At the 6:08 mark of the first half Saturday, St. Joe's sophomore guard Lamarr Kimble rattled home a pull-up jumper to give the Hawks a 27-24 over 2nd-ranked Villanova. Fourteen minutes into the Holy War, and not only were the Hawks going punch for punch with the Wildcats, but they were leading. From there, things went downhill for Phil Martelli's bunch. And relatively quick. Villanova would go on a 20-4 run to close out the first half and enter the half with a double-digit lead, at 44-31.
Right before the start of the second half, I tweeted that the first four minutes there would determine whether this game was going to be a blowout or a ballgame. Well, the Cats picked up right where they left off, extending their lead to 55-37 by the first media timeout of the second half. From there, it just got worse and worse for the Hawks as Villanova, powered by Josh Hart's triple-double, ran away with the Holy War. Villanova shot 16-34 (47%) from three, accounting for 48 of their 88 points. The Hawks were just 5-15 from downtown, therefore getting outscored by 33 (48-15) from deep. Some general takeaways are below.
This game, to me, was as much a reinforcement for how incredibly talented this Villanova team is as it was an indictment on this year's Hawk team. By the time the final whistle blew Saturday, Kentucky had lost at home to UCLA, setting Villanova up to be ranked number one in America today, which they were. The Cats always have four players on the floor who can shoot, and they're so difficult to guard in pick-and-roll situations. Kris Jenkins, Josh Hart, Jaylen Brunson, Eric Paschall, Mikal Bridges, and Donte DiVincenzo are all capable three-point shooters, good three-point shooters, and that doesn't even include Phil Booth who wasn't suited up Saturday. Daryl Reynolds is the only player in Nova's rotation who isn't a threat from three, which makes them a nightmare to defend. It's why they are legitimate National Champion contenders again a year after winning it all.
Following the Temple game, I wrote about how Shavar Newkirk was looking like an All-League Selection so far this season. He struggled mightily with Villanova's size and ability to switch on Saturday. Newkirk was 2-4 from three but only 1-11 from two. His pull-up jumper that he often gets clean looks on due to switches wasn't open Saturday. When he was able to blow past the initial line of defense, Josh Hart or Mikal Bridges was there to swallow him up. Shavar really struggled with Nova's size and athleticism. I would look for him to bounce back in a big way against Drexel though.
I've been looking for something out of Markell Lodge outside of that incredible leaping ability. He showed real fight Saturday against the Cats, corralling ten rebounds in 23 minutes. The other two posts that Phil Martelli is playing in a "three-headed" approach to the position, Javon Baumann and Jai Williams, combined for zero rebounds in 18 minutes of action. I thought that Lodge probably should have played more against Temple. And I felt the same Saturday at Villanova. To me, he has clearly solidified himself as the best option at the five, and it wouldn't hurt me to see Lodge's share of those 40 minutes increase more and more as the season progresses.
James Demery's injury has hurt the Hawks even more than I imagined. Everything the Hawks do defensively starts with Demery. Although he would have given up a few inches to Obi Enechionyia, he would have likely spent some time defending him in the Temple game. He would have been matched up against Josh Hart Saturday. Instead of Demery playing 35 minutes a game, those minutes are going to a combination of Brendan Casper and Nick Robinson, who I'm really high on, playing more than he should, and probably slightly out of position. I spoke with Phil Martelli about James and his timetable, and he had the following to say. "James Demery is continuing his rehab and he will return when the doctors clear him. " That could be a few weeks, it could be more.
The loss at Villanova Saturday was not unexpected. The Hawks were right in it for the majority of the first half. The second half was disconcerting though, and it's clear that Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble, who are fantastic, are simply being asked to do too much. There was a second-half lineup Saturday that had Shavar and Fresh essentially playing 2-on-5 offensively, as they were joined on the court by Javon Baumann, Brendan Casper, and Chris Clover, who was outmatched in this one. Charlie Brown and Nick Robinson once again showed some flashes, but are being thrust into such huge roles as freshmen just seven games into their NCAA careers. Kimble and Newkirk need help offensively though, and until Demery returns, it will likely have to be one of Robinson or Brown.
While Saturday was a beat-down, and there is no way around that, things quickly moved on. Saturday night, Dave Duda watched 2018 Hill School (PA) wing Chase Audige drop 28 points. He then watched Westtown (PA) forward Jake Forrester put up 13 points, 9 boards, and 3 blocks. After Dave Duda watched those two Saturday, Phil Martelli watched them Sunday. Chase Audige once again put on a show, finishing with 19 points, 8 boards, and 5 assists. He also had three absolute highlight-reel worthy dunks. I have been told by several people that Audige is one of the more athletic and explosive guards in the area in 2018. In addition to Audige and Forrester, Phil Martelli saw 2018 post Darnell Brodie, who holds a Hawk offer, on Saturday. He also saw Isaiah Mucius, a top 40 2018 forward, who does hold a St. Joe's offer but would presumably be a major longshot.
St. Joe's doesn't return to action until next Sunday when they're at Drexel. In the coming week, I'll dive much deeper into the Hawks' four-game skid as well as updating the 2018 recruiting big-board with a massive update.null