When Penn junior Devon Goodman was in high school at Germantown Academy, his team won four straight Inter-Ac League basketball titles. Temple senior Shizz Alston had many great league battles against Goodman while competing for the Haverford School.
Once again, the two guards will be competing and there will be championship implications when Penn (10-6) visits Temple (14-3) at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Liacouras Center.
“I remember growing up and coming to Big 5 games and they were exciting to go to, and to be able to be here, in this spot, where we haven’t won a Big 5 title in a while is a great opportunity,” Goodman said earlier this week before practice. “We know how big this is.”
Penn last won the Big 5 championship in the 2001-02 season. Temple’s most recent Big 5 title came in 2012-13 when the Owls shared the championship with La Salle.
Villanova has won the last five Big 5 titles. Penn’s 78-75 win at the Palestra over Villanova snapped the Wildcats' 25-game winning streak in the Big 5.
Alston conceded that he was cheering wildly for Penn as he watched the Quakers beat Villanova. A win by Villanova would have clinched the Wildcats' sixth straight outright title. Penn’s win allowed Temple back in the race.
“I was a big Penn fan that night,” said Alston, who is averaging a team-high 19.2 points.
Penn is 2-0 in the Big 5, with wins over La Salle and Villanova, and would clinch at least a tie for the title with a win. If Penn beats Temple and then St. Joseph’s next week, the Quakers will be the outright champion.
Temple is 2-1 in the Big 5, with wins over La Salle and St. Joseph’s and a loss to Villanova. If Temple wins, it will clinch at least a tie for the Big 5 title. An Owls win would also earn Villanova a share of the championship.
If Penn loses to Temple, the Quakers could clinch a share with the win the following Saturday against St. Joseph’s. In that scenario, Penn, Villanova and Temple would share the title.This will also be the final Big 5 game at Temple for coach Fran Dunphy, who will be replaced by associate head coach Aaron McKie after this season.
Dunphy will face the only other team for which he has been a head coach. He was Penn’s coach for 17 years and is in his 13th season at Temple.
“Winning this game and earning a share of the title would mean so much to me because, when I was young, I used to go to the Palestra and looked up to the Big 5 players,” Alston said. “Plus, with this being Coach’s last year, it would mean a lot to have us win this championship.”
Both Alston and Goodman remember their Inter-Ac battles well. In the final game between the two, Goodman and Germantown Academy overcame a 10-point deficit with four minutes remaining to defeat Haverford School, 60-57, despite 24 points from Alston.
“Those were tough matchups playing against Devon Goodman and GA,” Alston said.
Goodman felt the same.
“Their team never beat us for the championship, but Shizz was a heck of a player then and you see what he is doing now,” said Goodman, who is second on the Quakers in scoring, averaging 13.0 points.
Penn is looking to snap a four-game losing streak, which includes the Quakers' first two Ivy League games, both against Princeton.
Temple, meanwhile, enters with a four-game-winning streak after Wednesday’s 85-74 victory at East Carolina.