Princeton bows to St. Joseph’s as defense gives way

Princeton did not expect its second straight contest against an A-10 foe to go as well as the first. St. Joseph’s, picked preseason number 2 in the conference and winner of three straight versus the Tigers, promised much stiffer competition than the 13th-ranked George Washington Colonials.

Princeton’s expectations were fulfilled.

Phil Martelli’s club, behind Lamarr Kimble’s 22-point second-half explosion, raced past the Tigers, 92-82, Wednesday in an intensely fought and entertaining battle.

Read morePrinceton bows to St. Joseph’s as defense gives way

St. Joseph bests guest Princeton as Tigers lean heavily on their “big three”

PHILADELPHIA – The Tigers invaded the decidedly unfriendly confines of Hagan Arena on the otherwise welcoming campus of St. Joseph’s University on Saturday evening. Mitch Henderson continues his search for an effective rotation, realizing that his freshmen will need to undergo an ordeal by fire early in this new season.

He chose  a veteran-laden starting lineup in Philadelphia, going with seniors Amir Bell, Alec Brennan and Mike LeBlanc, along with juniors Devin Cannady and Myles Stephens. Will Gladson, the 6’10” sophomore, missed his third game due to injury.

Read moreSt. Joseph bests guest Princeton as Tigers lean heavily on their “big three”

Where Princeton stands after eight games

Princeton’s first month, spent almost entirely on the road, ended on a positive note in Lynchburg, Va. on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers’ three-point dam, which cracked slightly against Hawaii’s Rainbow Warriors in a win to conclude the Pearl Harbor Invitational, burst wide open in a tough, hold-them-off-at-the-end 67-64 victory over the Liberty Flames. Princeton canned 17 threes, including an unlikely six from Aaron Young, presenting Princeton coach Mitch Henderson with an early Christmas present: career win number 100. Spencer Weisz also broke out of some early season doldrums to do what he does best: make other players better. His career-high 13 assists tied the program record held by T. J. Bray.

Read moreWhere Princeton stands after eight games

St. Joe’s knows Lo: How the Lions can start winning at the wire

Following last night’s devastating 80-78 loss to Saint Joseph’s, Columbia (4-5) has now lost three out of its last four games by a combined four points.

Each time, the Lions have had the ball in their hands with a chance for the tie or victory on the last possession. Each time, they’ve come up short.

Last night, it was the Lions’ defense that surprisingly gave them a chance to win late in the second half after largely going missing for much of the second frame. Saint Joseph’s shot 59.4 percent in the second half after missing 22 of its first 33 shots, but Columbia’s press defense came up huge in the final two minutes, forcing a five-second call and a turnover on the sideline that set up the final play.

With 5.3 seconds to go, the Lions had a golden opportunity, inbounding in the Hawks’ half of the floor. Everyone knew where the ball was going — especially Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli.

Read moreSt. Joe’s knows Lo: How the Lions can start winning at the wire

Big 5 doubleheader at Palestra officially slated for January

Big 5

There have been signs that a Big 5 doubleheader was a distinct possibility for next season. Now it’s a sure thing.

Philly.com reported Wednesday that the Palestra will indeed host a Big 5 doubleheader on Wed., Jan. 20, 2016 featuring Temple vs. La Salle and St. Joseph’s vs. Penn, the first all-city twinbill since the Big 5 Classic’s last outing in 2004.

“This is how Philadelphia first fell in love with college basketball – by seeing two great games and four great teams in one night in what I think is the most intimate setting to watch a game,”
Penn coach Steve Donahue told Philly.com.

Donahue, former Penn and current Temple coach Fran Dunphy, St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli and La Salle coach John Giannini have always publicly revered the Palestra as the hub of Big 5 hoops, and they were undoubtedly driving forces behind the 2016 twinbill.

The Big 5 office reportedly said “other facts about the celebration” will follow. What could those be? Well, Big 5 executive director and former Penn athletic director Steve Bilsky said in February that he envisioned a Big 5 week with a banquet the night before, an alumni game, students from the schools playing against each other, sponsorships and television.