Meet the Atlantic 10: St. Joseph’s Preview

Posted In The Reading List - By Alan Kelly On Saturday, January 11th, 2014 With 0 Comments


Tonight, the Patriots face the Saint Joseph’s University Hawks in George Mason’s first ever Atlantic 10 home game (CBS Sports Network, 8 pm).

Continuing our introductions to each conference member, earlier this week I asked James Hill (@jrhill17), staff writer at philahoops.com, to answer some questions about this year’s Hawks and the program as a whole. Following the question and answer session, I’ve also included a table of facts about St. Joe’s.

After I talked to James, the Hawks went on to play a close game at UMass Wednesday night, leading late into the second half before ultimately taking a 66-62 loss to fall to 9-5 on the season and 0-1 in Atlantic 10 play. Also of note, senior forward Ronald Roberts injured his back in the second half and may not be available tonight.

masonhoops.com: Who’s in the likely starting lineup for St. Joseph’s, and can you give us a brief description of each player?

James: The starting lineup has been the same all year. It’s a very experienced group with three seniors and a junior to go along with a freshman. These guys will account for almost all scoring, rebounding, and anything else the Hawks might do.

Guard: Langston Galloway – Galloway is a sharpshooter who never met a three-pointer he didn’t like. He plays his best off the ball coming off screens but will rarely put the ball on the floor towards the rim. He’s tough defensively and a good hustle guy as well.

Guard: Chris Wilson – Wilson isn’t particularly flashy or fast, but he does a lot of things well for this team. The lefty is the team’s primary ball-handler and has seemed to find his shooting stroke of late after going through a slump through November and early December.

Forward: DeAndre Bembry – The freshman is a great talent and has shown flashes of brilliance through the first 13 games of his career. He’s athletic, can handle the ball, and can shoot it from the outside as well as take it to the rim. But he is a freshman, and at times that shows.

Forward: Ronald Roberts – Roberts is a freak athlete who is good for a highlight reel dunk or block every game. He has the ability to go for 20+ points, but his offensive performances are inconsistent. You’ll typically get a good game defensively from him though.

Forward: Halil Kanacevic – Kanacevic is by no means the Hawks’ best player, best talent, leading scorer, or anything like that – but he might be their most important player. He’s the team’s vocal leader who leads the team in rebounds and assists. Halil’s problem this season has been staying on the floor and out of foul trouble.

masonhoops.com: Who are the key bench players and what do they contribute to the team?

James: As good as the Saint Joseph’s starting lineup is, their bench is that bad. Any contribution provided by the bench is a bonus. Key players:

Isaiah Miles: A solid swingman-type who will take any open three. The problem is he’s not hitting many of them this year (34%). It’s unclear if he’ll play against George Mason. He collided with an opposing player against Denver this past weekend and suffered a concussion. He’s going to miss the team’s game Wednesday against UMass, and will be reevaluated later in the week.

Daryus Quarles, Papa Ndao, Evan Maschmeyer: Not much to say about these guys. If any of them play, it’s usually to give the starters a quick break or to bridge the gap during foul trouble. Any contribution is a bonus.

masonhoops.com: What are the strengths of this year’s team?

James: I think the team’s starting five is as good as any team in the conference. Martelli refers to his three seniors (Galloway, Roberts, and Kanacevic) as “all-league players,” Bembry is probably the early favorite for conference rookie of the year, and Wilson is a solid point guard. The Hawks are also a very athletic group that can get out in transition with anyone, but in the half court they are very streaky – which is great when they’re on, but dreadful when they’re not.

masonhoops.com: What are the weaknesses of this year’s team?

James: Depth and free throw shooting. I’m not sure which one has hurt the Hawks more this year, but those two areas must be fixed to some degree for the Hawks to be a contender in the A-10.

masonhoops.com: What are some signs that fans could look for during the game that might indicate whether the game is going well or poorly for the Hawks?

James: As I mentioned, the Hawks are streaky from the floor. If they’re hitting shots early, they can put up big numbers offensively over the course of a game.

The biggest key for the Hawks is keeping Halil Kanacevic out of foul trouble. The Hawks play much better with Kanacevic on the floor, both offensively and defensively. Much of the offense flows through him in the high post. If he can stay on the floor, the Hawks’ chances to win increase dramatically.

Another sign to look for is Ronald Robert’s activity on the glass. When he has big offensive games, many are on second chances and put-backs where he uses his athleticism to beat someone to a ball. Even when he doesn’t have a good offensive game, like when he started 0-for-7 against Denver, he still had an impact on the game with 15 rebounds, 4 steals, and a huge block to start a fast-break when the Hawks were struggling for points. If he’s not active, the Hawks are hurting.

masonhoops.com: St. Joseph’s went 9-4 in out of conference play (with one game remaining – Jan. 18 at Penn). What have these games revealed about the team? Are there trends emerging?

James: The jury is still out on this team. They’ve beaten the teams that they should beat, and have lost in all four quality win opportunities. They pushed Creighton to the edge, but lost when Doug McDermott hit a fadeaway 15-footer and drew the foul – that happens with him. They also nearly won at Temple, where they were tied with four minutes to play. But they were bludgeoned by LSU and arch-rival Villanova. I think this UMass game Wednesday will tell us a lot about the Hawks. They’re coming off a five-game winning streak where they have seemed to find their way. We’ll see if this team can rise to the occasion against a quality opponent or if this is just a team that beats bad teams and loses to good ones.

masonhoops.com: The Hawks were picked fifth in the A-10 preseason poll, with two players on the all-conference second team. Given what you’ve seen so far, what are your current expectations for the rest of the season?

James: Like I said above, the jury is still out. While this conference seems to be very good this year, nobody is unbeatable. I think fifth, or maybe sixth, is fair for them, but if they fix some of the flaws the team has a higher ceiling. The starting lineup is extremely talented and can play with anyone in the conference. If they want to challenge for a top four spot in Brooklyn or an NCAA at-large bid – of which I think they are capable – they need to find some sort of production off the bench.

masonhoops.com: I’ve heard rumors that a significant number of St. Joseph’s fans want Phil Martelli fired, even going so far as to set up a website. What’s your read on his job security? We may have a similar discontent situation brewing here in Fairfax.

James: Yes, the grumbling here in Philly has gotten louder over the past few years. But that is to be expected given the recent struggles. The biggest criticism of Martelli is that he never was able to capitalize on the success of the perfect regular season and Elite Eight run of 2003-04 behind Jameer Nelson and Delonte West. Since that season 10 years ago, the Hawks have made the NCAA Tournament just once – getting smacked by Blake Griffin’s Oklahoma team in the first round in 2008.

He’s been here for 19 years, has been a good leader, and is well-respected by the administration. He’s been given a long leash up to this point, I don’t necessarily think that will change – especially considering he has a strong recruiting class coming in as well as West Virginia transfer Aaron Brown.

masonhoops.com: Can you tell us something interesting that most Mason fans wouldn’t know about St. Joseph’s?

James: I’ll spare you on the various details surrounding the Hawk mascot, as every television crew broadcasting a Saint Joseph’s game beats that story to death.

Though the days of the Big Five double-headers at the Palestra are long gone, the Big Five teams all still play each other and crown a champion every year. After Temple’s jump to the AAC, LaSalle and Saint Joseph’s are the only remaining Big Five members in the Atlantic 10. But the Hawks still play Temple, Villanova, and Penn every year as non-conference opponents. The Hawks last won the Big Five in 2011-12, where they shared the title with Temple. Saint Joseph’s has won at least a share of the title 20 times since Big Five play began in 1955.

The Hawks still play Penn at the Palestra every year, regardless of which team is considered the home team. They also hold other games there occasionally – last year, for example, the Hawks faced LaSalle at the Palestra.

SAINT JOSEPH’S HAWKS FACTS
Institution
Founded: 1851
Type: Private (Jesuit)
Endowment: $193M
Location: Philadelphia, Penn.
Campus: Urban
Students: 4,600 undergraduates
Men’s Basketball Program
Athletics Budget: $16.4M (2012)
Men’s Basketball Budget: $3.1M (2012)
Began Play: 1909
Joined A-10: 1982
A-10 Championships: 2
NCAA Appearances: 19 (Most recent: 2008)
NCAA Record: 18-23 (.439)
NIT Appearances: 16 (Most recent: 2013)
Head Coach: Phil Martelli
Coaching Tenure: 19th season
Coaching Record: 338-237 (.588)
Arena: Hagan Arena
Arena Opened: 2009
Arena Capacity: 4,200
Colors: Crimson and Gray
Student Section: 54th Airborne
2013-14 Season
Preseason A-10: Picked 5th
Current Record: 9-5 (0-1)
RPI: 62
Pomeroy: 80
Best wins: vs Drexel, vs Boston U
Worst losses: at Temple
George Mason Series History
Meetings: 1
Record: SJU leads, 1-0
Current Streak: 1 win, SJU
Most Recently: 3/12/2002, SJU won 73-64

Meet the Atlantic 10: An introduction to each team in George Mason’s new conference
VCU – St. Joe’s – UMass – URI – Fordham – GW – SLU – Dayton – Duq. – St. Bona – Rich. – La Salle

About - Alan Kelly is a 2010 and 2013 graduate of George Mason University and a former member of the Patriot Platoon. He had the memorable experience of being in the middle of the college decision process as George Mason's Final Four run unfolded. He currently resides in Northern Virginia.

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