Due to the season-ending knee injury to freshman Kyle Molock, Saint Joseph's 2012-2013 backcourt will look identical to last season's. That backcourt features senior Tay Jones, junior Langston Galloway, and sophomores Chris Wilson and Evan Maschmeyer. Jones, Galloway, and Wilson got the lion's share of the minutes last year, and most assume that will continue this season.
Tay Jones, the lone senior on this year's Hawk team, led St. Joe's in scoring last year at a clip of 17 points per game. Tay shot 42% from the field, 35% from three, and 79% from the free throw line. Prior to the Hawks' New Year's Eve game at Harvard, they were cruising, with a record of 10-3. During those 13 games, Tay lit it up for the Hawks, dropping 38 against Seton Hall, 29 against Creighton, and 25 against Iona.
Beginning with the Harvard game, the Hawks hit a stretch where they went 3-6. That stretch, in the end, is what cost the Hawks an at-large bid in March. When looking at a cause for that rough stretch, the health of the jet-quick point guard jumps out at you. Jones missed a January game against Xavier that the Hawks lost.
He wasn't fully healthy for much of that stretch, and it was apparent in his outings. In the two games before missing the Xavier game, and three games following it, Tay shot a combined 12-46, for a rate of 26%. In those five games, plus the Xavier game, the Hawks went 2-4.
Generously listed at 5'11, Tay's willingness to get into the lane and draw contact, combined with his playing almost 37 minutes per game, means that there will be bumps and bruises along the way. However, for the Hawks to have a successful season in 2012-2013, it is imperative for him to remain healthy. His mid-season injury coincided with the team's roughest patch of the season. This coming year, the Hawks will once again have limited depth in the backcourt. Tay's health and success will be absolutely critical to the Hawks' success this year.
Tay's starting backcourt mate, Langston Galloway, will look to make a similar jump this coming year to the one he made between his freshman and sophomore years. Last season, the 6'2 sophomore from Louisiana averaged just under 16 points per game. Like Tay, Langston didn't get much rest last year, playing 36 minutes a night. He shot 49% from the field, up from 40% as a freshman, and a scorching 47% from three, up from 39% as a freshman. One area that did decline for the shooting guard was his free throw percentage that took a tumble from 89% down ten points to 79%. That is an area that should bounce back after an offseason of work and repetition.
With Galloway, one of the keys is consistency, something head coach Phil Martelli spoke about with Langston throughout the year. Toward the end of the year, he seemed to find that consistency, scoring in double-digits the final nine games of the season, prior to the NIT loss to Northern Iowa. Earlier in the season, that consistency was a bit of an issue, as he scored 5 points in a loss to American, then 30 in a win over Boston U. He also had 7 in the loss to Seton Hall, followed up by 23 against Tulsa.
The junior is supremely talented, and without question the team's top three-point shooter. Like Tay Jones, his ability to remain healthy and on the court will be one of the main things to keep an eye on this year. If Langston can remedy that dip in his free throw shooting and avoid those low single-digit outings, there is no reason to think that he can't be a first or second team All-Atlantic 10 player as a junior this year.
The first guard off the bench for the Hawks last year, Chris Wilson, will serve in a similar role this year. He is capable of subbing in for either Jones or Galloway, and also earned minutes when the Hawks went to a three-guard lineup last year. As a freshman, Wilson averaged roughly 3 across the board, in points, rebounds, and assists per game. He did that in just over 20 minutes a night.
Wilson's biggest room for improvement this season is in his jumper, as he shot 36% from the field last year, 31% from three, and 69% from the line. Chris showed glimpses of potential last year, hitting for 10 points and 7 rebounds against Morgan State, 13 points and 5 assists against Saint Bonaventure, and 11 points and 6 assists against Penn.
With Galloway and Jones playing almost 40 minutes a night, Chris' offseason improvement, that jump from freshman and sophomore year, will play a significant role in 2012-2013. If Chris can improve that jumper and provide Galloway and Jones with a couple more minutes of rest a night, he will be a great asset for the Hawks this year.
In our next look ahead, Hawk Hill Hardwood will look at the wings: Daryus Quarles, Papa Ndao, and Isaiah Miles. The third and final piece will examine the frontcourt of Halil Kanacevic, Ron Roberts, and CJ Aiken.
Early look at 2012-2013 backcourt
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