Saint Joseph's held its men's basketball media day this afternoon on Hawk Hill, and as you would expect, there was a big cluster of reporters gathered around Phil Martelli from the very start.
The first few minutes of converstation were about Hagan Arena, the sparkling new edition of what used to be Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse. But then came a question about matters on the floor, as Martelli was asked if "the challenge is any greater than in past years."
And we were off to the races, as Dick Jerardi might say.
To be honest with you, I think it is more challenging. Call it the way it is: we haven't had any of you guys around all year. We really are, in this city, this year, an afterthought. And I'm okay with that.
You have a team coming off a Final Four that has established itself as one of the premier programs. You have a two-time Atlantic 10 champion. You have a team that plays in the best building in college basketball. You have a La Salle team that has really allowed their players to grow up.
I just think that Bru's team - I think, the last time I checked, I might be incorrect on this, but I think they've beaten us two of the last three times ... So there's a lot of great things going in Philadelphia. But certainly, I'm very aware of the fact that there hasn't been a word written about St. Joseph's.
So there is more of a challenge. There is more of a responsibility to take our proper place in this city and in this league. The preseason predictions are what they shoudld be: we were picked 10th. And probably, if I went back and picked my ballot, I picked us 10th or 11th. It's alright, though. It is what it is, and it is what it should be for right now.
I asked Martelli what his expectations are this season for senior guard Garrett Williamson. That answer was also quite interesting.
Garrett was voted captain by his teammates, and I think that speaks volumes. But I want Garrett to be a basketball player this year. He has [an] unbelievable work ethic [and] he has a defensive ability comparable to anybody that I've ever had. He has leadership. He is truly the consummate team player.
But he hasn't taken enough shots in college basketball. So he spent the whole summer not playing basketball, but shooting the ball, shooting the ball, shooting the ball. It's going to be important that he gets shots in the air and has a chance to become a complete player, and not just a complementary player.
I'm anxious for Garrett to have that opportunity, and his response has been very good during this preseason.
You can hear Martelli's remarks in full in the audio player below. But first, a few words about Hagan Arena.
This was my first time there, as I was out of town on the day of the facility's dedication ceremony. It is really nice, and everything is as modern as you would expect.
But it is not as different from the old Fieldhouse as I expected it to be. In fact, a lot of the elements are exactly the same, particularly the roof and the sideline walls. The seats are all new, but those elements of the exterior have not changed.
The real difference is in the endline seats. The walls behind both baskets were completely blown out, and a second level of seating was added. This basically doubled the size of the student section, as well as the size of the seating area behind the opposite basket.
The main concourse that you walk through after coming in from the parking lot has also been redone, with a new floor and new lighting.
You can see it all for yourself in the photo gallery above.