Isaiah Miles, Papa Ndao, and Pierfrancesco Oliva combined to give St. Joe's 27 points and 15 rebounds per game last year. All of that frontcourt production is now gone, due to a combination of graduation and injury. It leaves the Hawks with a major, major question mark heading into a season with several others as well. Hawk Hill Hardwood spoke with SJU assistant coach Dave Duda about how the Hawks plan to attempt to replace that production.
"I think Jai (Williams), Javon (Baumann), and Markell (Lodge) will play a three-headed center, for lack of a better term," Duda began. "We are not a position team, but I see the three of them combining to form that one position. What does their total add up to at the end of the game? Did we win that position? I don't think their individual numbers will dazzle, but can the combination of their numbers be what we are looking for?"
With Lodge, Williams, and Baumann as the "three-headed center," that leaves the Hawks likely to start freshman forward Charlie Brown at the four spot in what could be an incredibly small small-ball lineup. All of this would have been different with Oliva healthy.
In our profile today, the focus is on 6'6 forward Markell Lodge, a North Carolina native who could very well be the Hawks' starter alongside Brown on Saturday against Toledo.
Markell Lodge inked with St. Joe's in 2014 as part of a four-man class that included Shavar Newkirk, James Demery, and Obi Romeo. Lodge redshirted his freshman year due to academics and then played quite sparingly last year, as he was behind Aaron Brown, Pierfrancesco Oliva, Isaiah Miles, and Papa Ndao. Lodge saw game action 13 times as a freshman, playing in the Hawks' first seven games and then only six times during the remainder of the season. Lodge's best game was a 4-point, 6-rebound performance against Niagara where he saw a season-high 11 minutes.
Markell will have a significantly greater role on this year's Hawk team. "He's definitely the most improved of the bunch," Dave Duda said of Markell. "He is much more confident in what he is required to do. He has a better handle of the system and the verbiage."
While undersized, the 6'6 214-pound Lodge is an elite level athlete with a strong frame, quickness, toughness, and a motor. That is what he will be asked to draw upon this year. "He's been really impressive pursuing the ball," Duda continued. "The next challenge for him is going to be doing it when the lights go on."
Those lights go on Saturday night at Hagan Arena against Toledo. Markell Lodge is the likely starter in the middle Saturday night, with he, Jai Williams, and Javon Baumann as a "three-headed center." Those three won't be looked at for much of a scoring boost, but to rebound, defend, and run the floor. Tomorrow, we will roll on in our Player Profile Series with Javon Baumann.null