The Philadelphia college basketball alliance known as the Big 5 made a big announcement on Wednesday. According to a release, a tripleheader has bee scheduled for December 8th at the Palestra on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.
The traditional home of the Big 5, the Palestra will play host to two afternoon games, one between LaSalle and Drexel and another between St. Joseph’s and Penn, as well as a single evening game between Villanova and Temple.
The Villanova-Temple matchup will count toward the 2001-02 Big 5 standings, while St. Joe’s and Penn will play their Dec. 8 game in addition to their agreed-upon round-robin meeting.
The event, billed as “The Big 5 Basketball Classic,” is aimed at revitalizing the Big 5 partnership in a changing college basketball world.
“Philadelphia is rich in sports history,” said Big 5 executive director Paul Rubicam in the release. “The Big 5 is a big part of that history and possesses a unique tradition unlike any in the nation. Because of this tradition, , a solid foundation is already in place to grow the Big 5 and we think that the Big 5 tripleheader is the first step in the growth process.”
Rubicam said that the tripleheader is not designed to replace the traditional round-robin play, but to enhance it.
One of the interesting aspects of the event is the fact that it will first take place in a season that features three new Division I head basketball coaches in Philadelphia.
James “Bruiser” Flint will be just underway as the new coach at Drexel after several years at Massachusetts. Former Villanova assistant Jay Wright will be settling in as the Wildcats new head man, and Billy Hahn will also be at the start of his first season fronting the LaSalle program.
Flint, Wright and Hahn join Temple’s John Chaney, St. Joseph’s Phil Martelli and Penn’s Fran Dunphy in a Big 5 coaching corps that has always been rich in tradition.
With the tripleheader, many college basketball fans will be getting their first close look at these new faces, after several seasons of alliance-wide coaching stability. Before this year, St’ Joe’s was the last Big 5 school (excluding Drexel) to change coaches when, in 1996, John Griffin resigned as head coach of the Hawks, making was for his top assistant, Martelli.