Hawks-Rams Preview

Notre Dame. Creighton. Butler. Now you can add VCU to the list of ranked opponents for this year's St. Joe's squad. The Hawks travel to Richmond Thursday for what is sure to be one of their toughest games of the year.

The 9-5 Hawks of Saint Joseph's travel to Richmond, Virginia Thursday for a road game against Shaka Smart and the VCU Rams. The Rams enter Thursday night's contest at 14-3, and a perfect 2-0 in league play.

St. Joe's will be without the services of junior forward Halil Kanacevic. This is Halil's second straight game missed due to the death of his maternal uncle. Kanacevic is in Montenegro for the funeral services. He is currently being listed by SJU as 'questionable' for Saturday's game at Penn.

With Halil out, look for the Hawks to start a lineup of Chris Wilson, Carl Jones, Langston Galloway, C.J. Aiken, and Ron Roberts.

St. Joe's comes into this one straight off a weekend road win at Duquesne. The Hawks won 74-66 at The Palumbo Center, behind a 16-point performance from Langston Galloway and 9 surprising points off the bench for junior swingman Daryus Quarles.

A totally different beast awaits the Hawks at VCU. The Rams are riding an 11-game winning streak, and are currently ranked 22nd nationally. Shaka Smart, a revved-up Siegel Center, and HAVOC lies in wait.

VCU lost two out of three at Atlantis in November, and haven't lost since. Keep in mind, those two losses were to Duke and Missouri, both games the Rams had legitimate chances to win down the stretch.

The Rams can legitimately go ten-deep on you, which is something that could pose a major, and frightening, challenge for the Hawks. Nine players average over ten minutes a game for Shaka Smart. Almost as remarkably, not a single player averages over 27 minutes per contest.

This is in stark contrast to Phil Martelli's St. Joe's squad, that essentially goes 6-7 deep and has six players over 30 minutes nightly.

The Rams are a menace defensively. Sophomore guard Briante Weber averages a mind-boggling 3.6 steals per contest. He is likely to be a nightmare for Hawk guards Chris Wilson and Tay Jones on Thursday night.

6'5 sophomore Treveon Graham is likely to be another matchup nightmare for the Hawks. Graham has 24 and 17 respectively in VCU's two Atlantic 10 games.

The list of weapons for the Rams truly goes on and on. They have upwards of nine players that can wreak havoc. If you're a Hawk fan, one name you'll want to remember, or possibly want to forget, is 6'4 senior sniper Troy Daniels.

All season long, and actually throughout recent memory, the Hawks have been torched by three-point shooters. Last week, Butler's Rotnei Clarke went off for six threes against the Hawks. Troy Daniels could be looking at something like that on Thursday. He takes over nine threes a game, and shoots 44% from three. He had eleven threes already in a game this year.

If there's any glimpse of hope for the Hawks, it lies in the fact that VCU's 11-game winning streak hasn't been against the absolute stiffest of competition. Here is what their win streak looks like:

Stetson, Belmont, Old Dominion, Alabama, Western Kentucky, Longwood, Fairleigh Dickinson, Eastern Tennessee, Lehigh, Dayton, and Saint Bonaventure.

Aside from Alabama and Dayton on the road, it's not exactly an intimidating gauntlet.

That being said, winning this game on the road is going to take a Herculeon effort from the Hawks. Vegas sees it that way too, as the Rams have opened as ten-point favorites. Stay tuned to Hawk Hill Hardwood for post-game coverage.

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