Dec. 5, 2005
NEW YORK - Saint Joseph's will play on the national stage, and in one of its favorite arenas, on Tuesday, when it faces Kansas in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. The game will be televised by ESPN beginning at 7 p.m. The second game of the doubleheader pits Boston College vs. Michigan State.
The Hawks are 3-1 after last week's win over Drexel. Kansas evened its record to 3-3 with an 86-57 win over Western Illinois on Saturday.
The game will also be broadcast on the Saint Joseph's Sports Network on WPEN Radio (SportsTalk 950 AM) with Tom McCarthy and Joe Lunardi calling the action.
Click here for game notes, player bios, and streaming audio.
The Kansas game is the first of a school-record eight national television appearances for the Hawks.
Fans still looking to purchase tickets should do so through www.ticketmaster.com
SAINT JOSEPH'S NOTES
o Chet Stachitas is shooting 62.5 (10 of 16) percent from 3-point range and has made one-third of the Hawks' 3-point field goals.
o SJU is playing in Madison Square Garden for third consecutive year.
o The Hawks' next win could get them to four victories much faster than last season. In '04-05, SJU didn't earn its fourth win until January 5.
ON THE OFFENSIVE: Prior to the season, Phil Martelli voiced his concern as to how the Hawks were going to score points. He set 65 points as a goal, but thought it could be a struggle. The Hawks have gone well beyond that, with 70 or more points in three of four games. Included in that is a 94-point effort in the overtime loss at Davidson (100-94), which brings the SJU average to 76.2 ppg. On the down side, that 100 points by Davidson threw off the Hawks' scoring defense average a bit - SJU has held three of four opponents to under 60 points. But by giving up 100 to Davidson, the Hawks' opponents are now averaging 61.8 ppg.
SJU AT MSG: Madison Square Garden has been a favorite place of Saint Joseph's and its fans, and another large contingent is expected for the Jimmy V Classic. Last spring, a few thousand Crimson & Gray fans watched the Hawks complete the remarkable season turnaround with a berth in 2005 NIT championship game. In the 2003-04 season opener, close to 5,000 SJU fans descended upon MSG to see the Hawks defeat Gonzaga in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. It was the first game in the magical year for the Hawks en route to the undefeated regular season and the run to the NCAA Elite Eight. In Phil Martelli's first season in 1995-96, a large SJU contingent traveled to New York to see the Hawks in the NIT Final. With frequent participation in the ECAC Holiday Festival over the years, Saint Joseph's holds an all-time record of 11-15 at the arena. Saint Joseph's last five at the Garden: o 3/31/05 - 60-57 loss to South Carolina o 3/29/05 - 70-58 win over Memphis o 11/14/03 - 73-66 win over #10 Gonzaga o 3/28/96 - 60-56 loss to Nebraska o 3/26/96 - 74-69 ot win over Alabama
FOR THE CAUSE: This is Saint Joseph's first-ever appearance in the Jimmy V Classic, which raises funds for cancer research. This cause is an important one to Hawk coach Phil Martelli, as he is one of the leaders of the Philadephia Coaches vs. Cancer group. The coaches from the six Philadelphia schools (Drexel, La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph's, Temple, Villanova) have worked together to become one of the top fundraising groups in the country. SJU also participated in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in November 2003, when it defeated Gonzaga here in Madison Square Garden.
SURE SHOTS: At this time last year, and for a good part of the season, the Hawks struggled from the foul line. In fact, after four games in '04-05, SJU was making just about 60 percent of its foul shots. So far this season, that doesn't look to be a problem as the team is hitting a league-best 84.8% of its free throw attempts. Included in that is an impressive 30-for-34 performance at Davidson, led by Chet Stachitas (10-for-11) and Ahmad Nivins (10-for-10). Three starters - Stachitas, Nivins and Abdulai Jalloh- are converting over 90 percent of their free throws.
FLYING START: SJU used a quick start against Drexel, scoring the first 10 points of the game and eventually taking a 19-4 lead. That was a contrast to the Davidson game, in which the Hawks dug themselves a 6-0 hole at the opening of the game. They then allowed Davidson to score five straight points at both the beginning of the second half and the overtime. That second half start pushed SJU into an 11-point deficit.
ON TARGET: The Hawks are shooting the ball well, from all spots on the floor. The team is hitting 49.8 percent fromthe field, 84.8 percent from the foul line and 45.5 percent of its 3-point attempts.
FOUL PLAY: One thing that has hindered the Hawks has been the number of personal fouls. SJU has already had five disqualifications in the four games - - last season, they had a total of 11 in 36 games. Rob Ferguson has fouled out twice, at Davidson and at Drexel.
BALANCED ATTACK: After losing one of the top scorers in school history in Pat Carroll, there was a preseason question as to who would emerge as a top scorer. The Hawks have taken the more balanced approach with three players currently averaging double figures. Chet Stachitas is ahead of the pack with his 18.0 average, while Abdulai Jalloh (14.8) and Dwayne Lee (12.3) round out the group. Rob Ferguson is just under 10 points at 9.5 ppg.
HAWK HOMECOMING: This game in New York City marks a homecoming for four SJU players, who hail from across the river in Northern New Jersey. Dwayne Lee, from Jersey City and St. Anthony High School, will be playing in his fourth career game in the Garden. Lee was the Hawks' starter last season in the NIT semifinals and championship. Freshmen Ahmad Nivins, Jordan Fowler and Alvin Mofunanya are the other three from the area. Nivins was a high school teammate of Lee's at St. Anthony, while Fowler is from Montclair, NJ, and Montclair H.S., and Mofunanya hails from Englewood, NJ, and Dwight Morrow H.S.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: The Hawks are facing a challenging schedule this year, meeting seven teams which reached the 2005 NCAA Tournament. And when looking at ESPN's early-season predictions, SJU has 10 "NCAA" teams on the slate with 12 games against ESPN's preseason NCAA Tournament bracket: Davidson, Kansas, Ohio State. Bucknell, Gonzaga, Xavier (twice), George Washington (twice), Charlotte, Pennsylvania and Villanova. SJU is currently in the midst of a eight-game stretch in which it faces seven of those teams.
SOPHOMORE STANDOUT: Rob Ferguson doesn't appear to be affected by a "sophomore jinx" as he has put up double figures in two of four games. Ferguson is shooting an impressive 69.2 percent from the field (18-for-26) while averaging 9.5 ppg. The sophomore had a strong offensive game at Davidson, making four of his first five shots, and going 6-for-8 in the contest before fouling out late in the game.
CHECKING ON CHET: Chet Stachitas looks to have regained the form he had in the early season last year, when he topped the team in scoring. Stachitas poured in 25 points at Davidson and is now leading the Hawks with 18.0 ppg. He is currently tied for 6th among the Atlantic 10's scoring leaders.
NIVINS' NUMBERS: Freshman Ahmad Nivins registered his first collegiate double-figure game with 14 points at Davidson, while also adding nine rebounds and making all 10 of his free throw attempts. He tops the Hawks in blocked shots (2.0) and is tied for the lead in rebounding (5.5).
THIS AND THAT: Abdulai Jalloh is a player whom Phil Martelli says "give you a little of this and a little of that". Case in point - - Jalloh had a career-high 22 points and nine rebounds against Drexel, but also committed five turnovers. Included in those five was one where he saved the ball under the Drexel basket, leading directly to two points for the Dragons, thus earning an earful from Martelli. Jalloh also excelled on the defensive end, limiting Drexel's leading scorer Dominick Mejia to eight points in 17 minutes.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Hawks host Ohio State at the Palestra on Saturday, Dec. 10, in their second consecutive nationally-televised contest. SJU then gets a lengthy break for final exams before returning to action on Dec. 21 at Bucknell.