City 6 starts summer off right at Delco Pro-Am

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City 6 starts summer off right at Delco Pro-Am

HAVERFORD, Pa. -- Langston Galloway walked off the court at Haverford College’s Calvin J. Gooding Arena on Wednesday night and smiled sheepishly.

Halil Kanacevic, who was on hand to watch one of his Saint Joseph’s University classmates, shook his head in mock disapproval.

It was opening night at the Delaware County Pro-Am Men’s Summer Basketball League and Galloway had just scored a game-high 22 points on seven three-pointers. He even had a ridiculous off-the-backboard alley oop to himself after a play was blown dead. That was the good part.

The not-quite-as-good part? His Radano & Associates team beat the Widener University squad they were playing by more than 50 points, 92-39, in the most lopsided of the nine games played at Haverford on Wednesday. Hence, the sheepish smiles and head-shaking.

“We went out there the first couple of minutes slow, just warming up with each other,” Galloway said. “Shoot, then we started getting warmed up and we got going.”

As the league progresses throughout the summer, Galloway will almost certainly have more challenging matchups. The Delco Pro-Am, after all, is filled with some of the area’s best college players, incoming freshmen, recent alums, NBA players and even crafty old-timers.

Playing against that kind of stiff competition will come in handy as Galloway -- along with Kanacevic and Ronald Roberts -- prepares for his senior season on a St. Joe’s team looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2012-13 campaign in which the Hawks settled for an NIT berth after being picked to win the Atlantic 10.

“We’re the leaders on the team,” Galloway said. “They expect a lot out of us. We expect to go out every night, play hard and leave it all out there. If we do that, the outcomes will be the way we want.”

Galloway seemed to be in good spirits during the Delco Pro-Am’s chaotic opening night. He talked about getting back into shape and returning to Philly after just a few weeks home. He talked about trying to convince his coaches to set up a game in his home state of Louisiana next season. He talked about getting ready to go to Italy with his college teammates in August.

But mostly, he talked about trying to keep Phil Martelli encouraged during what’s been a very challenging time for the St. Joe’s coach. In the past couple of months, Martelli’s sister and sister-in-law died, his mother broke her hip and his son Jimmy resigned from Rutgers in the wake of the Mike Rice coaching scandal.

“I stay in his ear constantly,” Galloway said. “I tell him ‘Anything you need, I’m here.’ It’s been getting better for him. May and June were pretty tough. But now it’s the end of June and it’s about to be July, and he’s been feeling a lot better.”

Galloway said he also keeps in contact with C.J. Aiken, who decided to forgo his senior season at St. Joe’s to pursue a professional basketball career. Along with Carl Jones, the Hawks’ high-scoring senior guard, St. Joe’s will lose two big pieces to their starting lineup next season.

But Galloway believes the Hawks will be better, despite those losses.

“It might help us in the long run,” he said. “We’ll see.”

Penn’s rising seniors have dual title hopes
For Miles Cartwright and Fran Dougherty, the No. 1 goal is obviously to lead Penn to an Ivy League championship before they graduate next May.

But in the meantime, they have another title aspiration: To win the Delco Pro-Am.

On Wednesday, the Penn teammates got off to a good start as Dougherty scored 19 and Cartwright added 14 in a 71-68 win for Trad Jazz over Doc P’s.

“We’re trying to come out here and win as many games as possible,” Cartwright said. “I told Fran today when we were lifting that I want to win Delco to start the summer off right.”

Perhaps the best part of the opening-night performance was that it showed that Dougherty is well on his way back to full health after missing much of the 2012-13 campaign due to an illness (mono) and an injury (dislocated elbow). The forward’s absence was one of the main factors in the Quakers’ disappointing fifth-place finish in the Ivy League.

“It’s always great to see Fran on the court,” said Cartwright, who averaged 13.5 points per game last season. “When he went down, that was a big blow to us last year. But you know Fran’s one of our main guys and we count on him to win games and make plays for us. I’m really happy to see him out there 100 percent.”

The rising Penn seniors also got to play against a future teammate: Matt Howard.

Howard, who was among a handful of incoming Penn freshmen to play on various courts Wednesday night, finished with 13 points for his Doc P’s team. And Cartwright liked what he saw in the athletic guard.

“I’m just so impressed with his basketball IQ,” Cartwright said. “He shares the ball, he runs the floor, he looks for his shot and he scores. He’s a big-time athlete. I’m really excited and I think he’s going to be great for us.”

Temple domination
In the marquee game of the night, 2012 Delco Pro-Am champion Take Your Game To Another Level edged 2011 champ Omega Medical, 101-100.

Take Your Game To Another Level was led by mainly Temple alums, including former NBA player Mardy Collins (30 points). Omega Medical, meanwhile, was made up of mostly ex-Villanova stars, including the Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry (18 points) and Reggie Redding (22 points).

Temple products poured in points on other courts too, with 2012 alum Ramone Moore scoring 35 in an 83-81 win for his Temple Under Armour Team 1 and rising senior Dalton Pepper scoring 28 in a loss.

Penn, Villanova back for more championships at Penn Relays

Penn, Villanova back for more championships at Penn Relays

Like many people who come from nearby high schools, Penn senior Chris Hatler has been running at the Penn Relays since he was 15. But his initial experience at the famed meet did not go exactly as planned

“The first relay ever, I fell in the first 100 meters,” he said, “and made a fool of myself.”

Such can be the dangers of overwhelmed teenagers competing at a competition that also features college and professional stars — a three-day track & field carnival that is the oldest and largest of its kind in the country.

But last year, Hatler became one of those college stars himself, helping Penn to a dramatic win in the 4xmile — the host school’s first win in that event since 1950 and its first championship in any of the meet’s marquee distance relays since 1974.

Now, with the 123rd running of the Penn Relays set to kick off in full Thursday — the same day that the NFL draft begins across town — Hatler is ready to add another wheel before graduating, along with fellow senior Nick Tuck.

“Last year was exciting to win the 4xmile, but I kinda felt like for the seniors last year, it was their win, it was their wheel,” said Hatler, who also helped the Quakers set a school record in last year’s distance medley relay. “I know Nick and I kinda have a little grudge here. We want our own wheel for ourselves our senior year. So we’re gonna come out and see what we can do.”

Although the USA vs. the World races Saturday to highlight the meet, the college relays are often the most exciting with wild sprints to the finish line occurring in front of packed Franklin Field crowds. Last year, in between Team USA races, then-senior Thomas Awad chased down two other runners in the 4xmile to give Penn the victory on national TV, before being mobbed by Hatler, Tuck and Keaton Naff. 

Hatler couldn’t quite see the track from where he was standing but had a feeling that Awad — one of the most accomplished athletes in Penn’s track & field history — would come through on the final lap of his Penn Relays career.

“You never bet against Tom at the end of the race,” said Hatler, who earlier this year cracked the 4-minute-mile barrier. “We kinda knew it was gonna happen.”

Few other people expected it because the host school hasn’t always been competitive in the college championships at Penn Relays. But another local school always is — Villanova.

And the Wildcats are glad to get some more competition from their Big 5 rival.

“It was thrilling for me to see it happen,” Villanova men’s track coach Marcus O’Sullivan said. “This is really the home school. We’re happy to be sharing the stress of Penn [Relays] every year with the real home school.”

As for his own team, O’Sullivan said the Wildcats are dealing with injuries so it may not be in top form for the men’s distance medley relay (Friday, 5:30 p.m.), men’s 4xmile (Saturday, 1:15 p.m.) and the men’s 4x800 (Saturday, 4:40 p.m.), the first two of which will be broadcast on NBC Sports.

But he touted the talent of redshirt freshman Logan Wetzel, among others, and seems ready to throw some youngsters into the fire.

“I always say Penn is a defining arena for kids to grow up,” said O’Sullivan, who ran the Penn Relays as a student at Villanova. “You really start to learn. You prepare a year for Penn. 

“My junior year, we were annihilated, lost everything, and it one of the most humiliating moments of my life because so much is expected of you and you drop the ball. I spent a whole year just waiting for Penn, just training for Penn. The year I made the Olympic team, I kid you not, running at Penn, winning at Penn, was way more important for me at that time of my life. That’s how big it is.”

Villanova women’s coach Gina Procaccio also ran the Penn Relays in college and has similar feelings about the significance of the meet. And she’s ready to lead her powerhouse teams to more championships in the women’s distance medley relay (Thursday, 5:30 p.m.), the women’s 4x1500 (Friday, 1:20 p.m.) and the women’s 4x800 (Saturday, 4:10 p.m.).

Those relay teams will be led by Angel Piccirillo, a fifth-year senior who redshirted last year, and junior Siofra Cleirigh Buttner — two of the best distance runners in the NCAA. But it won’t be easy for them as this year’s field will be stacked with the likes of Oregon and Stanford.

But no one has done better at Penn Relays than the Villanova women, who have won 14 DMRs all time, including four straight from 2012-2015.

“I’m not one to shy away from the competition,” Procaccio said. “I like to earn those wins.”

Big 5 Hall of Fame inducts 'maybe the greatest class we've ever put together'

Big 5 Hall of Fame inducts 'maybe the greatest class we've ever put together'

About midway through Monday night's Big 5 Hall of Fame ceremony, the oldest inductee of this year's class paid homage to the youngest.

That's how much hoops legend George Raveling, a 1960 Villanova graduate, was blown away by Penn alum Ibrahim Jaaber's impassioned speech that ended with a powerful poem about how basketball saved him.

"It kept running through my mind that you represent everything good about sports," Raveling said to Jaaber. "And I hope you'll continue to use your wisdom, your influence, to make the game better, to make the world better. As a 79-year-old-man, soon to be 80 in June, I want to tell you that if I come back in the next life, I want to be like you."

That touching moment, in many ways, was a perfect encapsulation of the ties that bind the Big 5, from one generation to the next. But aside from Raveling and longtime Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter Bill Lyon -- who, despite battling Alzheimer's, courageously gave an acceptance speech to a standing ovation at the Palestra -- this year's class was filled with contemporary guards who clashed in some great Big 5 games not too long ago.

Among them were two current NBA players in Saint Joseph's icon Jameer Nelson (class of 2004) and former 'Nova star Randy Foye (2006), as well as Temple's Lynn Greer (2002) and Jaaber (2007). La Salle women's player Carlene Hightower (2008) was the other member of the star-studded class defined by tough, gritty Philadelphia guards.

"The inductees here for the Hall of Fame have got to be maybe the greatest class we've ever put together," said Villanova head coach Jay Wright, who closed the night by accepting the Big 5 Coach of the Year award right after Josh Hart took home Player of the Year honors. "I grew up in Philadelphia and we always talk about what a great place the Palestra is -- and it is. But when you listen to Lynn, Randy, Coach Rav, Ibby, Jameer, you know why this is a great place. It's because of all the great man that have played here -- outstanding, humble, articulate, intelligent men that understand they're part of something that's bigger than themselves. That's what makes the Big 5. That's what makes the Palestra."

Nelson, the National Player of the Year during St. Joe’s historic 2003-04 season, certainly showed what kind of person he is, inviting all of his old Hawks teammates who were in attendance to stand behind him as he accepted his Hall of Fame award. And he even choked up at one point as he described what those teammates, coach Phil Martelli and Saint Joseph's University have meant to him as he's forged a long and fruitful NBA career.

"Without them, none of this would be possible," said Nelson, the Hawks' all-time leader in points (2,094) and assists (713). "These guys mean the world to me."

Nelson, now with the Denver Nuggets, just wrapped up his 13th season in the NBA, calling it an "unbelievable ride" for a 5-foot-11 kid from Chester. That's two more years spent in the league than Foye, who Nelson thanked for forcing him to be better back in their college days. He also called Greer one of his "great friends" and said that Jaaber's speech "touched me in so many different ways, I wish more young kids could hear it."

"I'm very grateful to be inducted with you guys," Nelson said, although he did point out that when he was at St. Joe's, the Hawks had Villanova down 43-9 at halftime one year. 

"But those next couple years, we paid y'all back," said Foye, now with the Brooklyn Nets, during his own speech.

Those rivalries were especially meaningful to Foye, who also played against Jaaber in both high school and college.

"Being from North Jersey, you never hear about the Big 5," said Foye, a first-team All-American and Big 5 Player of the Year in 2006. "For me coming here and witnessing it up close and personal, it's just something truly amazing."

Foye added that everywhere he goes, he tries to embody what a Philly guard is -- "small but play big," as he put it -- while reminding people that he's proud to be a Villanova alum. The same can be said of Raveling, a longtime college coach and executive who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.

"I'm so proud to say I'm a Big 5 product -- and a proud graduate of Villanova University," Raveling said. "I look back many times and realize the wisest decision I ever made in my lifetime was to enroll at Villanova University."

Just as he opened his speech, Raveling also closed it by saying he was "proud" to enter the Big 5 Hall of Fame the same year as Jaaber, whose remarks touched on spirituality, family and a unique journey from Morocco to New Jersey to Penn.

Jaaber also made sure to thank the person who perhaps embodies the Big 5 more than anyone else: former La Salle player, former Penn coach and current Temple coach Fran Dunphy.

"I don't think I could have had a better coach for me in my situation than my Coach Dunphy," said Jaaber, the 2006-07 Big 5 Player of the Year and the all-time Ivy League leader in steals (303). "I'm almost embarrassed to be inducted into the Hall of Fame before Coach Dunphy."