Back to the Big House . . .

  Catholic League playoff basketball is returning to the Palestra! Well, at least the semis and final.
Right below is the story and we welcome your comments, which can be found in the space
below to the story. Also please feel free to share special memories of your visits to the Palestra.
  Also, we have a suggestion for CL officials on how handle the N-G/Roman mess. That story
is beneath the first one. We welcome your comments on that one, as well.
  Please send to silaryt@phillynews.com.
  Thanks!

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CL semis, final going back to Palestra

By TED SILARY

  All parties were distressed about the disturbance after last year's Catholic League basketball championship game at La Salle University involving Ss. Neumann-Goretti and Roman Catholic.
  Yes, it caused a national black eye, but... something great has come out of it!
  Joe Sette, the league's hoops moderator (and the coach/athletic director at Archbishop Wood), said last night that this year the semifinals and final will be played at the hallowed Palestra.
  The last CL game played there was the 1998 final, in which Father Judge beat Cardinal O'Hara, 62-48. Temple and/or La Salle had been the colleges to host games in the interim."It should really be special," Sette said. "We always wanted to see if we could get back to the Palestra, and now it's going to happen."
  The wheels for this decision, Sette acknowledged, began to turn after CL officials were forced to reassess the league's ties to La Salle in the aftermath of last year's mess.
  Sette said the semifinals will be a night doubleheader on Feb. 28 and that there will be a girl-boy doubleheader on March 4. Quarterfinal boys' games will take place in the league's two largest gyms (Cardinal O'Hara for South, Archbishop Ryan for North).
  Present plans, he said, call for single games the night of Feb. 23 and the afternoon of Feb. 24 at O'Hara, while a separate admission doubleheader will be held at Ryan the afternoon of Feb. 24.

An idea for cleaning up N-G vs. Roman mess

By TED SILARY

  One great move has been made. Could another be in the offing?
  Now that the Catholic League is returning its semis and final to the best venue in college basketball, the Palestra, here's something else the honchos might want to consider: reversing their field on the Neumann-Goretti/Roman Catholic punishment, all for a great cause.
  In the aftermath of last year's title-game mess, the Archdiocese ruled that this year's regular-season games between N-G and Roman would be played in the schools' empty gyms.
  Would it not make better sense to play the games - currently scheduled for Jan. 2 at N-G and Jan. 26 at Roman - in large facilities, and encourage the masses to attend, then turn over all proceeds to charity?
  Stephen Pawlowski, who oversees high schools for the Archdiocese and is now the ultimate go-to guy on sports matters, in effect said, "Hmmmmmm."
  "We can think about that," was what he actually said. "I'd like to speak with the [principals and athletic directors] and get their input, but that could be a way to turn a negative into a positive."
  Coaches vs. Cancer would certainly appreciate the money. As would Catholic Charities Appeal or a charity Pawlowski himself suggested, Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS).
  To make sure the administrations at N-G and Roman still realize how serious and unacceptable last year's behavior was, the Archdiocese could make those schools pay the cost of arena rental and even the security tab.
  Beyond that, if the idea is to punish students, the Archdiocese could order a few administrators from each school to stand at the entrance and keep out current students. If you're seen inside, you're suspended.
  N-G and Roman have lofty enough profiles that general basketball fans - and students/players from other CL schools - would turn out to watch, especially if the games were played on something other than the traditional game dates (Friday, Sunday).
  "We'd have to look at the whole circumstance," Pawlowski said.
  He then repeated an earlier comment.
  "But if we can turn a negative into a positive... "
  Stay tuned.

Your Comments . . .

  I think its great hope they never leave…Correct me if I am wrong but wasn’t the LaSalle venue too small for many past championship games? Didn’t the PCL try to get back into Palestra over the past 8 years before last year’s fiasco? Please remind me why they left after 1998?
-- Joe L
  (Ted's note: Yes, there were turnaway crowds at several title games. I guess there was some movement about going back there, but the price was always considered too high. After the '98 Pub final, a man who'd attended the game was shot to death about 1/2 blocks from the Palestra. That was the main reason Penn decided to stop hosting games.)

  I think it's great! Great place for games! I don't have problem with having 1st round games at the big (OH, AR) schools either.
Ton of history in that house, now a chance for a little more!
-- Huck

  I'm an old guy and attended many PCL playoffs, as well as City Championship games at the Palestra; and was disappointed when Penn kicked them out of the Palestra. However, the changing elements forced their hand. And with the near riot at LaSalle last year,  I'm surprised that Penn has relented and the playoffs are returning to the Palestra.

  They definitely belong there, but, the security issue will be substantial. Hopefully, the school administrators can instill some sense into the students. And, even so, controlling the outside riff-raff that are not students will be the most difficult task.
  I like your idea for the Roman-NG games.....but, that would take away the punishment that I think these two schools need as a result of that fracas last March.
Ed Birchler
Yardley, PA
  (Ted's note: Thanks, Ed. That was why I raised the possibility of banning current N-G/RC students.)

   What a silly idea.  There never seems to be any shortage of ideas to sidetrack personal or group responsibility for some of the worst behavior this society has to offer.  What a great message – as long as we can make money and give it to charity – there will be no consequences.  There has been a not so slow erosion of values, I believe due to a lack of society/legal/peer/family consequences.  You seem to be more than happy to do your part.
-- anonymous
   (Ted's note: The only player directed involved in the problem has graduated. I'm not sure it's fair to punish the returning players for what someone no longer around did. As mentioned above, I DID say that current students could be banned from seeing the game if the Archdiocese/CL feels that's necessary.)

The only thing I would like to see is that the quarterfinal games are played in the higher seeded teams home gyms.  This makes having a better record more significant.
-- Joe M.

  Memories are many and some of the best times as a student were the playoff games at the Palestra. Electric feeling from the El ride to the procession down 33rd st. hooting with the crowds of students to seeing Puck with stat book.We didn't win the ultimate game (We are CD) but we played and won many memorable games including the 1974 and 1977 shockers over North Catholic(Sixteen & Oh and down they go)!!!I can still picture the jubilation on and off the court. Biggest disappointment was the 1976 Northern division finals loss as Kenrick shot the lights out before a sold out energized crowd-we definitely thought that was going to be our year. As an alum the 1992 North division finals was a special treat to witness CD take down rival Judge in a wild game with a wild finish. I went to many games that year and that team was close and special. At games end my memory is that the debris came from the stands and then was returned from the court (smile)!!!
-- Joe L.

  I liked your suggestion for the N-G/RC basketball games.  Boy, does basketball have a black eye that needs to be fixed and there's nothing like putting the league on center stage and raising money for charity to fix it.
-- Mike

-

  This is John Ortiz, a recent graduate of Roman Catholic and I was present at the title game last year between Roman and N-G.  I think that punishing the students for what happened last year would be ridiculous.  The reason why I am saying this is because there were no students involved in the fiasco.  The whole thing happened because of parents of players and ordeals that happened between the police and the parents.  Students were in no way part of the fiasco.  The game needs to be played under regular circumstances, which means that fans need to be able to attend and cheer on their school, especially students.
-- Johnny Ortiz