Tuesday's 30-point loss at Rhode Island is the worst loss suffered by Saint Joseph's in series history with URI. It was a ball game early, with the Hawks up 18-17 following two Chris Clover free throws. The game's decisive moment happened just seconds later, at the 8:26 mark of the first half, when junior James Demery picked up his second foul of the game. Demery left the game, with the Hawks up one and just over 8 minutes to go in the half. Over the remainder of the half, with Demery, the Hawks' best perimeter defender on the bench, URI outscored the Hawks 29-8 to take a 46-26 lead into the half.
Much can be made over Saint Joseph's free throw struggles in this one. After all, they shot a combined 12-25 from the line, but even if the Hawks were perfect from this stripe, this wouldn't have been a competitive game. And much of that goes back to the final 8:26 of the first half. Take that frame out, with Demery on the bench, and the score was 59-50 Rams. So what could have been done? Nearly every coach in America benches a player with two first-half fouls. Looking back, I'm curious if Phil Martelli would have done things differently and reinserted Demery into the game when URI was running away from it.
There weren't many bright spots at all in this one, and in fact, many more concerns than reasons for optimism. The biggest positive takeaway was James Demery's contributions in his minutes. The North Carolina native had a team-high 17 points and a team-high 8 boards in just 24 minutes. Saint Joseph's other offensive bright spots were freshman Charlie Brown who hit both of his threes en route to 11 points, and Markell Lodge, who had 10 points in just 19 minutes.
Now as for areas of concern? Lamarr Kimble, who will have a ridiculously high usage rate for the rest of the season, shot just 3-10 from the field, 2-7 from the line, and had six turnovers to four assists. For St. Joe's to be respectable here on out, for the season's final 17 games, he's simply going to have to be much better. Nick Robinson, who played some minutes as a back-up to Kimble at the point, was just 1-6 from the free throw line and had four turnovers. Robinson, as a whole, has had a very promising freshman campaign, and he's very much being asked to play out of position. So I do think, long term, this will benefit him. Chris Clover, who was thrust into the starting lineup with Newkirk's injury, was not all that productive, finishing with 4 points on 1-5 shooting in 24 minutes.
Moving forward, it's clear that St. Joe's best lineup has Fresh Kimble at the 1, James Demery and Nick Robinson as the wings, then Charlie Brown and Markell Lodge as your frontcourt. Will St. Joe's run that starting lineup out there over the weekend at Fordham? I'm leaning towards yes.
On the recruiting front, two of St. Joe's top 2018 guard targets squared off yesterday when St. Benedict's Prep (NJ) and The Hill School (PA) matched up. St. Ben's won 62-51. For The Hill School, Chase Audige is a top priority for the Hawks, while St. Benedict's two-guard Matthue Cotton, it could be argued, is the Hawks' top overall target. Cotton was at St. Joe's win over George Washington last week, and St. Joe's is making a major push. They are competing against the likes of UConn, Oklahoma State, Seton Hall, Columbia, and many more. Audige, like Cotton, is a high-level student and has a plethora of high-academics with offers along with significant high-major interest.
On the 2017 front, Manheim Central rolled on with another win Tuesday night, this time over Cocalico. 6'9 senior Hawk commit Taylor Funk had 12 points in the win for Manheim. They return to action Friday.
Glenelg Country Day (MD) lost yesterday to St. Vincent Palotti (MD), 56-46. 6'10 St. Joe's commit Anthony Longpre had a team-high 17 points in the loss, which dropped Glenelg to 9-5 on the year.
I will have a full game-day preview of St. Joe's-Fordham live on site Saturday morning.null