The six Philadelphia Division I schools are ready to begin another season. Action starts on Friday, November 14, 2014. Philly College Sports takes a capsule look at each school.
#12 Villanova Wildcats – The action begins in Allentown on Friday for the Wildcats as they take on the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. The nationally ranked Main Liners return JayVaughn Pinkston, Ryan Arcidiacono, Darrun Hilliard, and Daniel Ochefu. The Lehigh game marks the return of Hilliard to his native Lehigh Valley. Following that game Villanova will participate in regional round games in the Legends Classic Regional Rounds against UMES and Bucknell, both games at the Pavilion. The Blue and White will meet VCU and either Michigan or Oregon in the Championship Round of the Classic. Those games are scheduled to take place at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.
The defending regular season champion Wildcats are the preseason pick to win the Big East this year. Georgetown was picked for second place. Pinkston was named to the preseason All-Big East First Team. Arcidiacono and Hilliard were preseason Second Team selections.
Villanova faces the usual Big East schedule on a home and away basis. Their conference schedule begins on December 31 at home against Butler. Coach Jay Wright’s squad will meet their city rivals in Big Five competition. The Wildcats are the defending city champions. Other non-conference games of note are contests against Illinois in Madison Square Garden on December 9 as part of the Jimmy V. Classic, and a date with Syracuse on December 20 at Wells Fargo Center. Delaware, Marquette, Georgetown, and St. John’s are schedule to play at the Center.
Last season the Blue and White established a new regular season record for victories with 28. The team finished 29 – 5 with a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament as a reward. However, Villanova lost in the first round of the Big East Tournament and in their second tournament game against eventual national champion Connecticut. They look to equal last season’s success, and to enhance it.
Temple Owls – The Cherry and White look to improve on last season’s record. They will have to do so against the usual challenging schedule. The Owls face perennial national powers Duke and Kansas. The Jayhawks come to the Wells Fargo Center on December 22. The season opens on November 14 at home against American U. in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic first round. Louisiana Tech visits on November 20. The game against Duke will be at the Barclay’s Center as part of the Classic with a second game in Brooklyn against ether Stanford or UNLV.
The December 6 game against La Salle will be at the Palestra. Temple opens their conference schedule against the defending national champion Huskies of Connecticut. Coach Fran Dunphy’s squad will meet their city rivals in Big Five games.
Jimmy McDonnell and Will Cummings will captain this season’s team. Aaron McKie returns to Temple as an assistant coach. Temple was picked to finish 6th in the American Athletic Conference. Cummings and Quenton DeCosey were selected to the AAC Preseason Second Team. The team will look to establish their winning ways.
Saint Joseph’s Hawks – The defending Atlantic 10 Tournament Champions will be missing three of last seasons stalwarts in Langston Galloway, Halil Kanacevic, and Ronald Roberts. However, DeAndre Bembry does return and looks to be the major rebuilding block for the Hawks. He and Chris Wilson will be team captains. Papa Ndao will miss the season due to injury.
Bembry was named to the Preseason Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team. Saint Joe’s was picked to finish in 8th place. VCU was the unanimous choice to finish first.
SJU opens the season on November 14 at home against Fairleigh Dickinson followed by a December 17th date at Drexel. The Hawks will participate in the Preseason NIT. The first game will be at Gonzaga. Saint Joe’s will be at home for the second game against LIU Brooklyn before heading to Madison Square Garden to play Western Kentucky. Coach Phil Martelli and the team will meet city rivals in Big Five competition. The Holy War is at Villanova this year on December 6.
The conference schedule starts on January 3 at home against George Washington.
La Salle Explorers – The front court in the form of Jerrell Wright and Steve Zack will anchor the Explorers who look to bounce back after a perplexing season last year. Wright was named to the Preseason All-Atlantic 10 Second Team while Zack was a Third Team selection. La Salle was picked to finish in 7th place.
The non-conference schedule for Coach John Giannini’s team includes the Big Five games as Villanova visits the Gola Arena on December 3. The Explorers will participate in the Barclay’s Center Classic and will face defending ACC Champion Virginia on November 29. Rutgers and Vanderbilt are in the tournament field. The season starts on November 15 at home against Colgate. The Atlantic 10 games begin on January 3rd at George Mason.
The question for La Salle will be at the guard position. D.J. Peterson returns to the lineup along with Khalid Lewis. Who else will step up for the Explorers?
Penn Quakers – The Ivy League was Penn and Princeton, Princeton and Penn. Harvard is now the unanimous choice for the top spot. Penn was picked to finish 7th in the Ancient Eight with Princeton slotted at number 4.
The season begins for Penn with three home games against Delaware State, Rider, and Lafayette. Big Five competition for Coach Jerome Allen’s team starts on November 29 at Temple. Villanova visits on January 17, and Saint Joe’s comes in on January 24. Penn travels to La Salle on December 30. The Red and Blue will travel to Nashville for a game against Vanderbilt. The Quakers go to Princeton on January 10 to start the Ivy League schedule. Princeton comes to the Palestra on March 10 as the regular season finale. Harvard comes to Philadelphia on January 31. The return trip to Boston is on February 20.
To return to those days of yesteryear is on the shoulders of Darien Nelson-Henry and Tony Hicks.
Drexel Dragons – Damion Lee returns to the Drexel team who was picked to finish fourth in the CAA. Lee was named to the All-CAA Preseason First Team. Drexel lost some fire power in Frantz Massenat and Chris Fouch. Lee will have to replace the points. As usual Drexel will go hard to the glass.
The season starts on November 14 at Colorado. The Dragons return home for an emotional game at the DAC against Saint Joseph’s, Coach Bruiser Flint’s alma mater. La Salle visits West Philly on December 13. Southern Mississippi plays in Philadelphia on November 30.
The CAA schedule starts on January 3 with a home game against new conference member Elon. Preseason pick to finish first was Northeastern. The Huskies come to the DAC on January 28.