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COACHING DREAMS FUEL HAWKS' MARTELLI, JR.
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications  
Release:  09/01/2004
by Kevin Bonner, Sports Media Relations Assistant To some, basketball is a merely a game, a sport played in between football and baseball seasons. But growing up in the Martelli household, basketball is a way of life. Just as it should be, according to Saint Joseph's senior guard, Phil Martelli, Jr. "We truly are a basketball family. My parents met at a basketball camp, so I wouldn't even be here if it weren't for basketball," Martelli said. His mother Judy, was a three-time national champion at Immaculata, while Phil, Sr., laced them up for Widener. Brother Jimmy recently transferred to Dickinson and younger sister Elizabeth plays for Merion Mercy. "My poor mom is juggling how to get to enough Dickinson and Merion Mercy games. Obviously, she's at most of the St. Joe's games." But he wouldn't have it any different. Sure, it was hectic in the winter. The 21-year old wouldn't ask for anything else. "As a young kid, to see the things I saw. Those types of experiences, I'll never forget," he said. Part of the first father-son combination in Hawk basketball history, Martelli, Jr., was honored to be selected by his teammates as a team captain along with Jameer Nelson. Unlike his co-captain who plays 35-40 minutes a game, Phil is "lucky to see three minutes a month." Despite his lack of court-time, Martelli, Jr., takes his role as captain very seriously. "There's a way to do things and a way not to do things," he said. "We've got a lot of young guys and they need someone to look up to." Playing for his dad has been the experience of a lifetime for the Drexel Hill native. "This has been awesome. He treats me like everyone else - when I do the right thing I get applauded and when I do the wrong thing, I hear about it." He attributes that relationship to leading him in the direction he wants to head after graduation in May, coaching. From being around the game so much, it was a natural direction for him to take. And despite all the great people he's met in the business school, it's the experiences he's been through in the Fieldhouse that have led him to pursue a career on the sidelines. "I love the teaching aspect of coaching," he said. After coaching summer camps and local youth teams, Martelli, Jr., lights up when he talks about players "getting it." Making the connection between the coach's instructions and putting it into action is what he loves to see, no matter what the level. It even happens with the Hawks, he says. Not only helping him realize his dream of coaching, Martelli, Jr., has helped the SJU coaching staff by breaking down film for upcoming games. He takes clips of offensive sets, individual player moves, and anything else that would give Saint Joseph's an advantage on the court. He's even been able to pick up on a couple things that have slipped past the coaching staff. "It's an invaluable experience. What better than to sit and watch a bunch of games, for me that's heaven." The four-year walk-on has received his fair share of heckling throughout his career, more than the usual player, since he shares a name with the head coach. After being told he's only on the team because of his dad by more than one opposing fanatic, Martelli, Jr. just laughs. "I thought I was on the team because of my athletic ability," he says, dripping with sarcasm. "Why else do they think I'm on the team?" While most of his favorite heckling stories aren't suitable for print, he points to a moment at Fordham during his freshman year that may have taken the cake. After heading to the locker room for halftime, a member of the student section asked him "Martelli, where are you going? Your game is about to start." As he turned around, he saw a group of five-year olds taking the court. "I told the kid afterward, 'you got me,'" he laughed. Despite receiving the attention of two Penn rollouts at last week's game, Martelli shrugs it off. He got them back anyway, "in warm-ups, I told them I'd sign autographs after the game. That's fun to me, it's part of the game and I love it." The senior is looking to relive his favorite St. Joe's experience again this March. "Hearing our name called for the NCAA Tournament [in 2001] was something I'll never forget. To be one of the 65 teams, that's why you play. Hopefully we can repeat that."