Hard to believe a drive into Philadelphia could be classified as “nice”, but that’s how it went for me today as I headed to the city of Brotherly Love to watch Towson take on Villanova tonight at The Palestra (8:30pm). Once a year, I beg Pat Kennedy and his staff for the opportunity to go on the road with them and hang around for the day (and at the game). Last December, I went to Temple. This year, I’m back in Philly (hopefully not 0-fer-Philly!) to see this game against the Wildcats. I really like this trip. I love coaches and I’m a huge college basketball fan and seeing this game tonight at The Palestra is a big deal. It’s like I’m a coach for the night, but I don’t have to stress over the result!
It’s so hard for me to like anything-Philadelphia because of my utter disdain for “that hockey team”, but I have always admitted – through gritted teeth – that Philly might be one of the sports cities in America.
College basketball (and high school, for that matter…) is HUGE up here and why shouldn’t it be – there are five VERY good programs within about 10 miles of one another – Villanova, St. Joseph’s, UPenn, Drexel, and Temple. I do get a tad jealous whenever I’m up here…all of this great college basketball and people here really do care about the local teams.
I frequented the Philadelphia/South Jersey area a lot when I was in the soccer business because players from this area were always fundamentally sound and had heart. Flair and swirly-skills, maybe not. But kids from Philly would stick their foot up your backside in a heartbeat and in the indoor game, that was always a needed talent. So I scouted a lot in this area – in fact, one of the Blast’s all-time best players, Dave MacWilliams, grew up in Philly and went to (then) Philly Textile. Talk about heart — Davey Mac had enough for three players.
Anyway, during all my travels to the Philadelphia area, I never once set foot in the famed Palestra, but tonight I’m going to when Towson plays Villanova. I just saw Pat Kennedy for a few minutes and he’s obviously concerned about the stacked ‘Nova line-up (4 McDonald’s All-Americans), but he also knows this is a great chance for Towson to put themselves out there as a slugger in the CAA.
The Palestra has so much history to it — and I’m going to do a behind-the-scenes-WNSTv account of it all when I get over there early this evening.
By the way, I *feel* smart sitting in “The Living Room” at the hotel at UPenn. It’s a room full of books, couches, classical music, pictures and trophies. And there’s some red wine opened and sitting out on a table…that can’t possibly be for me, can it? The fireplace is nice, too.
It sure is nice to be a college basketball coach for the day.
Even in Philadelphia.