Jameer Nelson of Saint Joseph's (PA) was among the best of the Big 5 over the past 10 years. Who was the best?
Philadelphia's Big 5—a tradition like no other. Villanova, Temple, Saint Joseph's (PA), La Salle and the University of Pennsylvania.
This decade has seen some great teams and some great players.
One team made the Final Four: Villanova, 2009.
Three other teams made the Elite Eight: Temple, 2001; Saint Joseph's (PA), 2004; Villanova 2006.
Two other teams made the Sweet 16: Villanova 2005, Villanova 2008.
There were five AP All-Americans: Michael Bradley (2001)(Villanova), Jameer Nelson (2004)(Saint Joseph's (PA)), Randy Foye (2006)(Villanova), Allan Ray (2006)(Villanova), Scottie Reynolds (2010)(Villanova).
There were a bunch of NBA players:
Malik Allen (Villanova), Michael Bradley (Villanova), Randy Foye (Villanova), Kyle Lowry (Villanova), Allan Ray (Villanova), Dante Cunningham (Villanova), Dwayne Jones (Saint Joseph's (PA)), Delonte West (Saint Joseph's (PA)), Jameer Nelson (Saint Joseph's (PA)), Mark Jackson (Temple), Pepe Sanchez (Temple), Mardy Collins (Temple), Lynn Greer (Temple), Rasual Butler (La Salle), Steven Smith (La Salle).
So which was the best team over the past 10 years?
Who was the best player over the past 10 years?
Let the debate begin!
A phantom travel call on Allan Ray eliminated the 2005 Wildcats from the NCAA Tournament in their Sweet 16 game against eventual champion, North Carolina.
2005 was the year when Jay Wright and Villanova emerged on the national stage. And what could have been if not for Tom O'Neil's phantom travel call against Allan Ray to hand eventual national champion, North Carolina, a gift win in the Sweet 16.
- 24-8 (11-5 Big East)
- RPI 15
- SOS 9
- 5 top-50 wins
- 2 top-25 wins
- Jan. 22, 2005. Villanova trounced then-No. 1 Kansas on a snowy day in Philadelphia. The 21-point victory was a coming out party for Villanova under Jay Wright, and the Wildcats have not looked back since.
- Feb. 20, 2005. Villanova defeated top-10 Pittsburgh by eight.
- Feb. 23, 2005. Villanova defeated top-10 Boston College.
NCAA Tournament. 5 Seed.
- 1st Round: Villanova defeated Danny Granger's No. 12 New Mexico Lobos.
- 2nd Round. Villanova defeated No. 4 Florida. This would be Billy Donovan's last loss prior to his back-to-back NCAA titles.
- Sweet 16. Villanova outplayed eventual national champion, No. 1 North Carolina. Tom O'Neil called a phantom travel on Allan Ray to steal the game from Villanova.
Lunn Greer led Temple past Penn State in the 2001 Sweet 16.
The Temple Owls were the Cinderella team of the 2001 NCAA Tournament. As an 11 seed, they gave Hall of Fame coach John Chaney one final run in the Big Dance.
- 21-12 (12-4 Atlantic 10)
- RPI 38
- SOS 36
- 1 top-50 win
- 1 top-25 win
- Nov. 22, 2000. Defeated top-25 Indiana.
- March 10, 2001. Defeated UMass in the Atlantic 10 championship to sneak into the field of 64.
NCAA Tournament. 11 Seed.
- Round 1: Defeated No. 6 Texas
- Round 2: Defeated No. 3 Florida
- Sweet 16: Defeated No. 7 Penn State
- Elite 8: Lost to No. 1 Michigan State
Delonte West was a key member of the 2004 Saint Joseph's (PA) Hawks.
PERFECTION. Unfortunately, the 2004 Saint Joseph's (PA) team will always be more known for their regular-season accomplishments than their postseason accolades. The team that was at one point ranked No. 1 in the nation fell early in embarrassing fashion in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament, before losing to lesser-seeded Oklahoma State in the NCAA tournament.
- 30-2 (16-1 Atlantic 10)
- RPI 3
- SOS 46
- 5 top-50 wins
- 2 top-25 wins
- Nov. 14, 2003. Defeated Gonzaga. Gonzaga's best player, Ronnie Turiaf, did not play.
- Dec. 9, 2004. Defeated Boston College.
- March 2, 2004. Defeated Saint Bonaventure (NY) to finish the regular season undefeated.
NCAA Tournament. 1 Seed
- Round 1: Defeated No. 16 Liberty.
- Round 2: Defeated No. 8 Texas Tech.
- Sweet 16: Defeated Chris Paul's No. 4 Wake Forest. Billy Packer had spoken harshly about Saint Joseph's (PA) being undeserving of a one seed. Sweet revenge for Phil Martelli.
- Elite 8: Lost a heart-breaker to No. 2 Oklahoma State. Jameer Nelson missed the shot that would have kept Saint Joseph's season alive.
Kyle Lowry was part of Villanova's 2006 4 Guard Lineup.
Many people feel this was the best all-around team of the decade. Randy Foye, Allan Ray, Kyle Lowry and Mike Nardi made up a four-guard lineup that captivated the nation. This team spent the entire season ranked in the top five, and earned a one seed.
Both the 2004 Saint Joseph's (PA) and 2006 Villanova Wildcats were one seeds that went to the Elite Eight. The Villanova team gets the nod as they played the much tougher schedule and proved themselves a bit more over the course of the season. Villanova had a significant advantage in top 50 and top 25 wins over the course of the season. Billy Packer didn't throw a hissy fit when Villanova was awarded a one seed.
- 28-5 (14-2)
- RPI 2
- SOS 4
- 10 top-50 Wins
- 6 top-25 Wins
- Dec. 3, 2005. A Top Five matchup as Oklahoma visited Villanova's pavilion. Villanova cruised to victory behind a 30-plus-point effort by Randy Foye.
- Dec. 6, 2005. Jay Wright returned to his alma mater, Bucknell, to take on their best team in school history. Villanova cruised to victory.
- Jan. 21, 2006. Villanova defeated top-25 Syracuse.
- Feb. 7, 2006. Kyle Lowry had perhaps the greatest half of Big 5 basketball in the second half of this year's Holy War versus Saint Joseph's (PA).
- Feb. 13, 2006. Villanova defeated No. 1 UConn.
- March 5, 2006. In front of the largest on campus crowd in college basketball history, Villanova spoiled Syracuse's Gerry McNamara's senior night. (Villanova and Syracuse would go on to break this on campus crowd record in 2010.)
NCAA Tournament. One Seed.
- Round 1: Defeated No. 16 Monmouth.
- Round 2: Defeated No. 8 Arizona.
- Sweet 16: Randy Foye had one of the all time great NCAA tournament performances as Villanova defeated No. 4 Boston College in overtime.
- Elite Eight: Lost to eventual national champion Florida.
Villanova's Dante Cunningham, in one of his many NCAA Tournament wins.
Philadelphia's first Final Four team since 1985. Dante Cunningham, Scottie Reynolds, Dwayne Anderson, Shane Clark, Reggie Redding, Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher cemented their place in Philadelphia Big Five history with their impressive run to the Final Four.
- 30-8 (13-5 Big East)
- RPI 13
- SOS 31
- 9 top-50 Wins
- 5 top-25 Wins
- Jan. 28, 2009. Defeated Top Five Pittsburgh in the last game ever at the Philadelphia Spectrum. This would be a preview of phenomenal Elite Eight game.
- Feb. 7, 2009. Defeated top-10 Syracuse.
- Feb. 22, 2009. Defeated top-10 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.
NCAA Tournament. Three Seed.
- Round 1: Defeated No. 14 American University by double digits.
- Round 2: Trounced No. 6 UCLA by 20 points.
- Sweet 16: Gave No. 2 Duke their worst loss in NCAA tournament history.
- Elite 8: Defeated No. 1 Pittsburgh on a dramatic coast to coast layup by Scottie Reynolds.
- Final 4: Lost to eventual national champion, No. 1 North Carolina.
Delonte West. Philadelphia's #5 player of the past 10 years.
Delonte West joined Jameer Nelson as part of the fantastic 2004 backcourt that brought some attention to Saint Joseph's basketball.
Delonte averaged 18 points with four assists per game in his final two seasons on Hawk Hill. He was drafted No. 26 overall in the 2004 NBA draft.
Allan Ray, Villanova
While Randy Foye emerged as the go-to guy on the 2006 Villanova team, Allan Ray was the lead 'Cat on the 2005 team as well as one of the final four Naismith Award Finalists in 2006.
Ray was a fantastic shooter and a wonderful defensive weapon in Jay Wright's 2006 four-guard offense.
Jameer Nelson, Philadelphia's #3 player of the past 10 years.
Jameer Nelson was a first team All-American and future NBA All-Star. In most other cities in this country, Jameer would be No. 1 on their list of top players over the past 10 years. But this is Philadelphia, and Mr. Nelson is only No. 3 on this list.
Nelson averaged 20 ppg against Atlantic 10 competition in his final two seasons at Saint Joseph's (PA). He was a force to be reckoned with.
Jameer slips on this list for two reasons:
- Quality of competition: Jameer only beat a handful of top-25 and top-50 teams in his four years at Saint Joseph's (PA). In fact, in all four years at Saint Joseph's (PA), Jameer beat fewer top-25 and top-50 teams than Scottie Reynolds and Randy Foye defeated in several of their individual seasons. This fact cannot be ignored.
- Jameer missed his shot at greatness when he front-rimmed his shot against Oklahoma State in the 2004 Elite Eight.
And while it does not have much to do with basketball, it is a black eye to Phil Martelli's program that Jameer spent four years on campus, including summers, and never graduated. Along with Delonte West somehow staying academically eligible, one has to wonder what was going on at Saint Joseph's (PA) during this period.
Randy Foye, Villanova
Simply put, Randy Foye was a BEAST for Villanova. His dribble penetration moves were the best any player has ever displayed at the college level in the city of Philadelphia. He had a beautiful jump shot. And Foye was physical enough that at 6'4" he was able to play power forward for the Big East champion and No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Randy Foye's game against Boston College in the 2006 Sweet 16 was perhaps the best individual performance of the NCAA tournament this decade.
Randy Foye was also a fantastic student and member of the community. He has founded the Randy Foye Foundation which goes to help young people in his hometown of Newark, NJ.
Foye was the lowest NBA lottery pick among Philadelphia college players in a generation. After a fantastic start to his NBA career, and a unanimous all-rookie team selection, injuries have slowed Foye's career.
Scottie Reynolds, Philly's Finest.
When the time came for Scottie Reynolds to define himself, the first team All-American responded in spades.
There were many great Philadelphia players over the past two decades. But on March 28, 2009, Scottie Reynolds became legendary.
Scottie Reynolds was named the 2009 NCAA Eastern Regional Most Outstanding Player, an award no Philadelphia college player has earned in over two decades.
The easiest choice of all.
Six consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament.
Five times making it out of the first round.
Four times making it to the second weekend.
Two trips to the Elite Eight.
One trip to the Final Four.
2006 National Coach of the Year.
No debate on this one.