Battle of 33rd Street

After a one-year hiatus, the Battle of 33rd Street is back Saturday afternoon, as Penn takes on Drexel. The last time the two teams played was in November 2010. The West Philly rivalry returns with the hopes to pack the Palestra. To get the hype up, "Dac Pack films" — the Dac Pack being Drexel's equivalent of the Red and Blue Crew — made a promotional video with the two student groups along with Drexel and Penn Athletics. The Quaker vs. Mario rivalry is seen below along with students from the respective schools.

Rosen named Big 5 Player of the Year

Even as senior Zack Rosen competes at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, he is still being honored at home.

The guard won the Robert V. Geasey Award as the Philadelphia Big 5 player of the year making him the sixth different member of the Quakers to win the award. (Ron Haigler won the award in 1973-74 and 1974-75.)

The 6-foot-1 guard set program records in all-time assists, minutes and games played and was named to the first-team All-Big 5 along with Temple's Ramone Moore and Khaliff Wyatt, 'Nova's Maalike Wayns and Langston Galloway of St. Joseph's. Rosen was the only Penn player to be honored as All-Big 5.

Rosen also won the Palumbo Trophy as the city's scoring champion. Former Penn coach Fran Dunphy won Coach of the Year and his Owls' squad won the Team of the Year.

Martelli speaks on the state of the Big 5

This year, St. Joe's became the final team (other than Penn) to move its Big 5 home games out of the Palestra. With a declining interest in the city series, combined with speculated tension between two of its schools, how much clout the unofficial conference will carry in the coming years remains unclear. For the present time, though, the Big 5 appears to be safe. Yesterday, I talked to St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli about his thoughts on the importance of the Big 5, its current status and what the future holds for the staple of Philly college hoops:

In general, how important would you say the Big 5 is to Philadelphia and to college basketball as a whole?
I think that the Big 5 is a very special fraternity. It's an honor to be part of it, and I think it's the envy of other college basketball towns and coaches. They’ll always talk to us about, 'How could six Division I schools be in close proximity? How do you split up the public relations? How do you split up the newspapers? How do you split up the fan support?' It’s just really a proud badge that all of us get to wear by being in the Big 5.

How would you characterize the status of the Big 5 today?
I’m a huge proponent of the Palestra — I still believe to this day that every Philadelphia game should played in the best college basketball building in America. I think all the tickets should be 50/50, and if people want to say that’s pie in the sky or that’s not doable, I understand what they’re saying. But I’m just suggesting that the beauty of the Big 5 is half the building for your team, half the building for the other team, and then we create these special memories like what was created Saturday night. Penn and St. Joe’s — both teams kind of scuffling along, and you get that kind of crowd, that kind of enthusiasm. I think it’s very special for the players, I think it’s very special for the students. So I think the Big 5 is healthy. The competition is healthy, there were a number of close games this year. And it’ll never go back to the way it was, but I can be a guy who wishes it would go back.

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Temple’s win previews a packed Palestra

Getting excited for tonight’s Big Five battle with St. Joes? We certainly are.

Though we still can't confirm that tonight's game will be a sell-out, this morning fans got their first serving of a packed Palestra where even at 11 a.m., the venue crammed in 8,722 fans for an ACC/A-10 showdown between Maryland and Temple. Fran Dunphy earned his 165th win as the Owls (13-5) topped a formidable Terps squad 73-60.

Takeaway? The Palestra is hands down one of the best places for college hoops when it’s sold-out. Maryland fans and Temple fans brought the thunder, which we captured via twitter after the break:

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Update on Penn – St. Joe’s tickets

Saturday night's final Big 5 matchup for Penn is getting closer and closer to a sell-out. Penn Athletics sent another email to students Friday afternoon advertising that just 53 student tickets remained, and I've heard that a similar amount of general admission tickets remain as well.

UPDATE: Penn Athletics tweeted this afternoon that its general admission tickets are SOLD OUT, adding that if more tickets become available before gametime tomorrow, they will announce it on twitter.

Those figures represent Penn's half of the roughly 8,700 seats. St. Joseph's website still allows the purchase of up to 25 tickets, but only corner seats remain online. Last year's edition of this matchup drew over 8,000 on the official attendance.

Just before Penn's practice Friday afternoon, coach Jerome Allen said he hopes his players are getting hyped for a Big 5 matchup regardless of ticket sales.

"The crowd and it being full to capacity is great — it will add to the atmosphere of it being a Big 5 game for us at home, but that can’t be our sole motivation," he said.

Nonetheless, he said he's excited to see a strong contingent come to support the Quakers. Penn Athletics is planning a "whiteout" for the Palestra. The first 400 students in the door Saturday night will get a free whiteout t-shirt.

"It’s cool," said Allen, who couldn't remember if anything similar happened while he played at Penn in the mid-90s. "It’s great for our guys, it’s great for campus. I appreciate people taking an interest in what’s going on in the gym. It’s great for West Philly, it’s great for the Big 5. I’m quite sure that if I wasn’t sitting in the seat that I’ll be sitting in, I would probably be sitting in that section with one of those shirts on. It’s a good time."

Penn men’s basketball vs. La Salle – brought to you by the Blarney Stone

It's game three of four on the Big 5 slate and the Quakers (7-8, 0-2 Big 5) are hosting La Salle (12-4, 0-1). The Explorer are on a five-game winning streak, most recently topping Atlatntic 10 opponents Xavier and Massachusetts. The Quakers, meanwhile, will look to avenge an 89-83 overtime loss last year at Tom Gola Arena. Cal Silcox, Jennifer Scuteri and Lucas O'Connor are live from the Palestra:

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Sixers will scrimmage at the Palestra on Sunday

We thought the epic "Battle for I-95" in September would be the last we'd see of NBA players at the Palestra, at least for a while.

We thought wrong.

New Philadelphia 76ers CEO Adam Aron announced to Reuben Frank of last night that the Palestra will play host to a Sixers intra-squad scrimmage on Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m. Aron said the event will feature coach Doug Collins mic'd up, the dance team, the dunk squad (if you haven't been to the Wells Fargo Center since the Iverson trade, check them out), and a post-game autograph session with the players. Most importantly, IT'S FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. No tickets required, just first-come, first-serve.

This is also not the first time this semester that the Sixers have associated themselves with the Palestra. Back in October, the franchise introduced its new owners -- led by Wharton alum Joshua Harris -- in a press conference at "The Cathedral."

Big 5 is back and so are the rollouts

Hey Temple kids — Your fight song and hand motions are cool 'n' all, but what gives with the no-rollouts? We know the game was pretty early this year, but that's no reason to skimp out on one the Big 5's best traditions.

The Red and Blue Crew was by no means in mid-season form with their quips, but — like in Wharton classes — they got an A for participation. Here's a recap of the night's rollouts, with our own DP scoring.

This one — not their best work. (-4)

This, however, was quite punny. It reads, "Dunphy, we mustache you a question, but we'll shave it for later. #NoShaveNovember"  Well done, RBC. (+7)

Others from the Red and Blue Crew included:

"Congrats on the Big East". (+16)

"Temple: Where you go to pray that (maybe) we will employ you." (-9)

For those of you keeping track, the final score was Penn 10, Temple 0.

Fran Dunphy’s mustache through the years

Last night as I searched the DP's archives for a useable photo of Fran Dunphy to highlight his impending run in with the razor, there were just too many good ones to choose from. So we put together a small compendium of photos: Fran Dunphy's mustache through the years. And by years I mean the years we have digital photos of the 'stache. Enjoy: