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.

Late Night Snacks: No. 2 Duke rolls, freshmen step up for Florida State, Georgetown

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GAME OF THE DAY: Delaware State 77, Penn 75 (OT)

Just one game went to overtime Saturday and this was it, with the Hornets forcing the extra session after trailing by eight with 6:30 remaining in regulation. DeAndre Haywood finished the game with a team-high 23 points for Delaware State, and he also accounted for five rebounds, four assists and four steals on the afternoon. Tony Hicks paced the Quakers with 31 points, but Penn failed to win their home opener despite rebounding 47.7% of their missed shots.


1. No. 2 Duke 109, Fairfield 59

One night after ripping apart Presbyterian, Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils did the same to a Fairfield team that hung around for most of the first half. Justise Winslow led the way for Duke with 18 points, and in total four starters scored in double figures for the Blue Devils. Duke shot 64.5% from the field and 55 percent of their made field goals were assisted.

2. Florida State 81, Manhattan 66

The Seminoles got off to a slow start against the defending MAAC tournament champions, but thanks in large part to the boost provided by their freshmen took control of things late in the first half. Freshmen Robbie Berwick (11 points) and Phil Cofer (four points, six rebounds) and sophomore Dayshawn Watkins (three points, three steals) factored into a 19-1 run that turned a four-point deficit into a 14-point lead for the home team. Six players finished the game in double figures for Florida State, which limited Manhattan to 28.6% shooting from the field.

3. Georgetown 83, St. Francis-Brooklyn 62

The big development in this win was the play of freshman L.J. Peak, who shot 9-for-9 from the field and finished with a game-high 23 points. D’Vanutes Smith-Rivera scored just eight points, but the preseason Big East Player of the Year dished out six assists with just one turnover.


1. L.J. Peak (Georgetown) 

23 points (9-for-9 FG) and three assists in the Hoyas’ 83-62 win over St. Francis-Brooklyn.

2. Obi Egemano (Oral Roberts) 

26 points, seven rebounds and four assists in ORU’s 77-68 win over Tulsa.

3. Jordan Mickey (LSU)

21 points (9-for-11 FG), six rebounds and six assists in the Tigers’ 93-82 win over Gardner-Webb.


1. Ashton Moore (The Citadel) 

Shot 4-for-19 (1-for-11 3PT) from the field, scoring ten points in the Bulldogs’ 68-55 loss to Air Force.

2. Frank Eaves (Appalachian State)

Six points on 2-for-12 shooting to go along with five rebounds and four turnovers in the Mountaineers’ 73-47 loss at Ohio.

3. Carlton Allen (Manhattan)

Allen played just five minutes in the Jaspers’ 81-66 loss at Florida State, accounting for three rebounds and five fouls during his time on the court.


  • Derrick Walton Jr. scored 22 points, Zak Irvin 21 and Caris LeVert 20 to lead No. 24 Michigan to a 92-68 win over Hillsdale.
  • Year two at USC for Andy Enfield didn’t get off to the best of starts, as the Trojans fell 76-68 at home to Portland State.
  • John Brown returned to the court for High Point, scoring 19 points in a 74-62 win over UAPB at the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic.
  • Newcomer Stanton Kidd scored 19 points on just eight shots from the field in Colorado State’s 83-66 win over Montana.
  • Tyler Harris scored 23 points and LaDontae Henton added 21 to lead Providence to a 64-60 home win over Albany.
  • Butler shot a school-record 71.9% from the field in their 99-57 win over Maine. Roosevelt Jones was all over the stats sheet, accounting for 14 points, nine assists, four rebounds and two steals.
  • Chris Jans picked up a win in his regular season debut, leading Bowling Green to a 77-58 win at Drake. Jehvon Clarke scored 16 off the bench to lead the Falcons.
  • Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin scored 21 points apiece in LSU’s 93-82 win over Gardner-Webb. Also of note: newcomer guards Josh Gray and Keith Hornsby combined to score 35 points.

Jackson Donahue becomes second Penn 2015 commit this week

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Following a visit last week, Northfield Mount Hermon School (Massachusetts) 2015 guard Jackson Donahue committed to Penn. His coach, John Carroll announced the commitment through the program’s Twitter account on Thursday night.

Donahue, the 6-foot-1 Connecticut native, was being courted by other Ivy League schools before picking the Quakers. This past weekend at the Providence Jam Fest, I spoke to Donahue after he dropped 27 points in a win for his Middlesex Magic AAU team. He had recently returned from Penn, leaving the visit with positive vibes from the coaching staff and about the school.

Donahue is a sharpshooter, hitting 92 3-pointers in his first season at NMH. During the Jam Fest, Donahue began to drive to the basket, something coaches were looking to see more from him. Despite his lack of size, he’s a competitor, the product of being one of the younger brothers in a large basketball family. His older brother, Sam, is a rising sophomore at Boston College.

Nat Graham, who was named as an assistant coach at Penn last week, was part of the BC staff that recruited his brother. That familiarity made an instant impact on Jackson Donahue’s recruitment.

Within the last week, Penn has added two pieces to its Class of 2015, the first being Lower Merion High (Pennsylvania) forward Jule Brown, who committed on May 8. They join Hebrew Academy (Florida) point guard Morris Esformes, who pledged back in March.

Penn hires alum, former Boston College assistant Nat Graham to same position

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With Penn losing assistant coach Scott Pera to Mike Rhodes’ new staff at Rice, head coach Jerome Allen needed to fill a position on his coaching staff for next season.

Allen filled that position on Thursday as Penn alum and former Boston College associate head coach Nat Graham announced on twitter that he was joining the Quakers staff as an assistant coach.

Graham had been an assistant coach under Steve Donahue at Cornell and then at Boston College since the 2005-06 season and was the associate head coach for Boston College the last three seasons. A graduate of Penn in 1997, Graham played with Allen for two years at the school before finishing his playing career at the University of Western Ontario.

While Penn struggled to an 8-20 record last season, Graham should give them an experienced assistant coach and recruiter that has succeeded in the Ivy League in helping Cornell to a Sweet 16 appearance, while also being familiar with the Penn program and Philadelphia basketball scene.

Brown takes down Penn, 76-67, inside The Palestra (VIDEO)

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Mike Martin is continuing another strong year with his alma mater, as the Brown Bears lead the entire game, defeating Penn, 76-67, inside The Palestra on Friday night.

Steven Spieth scored 19 points and corralled 12 rebounds. Cedric Kuakumensah recorded the second double-double for Brown with 16 points, 10 boards. Brown grabbed 12 more rebounds than Penn and six more offensive boards.

Martin, the second-year head coach matches his conference win total from a season ago, and has his Bears in a tie for third place in the Ivy League standings with Columbia. The Bears and Lions split their two meetings this season.

The Bears have a quick turnaround, traveling to Princeton on Saturday evening. Next week Brown ends with Dartmouth and Harvard. The Crimson can clinch the Ivy League title this weekend with a win and a Yale loss.

Laurent Rivard leads Harvard to blowout win over Penn (VIDEO)

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Harvard entered this weekend faced with tough games against Princeton and Penn, with the outcomes likely to shape the Ivy League race. One night after beating the Tigers in Cambridge, Tommy Amaker’s team made short work of the Quakers at Lavietes Pavilion. Laurent Rivard scored 22 points and Kyle Casey added 15 to go along with 11 rebounds as Harvard beat Penn 80-50, moving to 4-0 in Ivy League play.

Harvard shot 12-for-20 from beyond the arc while Penn, which was led offensively by Tony Hicks (14 points), made just one of its seven attempts from deep. Penn also shot 7-for-15 from the foul line, getting outscored by 19 points on free throws.