During his post-game press conference, Phil Martelli voiced his displeasure with Saint Joseph's offense Tuesday night against George Mason. On a night the Hawks scored 67 points, Martelli honed in on one specific number in the stat sheet. "It's bad basketball," Martelli said post-game, as reported initially by Steven Tydings of CSN Philly. Pointing at the Hawk assist number, which was five, Martelli said, "That's the right number to look at. We over dribble and we need some playmakers."
That number is truly astounding. And it's worth focusing on here. In the 75-67 loss, the Hawks had just five assists. That's 5 assists on 27 made field goals. Part of that was due to the fact that the Hawks were unable to connect on shots from the perimeter, going 5-21 from three for the game. But a larger part was that the Hawks played a lot of one-on-one basketball. Markell Lodge, who had 10 points Saturday at Fordham, didn't even get off a field goal attempt Tuesday. Any game where you have 5 assists to 14 turnovers is going to be nearly impossible to win. All that being said, St. Joe's actually had the lead Tuesday at 63-62 in the closing minutes.
After a James Demery and-one pulled the Hawks ahead 63-62, George Mason sophomore guard Otis Livingston hit the shot of the game, a lightning-quick catch-and-shoot three right over the outstretched hand of Lamarr Kimble. That three gave Mason a 65-63 lead, and the Patriots would close the game on a 13-4 run. James Demery had a run-out lay-up go halfway down before rattling out. Nick Robinson had a bad turnover off an offensive rebound. The Hawks had chances, despite the poor shooting numbers. Despite the poor assist-to-turnover ratio. The Hawks had a chance. In the end, it wasn't enough, as the Patriots hit their free throws down the stretch and pulled out a tough conference road win.
There wasn't a ton of positive to take out of the game, but there were a few bright spots. First and foremost was the play of freshman wing Charlie Brown. Brown was only 2-8 from three, but was 6-13 from the field for a career-high 17 points. Brown connected on a beautiful pull-up jumper from the baseline. He hit a turnaround jumper from 12 feet. He ran the floor late in the second half to tip in a Brendan Casper miss. Brown was active on the glass, pulling down 6 boards. He also had a team-high (yes I know) 2 assists. Expectations were high for the Philadelphia native this year. I don't think it's realistic to have assumed he would be this good, this soon. Charlie is averaging 10.7 points per game, shooting 41% from three, 82% from the line, and continues to flash brilliance. This year isn't a particularly easy one for Hawk fans, with the injuries, with the departures from last year, and there will be losses. Watching Charlie Brown play this year, and imagining what he can be in the future, is exciting though.
James Demery and Lamarr Kimble were St. Joe's other two leading scorers, and both were a mixed bag. James had 16 points, and went 1-2 from deep, but also had a team-high 5 turnovers. Kimble, who had a team-high 18 points, was just 7-18 from the field and 1-5 from three. He also had just one assist to three turnovers. While both scored the ball, the combined 8 turnovers between the two and the combined 14-34 (41%) shooting will have to be better for the Hawks to have success during the second half of the season. Brendan Casper was St. Joe's other double-digit scorer, tallying 10 points for the second game in a row.
The Hawks return to action Saturday at home at 12:30 against a hot Richmond team. The Spiders are 9-6 on the year, but 3-0 in A10 play. T.J. Cline and ShawnDre Jones are both fantastic, all-league level players. I will have a full preview of that matinee up Friday night. Halfway through the season, the Hawks are 8-7 (2-2). They'll look to bounce back with a tough one against the Spiders.