A portion of this article will be featured in La Salle University's weekly newspaper, "The Collegian."
Edited by David DiPasqua Jr.
The success of the Big Five caught everybody by surprise. The Big Five intended to bring big-name Philadelphia schools together and create profits to upkeep the Palestra. Villanova, St. Joseph's, Temple, La Salle, and Penn changed college basketball in the city of brotherly love forever. Tradition and intense rivalries were created and still live on today. The rivalries are renewed for the 2010-2011 season and some teams in the Big Five are stronger than ever.
The La Salle Explorers are coming off a disappointing season of 12 wins and 18 losses. The Explorers failed to meet their high expectations, but hope to rebound this season behind head coach Dr. John Giannini.
The Explorers lost point guard Rodney Green to graduation. He was a key player for the team, averaging 18.5 points per game in his senior year. The Explorers feel they have talented players who can fill Green's shoes.
Five current seniors return for the upcoming season, including Jerrell Williams, who averaged 10 points per game and seven rebounds last season. Also, the Explorers welcome transfer student Earl Pettis, a junior who played at Rutgers University. La Salle recruited four freshman, including seven-foot center Matt Lopez and the highly touted guard, Sam Mills.
Villanova is clearly the favorite in the Big Five. The Wildcats finished with a 25-8 record last season. They were upset in the second round of the NCAA basketball tournament despite being seeded second in the South region.
Villanova is without Scottie Reynolds, the team's former star who averaged 18 points per game. Jay Wright still has plenty of proven talent in his juggernaut lineup. Seniors Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes lead the way. Fisher, a guard, averaged 13 points last season, and Stokes, a forward and a guard, averaged 9.5 points and four rebounds. Also among returnees are sophomores Dominic Cheek and Maaik Wayns, who are both on the rise and expected to receive an increase in playing time.
Villanova already has high expectations for the 2010-2011 season. The Associated Press ranked them sixth in the nation in their annual preseason rankings.
Villanova will travel to the Tom Gola Arena on December 12. The Explorers hope for a different outcome against the Wildcats after losing to them 81-63 last year.
The Big Five's next biggest threat is the Temple Owls, who are ranked 22nd in the nation by the Associated Press. Like Villanova, Temple made it to the NCAA tournament last season, but lost early. Temple was kicked out in the first round by Cornell in the East region.
Temple has a scary duo in Lavoy Allen and Juan Fernandez. Allen returns for his final season. Allen averaged 11.5 points and 10.7 rebounds last season as a forward. Fernandez, a junior guard, averaged 12.6 points and 3.6 assists in the 2009-2010 season.
La Salle and Temple will face each other twice this season; February 2 at the Tom Gola Arena and March 5 at the Liacouras Center. The Owls beat the Explorers by twelve points in both meetings last year.
The Penn Quakers are coming off a horrific year. An embarrassing record of 6-22 led to the firing of coach Glen Miller. Jerome Allen will take over and he is a perfect fit for the team. Allen, an alumni of Penn, appeared in three Ivy League championship games and was a two-time Ivy League player of the year.
Captains Zack Ronen, Jack Eggleson, and Conor Turley are the centerpieces of the team. Ronen, a junior guard, averaged 17.7 points per game. Eggleson averaged 13 points per game as a junior, and Turley is battling back from injuries last season.
Penn was the only Big Five team that the Explorers were able to beat last season. The Explorers hope for the same outcome when the Quakers come to the Tom Gola Arena on January 12.
Each team in the Big Five has its own rival, but there is one school that is a rival to all: St. Joseph's. Phil Martelli's team may not be nationally ranked, but the St. Joe's Hawks are always a threat.
Losing Darrin Govens and team most valuable player Garret Williamson are significant losses for St. Joeseph's, but they have a top recruits in C.J Aiken and Langston Galloway, whom were both named to the 2010-2011 Atlantic 10 Preseason All-Rookie Team.
Aiken was named Pennsylvania's Class AAAA Player of the Year and was an Associated Press All-State First Team selection. Galloway, a guard, averaged 26 points, five assists, and five steals during his senior year in high school.
The Hawks demolished the Explorers last season, but on January 26, La Salle looks for redemption at the Palestra.
Villanova and Temple appear to be the strongest teams on paper in the Big Five, but the other three teams should not be taken lightly. All five teams have proven talent, as well as young stars in the making. All the Big Five games are guaranteed to rile up the fans and intensify the rivalries as the tradition lives on.