UMass-St. Joe's: 5 Takeaways

St. Joe's dropped its third straight Atlantic 10 game on Wednesday night, falling on the road at UMass 62-57. It was a game marred by untimely turnovers, poor perimeter shooting, and an inability to convert down the stretch. My five major takeaways are inside.

1) I hate to start my takeaways honing in on one player and their poor performance.  But you have to when looking at last night's game.  Lamarr Kimble played what was, from my seat, his most frustrating game as a Hawk.  He's being asked to do so much with Shavar Newkirk out. I absolutely understand that.  But any time your point guard has nine turnovers, you're going to have a near-impossible time winning that game, especially on the road.  Kimble turned it over nine times, to just 3 assists.  He was 3-13 from the field, with a number of those field goal attempts really turnovers, as they were such bad decisions.  Over the last 5 games, Fresh has 31 turnovers to just 18 assists.  That's 6.2 turnovers to 3.6 assists going back to the URI game.  I don't know how to solve the problem.  I don't know if there is a solution.  But his play over the last 5 games isn't where the Hawks need it to be for them to have any success. Over those last 5, the Hawks are 1-4, and there is a direct relationship there.

2) It's not often that you see a statistic like the one for bench scoring last night.  Or starters' scoring for that matter. St. Joe's starters outscored UMass 55-16.  Unfortunately for the Hawks, UMass' bench outscored theirs 46-2.  Zach Lewis, who ignited UMass' run at the end of the first half, finished with a career-high 23 points, going 4-10 from deep. St. Joe's only played eight guys, with Nick Robinson getting 23 minutes, Javon Baumann 13, and Brendan Casper 7.  Robinson, who had a career-high 14 points against Richmond, was 0-5 from the field and scoreless in his playing time.  Among his misses was a wide-open right baseline three down the stretch that would have been big. You have Pierfrancesco Oliva's injury.  Shavar Newkirk's.  Still, the lack of depth is obviously an issue, especially on a night where your starters struggle scoring the ball.

3) In the middle here, I'll focus on one of my lone positive takeaway from last night, and that was the play of Markell Lodge.  Lodge had 11 points and 9 boards.  Four of his five made fieldgoals were put-back dunks.  He was able to crash the glass from the weakside and power home offensive rebounds.  I thought his energy and intensity were contagious during his time on the court.  Unfortunately, defensively, he was asked to guard 310-pound Rashan Holliday, which isn't a fair fight.  As a result, Javon Baumann got some minutes that would have been better served with Lodge. Lodge has now reached double digits in three of the Hawks' last 5 games.  

4) When your top three offensive players, James Demery, Charlie Brown, and Fresh Kimble, go a combined 11-39 (28%) from the field, it's going to be a long night.  James Demery had a team-high 19 points combined with 11 boards, but he was just 5-14 from the field.  He had the coaches incensed on the sideline more than once settling for contested deep jumpers.   Brown hit a huge late three, but he went such a long stretch without a field goal.  He hit his second three of the game at the 16:39 mark of the first half.  His next field goal? With 3:01 left in the game.  That's 33:40 of game time between made field goals. We documented Kimble's struggles earlier.  I don't know what the solution is, and I'm sure the coaches are searching.  This team just doesn't have the ability to get easy baskets with Shavar Newkirk out for the year.  

5) This is a rough stretch. The Hawks have now lost 4 of 5.  Their upcoming schedule includes Penn, at Saint Bonaventure, La Salle at home, then Davidson at home.  Looking at those four, you probably have Penn and Davidson at home as your best two opportunities for wins.  And neither of those are locks. St. Joe's is 8-9 now, and 2-4 in conference.  Looking at this schedule, you almost view Penn as a game you have to win.  Otherwise, a three game skid is four, and you're looking at three straight games where you'll likely be underdogs.  I don't waver on the future being bright.  Shavar Newkirk and Checco Oliva will be back from injury next year.  Taylor Funk will come in and help.  Charlie Brown and Nick Robinson should both make a leap.  I think next year's Hawk team will be very good.  It doesn't make this year much easier to watch.


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