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By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s always one of the highlights of the local college basketball slate, and this year, for the first time ever, it will take place on Hawk Hill: Villanova taking on St. Joe’s.

In the past, whenever this was a St. Joe’s home game, it would be played at the Palestra. But this year it moves to Hagan Arena, and Wildcats’ head coach Jay Wright is looking forward to tipoff.

“As a kid I went to this game at the Palestra,” Wright recalls.  “As a college player I played at Hagan Arena.  So to go back in there right now with my team is really interesting.  Because I remember it being a tough place to play before it became Hagan Arena.  Now I’m sure it’s going to be even tougher. And it’s a Villanova-St. Joe’s game!”

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The Wildcats are 6-4 and coming off that win over Boston University on Tuesday (see game story).   Wright says that was just another step in the development in his team.

“We need to play games — we’re not that young.  St. Joe’s is probably younger than us, it’s just that we have guys that are inexperienced. We need our guys to get game time.  You can practice all you want, but playing against other teams is what’s important.”

And the team they will match up with on Saturday night is playing good basketball.  St. Joe’s is 7-3, coming off that win over nationally ranked Creighton (see game story).  Wright says they have really come together.

“I think they are a very young team, but they play like an experienced team.  I think (Hawks’ coach) Phil (Martelli) did a great job with those young guys last year, and their success at the end of the year has carried over because they are playing with great confidence and they’re playing like a team that has played together for a lot of years even though they haven’t.”

Tipoff is set for 8pm Saturday night at Hagan Arena.


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