The Guy Who Won Coach of the Year Gave His Award to Jay Wright
— Dave Zeitlin (@DaveZeitlin) April 12, 2016
The Big 5 held its annual awards dinner last night, honoring a pretty good year in Philadelphia college basketball. Sure, La Salle and Penn missed the NCAA tournament, but both those programs should be on the upswing. Temple qualified for the NCAA tournament, Saint Joseph’s won its first round game and Villanova — if you haven’t heard — won the national championship on a three-pointer at the buzzer.
Surprisingly, though, Villanova was not the big winner at the Palestra dinner. It was Saint Joseph’s that took home most of the awards, with DeAndre Bembry winning Big 5 Player of the Year and Phil Martelli getting coach of the year. It’s easy to see how this happened: Bembry is viewed as a legit NBA prospect who had a solid year, even if (in this reporter’s humble opinion) Josh Hart was the best player in the city this season.
And Villanova was expected to be a top team this season; the Wildcats were ranked 9th and 11th in the two major preseason polls. Saint Joseph’s was not expected to win 28 games this season. Coaches of teams that perform better than expected usually win Coach of the Year awards.
Plus, these awards were voted on before the NCAA tournament.
But Martelli wasn’t having it last night. He renounced the award, putting a post-it note on it that named Jay Wright the winner. And, per Dan Gelston of the Associated Press, he went on a humorous rant:
Seriously, there’s not one person in here that would say, ‘Big 5 Coach of the Year? It must be Phil Martelli! It’s not Jay Wright!’ The man won the National Championship. I’m cool. We had a hell of a year. But Philadelphia, I’m going to save you from yourself.
Threw snowballs at Santa Claus. Threw batteries at J.D. Drew. Cheered when Michael Irvin got a concussion. And did not give Jay Wright the Coach of the Year the year he won the National Championship.
“Jay, this is yours,” Martelli later added. “I’m going to borrow it for an hour and if I can get into your gated community in Newtown Square, I’ll drop it off.” City of Basketball Love says the award is headed to a trophy case at Saint Joseph’s, anyway, as Wright didn’t take the award while accepting the prize for best Big 5 record. But it made for a pretty funny moment at the Big 5 awards dinner.
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