The 2013 City 6 year-end awards

The 2013 City 6 year-end awards

April 5, 2013, 12:00 pm
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There was a time, around the middle of January, when there looked to be a distinct possibility that no college basketball teams from Philadelphia would make the NCAA tournament.

Then came the madness, in all of its splendor.

From memorable upsets to frenzied court storming to Big 5 classics to March memories, a city that loves its college hoops ended up getting treated to a terrific college hoops season. And it finished, of course, with one of the best stories in recent history, as La Salle won more NCAA tournament games in one month than it had in the previous 57 years.

Now, with the Final Four upon us and the college basketball season winding to a close, we take a look back at the best players, games and performances (and much, much more) in City 6 hoops over a wild past five months.

Buckle up and enjoy the ride (again)...

Player of the Year: Khalif Wyatt had just a monster senior season for Temple. At times a one-man scoring machine, the crafty guard was the only player in the city to average more than 20 points per game and finished 12th in the nation in scoring (21.5 ppg). Wyatt, the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, also ranked sixth in the league in free throw shooting (.836), seventh in assists per game (4.0), eighth in three-pointers made per game (2.2) and ninth in steals per game (1.7) to lead the Owls to the NCAA tournament for the sixth straight season.

Newcomer of the Year: After sitting out his entire senior season of high school because of back surgery, conventional wisdom said Ryan Arcidiacono would make a slow and gradual impact with Villanova this year. The confident freshman tossed aside conventional wisdom, just as he did so many defenders. Arcidiacono was Villanova’s starting point guard from day one and spearheaded a huge turnaround on the Main Line, averaging 11.9 points and 3.5 assists per game to guide ’Nova back to the Big Dance after a one-year absence.

Coach of the Year: It’s been a long rebuild for Dr. John Giannini, who in 2004 inherited a poor La Salle program plagued by scandal. But the fruits of his labor started to pay off last season when the Explorers made their first postseason appearance in 20 years and came to a head this year when La Salle made it to the Sweet 16 and became one of the best stories in college basketball. The well-liked and well-spoken Giannini’s most impressive feat was assembling a team whose nucleus was composed of hard-working Philadelphians who bought into his system and meshed together beautifully on and off the court.

City 6 All-Senior Team: Khalif Wyatt (Temple), Ramon Galloway (La Salle), Carl Jones (St. Joe’s), Scootie Randall (Temple), Mouphtaou Yarou (Villanova)

City 6 All-Junior Team: Tyreek Duren (La Salle), Frantz Massenat (Drexel), Miles Cartwright (Penn), Langston Galloway (St. Joe’s), Tyrone Garland (La Salle)

City 6 All-Sophomore Team: Damion Lee (Drexel), Darrun Hilliard (Villanova), Anthony Lee (Temple), Jerrell Wright (La Salle), JayVaughn Pinkston (Villanova)

City 6 All-Freshman Team: Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova), Tony Hicks (Penn), Tavon Allen (Drexel), Darien Nelson-Henry (Penn), Daniel Ochefu (Villanova)

Best Game: There are so many to choose from and there were certainly some great ones in the conference and NCAA tournaments. But we’re going with an old-fashioned Big 5 rumble between two of the city’s biggest rivals. Having trailed by nine points with less than six minutes left in its matchup with Temple on Feb. 2, Saint Joseph's came from behind to win a 70-69 thriller in a game that featured 18 lead changes and 10 ties. It was a mostly disappointing season for the Hawks, but this win, spurred by senior Carl Jones, was special.

Best Finish: After Andrew Smith hit a layup to put Butler up by a point with eight seconds left in the Bulldogs’ A-10 matchup with La Salle on Jan. 23, Ramon Galloway took the inbounds, raced down the court and banked in a game-winning shot right before the buzzer to lift the Explorers to their first win over a top 10 team since 1980. It was also one of three times that week that fans rushed a court in Philadelphia. Speaking of which …

Best Upset: While La Salle beat Butler and another nationally ranked team in VCU in the span of a few days, those weren’t even the best upsets of the season – nor the week. That honor goes to Villanova's victories over Final Four teams Louisville (on Jan. 22) and Syracuse (on Jan. 26) at the Wells Fargo Center, as well as Temple’s surprise win over Syracuse at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 22. Luckily for Syracuse and Louisville, they didn’t run into any Big 5 teams in the NCAA tournament.

Most Baffling Loss: We’re going with another three-way tie here, between La Salle’s home loss to Central Connecticut State (RPI 200) on Nov. 18, Villanova’s home loss to Columbia (RPI 273) on Nov. 20 and Temple’s home loss to Duquesne (RPI 227) on Feb. 14. We still don’t know how any of these happened.

Best Moment: After Temple and Villanova heard their names called on Selection Sunday, the La Salle players and coaches patiently waited … and waited … and waited. Finally, the small conference room they were all crammed into in the bowels of Tom Gola Arena exploded with excitement as La Salle’s name flashed on the TV in the very last region. It was the first time since 2008 three city teams made the Big Dance in the same year.

Best Shot: La Salle quickly proved it wasn’t just happy to be in the NCAA tournament, beating Boise State, Kansas State and then Ole Miss on a shot that will forever be a part of Big 5 lore. With the game tied in the final seconds – and a Sweet 16 berth on the line – junior guard Tyrone Garland drove to the basket and floated a layup that dropped through the net and set off a massive celebration. In a TV interview afterwards, Garland dubbed the shot “The Southwest Philly Floater” and gave a shoutout to his “Cousin Bern,” who taught him how to do it (see story). Twitter blew up, T-shirts were made, and a legend was born.

Best buzzer-beater: In terms of difficulty, nothing will beat Drexel junior’s Frantz Massenat absolutely absurd halfcourt shot to beat Hofstra on Jan. 23. Watch it here. Now watch it again.

Best Dunk: We’re going to cheat a little bit, pluralize the category and go with La Salle’s four consecutive dunks against Dayton on Jan. 16. The rare feat landed the Explorers a spot on SportsCenter’s Top Plays - and, just as importantly, a place in this article.

Sharpshooter Award: Six-foot-9 Temple forward Jake O’Brien was the team and the city's best perimeter threat, shooting a blistering 43 percent from three-point range.

Best Single-Game Performance: Khalif Wyatt had seven 30-point games but none were more memorable than his 34-point outing against St. Joe’s in the Big 5 classic mentioned above (see “Best Game” category). Temple lost the contest but not because of Wyatt, who shot 50 percent from the field and made seven three-pointers, including a 35-footer with less than 10 seconds to play.

Most Clutch Performance: It’s Wyatt again, of course. The high-scoring guard dropped in 31 points to lead Temple past North Carolina State in the Owls’ first NCAA tournament game – and then scored 31 again in a loss to Indiana in the next round.

Most Not-So-Clutch Performance: Halil Kanacevic has done many good things for the St. Joe’s basketball program. Missing two clutch free throws after giving the crowd the finger in a 65-61 loss to Villanova at the Pavilion on Dec. 11 was not one of them. Kanacevic would get suspended for the obscene gesture in what was certainly one of the more bizarre moments of the season.

Gutsiest Performance: Here’s something more positive for the Hawks. Langston Galloway had a tooth knocked out with five minutes left in an early-season game against Notre Dame on Nov. 16, before returning to score six points, including the final baskets of regulation and overtime, in a 79-70 Hawks’ win at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Biggest Surprise: Drexel's finishing five games below .500 was not expected after the Dragons won 29 games the year before. Neither was St. Joe’s junior C.J. Aiken's decision to forgo his senior season to play professionally after a somewhat disappointing year on Hawk Hill.

Most Improved: After scoring just 4.5 points per game as a sophomore, Penn’s Fran Dougherty emerged as one of the best big men in the city, averaging 12.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Unfortunately for Penn fans, Dougherty played in only 13 games because of mononucleosis and a dislocated elbow. But with a healthy Dougherty and everyone else returning, the 9-22 Quakers could see a big jump next season.

Guys We Can't Wait to See: Dylan Ennis (Villanova transfer from Rice), Khalid Lewis (La Salle transfer from Delaware), Kyle Molock (St. Joe’s freshman who missed entire season with injury), Freddie Wilson (Drexel transfer from Seton Hall), Matt Howard (Penn recruit)

Projected 2013-14 All-City 6 First Team: Tyreek Duren (La Salle), Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova), Langston Galloway (St. Joe’s), Jerrell Wright (La Salle), JayVaughn Pinkston (Villanova)

Projected 2013-14 All-City 6 Second Team: Frantz Massenat (Drexel), Damion Lee (Drexel), Tyrone Garland (La Salle), Anthony Lee (Temple), Ronald Roberts (St. Joe’s)

Team to watch in 2013-14: With sharpshooter Chris Fouch, who sat out most of the season with a broken ankle, set to return for a sixth year, Drexel could be more in line with its 29-win team in 2011-12 than its 13-win team this season. La Salle and Villanova should also be in position to return to the NCAA tournament, while Fran Dunphy will likely reload at Temple as always. In other words? The 2013-14 season could be just as much fun as this one.

CSNPhilly.com's Nick Menta, Reuben Frank and Matt Haughton contributed to this story.