If you enjoy watching basketball to any degree, then Philadelphia University became heaven on earth this weekend as The Basketball Tournament took over the Gallagher Center.
Though his team would eventually fall in the second round, 2014 Penn graduate Fran Dougherty was center stage for the event and certainly important in helping his team, the Philly Patriots, come together.
“It started with Fran McGlinn, Dan Comas and Fran Dougherty. They put it together,” Sammy Zeglinski, a member of the Patriots and a UVA graduate , said. “I got some of my former Virginia teammates in on it and they were all about it.”
Going into the tournament, the team was looked at as one of the favorites to go on a deep run, in part due to their recruitment of former UVA star Sean Singletary. Yet a late injury to Singletary left him on the bench as the team’s coach.
“It was a shame Sean didn’t get the OK to play, coming in we thought he would be able to play and we were excited about that,” Zeglinski, Singletary’s former teammate, said. “He said he would help coach and stay on the roster, he has a great basketball mind and it’s great to have him on the team.”
The Patriots coasted to an easy win in their first round matchup against Pup ‘N Suds, a team of unheralded players from nearby Delaware County. While the Patriots were made up of players with experience playing basketball in Europe or on D-I teams, Pup ‘N Suds were the underdog in the truest sense, from their name (a reference to the Disney movie “Brink!” ) to their lack of relative size and athleticism.
“They [gave us some trouble], we thought we were going to blow them out looking across the court,” Patriots power forward Ryan Pettinella said. “It’s a typical thing coming in first round, but you can’t overlook anyone.”
After dispatching Pup ‘N Suds 71-51, Dougherty’s team went on to face the tougher Citi Team, which proved to be too much for the Patriots to handle and ended their tournament run with a 74-70 loss. The Citi Team was led by Anthony Gurley (UMass/Wake Forest) and Darin Mency (Merrimack) who contributed 21 and 18 points respectively.
In the remaining tournament games, Team Barstool and Notre Dame Fighting Alumni ultimately separated themselves from the pack to set up a final matchup on June 28 at a location to be decided by fan vote. Team Barstool boasts a plethora of ex-NBA talent including Dahntay Jones and Josh Boone, while the Fighting Alumni have a balanced roster of some of the best basketball talent to graduate in the past decade.
Though talent came from far and wide to play, a large number of players came from within the local Philadelphia area.
In many ways, Dougherty was an example of the type of talent that made up most of the tournament.
Dougherty is a local player, having grown up in nearby New Britain, Pa., and a former Ivy League and Big 5 player with aspirations to play in Europe.
The Basketball Tournament featured plenty of players of all of those dispositions, including teams from Cornell and Princeton, teams of local players (like Pup ‘N Suds), and teams of Big 5 players. In fact, Dougherty wasn’t even the only recent Ivy League graduate to play, as former Princeton guard T.J. Bray teamed up with other recent Princeton alumni on another team.
But for a lot of players, Dougherty included, a large part of the experience was playing close to home in the city of Brotherly Love.
“Playing in Philly has been so important to me, high school, college and now still playing in tournaments like this,” Dougherty said. “It’s really special and it’s great to stay at home and have people come out to the games that you know.”