March 4, 2009
PHILADELPHIA - Saint Joseph's (15-13; 8-6 A-10) will visit rival Temple (17-11; 9-5) in a crucial Atlantic 10 showdown on Thursday evening at the Liacouras Center. The game will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports at 7 p.m.
With a win, the Hawks could keep alive their chances of obtaining a bye in next week's Atlantic 10 Tournament, which runs from March 11-14 at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall.
Tom McCarthy and Steve Lappas will call the action on CBS. The Saint Joseph's Sports Network team of Ken Krsolovic and Joe Lunardi will broadcast the game on WNTP (990 AM). Streaming audio will also be available on www.sjuhawks.com free of charge as provided by Stretch Internet. Streaming video will also be available thru a subscription to Hawks' All-Access.
GAME NOTES: SJU snapped its five-game winning streak, was the longest since a nine-game losing streak during the 1998-99 season. Ahmad Nivins needs just four rebounds to reach 900 in his career. Tasheed Carr needs 31 points to reach 1,000 for his career at Saint Joseph's and Iowa State. A-10 Player of the Year candidate Ahmad Nivins tops the Hawks with a league-leading 19 double-doubles and is averaging a team-high 19.8 points and 11.4 rebounds. He has scored in double figures in 40 consecutive games, also the best in the Atlantic 10. Ahmad Nivins leads the A-10 in field goal percentage (.642) and ranks second nationally. He also tops the league in rebounding (11.4), offensive rebounds (3.9), defensive rebounds (7.5) and minutes played (39.5), while ranking among the conference's top 10 in eight categories. He leads the A-10 in scoring and rebounding in conference games with 20.6 pts and 12.1 rebs. Saint Joseph's tops the A-10 in free throw percentage both in overall games (73.5) and conference games (74.5), while ranking 39th in the nation. Tonight's game counts in the Big 5 standings, but Villanova has already wrapped up the crown with a 4-0 record. Charoy Bentley missed the St. Bonaventure game due to a groin injury and is questionable for tonight.
LAST TIME OUT: Saint Joseph's ended its five-game losing streak with a 73-62 victory over St. Bonaventure on "Senior Day" at The Palestra. Ahmad Nivins, playing in his last home game for the Hawks, had 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Tasheed Carr scored 17. Idris Hilliard had eight points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks. The Hawks never trailed in the game and led 52-42 with 7:29 remaining. The Bonnies rallied to within 57-52 with 3:36 to play, but Nivins hit a 6-footer, starting a 9-3 run, and SBU never threatened again. Senior reserve Edwin Lashley made the first start of his career, and scored five points in three minutes of action to get the Hawks going. SJU jumped out to a 25-15 lead but couldn't put the Bonnies away early but did hold a 33-30 lead at halftime.
SEEING DOUBLE: Atlantic 10 and Big 5 Player of the Year candidate Ahmad Nivins has now scored in double figures in 86 of the 122 games of his career and in an A-10 leading 40 consecutive games. He's grabbed double-figure rebounds 30 times, with a league-leading 19 double-doubles this season, to give him 28 career double-doubles.
POST PRODUCTION: Ahmad Nivins is one of the most efficient and productive offensive players in the nation. The senior is registering 1.8 points per every shot taken. There have been games where Nivins has gotten most of his points from the foul line. La Salle limited him to a season-low three field goal attempts, but he went 9-for-12 from the line. Against George Washington, Nivins took five shots but converted 10-of-11 free throws while he made 14-of-17 free throws vs. Xavier.
HE'S BACK: Tasheed Carr missed the Xavier game because of a mild concussion suffered in practice last week. He returned to play in the win over St. Bonaventure, and scored 17 points.
DOWN TO THE WIRE: In the last four meetings between Temple and Saint Joseph's, the combined margin has been slim - just nine points. On Feb. 12, the Owls captured a 61-59 win despite leading by 10 points with :54 to play. SJU was successful in sending TU to the foul line as the Owls missed eight free throws in that final stretch. In 2007-08, the Hawks and Owls split the regular-season series with two thrillers. SJU won the first one at Temple, 68-67, on Pat Calathes' 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds to play. Temple came out ahead in the second game at The Palestra, 57-56, on Mark Tyndale's layup with :21 to go. Temple won the rubber match, defeating the Hawks, 69-64 in the 2008 Atlantic 10 Championship game.
SENIOR MOMENT: SJU's seniors shined on "Senior Day", the final home game of the year. Ahmad Nivins had 22 points and 10 rebounds a nd Tasheed Carr added 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting. Reserve Edwin Lashley made the first start of his career and scored the Hawks' first five points. Phil Martelli credited Darrin Govens, who suggested that Lashley could start in his spot for the final home game.
MOST VALUABLE HAWK: Ahmad Nivins had 44 percent of the Hawks' offense against Xavier, scoring 24 of the team's 54 points.
FREEBIES: Free throw shooting has been one of the Hawks' strengths all season, and they have put up solid numbers all season, despite a 21-for-35 effort against St. Bonaventure. Ahmad Nivins has led the way, shooting over 80 percent. Here's the breakdown: Last 9 games: Team 74.3 pct (154-207); Nivins 85.0 pct (68-80) Last 6 games: Team 73.3 pct (99-135); Nivins 83.0 pct (49-59)
THREE-LESS: SJU went 0-for-7 from 3-point range against UMass (Feb. 22) to snap a streak of 495 games with at least one 3-pointer made. The last game prior to UMass in which a Hawks' team did not hit a "three" was at Southwest Missouri State on Mar. 18, 1993.
FACE THE NATION: Ahmad Nivins ranks among the top 50 in the nation in four categories - field goal percentage (2nd); rebounding (6th); scoring (30th); and blocked shots (55th).
IRON MAN: In the statistics calculated by www.kenpom.com, Ahmad Nivins ranks second in the nation in percentage of team's minutes played at 95.9 percent. Nivins is averaging 39.5 minutes per game and has played 1105 out of a possible 1145 minutes for the Hawks this season.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Hawks close out the regular season visiting Fordham on March 7. The Atlantic 10 Tournament gets underway on March 11 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.