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PHOTO: Phil Martelli ‘re-labels’ Big 5 Coach of the Year award

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Monday night the Philadelphia Big 5 held its annual postseason awards dinner, an event in which La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova get together to honor the city’s best players and teams from the season. Among those honored at the dinner was St. Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli, who after leading his team to an Atlantic 10 tournament title and the second round of the NCAA tournament was named Big 5 Coach of the Year.

However in receiving the honor Martelli made sure to show some respect to rival head coach Jay Wright, who led Villanova to a third straight Big East regular season title and the program’s second national title. Add in the fact that Villanova won the Big 5 for the third consecutive season.

So what did Martelli do with his trophy? He wrote “Jay Wright” on a Post-it note and applied it to the trophy.

The Palestra to host doubleheader in January to commemorate Big 5’s 60th anniversary

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When it comes to rivalries in college sports, the majority of them tend to focus on two programs that play on a frequent basis. That’s what makes the Big 5 different, in that it matches five programs in the Philadelphia metropolitan area (La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova) who meet annually with the winner being crowned “league” champion for that particular year.

And with the Big 5’s 60th anniversary coming in 2016, it was announced Wednesday that the Big 5 will bring back an old tradition for one night in January.

The old tradition: a doubleheader at The Palestra, which through the years has hosted many Big 5 games (including many that didn’t involve the Quakers before teams began hosting their home games on their respective campuses). The games will be held January 20, with La Salle hosting Temple and Penn hosting Saint Joseph’s.

“The Athletics Directors wanted to do something very special to celebrate this unique achievement,” Big 5 Executive Director Steve Bilsky said in the release. “We thought nothing would capture its history better than a competition to be held in the famed Cathedral of Basketball.

“The fact that we were able to pull it off in a very challenging college basketball scheduling environment is a credit to the AD’s, coaches, and conference commissioners, all of whom displayed tremendous perseverance and flexibility.”

The last time there’s been a doubleheader involving Big 5 teams was back in December 2004, with Temple beating Villanova, Penn taking care of La Salle and Saint Joseph’s falling to Drexel. Drexel, which wasn’t a Division I member when the Big 5 was created (they didn’t move up until the 1973-74 season), is also a city school but is not part of the Big 5.

This plan to bring back the Big 5 doubleheader, if only for one day, will be a fun “flashback” in a sense to what the rivalry used to be. That’s something that was lost once being in a conference took on greater importance in the 1980’s, which impacted the way in which some programs scheduled in non-conference play.

While it may be difficult for the Big 5 to go back to the days of consistent doubleheaders at The Palestra for that reason, hopefully this leads to the powers that be considering an annual doubleheader for future seasons.

Report: Freshman Kyle Green leaves Temple program

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The Temple Owls aren’t in a position where they can afford to lose too many bodies heading into the 2013-14 season. With Khalif Wyatt and three other key contributors from last season’s NCAA tournament team out of eligibility, head coach Fran Dunphy finds himself with a team that doesn’t have much depth. And the program’s taken another hit in the personnel department.

According to Josh Verlin of City of Basketball Love, 6-5 freshman guard/forward Kyle Green has decided to leave the program. Green reportedly did not accompany the team on its recent trip to Europe for personal reasons.

How much would Green have played had he decided to remain with the program? He didn’t seem to be in a position where he’d earn major minutes, but the fact of the matter is that Temple is now down to ten players with nine being on scholarship according to Nick Menta of CSN Philly.

Already in a position where they could ill afford injuries to key players such as forward Anthony Lee and guard Will Cummings, the Owls won’t have a large margin of error as they take on a schedule that includes the traditional Big 5 (La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s and Villanova) games as well as their American Athletic Conference schedule.

Temple’s trip to Europe came at the right time in regards to their adjustment to life without Wyatt and Co., as guys who were either role or seldom-used players last season will have to take on added responsibilities in 2013-14.

Temple won its finale against Perugia on Tuesday, and they also won three of four quarters in a scrimmage against Mantova earlier in the trip.

La Salle, head coach Dr. John Giannini agree to contract extension

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After leading the La Salle basketball program to its first Sweet 16 appearance since 1955, head coach Dr. John Giannini was in line to receive a reward from the school in the form of a contract extension.

On Thursday the school announced that an agreement has been reached on a multi-year extension. Since receiving his first extension in 2010, Dr. Giannini has led La Salle to a record of 60-31 with the program tallying consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time since 1990-91.

“This past season was an outstanding one for our men’s basketball team, reaching the Sweet 16 and ending the season with a national ranking,” athletic director Dr. Tom Brennan said in a statement released by the school. “More importantly, Dr. John has built a program on and off the court that gives everyone associated with La Salle great pride.

“John is a proponent of the student-athlete experience, which is very important at La Salle. We are proud to have him leading our program and look forward to his continued success.”

La Salle won 24 games in 2012-13, the program’s highest win total since the 1989-90 season, and Dr. Giannini was named Big 5 Coach of the Year. The Explorers, who lost to Final Four participant Wichita State in the West region semifinals, finished the season ranked 24th in the AP poll.

La Salle loses a very important piece in the form of leading scorer Ramon Galloway. But with guards Tyreek Duren and Ty Garland and forwards Jerrell Wright and Steve Zack all expected to return, the Explorers should be one of the better teams in the Atlantic 10 next season.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.