Blue and Gold Club's time to dance?

 

La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova make up Philadelphia’s Big 5. It is not a conference or a formal league, but it has significant meaning in the City of Brotherly Love.

Just the term "Big 5" signifies the rich tradition of Philly hoops: a combined 10 Final Fours and Villanova’s 1985 national championship while also being the site of one of college basketball’s greatest cathedrals, The Palestra.

But one Philly team is on the outside looking in when it comes to the Big 5: Drexel.

Rob Falcone, the GM of the Blue and Gold Club – Drexel’s alumni team – is using The Basketball Tournament as a platform to showcase Drexel hoops.

“You have some pretty historic programs and even if we aren’t officially a part of the Big 5, we’re still a part of the fabric Philadelphia basketball,” he said. “[TBT] is an opportunity to put some of the best who ever played at Drexel together and to go and win a couple of games and say we really do care about basketball and that extends beyond the NCAA.”

The Dragons have had success over the past decade, most notably during the 2006-07 and 2011-12 seasons. However, Drexel has yet to have a signature moment, like St. Joe’s No. 1 ranking in 2004 or La Salle’s unlikely Sweet 16 run in 2013. (Coincidentally, La Salle has also entered an alumni team into TBT with mostly guys from that 2013 team.)

During the 2006-07 season, Drexel defeated three Big 5 schools – Penn, St. Joe’s and Villanova – all on the road. Despite 23 wins, the Dragons were left out of the NCAA Tournament. Five years later, a program-record 29 wins still wasn’t enough to make it to the Big Dance.

Chris FouchSamme GivensFrantz Massenat and Dartaye Ruffin, all members of that record-setting 2012 team and Scott Rodgers, who started 31 game for the 2007 team that was left on the cutting room floor by the selection committee, have all signed up to play for the Blue and Gold Club.

But, it's Falcone who is the reason these former Drexel standouts have the opportunity to make that elusive tournament run in a Drexel Drexel-like uniform. It's uncommon for teams to reunite under these conditions: an NCAA Tournament-style event with $1,000,000 and an appearance on ESPN on the line. When he started at Drexel, it would have seemed just as unlikely that Falcone would be the one constructing the roster.

An engineering major and ordinary student when he enrolled, Falcone was the president of the DAC Pack, the Drexel student section, by the time he graduated. 

"I made some great friends in the athletic department," Falcone added. "I worked for the athletic department when I was getting my MBA and I stayed involved ever since. It's one of those rare opportunities when you get an experience that does change your path. I was an engineering major and through my experience with athletics, I realized things like this: marketing and sales and messaging and promotions is really where my heart lies.

"Had I not found that hidden talent of running a student basketball fan section, I certainly wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today. People don't often think that when they're going out and cheering for a basketball team."

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