An Early Look at St. Joseph's

Not much is known in these parts about St. Joseph's basketball, but all that will change in the next few days as the Sooners prepare to take them on in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday. Sooners Illustrated offers a quick glimpse at the Hawks.

One thing about the NCAA Tournament: You're never quite sure who you're going to play. The closest thing to a certainty is that you're not going to be overly familiar with your first-round opponent.

That's certainly the case for Oklahoma, which found out Sunday evening that it drew a six seed in the East Region and will play No. 11 seed St. Joseph's in the first round Friday in Birmingham, Ala.

Needless to say, the Sooners aren't quite yet caught up on their knowledge of the Hawks.

"I don't know a lot about them. I watched them play on TV but I didn't watch anything in great detail because I had no idea (we'd be playing them)," OU freshman forward Blake Griffin said. "Obviously if they are in the tournament they are a good team. They've won 21 games so far, so they will be a tough team."

Senior center Longar Longar professed some knowledge, but was basically the same boat as Griffin.

"I've watched them play and I know they have great guards," he said. "It won't be an easy first-round game."

Coach Jeff Capel, having come to Oklahoma from the east coast, is a little more familiar with St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli and his squad.

"I have a lot of respect for St. Joseph's. I've known Coach Martelli for a while. When I was an assistant for my dad at Old Dominion we played them. That was when Jameer Nelson was a freshman. He's one of the better coaches in the country. They are a hot team right now and they lost a heartbreaker last night. It's going to be a big game for us. We'll be anxious to get going."

Martell is in his 13th season at St. Joseph's and owns a 261-151 record.

St. Joseph's drew an at-large bid. It enters the tournament 21-12 overall and finished 9-7 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Hawks are 4-1 on a neutral court this season.

The Hawks were defeated 69-64 Saturday by Temple in the conference tournament championship. They defeated Fordham, Richmond and Xavier to reach the finals.

In fact, St. Joseph's knocked off Xavier, which entered the tournament ranked No. 10 in the March 10 AP poll, in two of their three meetings this season.

Their projected starting lineup is:

Pat Calathes (6-10 senior guard/forward)

Ahmad Nivins (6-9 junior forward)

Rob Ferguson (6-8 senior forward)

Tasheed Carr (6-4 junior guard)

Darrin Govens (6-1 sophomore guard)

Calathes leads the team with 17.8 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. He's a matchup nightmare because of his size and he can also shoot from the outside (40.3 percent from beyond the arc).

Nivins is more of an inside force as he leads the team shooting 64.5 percent form the field. He averages 14.4 points and 5.9 rebounds.

Ferguson is another matchup problem because of his size and shooting ability. He leads the team in 3-point shooting percentage (43.8). He scores 11.6 points and pulls down 4.8 boards a game.

Carr has the ability to score (10.9 points), but he's also generous with the ball. He's by far the team leader in assists with 163 (4.9 a game).

Govens adds 9.7 points and 2.1 boards while Garrett Williamson, a 6-5 sophomore guard, is the primary player off the bench. He contributes 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds.

Of course, before they fell asleep Sunday night, the Sooners were well aware of all that and more as the Sooner staff no doubt got busy on a preliminary scouting report.

Then again, knowledge on Sunday night isn't the key.

As junior forward Taylor Griffin put it:

"It doesn't really matter what we know now, it is what we are about to know in the next two or three days."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories