Barroom Brawl: Top 5 Philly Teams of the Decade
By Rob Kuestner
Once again we are counting down a decade of sports in Philadelphia. This time, we remember the best teams of the past 10 years. We’ll get our Rick Dees on and count them down from five to one (for you kids out there who don’t know Rick Dees, here’s a link).
5. 2003-04 St. Joe’s Hawks
Finished 30-2, lost in Elite 8 of NCAA Tournament
I understand Nova Nation disagrees vehemently. It argues that its team actually reached a Final Four (2008-09) and an Elite 8 (2005-06) in the decade. That’s a completely valid argument.
My response is simple: neither of these Villanova teams had a perfect regular season. Neither earned a No.1 ranking. Neither team boasted the national player of the year. Neither team was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Neither team captivated the city. St. Joe’s did all of these things.
Jameer Nelson swept all National Player of the Year awards. Phil Martelli did the same among coaches. The Hawks finished a perfect regular season with one stinker in the A-10 tournament, but still earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Hawks had the best college player in the last 10 years (Nelson). They boasted two NBA players in their backcourt (Nelson/Delonte West). They were one defensive stop away from the Final Four (ugh … John Lucas III). They were a team that rallied the city, led by the irrepressible Martelli and the unstoppable Nelson.
The only other team in the conversation is the ’05-06 Wildcats. They were very good. But I firmly believe if those teams played 10 times in a neutral site (I recommend the Palestra), the Hawks win more times than they lose.