St. Joseph's to Wage Holy War on Campus

St. Joseph's to Wage Holy War on Campus

For the first time since the formation of the Big 5, the St. Joseph's Hawks will host the Villanova Wildcats on their own campus. Rather than playing the game at the Palestra, per usual, SJU will take its bi-annual home game with rival Villanova to its newly refurbished fieldhouse—the Hagan Arena.

Detailing the story for the Daily News, Dick Jerardi also writes that the Temple Owls will be similarly impacted and thus making the trip down City Line Ave at some point this season.

University officials say the move is far from permanent, and really more of a temporary decision aimed at reinvigorating the program. Plus, the school won't vacating its second home altogether, as SJU will still play the remainder its Big 5 match ups versus Penn and La Salle at the Palestra.

Comments from head coach Phil Martelli and SJU athletic director Don DiJulia after the jump...

Coach Phil Martelli has long insisted that his school would continue to play its home games at the home of the Big 5. Unfortunately for the program, the Hawks haven't seen much success inside the Palestra in recent years, a factor no doubt, at least in part, prompting the move.

From the Daily News:

"This," Martelli said, "might get people's attention. There's been a lot of discussion at the levels on campus about creating the buzz, getting the fervor and the fire back. How do you do it? The easy thing is to say win games. To get the building where it's kind of bursting at the seems again."

It does seem quite a long time ago that university had so many people in the Fieldhouse that it was potentially in violation fire codes. Those Jameer Nelson-David West, St. Joe-Xavier show downs have become a forgotten relic of a not so distant past.

Though the move has generated some blow back, particularly this ESPN piece lamenting the end of tradition, it's nearly impossible to fault the Hawks. They've willingly played their Big 5 games at the Palestra longer than any other school, save for, of course, Penn.

Villanova makes the Hawks travel to the Main Line every other year, just as Temple similarly enjoys the atmosphere of its own confines. Both schools play better on their own campus. So, it makes sense for Joe's to try something of the sort.

True, the school will lose the additional ticket revenue generated from playing in the substantially larger Palestra, but it may be a short term loss for a long term gain.

We were able to get in touch with university athletic director Don DiJulia to get his thoughts on the move. While DiJulia acknowledges that the 2011-2012 ticket returns will obviously be less than usual, he stresses that move was made for the basketball reasons Martelli mentions above.

That said, the AD remains hopeful that the added buzz will prompt an increase in season ticket sales, thereby sparking a renewed interest in the program.

If the experiment works, then the Hawks succeeded. If not, the school always retains the option to move its full slate of Big 5 home games back to the Palestra.

The Sixers are the perfect distraction from the Sixers

The Sixers are the perfect distraction from the Sixers

There's your Philadelphia 76ers season in a nutshell, huh? Nerlens Noel gets traded for an all-lemon pack of Starbursts, Ben Simmons' right foot is still apparently stuck in a beartrap, Joel Embiid can't get himself dismissed from the nurse's office, and Jahlil Okafor is forced back into +1 status after everyone else passed on going to the concert with Bryan Colangelo -- and the Ballers still go out and beat one of the best teams in the East in their first game back from the All-Star break. Nearly everything about the Sixers is depressing right now, except for the team themselves. They're cool. 

Kudos to Brett Brown, man. The team is playing with such fluency and energy right now that it can withstand some losses in personnel without the drop-off being particularly dramatic -- at least for the moment. Replacing Embiid and Noel with Okafor and Holmes for as long as we'll have to do it will catch up with us in time, but for now, all you can do is marvel at the pace, cohesion and (with some mildly glaring moments of exception) discipline that Brown has the guys playing at the moment. I doubt there are five coaches in the league having a more impressive season than him right now. 

But the players were pretty good in this one, too. Dario Saric had 20-11-4 in his first start in three weeks, continuing his unlikely Rookie of the Year surge with his third-straight double-double and fourth game of 20-plus in his last six games. The All-Star Break hasn't cooled Robert Covington's hot hand, as the shooter went 5-9 from deep last night and is now 17-31 on threes over his last four games, also posting a 20-10 night with his 25 points and 11 boards. (Also three assists and four steals, whatever.) Richaun Holmes dunked over some people and reminded a handful of fans why they've gotten way too excited about him at various points earlier in the year. Good times were had by all. 

Games like last night's also just remind you how marginal the difference between winning and losing is. As they've been wont to do forever, the Sixers blew their considerable lead to the Wizards late in this one, which would've undoubtedly resulted in a tragic loss in years past. But these days, the leads are a little bigger going into the Sixers' fourth-quarter tailspins, and their defense is just a little tighter on critical possessions, and that's the difference between losing on a Bradley Beal buzzer-beater and hitting just enough free throws to squeak out a mildly secure 120-112 victory. 

Anyway, after an impossibly discouraging week of Sixers happenings, it turns out some actual Sixers basketball is just what we needed. Hopefully their level of play will continue to get better as news of their off-court developments invariably keeps getting worse .

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 43 points and the Toronto Raptors rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 107-97 on Friday night.

DeRozan shot 15 of 28 from the floor as he surpassed his 42-point effort against the Houston Rockets on March 30, 2015, helping the Raptors overcome the absence of fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry. Lowry sat out with a right wrist injury.

Serge Ibaka, acquired by trade from the Orlando Magic last week, scored 15 points in his debut, while fellow newcomer P.J. Tucker, picked up from the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, had a game-high 10 rebounds and nine points in his first game for his new team.

Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points for Boston, which also got 19 points each from Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart (see full recap).

Westbrook triple-double lifts Thunder over Lakers
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook scored 17 points in his 28th triple-double of the season, and his new teammates fit in seamlessly as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 110-93 on Friday night.

Westbrook also had 18 rebounds and 17 assists for the 65th triple-double of his career.

It was the first game for new Thunder players Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, acquired Thursday in a trade with the Chicago Bulls. Gibson scored 12 points and McDermott added eight, even though they arrived Thursday night and weren't even available for shootaround on Friday.

Alex Abrines and Andre Roberson each set a career high with 19 points, and Steven Adams added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder.

D'Angelo Russell scored 29 for the Lakers (see full recap).

Pacers beat Grizzlies to snap six-game skid
INDIANAPOLIS -- CJ Miles made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points, Paul George had nine points and nine rebounds after remaining with Indiana following the trade deadline, and the Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 102-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

Monta Ellis finished with 16 points, Myles Turner scored 12, and Lavoy Allen, Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young each added 10 for the Pacers.

The Pacers outscored the Grizzlies 64-42 across the middle two quarters and never relinquished their lead, leading by as many as 27 points in the second half. The Grizzlies finished the game shooting 41 percent from the floor (35 for 84).

Troy Daniels had 13 points for Memphis and Marc Gasol scored 12. Indiana outrebounded Memphis 50-39 and scored 29 points off 17 Grizzlies turnovers (see full recap).