Kyzir White, and he’s looking to be a relentless player on the field.

Off the Dribble

Doc Rivers doesn’t have any sympathy for NBA coaches who have a hard time keeping James Harden and Joel Embiid off the free-throw line. He’s been there before as a former coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, where his teams routinely ran into Harden and sent him to the foul line often.

So when asked about Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff — who was fined $15,000 — and Los Angeles Clippers Tyronn Lue making comments about how Harden and Embiid are officiated, the Sixers coach had a simple answer: “To me, stop fouling them.”

“That’s what I always say. I’m fine with no one fouling James and Joel. I would be perfectly fine with that. We’d bet that they would score more points if you didn’t.”

The Sixers’ performance Tuesday night in Indianapolis probably left the Pacers in a foul mood. Embiid scored 45 points, Tyrese Maxey added 30, and the Sixers hit a franchise-record 23 three-pointers in a victory.

Next: The Sixers play another road game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday against the Toronto Raptors, where Danny Green will likely pick up his championship ring ... from 2019 (NBCSP).

On the Fly

Ever wonder how an arena like the Wells Fargo Center can transform from hockey rink to basketball court in a matter of mere hours? Giana Han and Olivia Reiner recently got a sneak peek at the process and discovered just how much work and planning goes into it. Here’s how the changeover magic happens.

The Flyers had a few firsts on Tuesday night, but they did not add up to a victory. Noah Cates and Ronnie Attard notched their first career points in a 4-2 loss to Columbus.

Next: The Flyers will play the second of a home-and-home with the Blue Jackets on Thursday at 7 p.m. (NBCSP+).

Worth a Look

  • Piecing together the puzzle: Villanova will certainly lose two key players from its Final Four team in Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels, but the futures of Justin Moore, Caleb Daniels, and Brandon Slater remain uncertain. Mike Jensen tries to piece together what Villanova will look in 2022-23.

  • Taking over Temple: On a day when former Temple men’s coach Fran Dunphy took the coaching job at La Salle, it was also revealed that Temple’s women’s program had landed its next coach. Sources confirmed to The Inquirer that Diane Richardson, who has coached Towson for the last five seasons, will be introduced on Wednesday.

  • One-upping Wilt: Kansas big man David McCormack will not be mentioned in the same sentence as Wilt Chamberlain often, or maybe even ever again. But as Mike Sielski writes, on one night he did something the “Big Dipper” could not, leading the Jayhawks past UNC in a national title game.

  • A Philly connection to Coach K: A lot is written about Coach K’s 42 years at Duke and all the games and national championships he has won. Far less is written about his time at West Point. Matt Breen tracked down the captain of Mike Krzyzewski’s first team at Army, a Philly-area native, to discuss the life lessons he learned from the legendary coach.

Trivia Answer

Who lost to Arkansas in the 1994 national championship game? The answer of course was C: Duke. Corliss Williamson led the Razorbacks with 23 points as Nolan Richardson and the Hogs defeated Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils, 76-72.

What You’re Saying

What do you think was behind the Eagles’ decision to swap picks with the New Orleans Saints?

“I think it was excellent. They are going to give Hurts his chance, without having to look over his shoulder. They may have done this because there may [no] longer be anyone available, that they are interested in. But, they have protected themselves, if he isn’t THE guy, with ammunition for a free agent or a trade, next year. Plus a 2nd Rounder in 2024. Nobody can say Howie made a mistake with this move.” - Larry W.

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Mike Jensen, Alex Coffey, Scott Lauber, Keith Pompey, Olivia Reiner, Giana Han, Mike Sielski, Matt Breen, EJ Smith, Josh Tolentino, Jeff McLane, and Sam Cohn.