When St. Joseph’s and Villanova — two of the five schools making up Philadelphia’s “Big Five” — meet on the hardwood, the game is always a ‘can’t miss’ and atmosphere unparalleled.
When the game is played at St. Joseph’s Hagan Arena, there may not be another gym in the country that provides the home team with as big of an advantage, and visiting team fits.
Hagan Arena, which opened in 2009, seats only 4,200 people, but you can bet there will be more people than that figure present for tomorrow’s tilt between the Hawks and Wildcats as the game promises to be standing room only. It’s a hot ticket, and plenty of fans will be turned away as a result.
“I think getting tickets for this game is harder than getting tickets for the Super Bowl,” St. Joe’s senior forward Halil Kanacevic told Dave Zeitlin of CSNPilly.com. “I’ve literally got people calling me every day. I can’t help them out. I wish I could. I can’t even get some of my family members tickets.”
When the home team, St. Joe’s traditionally played games against Villanova at The Palestra, but beginning in 2011 played the game at Hagan Arena; the Hawks cruised to an easy 74-58.
The Hawks will look to take advantage of the home-court advantage that Hagan presents tomorrow against Villanova, who is one of the season’s early surprises with wins over Kansas and Iowa at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
Kanacevic remarked about the crowd in 2011, and what he expects Saturday’s game to bring: “It was a top-five crazy atmosphere I’ve played in. It was crazy. They said it was 4,200 people but it was definitely more than 4,200…[F]actor in they’re a ranked team coming into our gym. And then you factor in that it’s Villanova. So I don’t think you really need to say much about it.”
Villanova head coach Jay Wright is well aware of the problems Hagan presents to opposing teams. “Playing in there is wild,” Wright said. “There aren’t many places like that left anymore where they’re right on top of you and right behind the bench.”