Hawks-Minutemen Preview

On Wednesday evening, Saint Joseph's opens up Atlantic 10 play with a trip north to The Mullin Center to take on 19th-ranked UMass. The 9-4 Hawks are riding a five-game winning streak, and will look to make a statement Wednesday against a deep, senior-laden UMass team that enters at 12-1.

St. Joe's has won five straight, but they face a stern test at 7 o'clock Wednesday night at The Mullin Center. UMass is 12-1 on the year, and their lone loss, against Florida State, had some questionable officiating down the stretch that greatly impacted the end result. This Minutemen team could very easily be 13-0.

As a team, UMass boasts an impressive resume. They have wins over LSU and New Mexico, as well as wins against Providence, Boston College, Nebraska, and Clemson. Their RPI, according to RealTimeRPI, is 4th in the country.

UMass is led by senior point guard Chaz Williams, who is one of the elite point guards, not just in the Atlantic 10, but nationally. Williams is averaging 15.5 points and a remarkable 7.7 assists per game on the year. Chaz has four point-assist double-doubles this year, including a 32-point, 15-assist outburst in a 105-96 win over BYU.

Cady Lalanne, a 6'10 junior, is shooting 57% from the field on the season, and is averaging 13.8 points to go along with 9.8 boards a contest. Sampson Carter (12.3) and Raphiael Putney (10.5) are UMass' other double-digit scorers. Putney, a 6'9 senior, is a walking highlight-reel.

The Minutemen also get production from Western Kentucky transfer Derrick Gordon. When Gordon left WKU, Saint Joseph's made a hard push for his services, getting him on campus for an official visit. In the end, the 6'3 linebacker of a guard chose UMass, where he is averaging 9.5 points per. Not a shooter, Gordon does his damage off the bounce and around the rim. He and Trey Davis give Derrick Kellogg two quality guards to put around Chaz Williams.

On the Saint Joseph's side of things, one of the biggest concerns this season has been a lack of depth. The Hawks have all five starters playing at least 29 minutes per game. While Phil Martelli's bench has struggled all season, one player who had put together two strong performances in this recent winning streak was sophomore forward Isaiah Miles. The Hawks will be without Miles on Wednesday though. He suffered a concussion during Saint Joseph's win Saturday against Denver, will miss Wednesday, and then be evaluated prior to the Hawks' game this weekend at George Mason.

With Daryus Quarles in a serious funk, and Isaiah Miles unavailable, look for junior forward Papa Ndao to possibly see some extended playing time. Ndao, who has had a quiet career to date, saw 17 minutes against Binghamton and then 12 minutes against Denver. He could be the first SJU player off the bench Wednesday.

The early line out of Vegas has the Minutemen as nine-point home favorites. The Minutemen have one of the top guards in the country in Chaz Williams and quality pieces around him. If Saint Joseph's is going to pull the upset on Wednesday, they will need Ron Roberts and Halil Kanacevic to really enforce their will on the inside. The Hawks will also need Langston Galloway to show up in a big way.

The game will be televised in the Philadelphia region on The Comcast Network at 7 o'clock on Wednesday night.

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