February 23rd Team Report
Hawks likely need to win out
Every loss hurts, but the Hawks' 52-49 stumble at home vs. Richmond on Feb. 22 really smarts -- for a number of reasons.
First, the loss stings because of the way it happened. Down 11 points midway through the second half, Phil Martelli's squad didn't quit. Instead, the Hawks stormed all the way back to tie the game at 49-49. But Richmond forward Derrick Williams broke a 49-49 tie by hitting the first of two free throws with 3.7 seconds left. He missed the second, and Saint Joseph's forward Halil Kanacevic grabbed the rebound and instinctively called timeout.
The problem? The Hawks were out of timeouts and assessed a technical foul. Richmond's Darien Brothers sank both free throws, extending the lead to 52-49 with three seconds left. Saint Joseph's star guard Carl "Tay" Jones tried a three-point prayer at the buzzer, but that prayer wasn't answered.
The second major reason that the loss hurts is because the Hawks (18-11 overall, 8-6 Atlantic 10) entered the game in the midst of a three-game win streak, a positive run that had put them on the NCAA tourney bubble and in the hunt for a top-four finish in the Atlantic 10 standings (which would earn them an all-important bye in next month's A-10 tourney in Atlantic City). But this heartbreaking home loss will hurt their RPI as well as the Hawks' chances for an NCAA tourney at-large berth.
To get back in the Big Dance conversation and into the A-10 bye mix, the Hawks will likely have to win out vs. No. 22 Temple this Saturday night and then on the road at Saint Bonaventure on Feb. 29 -- no easy task. Temple (11-2 in Atlantic 10) and Saint Louis (10-3 in Atlantic 10) are battling for the regular-season crown and the No. 1 overall seed in the A-10 tourney and six teams are in the hunt for the other two first-round byes: UMass and Xavier (both at 8-5 in league play); Saint Joseph's (8-6 in A-10), La Salle and Dayton (both 7-6 in league) as well as Duquesne (6-7 in A-10).
Jones leading balanced Saint Joseph's
--Junior G Carl "Tay" Jones (16.4 ppg) leads a balanced attack for the Hawks, a team that features three other double-figure scorers in fellow starters Langston Galloway (15.5 ppg) and C.J. Aiken (11.4 ppg) and super sixth man Ronald Roberts Jr. (10.8 ppg).
--Sophomore F Halil Kanacevic has struggled with his shooting from behind both lines (.552 FT, .250 3PT), but he's been a stat-sheet stuffer for the Hawks, leading the team in rebounding (8.0 per game) and assists (3.6 apg).
BY THE NUMBERS:
Saint Joseph's won its last three games and also held a three-game winning streak on the road in conference play after the 73-66 win over George Washington. The Hawks' only loss in the last five games was to Saint Louis at home on Feb. 8.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"I don't have any opinion at all whether that would be to our advantage or not to our advantage. It's always been my goal for my teams to be playing their best basketball when the calendar turns to March." -- Coach Phil Martelli, whose Hawks finish the regular season on Feb. 29 and could have a nine-day break between games if they earn a bye in the A-10 tournament and don't play until the quarterfinals on March 9.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. Temple, Feb. 25
KEY MATCHUPS: Temple has the top-scoring duo in conference play in guards Ramone Moore and Khalif Wyatt. Those two and G Juan Fernandez combined for 48 points in Temple's 78-60 win over St. Joe's in the first meeting. C Micheal Eric, who has since moved into the starting lineup, came off the bench for 11 points and two rebounds in just 17 minutes for the Owls.
ON THE SPOT: After back-to-back 20-loss seasons, the Hawks (18-11 in 2011-12) have had a great bounce-back year in 2011-12, but this Saturday night's home game vs. No. 22 Temple is a must-win, if the Hawks have true NCAA tourney aspirations. In addition to being a must-win game for the Hawks' 2012 A-10 tourney bye hopes, the atmosphere at the Hagan Arena this Saturday evening should be downright crazy, because: a) bitter rival Temple is nationally ranked and could be welcomed into the Big East in all sports by week's end (meaning that this could be the final regular-season league meeting between the two clubs), b) Temple has beaten the Hawks 10 times in a row, c) the game is nationally televised (it's on ESPNU at 7 p.m.); d) the Owls will be playing on Hawk Hill for the first time since 2001. Need one more reason that this game is huge? The high school Class of 2013 in Philly is loaded with D-I talent and a win over Temple would help the Hawks' chances of getting their fair share of those current high school juniors.
FUTURES MARKET: Sophomore F Ronald Roberts, who has been a key figure off the bench for St. Joe's, was held to just one point in the win over George Washington. He had scored in double figures in five of the previous seven games. "What Ron Roberts has done, I would say two things," coach Phil Martelli said. "One is the production. Everybody knows his numbers -- 11 points a game and the rebounding and the energy and the plays he makes are worth more than two points. But I think the biggest thing is when people realize the teammate that he is. That's been the biggest addition for our team."
--Sophomore F C.J. Aiken blocked four shots against George Washington, giving him 10 in three games since he failed to block a shot against Saint Louis on Feb. 8.
--Sophomore F Daryus Quarles scored 15 points, going 5-of-8 from the field, against GWU for his first game in double digits since a 12-point game against Richmond on Feb. 1.
--Sophomore F Halil Kanacevic recorded his sixth double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds against GWU.
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