While college basketball coaches across the country were busy preparing for this week's start of the NCAA tournament, Philadelphia's Division I coaches gathered Monday morning at the Palestra for the 18th annual Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament Tip-Off Breakfast.

And the three Big Five coaches whose teams were selected to the tournament wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else.

"There's only so many hours you can watch film to fit all this together," St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said. "But aren't we all responsible to do something for others, whatever our job title, whether it's bank president, a reporter, a coach? We're put here to do just something for somebody else. That's all we're doing."

Coaches vs. Cancer is a national organization, a collaborative effort between the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the American Cancer Society. The Philadelphia chapter is No. 1 for funds raised with more than $13 million since 1996, according to the local ACS chapter.

Temple coach Fran Dunphy, who co-chairs the local Coaches vs. Cancer chapter along with Martelli, called it a "wonderful event" that has "galvanized" the city's coaches.

"I think we were already pretty close but now we're even closer because we're all fighting this thing whenever we can," Dunphy said. "We have more events than anyone else in the country. But it's great. We're so lucky to have what we have in Philly."

Villanova coach Jay Wright talked about an interview he did earlier this season with ESPN basketball analyst Dan Dakich on Dakich's radio show in Indianapolis.

"The first question he asked me was about the Big Five, and I told him about it and he's like, 'Really?'" Wright said. "Then I talked about what we do with Coaches vs. Cancer and how we get together the morning after Selection Sunday and he was amazed, 'You're not watching film?' It's amazing to talk about it with people outside the city."

The Wildcats, Hawks and Owls all play their first NCAA tournament games on Friday. Villanova and Temple will be in Brooklyn, N.Y., and would play each other in the second round if they both win their openers. St. Joseph's will be in Spokane, Wash.

When La Salle received a bid to play a First Four game in Dayton in 2013, Explorers coach John Giannini was getting ready for a game on Wednesday, but enthusiastically showed up that Monday.

"The obligation the coaches in this city feel to each other and to the community outweighs everything else," Giannini said. "You might be stressed but you never question whether you should be here. And once you are here, you're glad you're here."

Penn coach Steve Donahue also attended the breakfast. The coaches mentioned that they missed a one-time member of the City Six coaching community, Drexel's Bruiser Flint, who was fired last week. Flint spent his 15 years with the Dragons taking part in the charity.

"It's a bit melancholy because Bru's not here," Martelli said. "Look at the number of years that we had in this city doing this job, it's moving. And it motivates us to do more. We can and must do more but not to beat cancer. We have to crush cancer."