Last Wednesday, news broke that Saint Joseph's would be moving their Big 5 home games against Temple and Villanova from the Palestra to the Hagan Arena. Understandably, this news caused more than a ripple in the Philadelphia hoops scene. Fans, former players, coaches, and current players all have their own thoughts on this issue, and Martelli knew that quite a bit of attention would be drawn to the decision.
"When the decision was made, I knew that a bullet was going to come through me," Martelli admitted. "I knew that I was going to take some shots from people. Not just Saint Joseph's fans but fans of Philadelphia college basketball."
The reason for any criticism that will come Martelli's way is his prior insistence that Big 5 games should be played at the Palestra. Why the change of heart then?
"Enough was enough," began Martelli. "We are most interested in getting a buzz back on campus. Playing at Hagan Arena is a home-court advantage and I want to give these players, this team, the best chance to win."
Although news of the move only became public this week, the decision was made a couple of weeks ago. Meetings were held with people from the athletic department, the basketball office, and "a few big donors" about the move, according to Martelli. The delay in making the announcement public stemmed from a hold-up in scheduling the final game of the season.
Last Monday, Martelli told the team about the two games being moved to the Hagan. "When we gave them the news, there were a lot of smiles and nods in the room. You could tell they were excited," he elaborated.
The Villanova game comes during a stretch of seven consecutive games on campus. The stretch includes games against Penn State, Drexel, Creighton, Morgan State, Coppin State, and Boston University.in addition to Villanova.
This summer, there was quite a bit of discontent in the land of college sports, in particular college football. Martelli, who has spoken on this issue publicly before, has his thoughts on what the future of college sports could look like, and he went into great depth on the issue.
"It may not impact me, but it will impact the Saint Joseph's program after me," Martelli said of the changing college sports landscape. For revenue-generating sports like football and basketball, Martelli does see "a move to the superconferences." He went on, saying, "I think you will see a day where there is a BCS-style tournament in basketball. You could see two separate tournaments. In one, you will have your Butlers and even your Georgetowns, but you won't have your Florida States," he explained.
In saying this, Martelli is indicating that he sees a day where your BCS schools, like Florida State for example, will have their own separate tournament. Non-BCS schools like Georgetown and, yes, Saint Joseph's, would then have their own separate tournament. The reason, according to Martelli is very simple, and that reason is "money."
If this happens, Martelli sees a dramatic change in the way non-revenue sports are played. "I think conference affiliations could break apart," he said. "Instead of conferences, it would become regional, like the way hockey is. UMass has a good hockey team, but they aren't in the Atlantic 10. Hockey is done regionally, and other sports could be done that way too," Martelli detailed.
The final installment of this interview series with Phil Martelli will be published tomorrow. In the final part, the coach talks about positions being targeted in the 2012 and 2013 recruiting classes.
Phil Martelli Interview- Part Three
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