Villanova-St. Joe's bigger than just a game

"It's a game that has the ability to create a lifetime of memories," says St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
"It's a game that has the ability to create a lifetime of memories," says St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
Posted: December 08, 2013

The passionate rivalry between St. Joseph's and Villanova's basketball teams, considered the best in the Big Five, renews on Saturday when the two meet in a 6 p.m. Big Five game at Hagan Arena.

Villanova (8-0) is ranked No. 14 in the nation, adding even more to the event, although this is not a rivalry that needs anything extra.

"It really is an occasion when you are playing in a game that is bigger than yourself," said St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli, whose 4-3 team is coming off Wednesday's 77-69 Big Five loss at Temple. "I don't really go into it with the players, but it matters to the dry cleaner in the area, barber shops, the churches, and it's a game that has the ability to create a lifetime of memories."

Even though Villanova has already beaten a Kansas team that was ranked No. 2 in the nation, this Big Five rivalry is a big deal to the Wildcats.

"For me, growing up in Philadelphia, it's a real honor to be part of this game," said Villanova coach Jay Wright, who attended Council Rock High.

This will be a test of depth for St. Joseph's. In the Temple game, the starters scored 67 of the Hawks' 69 points.

Villanova, meanwhile, brings in reserves in waves. Martelli pointed out that during the Wildcats' championship in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas last week, seven different Villanova players scored double figures at least once in the three wins over USC, Kansas and Iowa.

"Jay [Wright] deserves a tremendous amount of credit because he doesn't blink when using combinations," Martelli said. "It's hard to write up a scouting report, because you don't know the combinations he is going to use."

Villanova, which leads the series, 45-25, has won four of the last five in the series, including last season's 65-61 triumph at the Pavilion. The only loss during this span was a 78-54 Hawks win Dec. 17, 2011, in the first game played at Hagan Arena between the two.

Senior guard Langston Galloway, who scored 24 points against Temple, is averaging a team-high 18.1 points, while 6-foot-8 senior Ronald Roberts Jr. averages 17.4 points and 7.4 rebounds.

James Bell, a 6-6 senior, and JayVaughn Pinkston, a 6-7 junior, are both averaging a team-high 16.6 points for Villanova, which is coming off Wednesday's 77-54 win over visiting Penn.


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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