For one day, six Philadelphia collegiate basketball teams put their rivalries aside and instead united to battle a common cause.
Although each of the Big 5 schools, plus Drexel, gave fans an early glimpse at their teams for the upcoming season in respective 45-minute practice sessions, the focus of the day was not exclusively on the basketball court.
The open practices were scheduled under the motivation of raising money for "Coaches vs. Cancer."
Since its creation in 1993, the charity has brought in donations totaling $13.5 million to benefit the American Cancer Society.
"This is a tremendous event," second-year La Salle coach Billy Hahn said. "Not too many family trees are not affected by the deadly disease of cancer. This is raising money and that's great."
Throughout the afternoon, cheerleaders from each of the schools circulated the crowd, asking for donations. Fans, of course, complied.
"Any chance we get to help people, we'll do anything," St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said. "Speaking for my players as well, anything we can do, you can count on us."
The Philly 6 coaches represent an integral part of "Coaches v. Cancer."
"We're all very close," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said of the six local coaches. "This event brought us closer. We all appreciate how fortunate we are."
And, of course, each coach loved coming to the Big 5 cathedral, if only for a brief practice session.
"I love it," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "I love Philly. I love the Palestra."
Here are some tidbits from each of the teams' practice sessions:
La Salle: Mike Cleaves is not related to Mateen Cleaves, but the 5-foot-10 guard was able to get up for a few dunks... Freshman Steven Smith, a Philadelphia native, hit a halfcourt shot on his first try, ending the Explorers' practice... Coach Billy Hahn compared his team, which has six freshmen, to a 16-year old with a driver's license.
Temple: John Chaney did not run practice and was dressed discreetly in street clothes.
St. Joe's: Sadly, 7-foot-1 Russian center Alexandre Sazanov no longer has cornrows... Sophomore guard Delonte West had three steals, all of which led to fast-break layups, in the first two minutes of a full-court scrimmage... The Hawk, introduced as the "most famous mascot in sports," was the only mascot present on Saturday.
Villanova: The Wildcats were the only team to treat fans to a full-court scrimmage for the entire duration of practice... Senior forward Ricky Wright manhandled blue-chip freshman Jason Fraser inside. "He's struggling, but he's working hard and has a great attitude," Jay Wright said of the 6-foot-10 Fraser. "Young, big guys are always are slow to develop, but once he gets there, he'll be special."
Penn: Freshman Patrick Hadden (shoulder injury), transfer Eric Osmundson (torn ACL) and Nameir Majette did not practice... The Quakers played with a lot of intensity and hit a ton of three pointers, but Dunphy is not yet satisfied. "As a coach, you're never satisfied," the Penn coach said. "We're getting there, but we still have to play better defense. And we're still working on our execution."Comments powered by Disqus
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