St. Joe's Pat Carroll shoots way to Big 5 HOF

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St. Joe's Pat Carroll shoots way to Big 5 HOF

Pat Carroll was introduced Monday night at the Palestra as Saint Joseph's all-time three-point record holder.

Almost immediately, he had to correct the evening's emcee, Harry Donahue.

As Carroll told everyone, the record for made threes by a Hawk isn't his anymore. It belongs to some kid he's been coaching and mentoring the last four years.

Here's one thing no one will ever be able to take away from him:

Carroll was inducted to the Big 5 Hall of Fame Monday night, alongside Penn's Michael Jordan, La Salle's Crista Ricketts and long-time sportswriter Dick "Hoops" Weiss.

"The Big 5 is the most unique, legendary organization in college basketball," Carroll said, before thanking those who voted him to the hall for "waiving defense" as a requirement.

Carroll, 31, has retired from basketball and now works in the pharmaceutical industry for Merck. He and his wife, Amanda, are expecting their third child in July.

"They're going to outnumber us," he said. "We might have to go to zone defense. Man-to-man's not going to cut it."

That's how much time has passed since St. Joe's perfect regular season and run to the Elite Eight in 2004, Carroll's junior year.

It's one thing to be a great shooter; it's another to be a great shooter on a team with Jameer Nelson and Delonte West. Those three probably would have gotten to the Final Four, too -- if Carroll hadn't cut his fingernails before the Oklahoma State game. If you're a Saint Joe's fan and don't get the reference, you probably don't want to click here to find out.

But 10 years later, Carroll and his former head coach, Phil Martelli, are able to laugh at the fingernail quip, even as Carroll calls the game "the most heartbreaking loss" of his career.

"A lot of us kind of went our separate ways after college," he said, referring to his teammates from the '04 team. "But recently, we're all in contact now. Jameer, Delonte -- who was just inducted into the St Joe's Hall of Fame -- there's about 10 of us on a group text. Jameer, Delonte, John Bryant, Dwayne Jones. Basically 10 players from that team and a lot of funny texts going back and forth.

"It's good to keep in touch."

Carroll has found himself revisiting that 2004 season often over the last few months. The Wichita State Shockers completed an undefeated regular season of their own this year before being eliminated by Kentucky in the Round of 32.

"I felt happy for [Wichita]," he said. "I actually spoke with a couple reporters from Kansas that would look at the similarities. It brought back so many memories. … For any team, no matter who you are, to go through an undefeated season is incredible. But at a non-BCS school, it's once in a lifetime."

Back on Hawk Hill, St. Joe's made it back to the NCAAs this season for only the second time since that famed run.

And back on Hawk Hill is exactly where Carroll finds himself. He's a graduate student studying organizational development and leadership -- and serving as an informal shooting coach for one specific player.

"As soon as I got there, I reached out to him," said St. Joe's senior Langston Galloway. "Pat's a great guy. I reached out to him because I wanted to get my shot better. … We'd do some drills that he used to do and showed me a few things."

And then he broke Carroll's records?

"And then I broke his records," he answered.

On Jan. 25 in a 77-62 win over Richmond, Galloway made the 295th three-pointer of his career, one more than Carroll's 294. The new record stands at 343. After No. 295, Galloway sent Carroll a text.

"I told him he set the bar high," Galloway said.

A little less than a month later, on Feb. 22, Galloway went 10 of 15 from behind the arc, setting a new St. Joe's single-game record for threes and breaking another mark that used to belong to Carroll, who once made nine.

"There's probably not a better kid on or off the court," Carroll said. "I'm just happy for him -- obviously not for breaking my records -- but there's not a better kid that you would wish to do that."

Everything came full circle Monday night, with Carroll going into the Big 5 hall as Galloway was recognized as the Big 5's leading scorer. The latter even found out he's been invited to play in this week's Portsmouth Invitational Tournament -- a hotbed for NBA scouts.

"This is definitely special," Galloway said. "Pat's always going to be my friend and he's just like family. We're always going to talk no matter where we're at. He's always going to be just like a brother."

Carroll will finish up his graduate degree and then look to potentially return to basketball in some capacity. He's been running youth camps for a few years along with his brother, Matt, formerly of Notre Dame and the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats. Carroll even mused Monday night about a possible future in coaching.

But at least for a little while, if you find yourself at the corner of City Line and 54th, there's a chance you might run into a left-handed, lanky grad student who looks a whole lot like Pat Carroll.

"You're always looking for ways for the players to indicate to you that they made the right choice coming out of high school," Martelli said. "My point has always been that once you decide on St. Joseph's, that's your decision for 40 years.

"And Pat is really living that and showing people that he had a special experience. He's well thought of around campus, above and beyond all the shots that he made, just the way he conducted himself.

"He'll carry the name of a Hawk with him forever."

Hall of Famers
Joining Carroll in the 2014 Hall of Fame class ...

• Michael Jordan was the 1997 Ivy League rookie of the year and the 2000 Ivy League player of the year. A three-time first-team All-Ivy selection, Jordan, along with backcourt running mate Matt Langel, led Penn to back-to-back league titles in 1999 and 2000. He graduated third on the Quakers' all-time scoring list with 1,604 points and second in assists with 469, behind only current Penn head coach Jerome Allen. Jordan is now an assistant coach to Langel at Colgate. "I used to tell him what to do on the court," Jordan said. "Now he's telling me what to do."

• Crista Ricketts was named first-team All-Big 5 in each of her four seasons on Olney Ave. She's second in La Salle history in made free throws (453), third in defensive rebounds (459), third in total points (1,645), and fourth in points per game (15.1). Ricketts played at La Salle from 2003-2007 before exploring the pro game overseas in Spain, Portugal and Austria.

• Dick Weiss is one of just two men to be inducted into both the U.S. football writers Hall of Fame and U.S. basketball writers Hall of Fame. Weiss, a Philadelphia native, worked for the Philadelphia Daily News for over two decades before joining the New York Daily News in 1993. He recently covered his 42nd Final Four.

Award winners
The following coaches and players were also honored Monday night in the Big 5's year-end awards ceremony. One the men's side ...

Team champions: Villanova Wildcats

Player of the year: James Bell, Villanova
Rookie of the year: DeAndre Bembry, St. Joe's
Coach of the year: Jay Wright, Villanova

Most improved player: James Bell, Villanova
Leading scorer: Langston Galloway, St. Joe's
Leading free throw shooter: Dalton Pepper, Temple
Scholar athlete: Jimmy McDonnell, Temple

First-team
James Bell, Villanova
Tyreek Duren, La Salle
Langston Galloway, St. Joe's
Halil Kanacevic, St. Joe's
JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova

Second-team
Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova
Will Cummings, Temple
Darrun Hilliard, Villanova
Dalton Pepper, Temple
Ronald Roberts Jr., St. Joe's
Jerrell Wright, La Salle

And for the women …

Team champions: St. Joe's

Player of the year: Alyssa Baron, Penn
Rookie of the year: Sydney Stipanovich, Penn
Coach of the year: Mike McLaughlin, Penn

Most improved player: Sarah Fairbanks, St. Joe's
Leading scorer: Erin Shields, St. Joe's
Leading free throw shooter: Erin Shields, St. Joe's
Scholar athlete: Erin Shields, St. Joe's

First-team
Alyssa Baron, Penn
Natasha Cloud, St. Joe's
Alicia Cropper, La Salle
Devon Kane, Villanova
Erin Shields, St. Joe's

Second-team
Karen Bonenberger, Penn
Caroline Coyer, Villanova
Sarah Fairbanks, St. Joe's
Feyonda Fitzgerald, Temple
Emily Leer, Villanova

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."