When Drexel lost to UMass in the quarterfinals of the NIT earlier this week, it marked the end of what was an eventful and ultimately successful year of Philadelphia college basketball.
Of the six Division I teams in the city, four (Drexel, Penn, La Salle and St. Joes) showed considerable improvement to make the postseason and another (Temple) remained at the top of the heap with its fifth straight NCAA tournament berth.
With the Final Four set, here is our look back at the best players, games and performances (and more) of the 2011-12 season in Philly college hoops:
Player of the Year
Zack Rosen was not only the citys leader in scoring (18.2 ppg) and assists (5.2 apg), but no player was as valuable to his team. Time and again, the Penn senior point guard made impossibly long three-point shots or split double-teams on the perimeter with the game on the line. He leaves Penn as one of the best players in program history.
Coach of the Year
It was a bold move when Bruiser Flint declared Drexel the best team in the city, but the Dragons backed their coach up in a big way, losing just three times in their final 30 games. Perhaps Flints best job of the season was making sure his players didnt dwell on a devastating NCAA tournament snub, which helped the Dragons win their first two NIT games in program history.
City 6 All-Freshman Team
Damion Lee (Drexel), Tyrone Johnson (Villanova), JayVaughn Pinkston (Villanova), Jerrell Wright (La Salle), Anthony Lee (Temple).
City 6 All-Sophomore Team
Langston Galloway (St. Joes), Frantz Massenat (Drexel), Tyreek Duren (La Salle), C.J. Aiken (St. Joes), Halil Kanacevic (St. Joes).
City 6 All-Senior Team
Zack Rosen (Penn), Ramone Moore (Temple), Juan Fernandez (Temple), Earl Pettis (La Salle), Samme Givens (Drexel).
It was a Big 5 classic at Tom Gola Arena on Feb. 22 when then-nationally ranked Temple survived everything La Salle threw at them in a 80-79 overtime win. Thanks to Earl Pettis (career-high 33 points), the Explorers overcame two separate 10-point deficits, but Pettis and Sam Mills missed potentially game-winning three-point attempts in the final seconds of OT.
For the first time in the storied Villanova-St. Joes rivalry, the Holy War game was played at Hagan Arena. And in front of a standing-room only crowd, the Hawks marked the occasion with a 74-58 thrashing of their archrivals.
Best Upset (home)
For the fourth straight season, Temple beat a Top 10 team when it surprised then-No. 3 Duke, 78-73, at the Wells-Fargo Center on Jan. 4. Khalif Wyatt led the way for Temple, torching Coach Ks charges with a game-high 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting.
Best Upset (road)
Harvard was all set to celebrate an Ivy League title on Feb. 25, especially when the Crimson led by nine over visiting Penn with six minutes left. But Rosen spurred an improbable comeback and Tyler Bernardini drew a last-second charge to negate the winning Harvard basket and lead the Quakers to a stunner in Boston.
This one has to come down to St. Joes sophomore Ronald Roberts windmill jam vs. Dayton on Jan. 25, Roberts facial of a poor Creighton player on Dec. 10 or La Salle junior Ramon Galloways reverse breakaway dunk in the NIT.
Best Single-Game Performance
Not only did Villanovas Maalik Wayns pour in a career-high 39 points at Cincinnati on Jan. 14, the junior guard added 13 rebounds and six assists against a Bearcats team that advanced to the Sweet 16.
Most Clutch Performance
With Penn trailing by four in a must-win Ivy League game vs. Cornell on Feb. 17, Rosen scored 13 points including three long three-pointers in the Final Four minutes to lead the Quakers to a 73-66 victory. He also had a steal and an assist in that final stretch.
Most Baffling Loss
Temple raced out to a 19-8 lead over South Florida in its NCAA first-round game, then was outscored 50-25 over the final 26 12 minutes. After the quick start, Temple which owned the No. 33 offense in all of Division I mysteriously ran out of energy and made just 10 baskets in the games final 26 12 minutes. Can it be true that Lehigh has as many NCAA wins as Temple in the last 10 years? Sure is.
Drexels pep band gets the nod in a close call with Temple. If youre lucky, youll get a performance from the Drexel pep bands jazz ensemble at halftime.
After getting virtually no minutes in coach Jay Wrights rotation the first 2 12 months of the season, junior forward Maurice Sutton gave Villanova some real quality minutes not just on defense but also on offense down the stretch. It was a tough year for the Wildcats, but Sutton who had just 13 points, 22 rebounds and one block in Villanovas first 21 games averaged 6.9 points, 5.1 boards and 1.6 blocks per game the last 11 games of the season.
Drexel sophomore Frantz Massenat went from 5.5 points per game to 13.7 and also averaged 4.8 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game for the Dragons. He would have ranked 25th in Division I in three-point shooting (45 percent) if he had a few more attempts.
St. Joes sophomore Langston Galloway finished ninth in Division I in three-point shooting at 46.6 percent, highest by any City 6 player since Darnell Harris of La Salle shot 47.9 percent in 2008 and the highest by a St. Joes Hawk since Bill Phillips shot 49.5 percent in 2002. In his last eight games, Galloway was on fire, making 24 of 47 threes (51 percent).
Guys We Can't Wait to See
Dalton Pepper (Temple transfer from West Virginia via Pennsbury), Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova recruit from Neshaminy), Tavon Allen (Drexel freshman who sat out this year with an injury), Greg Louis (Penn freshman who sat out this year with an injury), Rohan Brown (redshirt freshman at La Salle).
Projected 2012-13 All-City 6 First Team
Khalif Wyatt (Temple), Carl Jones (St. Joes), Frantz Massenat (Drexel), Ramon Galloway (La Salle), C.J. Aiken (St. Joes).
Projected 2012-13 All-City 6 Second Team
Tyreek Duren (La Salle), Langston Galloway (St. Joes), Damion Lee (Drexel), Miles Cartwright (Penn), Mouphtaou Yarou (Villanova).
Team to watch in 2012-13
St. Joes, Drexel and La Salle were among the youngest teams in the nation, so expect all three to continue to make strides next year. But only the Hawks return everybody from a team that was on the NCAA bubble late in the 2011-12 season. Will next year be the year that St. Joes reemerges as the best team in Philadelphia?