Five inducted into Big Five Hall of Fame

Marvin O'Connor played at Simon Gratz, Villanova, and St. Joseph's. ED HILLE / Staff
Marvin O'Connor played at Simon Gratz, Villanova, and St. Joseph's. ED HILLE / Staff (ED HILLE / Staff)
Posted: January 26, 2013

Marvin O'Connor made three all-Big Five teams, won the 2001 Geasey Award as its player of the year, and earned three all-Atlantic Ten Conference nods.

But perhaps an equally amazing part of his college career was that O'Connor saw both sides of the Big Five's most intense rivalry. The Simon Gratz graduate began at Villanova but left after one season and transferred to St. Joseph's.

"Maybe coming out of high school, [Villanova] was a bit much for me," O'Connor said Friday at the Palestra, where he was part of the newest class of inductees into the Big Five Hall of Fame. "When I got to St. Joe's, it was a different atmosphere. It was a little toned-down, and the expectations weren't quite as high. It was a great fit."

O'Connor, who played at St. Joseph's from 1999 through 2002, was inducted along with the Hawks' Angela Zampella, Trish Juhline of Villanova, Jen Ricco of Temple, and the late Phil Jasner of the Philadelphia Daily News at a luncheon on the Palestra court.

O'Connor played for 31/2 seasons in Europe for teams in Italy, Slovenia, and Yugoslavia. But he said his time at St. Joseph's, especially playing for coach Phil Martelli, was a big influence in his life.

"Phil is so many things, it probably would take an hour to tell you what he's brought to the table," he said. "One thing he brought is how to be a good human being first, and the basketball and the athletics are always secondary."

The three women inducted Friday enjoyed much success with their teams in their respective conferences but said the atmosphere that existed in Big Five games was special.

"It's something you can't find anywhere else," said Juhline, a Cardinal O'Hara graduate who ended her Wildcat career in 2003 with 1,659 points. "Our season's goal was to win the Big Five. The games were supercompetitive, where you're basically trying to scratch each other's eyes out, and then you're all friends after the game."

Ricco, who starred at Mastbaum and led the Owls in scoring in two seasons, said there was familiarity among the players at all the schools.

"We played with them in AAU, went to camp with them," she said. "So I knew them beforehand. It was good going up against them and still being able to talk with them about it afterward and not hate each other. It was a great experience."

Zampella, a three-time all-Big Five selection who scored 1,509 career points, called her induction "an amazing honor considering the tradition of the Big Five and the Palestra."

Andy Jasner said his father, who died of cancer in 2010, would have felt "a little overwhelmed" by his induction. Though Phil Jasner covered the 76ers for more than 30 years, he began his career covering the Big Five, and he kept in touch with many people associated with it through the years, his son said.


Watch video interviews of Marvin O'Connor and Andy Jasner talking about the Big Five Hall of Fame at www.philly.com/pretzel


Contact Joe Juliano at jjuliano@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @joejulesinq.

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