Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hawks win opener at Hagan...

A wonderful night at the Hagan Arena on Friday! It was so good to be home again and see all my old friends, and make a few new ones ;-)

A special shout out to Mike Hagan for making it happen. While the price tag was high if we are to compete, and succeed, in division I hoops we have keep up with the arms race.

The new student section is VERY IMPOSING. As rowdy as the old student section at the Fieldhouse x2. Nothing short of amazing. While I would have preferred a more wrap-around effect to the arena -- basically the school was able to steal the the part of the Palestra behind the basket and put it on 54th Street. And the kids filled it up, and were pumped, all night. That's what they call a home court advantage. Good rollouts as well ;-) The one about Bruiser and the coaching box made one ref laugh.

The sound -- ouch. I can actually hear what they are saying now, loud and clear. For the past 20 years I used to guess, or just didn't bother to listen to the announcer as he was too far from my seats to read lips.

The dance team is in mid-season form but I'm not a big fan of the white cheerleader unis.

You can actually walk around the entire facility quite easily... food, bathrooms, t-shirt concessions. Only old FH fanatics would understand why this excites me.

I think we're going to be OK this year. This Drexel team was the one who beat us last year and I see great things coming from Idris, Todd, and my new favorite player Carl 'Tay' Jones. Like his game, like his haircut, like his swagger. Tay was kind enough to talk after the game and pose for a picture with Teron. Crosgile will be back in two weeks so I am optimistic.

I only saw two negatives during the evening. The first was the main scoreboard. I hope that it was a glitch that they couldn't put up statistics like players numbers/fouls/points et al. If they put it up to blind us with TD Bank advertisements that would be unfortunate. I may have to wear sunglasses or check into WillEye after each game.

Secondly -- the CSC Event Staff. It would be difficult to find a conglomeration of ruder people out there, and it's not just me who feels this way. Since we're not in the Swat Valley and none of the season ticket holders seem to be terrorists -- I don't know why we're treated as such. Mr. D must be in Heaven shaking his head.

Upon arriving, early, I walked up to the student section to snap a pic and take it all in -- the new home of my alma mater's basketball team! Two seconds later I was being shouted at that I couldn't stand there because the game was on. I told the young lady I was just checking things out and that the game wasn't on as there was 16 minutes left in warm-ups. Didn't matter. I tried visiting a friend at half-time to convey my condolences on the recent passing of his mother but was told I couldn't do that either.

I don't expect Four Seasons-like courtesy but I was treated with more respect by security at the Papa Roach concert. Since I've worked serving the public since I was 14 years old I can tell you this won't be solved with a memo or an hour long customer service seminar. But those who voice similar concerns shouldn't feel so bad as Mike Hagan was denied entrance to the Hall of Fame Room as well, until Pops Martelli grabbed him and walked by shouting "it's his arena".

The school's athletic department won't allow me to post pictures from my buddy at Sideline Photos, LLC any longer but feel free to continue to check his website. To give those far away from 54th & City Line a feel for the opening night at the Hagan here are few pics that I took, as well as others from Joe Cabrey and Chad Adelheart. Check out Chad's site at for some good ones as well.

Hey -- we're undefeated! Hawk Hoops are back. Enjoy. 44 & Katie/IHM are 1-0 when in attendance at the Hagan. Holy Cross just lost to Harvard so will we be 2-0?



PS -- Martelli looked great! For his press conference click CBS College Sports All-Access.

Aesthetically, the newly expanded and renovated Michael J. Hagan '85 Arena was much more pleasing to the eye than what took place on the court.

Yet, despite the choppy season opener between St. Joseph's and Drexel last night, the packed-in crowd was highly entertained as the Hawks overcame the Dragons, 77-67, in overtime.

Twice in the final moments of the first half, St. Joe's came back to tie the game. Garrett Williamson sent it into overtime on a pull-up jumper with 3.7 seconds remaining, and Todd O'Brien scored the go-ahead basket with 44.8 seconds to go as St. Joe's celebrated the reopening of arena with a win over a city rival.

The teams were never separated by more than five points before the Dragons caught fire from long distance in the second half. Guards Derrick Thomas, a freshman, and Jamie Harris combined for five three-point jumpers in little more than five minutes to give Drexel a 48-38 lead with 10 minutes, 35 seconds remaining.

Until Thomas and Harris zeroed in with their jump shots, Drexel had made only one three-pointer. A three-point play by Idris Hilliard in the waning seconds of the half assured the Hawks of a 31-29 lead at the break. The junior had 13 points at the half, shooting 9 for 9 from the free-throw line.

The first 20 minutes had all the markings of opening night. Partly because of jitters, both teams struggled to find the basket and looked out of sync on offense, so it became a defensive tangle. Drexel, which missed its first 10 shots, connected on 35.3 percent in the first half while St. Joe's made 41.7 percent of its attempts.

Drexel didn't get its first field goal until Derrick Thomas drove the lane for a basket 5 minutes, 5 seconds after tip-off. But St. Joe's was having its own problems, especially with turnovers, so the Dragons found themselves down by only by one point after their initial basket. The game was the first for St. Joe's on Hawk Hill since the end of the 2007-08 season. The Hawks played all but one of their home games at the Palestra last season.

"I love that building," coach Phil Martelli said of the Palestra, "but I do believe the back and forth took somewhat of a toll on us." Carl Jones, a freshman guard who was originally in the starting lineup, didn't start because he missed an academic assignment on Thursday, according to a university spokeswoman. Jones entered the game with 16:40 remaining in the half.

The opening of Hagan Arena attracted the capacity 4,200 fans as Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse was expanded by 1,000 seats. Five hundred of the new seats went to students. All 1,100 seats available to students were sold, according to St. Joseph's athletic director Don DiJulia.

Michael Hagan, whose $10 million donation made the expansion of the arena possible, drew a rousing ovation as he tossed up the ceremonial jump ball. Gov. Rendell, a frequent visitor to the Palestra to watch his alma mater, Penn, play, also was there.

The Hawks went into the game leading their series against Drexel, 43-8. But the Dragons had won two of the three previous meetings, including last year's New Year's Eve matchup.

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