The Big 5: How The Philly Teams Rank in 2010-11 Season
The Big 5 might be the best rivalry in all of sports that isn't just between two teams. The formation of the Big 5 is over 55 years old, but it is as fierce now as it was then. While not every game is played at the Palestra, college basketball's version of Wrigley Field, it should be. If you have ever been to a game at the Palestra, then you know why. The schools are in such close proximity to each other, except Villanova, it adds even more fuel to the fire. The students might not have the hatred of a Duke-UNC relationship, but it does get very intense at Temple-St. Joe's games for example. Last year Temple ended Villanova's reign as the best of Big 5, by upsetting a highly rated 'Nova team in a classic Big 5 game, 75-65, and fending off the 3 teams to end up 4-0. However, that was last year, this is this year. Without further introduction, I will break down how each of the Big 5 team's year will end up.
The University of Pennsylvania had a horrendous year last year. One of the all-time Penn greats, Jerome Allen, is taking over officially as the head coach for this year, as he was the interim last year. There is reason for optimism this year because of how many people they return. The Quakers have who has a chance to be the Player of the Year in the Ivy League, and power forward Jack Eggleston, a very number two option. Let us not forget they beat a great Cornell team last year, and I don't need to remind you how good Cornell was. While they might be the smartest basketball team, they also are probably the worst. I don't see much success coming this year against the other Big 5 teams, but they do have a shot to win the Ivy League crown and should finish top four. I will say, since it is a rivalry league, that anything can happen, and I wouldn't be shocked if they beat St Josephs. Penn gets a bonus because they have the 'Denzel Power' who can often be seen at their games.(Denzel's son plays for U Penn)
Big 5 record: 0-4
Ivy League finish: 3rd
St. Joe's finished with a record of 2-2 in the Big 5 last year, including giving Temple a scare in OT. (Side note: Temple beat St. Joe's 73-46 in their first meeting but it didn't count as an official Big 5 game) They crushed Penn and LaSalle while giving Temple and Nova good games. However, they don't seem to have much talent this year. Unless Carl Jones, who can light it up at times, and Idris Hilliard can somehow find a way to lead this team, it is looking like a down year for the Hawks. It wouldn't surprise me if they ended up as a bottom four A-10 team, but Martelli is a good coach so you can never count them out. The Hawk may never die, but it might be looking comatose this year.
Big 5 record: 1-3
Atlantic 10 finish: 11th
LaSalle had a tough season last year due to the ridiculous amount of injuries they had, and they are a tough team to gauge this year. The Explorers lost their star Rodney Green who had NBA level talent, but are returning one of the best big men in the A-10 Aaric Murray. Aaric Murray is as talented as anyone he faces on the court, but some people question his fight and toughness. The success of LaSalle rides on his shoulders. If Aaric Murray plays up to his potential, LaSalle has enough of a supporting cast to do well in the A-10 and Big 5. Watch out for sophmore Devon White, who LaSalle hopes will be a huge part of their 2010-11 success.
Big 5 record: 2-2
Atlantic 10 finish: 7th
The Owls were great last year even after losing of of their all-time scorers Dionte Christmas. They finished 12th in the AP poll but were only granted a 5th seed come tournament time, and were beaten in the first round by a hot shooting Cornell. This year they lose their all-around player Ryan Brooks, but have the talent returning to do very well. Lavoy Allen, who has amazing talent, and has a good chance to be drafted along with winning A-10 player of the year, should dominate anyone he faces inside, and Juan Fernandez with another year under his belt, will form a deadly 1-2 combination. Add to that Ramone Moore, who won the 6th man of the year in the A-10, and Michael Eric, who made huge strides last year, and this is a team built to go far. Having Fran Dunphy, who might not be the best recruiter, but is certainly the best coach in the Big 5, makes this team all the more dangerous. Look for Temple to have another great year in the Big 5, trying to defend their crown, and in the A-10. Hopefully this year they can get over the hump and win a game in the dance.
Big 5 record: 3-1
Atlantic 10 finish: 2nd
The Crème de la Crème of the Big 5, and should be one of the best teams in college basketball. Yes, they lost one of the great Wildcats of all time in Scottie Reynolds but they return so much talent. Corey Fisher, for my money, is the best player in the Big East. I saw a game in high school where he dominated an OT win against OJ Mayo and Patrick Patterson, now two pros. The scary thing is that Nova has so much more besides him. Malik Wayns and Dominic Cheek round off the other pro talent on the roster, but when you add sharp shooter, Corey Stokes, and McDonalds All American JayVaughn Pinkston, it just becomes too much for other Big 5 teams to handle. What makes this Nova team special is their inside presence, the fact that they actually have good inside players like Yarou, Pena, Armwood and Sutton. If Fisher becomes the player I think he should be then look for a deep run in the NCAA tournament, and even have a shot to win the title.
Big 5 record: 4-0
Big East finish: 1st
Big 5 Awards
Player of the Year: Corey Fisher
6th man of the Year: Dominic Cheek
Coach of the Year: Fran Dunphy
All-Big 5 First Team
Corey Fisher Sr. G Villanova
Lavoy Allen Sr. F Temple
Aaric Murray Sr. F LaSalle
Maalik Wayns So. G Villanova
Juan Fernandez Jr. G Temple
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