Nov. 21, 2008
LAHAINA, HAWAII - The Saint Joseph's men's basketball team opens play in the 2008 EA Sports Maui Invitational against #7 Texas on Monday, November 24 at 3 p.m. Eastern time (10 a.m. Hawaii Time) from the Lahaina Civic Center. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
Tom McCarthy and Joe Lunardi will broadcast the game on WNTP (990 AM) while the game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Dave Barnett and Jimmy Dykes will call the action. Click here to listen.
The Hawks will then play either Indiana or Notre Dame on Tuesday, November 25.
GAME NOTES: The Hawks have not played since the 73-69 overtime loss to Holy Cross on November 16. SJU spent two days in San Francisco before arriving in Maui on November 21. Saint Joseph's is making its first-ever appearance in the EA Sports Maui Invitational. The Hawks will play three games in three days at the 2,400-seat Lahaina Civic Center, a municipal recreation center which is located approximately 1,000 yards from the Pacific Ocean. The Hawks have faced every team in the EA Sports Maui Invitational at least once in school history, with the exception of host team Chaminade. Senior Ahmad Nivins leads the way for the Hawks with double-doubles in the first two games. He's averaging 21.0 points and 12.5 rebounds, while shooting 83.3 percent from the field. Saint Joseph's last win over a Top 10 team came on March 6, 2008, when the Hawks defeated #8 Xavier.
LAST TIME OUT: SJU fell to Holy Cross, 73-69, in overtime, despite a double-double from Ahmad Nivins (17 pts-12 rebs). The Hawks started the game slowly, trailing 20-10, but fought back and with six minutes to play used a 17-4 run to end the half and take a 35-28 edge into halftime. In the second, the Hawks opened their lead to 12 points, going up 47-35 and the SJU lead would remain in double digits until a pair of Crusader free throws cut it to eight, 51-43, with 9:11 to go in regulation. Holy Cross then used a 14-1 spurt to surge ahead, 53-52, with 6:10 remaining. Neither team led by more than two points over the final six minutes of regulation. After Nivins hit one of two free throws to put the Hawks ahead by two, a three-pointer with 46 seconds left and then another free throw gave Crusaders the lead, 63-61. Tasheed Carr (16 points) drove the lane in the closing seconds to tie the score at 63-63 and force overtime. The Crusaders scored the first seven points of the extra stanza, opening up a 70-63 lead. The Hawks closed to within one, 70-69, with less than a minute to play, but Holy Cross free throws sealed the win.
STRAIGHT SHOOTER: Senior Ahmad Nivins enters the 2008-09 season vying to join former George Washington standout Alexander Koul (1995-97) as the only players in A-10 history to lead the league in field goal percentage three consecutive years. Nivins shot .647 (165-of-255) from the field a year ago, setting the SJU single-season mark while also ranking fourth in the nation. He currently leads the conference hitting 83.3 percent this season and holds the Saint Joseph's career record with a percentage of .639 (424-663).
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARDS: Phil Martelli has stressed that for the Hawks to be successful, Ahmad Nivins has to average double-figure rebounds. Martelli said of the senior, "His game is in great shape. But if he's a double-digit rebounder, then he will be playing for money next year and we'll be playing late into the season. If he's not a double-digit rebounder, then we're going to be in a little bit of trouble." Nivins got off to a good start, posting consecutive double-doubles in the first two games of the season. He heads into this tournament averaging 21.0 points and 12.5 rebounds.
AHMAD'S ACCOLADES: Ahmad Nivins was named the Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week for the first week of the season, sharing the award with Temple's Dionte Christmas. Nivins opened the year with a 25-point, 13-rebound effort in the Hawks' 69-57 win over Rider. He made his first eight shots en route to a 9-for-11 effort from the field, while adding four blocks and tying his career-high for rebounds.
OVERTIME BLUES: The Hawks' overtime loss at Holy Cross extended their overtime losing streak to eight games. Saint Joseph's last overtime win was on December 31, 2002, with a 79-78 victory at Gonzaga.
FIRST TIMERS: This marks the Hawks' first participation in the EA Sports Maui Invitational. It is the second trip to Hawaii in Saint Joseph's history as the Hawks previously competed in the 1973 Rainbow Classic in Honolulu. SJU defeated Washington State, but then lost to Hawaii. The Hawks then defeated Sub Pacific to earn third place.
EARLY RISERS: That's what the Hawks will need to be in the first game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational, when they take on Texas at 10 a.m. Hawaii Time. The game will be broadcast by ESPN2, airing at 3 p.m. on the East Coast.
STRONG START: Sophomore Idris Hilliard made his first career start vs. Rider and had a solid effort. He tied his career-high with eight points, while setting new personal bests of six rebounds, three assists and 27 minutes of action. He bettered that at Holy Cross with 10 points and six rebounds in 40 minutes.