Saturday Night at The Palestra – Past, Present, and Future

PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/27/2018 – it felt like old times, good memories.  Coming to the Palestra for a Saturday night Big Five game, just like I did for many years, yes in driving in from Millersville, PA in my college years in the 70’s.

There are too many instances to recount.  As I walk along the outer corridors I see pictures that conjure up more blasts from the past.  How many games did I see here? Many! How many did I enjoy? Many More!  This is just a special place in my heart and mind.

The Past

The first thoughts that jumped into my head tonight.

I cannot recall the year or the final score, but I do recall Saint Joseph’s winning on a full court pass and shot.  The play was called “Jack In The Box” and it worked for the Hawks and coach Jim Boyle.  I do remember getting a high-five from DeAndre’ Bembry as the Hawks took the floor for the second half.

The players … Tony Price, James Salters, Keven McDonald, Willie Oliphant, Bruiser Flint, Cliff Anderson, Mike Bantom, Jim Lynam, Jameer Nelson.  So many more… who are yours?

The Present

This game had teams looking for their first Big Five win of the season.  That added to the intensity of the game.  It was not a pretty game, but there was a lot of determination on the floor.  And a Saturday night at the Palestra is special.  The University of Pennsylvania came away with a 67 – 56 victory over Saint Joseph’s.

“A Big Five game on a Saturday in January, that’s why they come here,” said Penn Coach Steve Donahue.  “We played hard and showed grit.”

AJ Brodeur led the Quakers with 13 points and 11 rebounds recording his first double-double of the season.  It was his first home Big Five win.

“It feels great,” Brodeur said about getting a city win.  “It is our last this year, but there are many more to come in my next few years, I hope.”

The game was close throughout.  There many scoring droughts.  Penn took control in the second half.  Trailing 37 – 35 early the Quakers went on a 12 – 0 run to move ahead 47 – 37 with 12:45 to play on a Ryan Betley three-pointer.  The Hawks stayed in contention, but fell behind by double-digits again when Brodeur fed a cutting Caleb Wood, who scored 12 points, for a 59 – 49 lead with just over three minutes on the clock.

“We can see how gritty we have to be to pull out Big Five wins in front of a packed Palestra,” said Brodeur.  “This was the most attended game we’ve had this season.”

Shavar Newkirk led all scorers getting 19 for the Hawks.  James Demery and Chris Clover had 12 each.

The Future

Who knows who will win? Who will be the stars?  What I do know is that the game will be played, and the game will be enjoyed on a Saturday night at the Palestra.

Written By: Glenn Papazian





  1. To this day…the Palestra is the best bball venue that I have ever watched a game. Going back to the 80’s & 90’s and seeing great players such as David Robinson (courtesy of GP), Pearl Washington, Alvin Robertson, Ed Pinkney, Nate Blackwell all light it up there was a real treat.

    • I have been going to the Palestra since 1961. I saw much history there, and it will be a special place in my heart. I do remember that Navy – Drexel game.

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