Phil Martelli Interview: Part A

On Tuesday afternoon, Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli spent some time talking with Hawk Hill Hardwood before hitting the road for the second live recruiting period of July. The head Hawk addressed a myriad of topics, including the new-look Atlantic 10, new NCAA regulations, the Hawk roster, and recruiting. In our first part of the interview series, Martelli discusses the Atlantic 10.

The 2012-2013 Atlantic 10 season brings the conference to a new chapter. It will be the Temple Owls' final season in the A10 before departing for the Big East. On the flipside, the conference will be welcoming two new additions in the VCU Rams and the Butler Bulldogs.

With Butler and VCU added to an already deep conference, and Temple sticking around for a final go-around, the Atlantic 10 conference will enter the 2012-2013 campaign looking like a conference more than capable of earnings upwards of four or five tournament bids.

"I salute the leadership of the league," Martelli began. "From the commissioner to the AD's to the coaches on down. The goal was to build the best basketball-only conference in the country, and I think that was accomplished."

All of the Philadelphia college coaches have a great rapport that extends both on and off the court. Martelli and Temple head coach Fran Dunphy are no different. Temple's departure for the Big East will impact the league, according to Martelli. "Losing Temple hurts," he stated. "But adding those two (VCU and Butler) really helps moving forward.

Conference realignment has changed the very landscape of college sports in a relatively short period of time, and it has impacted every level from the Patriot League to the ACC. Martelli shared that he was impressed by the A10's approach to realignment. "Some others were loud, and the A10 kept things pretty quiet," the coach explained. "They kept quiet and created a really strong conference with their vision."

This season, the Atlantic 10 conference will be as strong as it has been in recent memory. The top half of the conference, featuring schools like UMass, Saint Louis, Saint Joseph's, VCU, La Salle, Temple, and more will face stiff challenges nightly in league play. "It's going to be a true challenge," Martelli said of the league. "Especially on the road where you have some teams that are rock solid at home." Martelli said that he spoke with Butler's Brad Stevens and VCU's Shaka Smart about the league. He called them "two of the top young coaches" in college basketball, which is certainly appropriate considering their recent success.

Tomorrow, Hawk Hill Hardwood will continue our interview with the head Hawk. Phil Martelli spoke about the current roster, including the three freshmen: Isaiah Miles, Kyle Molock, and Javon Baumann. The third part of our interview series will then examine the state of Hawk recruiting, and what the staff is looking for in the upcoming recruiting classes.

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