St. Joe's had one of its best seasons in school history last year, winning 28 games, an Atlantic 10 tournament title, and winning their opening-round NCAA tournament game against Cincinnati. This year's team will have a completely different look, without a single double-digit scorer from a year ago. James Demery, at 8.1 points per, and Shavar Newkirk, at 8 points per, are the Hawks' leading returning scorers.
In addition to Newkirk and Demery, sophomore guard Lamarr Kimble also played a significant role on last year's A10 championship team. Those three will start alongside a true freshman and a redshirt sophomore. Rounding out the starting lineup are 6'8 sophomore forward Markell Lodge and 6'6 freshman wing Charlie Brown. That gives the Hawks as small of a lineup as you're likely to see in the A10 this year, with 6-footers Kimble and Newkirk, 6'5 James Demery, 6'6 Charlie Brown, and 6'8 Markell Lodge.
Markell Lodge, who is listed on the Saint Joseph's roster at 6'8, also has a 39-inch vertical leap, the highest in program history, per university press release. Lodge only played in 13 games last year as a freshman, following a redshirt freshman year in 2014-2015 where he focused on academics.
St. Joe's starting lineup of Newkirk, Kimble, Demery, Brown,and Lodge is pencilled in. Who can Hawk fans expect to see off the bench? I think it's reasonable to expect to see Chris Clover and Nick Robinson get significant minutes in the backcourt off the bench Saturday. Then Jai Williams and Javon Baumann as back-up big men behind Markell Lodge. Charlie Brown will play significant minutes, but if he struggles or gets into foul trouble, you could see freshman forward Lorenzo Edwards in that role.
Toledo is coming off a 17-15 season in 2016-2017. Nathan Boothe, a senior, was Toledo's leading scorer last year at a tick over 19 points per game. Guard Stuckey Mosley averaged 10 points, 4.8 boards, and 4 assists per game last year as a sophomore, but has since transferred to James Madison. 6'3 senior guard Jonathan Williams averaged 17.6 points per game last year for the Rockets and shot 38% from three. He is the player for Hawk fans to keep a close eye on. I'd love for James Demery and Nick Robinson to see time defending Williams.
St. Joe's opened as 6-point favorites against Toledo. The Hawks are 9-2 in season openers over the last 11 years and will look to improve on that even further Saturday night at Hagan Arena. 7 o'clock start, and I'll have complete coverage post-game.