Time to get ready for basketball season

Because today is the first of November, and that means something around here.

- Kyle Whelliston, on midmajority.com
this morning

Yes, it really is November. I'm not sure I can believe it myself, but it's true. The leaves have turned, the wind is brisk, and the time has come for us to reconvene after a summer spent our separate ways.

Eleven days from now, the new college basketball season will tip off in Philadelphia. Five of the City Six schools play their season openers on November 12: Temple vs. Seton Hall, Villanova vs. Bucknell, Saint Joseph's vs. Western Kentucky, La Salle vs. Columbia and Drexel at Loyola (Maryland). One night later, Penn will christen the Palestra's 83rd season of operation against Davidson.

Although I can't promise you an essay every day until then, we will have a few preseason festivities on here. Chief among them is the return of the Schuylkill 16. There will be a preseason ranking this year, to be published right before opening night.

That means it's time to put out the annual call for participation. If you're interested in voting this year, email me and I'll add you to the listserv.

I'd also like to bring back a feature that we skipped over last year: the Readership Survey. Part of the reason why we didn't have one last season is that the 2008-09 season ballot didn't go very well.


Which local college basketball team will you be rooting for this season?

In this blog's first season, 2006-07, we had 138 votes, but that was because the blog was still new. In 2007-08, we had 2,357 votes, which was great. But in 2008-09, we only had 485 votes. Let's do better than that this year, okay?

Feel free to vote as many times as you want. Unlike tomorrow's election, stuffing the ballot box is totally encouraged with this poll.

In addition, the Big Dance is back. In the right rail, you'll see a newly-designed widget that will bring you all the latest college basketball updates and commentary from across Twitter. You can join the conversation by hashtagging a tweet with #bigdance, or by sending a tweet to @pretzel_logic.

The offseason went by remarkably quickly. I know I didn't post as much on here as I did in previous summers, and I thank all of you for your understanding as I branched out into covering soccer. I know that many of you are fans of the sport as well, and I saw quite a few familiar faces at PPL Park over the summer.

But that season has come to an end, at least around here. Now it's time to return our attention to the hardwood.

It's amazing to me that this will be my fifth season of blogging here, and my ninth overall in Philadelphia. The time has gone by so quickly. One of the great things about college basketball, though, is that every season has something new.

For every senior who will carry the burden of leading his program to victory, there is a freshman who will take the floor in a college game for the first time. For every student section leader who will come to the Palestra knowing exactly when to unveil a certain rollout, there will be someone a few rows back who has never been to a City Series game before.

I still remember the first Big 5 game I attended, and the buzz I felt leaving the Palestra even though the final score was lopsided. Whether we watch as journalists, fans, players or coaches, we are fortunate to be part of a really special thing here in Philadelphia.

Here's hoping we don't forget that as we begin a new college basketball season across the city.