Bracy: Big 5 a brotherhood to be treasured

Temple fans tell La Salle what they think during a game at the Palestra this season. (Joe Fedorowicz/Philahoops)


Philahoops Staff


Ending the season on Saturday night wasn’t what Villanova fans had hoped for, but the Wildcats’ loss to UConn made some supporters of rival schools giddy.

And so it is in the Big 5 circa 2014. Thanks to message boards and social media, primarily, there is a new level of “hate” apparent between some fans of the rival Philadelphia schools.

And it’s fans’ rights to feel the way they want about their school and rivalries regardless of what some sportswriter says. So, let’s get that out there.

But it’s my feeling that the Big 5 is a unique collaboration of schools, a special family that should be treasured and supported. For me, it’s like the sports rivalry with your brother: You want to beat your brother, but don’t want anyone else to beat him.

For some Big 5 fans, though, it seems as if they are happier to see a rival school lose than see their own school have success.

I heard that some St. Joe’s fans, upset at their opening-round loss to UConn, booed when Villanova players entered the court on Thursday night. If true, this is just sad.

I know some fans with the hashtag #thwnd and #tumbb, particularly, delighted in the Wildcats’ demise on Saturday night. Throughout the season, some similar sentiments came from #lasallembb toward one of its rivals. Some from #NovaNation took delight in Temple’s struggles this season. (Penn backers seem to be having enough problems with their own house to get involved in all of this.)

And so it goes.

There is good reason for some of this dislike, particularly toward Villanova. Tired of losing to Philadelphia rivals, the Wildcats looked for ways out of the Big 5 in the 1980’s and the partial round-robin was born. Temple doesn’t seem get its share in the blame, but the Owls administration was complicit in the coup as well.

That’s history, though. It’s 2014. Time to move on. Current Cats coach Jay Wright has been an avid supporter of the Big 5 since his arrival on the Main Line, embracing the rivalries, traditions and history. Surely, Wright wants to beat everyone in the Big 5, but he has done nothing but support the other four schools when they are not playing Nova.

It says here that it’s time for fans to do the same.

-Thank you: Villanova’s loss to UConn capped another regular season of Philadelphia college basketball. It also ended the fourth season of in-season coverage by Philahoops.

What began in a Newport, R.I. hotel on a December morning in 2010 has turned into something special, and it’s has been a real joy to provide coverage of Drexel, La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova for the last four seasons.

Philahoops would be nothing without people visiting the site, so I sincerely would like you to thank you for reading our stories, interacting on Twitter and Facebook, and saying hello at games. Your interest and passion keep the site going.

Due to family and work commitments, I had to take a bit of a step back in the second half of this season. Thanks to the hard work of Kevin Rossi (Drexel), Joe Fedorowicz (La Salle/tech), Adam Booth (Penn), James Hill (Saint Joseph’s), Chase Senior (Temple) and Mike Angelina (Villanova) the site kept going strong.

I’d also like to thank Laurie Dougherty, Aaron Coleman, Rich Fogel, Kyle Babcock, John Healey, Kurt Gies and Brian McBeth for their contributions to the site this season.

Additionally, I’d like to thank the sports information directors for assisting us with coverage and answering my many emails and questions.

Our coverage does not end with the final whistle of 2013-14, but likely will be more sporadic. If you don’t already, follow @Philahoops on Twitter and like Philahoops on Facebook ( to keep up with our coverage.

If you have comments or suggestions for the site, please email them to me and Joe Fedorowicz: [email protected] and [email protected].

Again, thanks for your readership. It has been our pleasure.

And here’s hoping for many more seasons of coverage of Philadelphia college basketball from Philahoops!

-Aaron Bracy is the founder of Follow on Twitter: @Aaron_Bracy


  1. Big Five Big Fan says

    I think personally that the additional rivalries have much less to do with the storied basketball history of the city and much more to do with the rivalries between the actual student bodies. It’s awesome to see your city represented, but when you’re discussing how the people at those schools act and are it really adds a different dimension to the game. I’m a non-villanova student and I know that our part against them in the big 5 rivalry and the excitement at their loss is more than halfway rooted in the class-lacking, pompous, and rude fans in the student body that make up their student support (when they feel like attending) than it is in their, admittedly, talented team. Nice to see the city succeed, but sweeter to see the smug and undeserving leave dissapointed.

  2. says

    I would love to root for other big 5 schools but I have heard and read too many rude and uncalled for things thrown my way just for being an sju fan. The big 5 schools will have to get over themselves first before they can learn the tough brotherly love that would better suit 5 Philadelphia schools.

  3. Fight On Explorers says

    I’ve felt myself cheering more for an Atlantic 10 school then the Big 5 Schools necessarily. It starts at the top for me and I will break down each team and the reason I can or cannot stand each. To give you a history, I have been a long time La Salle fan from family ties and friendships and being a student there now.

    1. Penn- Penn seems to have the greatest class and carry themselves with the greatest respect and dignity, per se of all the other teams (not entirely shocked). They also recruit a different kind of athlete and tend to get lower tier recruits who are at the school to prove themselves, and get an education.

    2. Saint Joe’s- To me this really does start at the top. I think Phil Martelli is far and away the most arrogant coach in the Big 5 (Rollie would have booted him from that spot though). I think the cast of students as well as players over the years prove that. I don’t know of a player that is as hated as Halil over the years and that is more than justified. He carries himself with a “Best in the city, Bow down to me” mentality which isn’t right even if he were the best. No one on Nova has that mentality. No one on Temple or La Salle last year did that and they were more successful. In addition, I feel like all of the other coaches care more about recruiting withing Philly than SJU does. La Salle and Temple probably with the most, considering they are at the same level as SJU its a shame SJU doesn’t try more in the city.

    3. Temple- Cheering for and supporting Khalif Wyatt was difficult. As he could be arrogant like Halil, he was far and away the best scorer in the conference. Not saying that was right and justified, but he worked and it’s almost understandable. Cheering for Dunph, as was the case with Cheney, and is with Jay Wright, Jerome Allen and G, they feel fortunate enough to have the job they do and carry themselves better than Phil, in my opinion.

    4. Villanova- Cheering for Jay Wright is easy. The only reason I never have is because of the bandwagon fans. If you cheer for a team, do it when they are 10-0 and 0-10. I’ve felt the same way at La Salle this year and over the years. This year’s Villanova team simply wanted to work every game and wanted to work to win. I respected that and the way they play but still have a tough time pumping my fist when they win. Villanova students, while others may have problems with them, for better or worse, I haven’t had any terrible experience with them and so I can’t necessarily cheer so hard against them.

    And that’s how my opinion goes for each team and why I can and cannot cheer for each. I will presumably never cheer for SJU in my life and struggle to do so for Nova but I can more than respect their team. And as long as we’re not playing temple, I can cheer for dunph. Same with Penn. If someone is at the helm that has an ego bigger than the arena they play in, (cough, cough, Phil) I cannot cheer for them, but cheering for the Big 5 to do well is just like doing it for your conference. It all looks good for Philly basketball.

  4. Ramon Usategui says

    1-be a gentleman, not because they are, but because you are.
    2-root for your team, not against the other guy.
    3-I’m a Villanova grad, but not from Philly. I have to believe many families in the city have divided loyalties. All the more reason to root for the other four[or five] when they’re not playing you.
    4-rising tide raises all ships. you trash the others, you devalue Philly basketball. You praise, and everyone around the country wants to find out about this Big Five thing.
    5-Some people say they hate this team or that school.let’s be honest. the opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference.
    6-i really rooted for La Salle last year when they made their run. I felt happy for Martelli this year when he beat VCU and got emotional on the sidelines. I’m not going to praise Cheney for all the great things he did, because I can’t get out of my mind that he would send a goon to purposely hurt a student athlete. But I root for Fran Dunphy. And I hope Jerome Allen builds a winner like Amaker has done at Harvard, and Carrill did at Princeton.
    I’m originally from Cuba. Maybe I don’t get it. but I feel double headers in the Palestra should come back, and that all the kidding, jokes and pranks before the game, and the sharp and funny rollouts during the games, should lead to a few beers between guys with different color shirts after the game. After all, like they said for years at the University of Miami [“It’s a Cane thing: you wouldn’t understand”]…”it’s a Philly thing, you wouldn’t understand.”… I’d like to see that someday, even from far away[Miami].

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