VILLANOVA HAS had great players, going back to Hall of Famer Paul Arizin, who played from 1947-50, through Hubie White, Wali Jones, Howard Porter, Bill Melchionni, John Pinone, Ed Pinckney, Kerry Kittles, Randy Foye and Scottie Reynolds. The Wildcats have had first-team All-Americas and have eight 2,000-point scorers. What 'Nova has never had is a national Player of the Year.
I LOVE WRITERS who take readers places they could never go themselves. In her new book, Long Shots, Dana O'Neil takes her readers into the final Villanova huddle of the 2016 Final Four and then takes them meticulously through the 15 years of the Jay Wright era that led to that moment that would lead to that long shot by Kris Jenkins.
LA SALLE is hot. La Salle is a game out of first place in the Atlantic 10. The Explorers led George Washington wire-to-wire Sunday at Gola Arena, not really comfortable for 29 minutes and then very comfortable after a five-minute blitz of brilliant playmaking and shotmaking.
THE PENN players were seated in front of their lockers, most with their eyes closed, many with towels over their heads, leaning back into their stalls. With the countdown clock on the wall at 56:30, Joe Dowling began to speak in a soothing tone.
MY FAVORITE part of covering college hoops is seeing something I never expected. We all tend to make quick judgments rather than waiting to see how something or someone develops. What we rarely see is what happens in those times when nobody is looking, when players are by themselves in the gym or spending time with their coaches. So when the games begin each season, we are often surprised.
DREXEL WAS one stop away from a win Monday evening at the DAC against Northeastern, one of the CAA's better teams in recent seasons. The Dragons had fashioned an 18-point turnaround over 13 minutes spanning the halves, from 10 points down to eight points in front. As the game clock went under 40 seconds, they held a three-point lead following two short jumpers by freshman point guard Kurk Lee.
RUSS HARRIS could have written about anything. He chose to write about horse racing. He could have been great at anything. He chose to be great at handicapping horse races. He could have retired quietly after a distinguished career in newspapers, including the Inquirer, New York Daily News and Miami Herald. He chose to go to Lehigh to study for his doctorate in American history. He got it - at 75.
Now that non-conference games are down to a precious few and league play is starting, it is time to review what we have learned. Locally, Temple, Drexel and Penn are better than I or anybody had imagined. Saint Joseph's and La Salle are about what we thought they would be. And No. 1 Villanova continues to play brilliant basketball as they set out on their Big East journey.
Dick Jerardi specializes in college basketball and horse racing. He has covered every Triple Crown race since 1987 and every NCAA Tournament since 1988, in addition to chronicling the careers of two National College Basketball Players of the Year, La Salle's Lionel Simmons (1990) and St. Joseph's Jameer Nelson (2004). He’s also covered many major events, including the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and 2001 NBA Finals.