Feb. 6, 2009
AMHERST, MASS. - Saint Joseph's (13-8; 6-1 A-10), winner of eight of its last nine games, will meet Massachusetts (8-12; 3-4) on Sunday afternoon in a nationally-televised (CBS College Sports) game at the Mullins Center. Tip-off is 3 p.m.
Tom McCarthy and John Griffin will call the action on the CBS College Sports broadcast while 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. The game can also been seen on Pay-per-View via SJUhawks.com. WATCH
GAME NOTES: The Hawks have won eight of the last nine games, after going a perfect 7-0 in January. Senior Ahmad Nivins tops the Hawks with a league-leading 14 double-doubles and is averaging a team-high 19.8 points and 11.8 rebounds. He has scored in double figures in 33 consecutive games, also the best in the Atlantic 10, while recording eight double-doubles in a row. Ahmad Nivins leads the A-10 in field goal percentage (.662) and ranks fourth nationally. He also tops the league in rebounding (11.8), offensive rebounds (4.3), defensive rebounds (7.4) 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 only with 20.9 points and 13.9 rebounds. Saint Joseph's tops the A-10 in free throw percentage both in overall games (77.6) and conference games (77.6). The Hawks are also second in field goal defense in league games (41.9). Tasheed Carr was named the Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week for Feb. 1 after posting 21 points, six rebounds and eight assists in the win over Richmond. Thursday's game with Temple at the Palestra will be televised on ESPN2.
LAST TIME OUT: Ahmad Nivins had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Darrin Govens scored 14 as Saint Joseph's dealt George Washington its 11th consecutive loss, 66-58. Tasheed Carr added 14 points and seven assists, and Idris Hilliard had 12 points for the Hawks. Saint Joseph's led 33-29 at halftime and extended its advantage to 53-38 on a dunk by Carr with 9:52 remaining. A layup with 2:58 left got the Colonials within seven at 59-52. Govens responded with a 15-foot fadeaway jumper and Nivins hit a pair of free throws to push the lead back to 11 with 1:53 remaining. The Hawks shot 24-for-31 from the line, with Nivins shooting 10-for-11.
SEEING DOUBLE: Ahmad Nivins has now scored in double figures in 79 of the 115 games of his career and in an A-10 leading 33 consecutive games. He's grabbed double-figure rebounds 25 times, with a league-leading 14 double-doubles this season alone, giving him 23 career double-doubles.
JUST WARMING UP: Phil Martelli's teams are known for their strong play as the season progresses, especially during the conference slate. In the past four years, the Hawks have headed into January with a combined 22-19 record (53.6 winning pct.). But during the conference regular season (counting this season), Saint Joseph's has compiled a 48-24 record (66.7%). This season, SJU was 5-7 at the end of December and has since won eight of nine, while going undefeated in January.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE: In conference games, Ahmad Nivins is averaging a dominating 20.9 points and 13.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 61.4 percent from the field and 82.2 percent from the foul line. After Nivins' 34-point, 16-rebound performance against Duquesne, Phil Martelli said, "Any discussion about the best player in the city... please, the precincts have closed. I'll go as far to say - he's the best player in the league."
STRAIGHT SHOOTING: The Hawks lead the conference in free throw percentage, hitting 74.4 percent. Since the Jan. 10 game against Rhode Island, when the Hawks made only 24-for-40 from the line, SJU has converted 134 of 168 free throws (79.8 percent). Ahmad Nivins leads the way hitting 79.1 percent with a team-high 163 attempts. Fellow starters Darrin Govens, Tasheed Carr and Idris Hilliard are each hitting over 70 percent as well. In conference games only, SJU is converting a league-leading 77.6 percent, which included an 18-for-18 effort at Dayton. Nivins is hitting 82.2 percent in league games.
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 830 out of a possible 865 minutes.
THE THROWBACK: Ahmad Nivins ranks 28th in the nation in scoring but more impressively, he is the only player among the nation's top 50 scorers that has not hit at least one 3-point field goal. Nivins has accumulated his points with 141 field goals and 129 free throws.
THE STREAK: SJU's numbers during seven-game winning streak were: outscored the opponents 77.8 to 67.4 points shot 48.1 percent from the field hit 72.8 percent from the foul line held foes to 29.2 percent from 3-point range
SUBPAR EFFORT: SJU had one of its worst shooting days at Dayton, converting just 34.6 percent, the lowest effort since the Drexel game on New Year's Eve. It snapped a seven-game streak in which the Hawks converted 40 percent or better from the field.
DOUBLE HEADER : Ahmad Nivins has been averaging a double-double all season and would join a select group of Hawks if he finishes the year that way. The last Hawk to average a double-double was Dwayne Jones in 2004-05, with his averages of 10.1 points and 11.6 rebounds. Prior to Jones, Will Johnson was the last one to notch the double-double in 1995-96 (10.5 ppg; 10.2 rpg). Since 1952-53, the feat has been accomplished 29 times by a total of 16 different players.
IDRIS' IMPROVEMENT: Sophomore Idris Hilliard could make a case for being one of the most improved players in the league this year. He saw limited action in all 33 games as a freshman (5.7 minutes per game) and averaged just 1.2 points and 1.0 rebounds. This season, he is averaging 28.6 minutes, 9.1 points and 5.0 rebounds. His field goal percentage of 52.0 ranks second on the team.
AHMAD'S ACCOLADES: Ahmad Nivins continues to compile the weekly honors. He was named the Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week for Jan. 25, marking the fifth time this season he's received the honor, the most of any player in the league. He was also chosen the Big 5 Player of the Week for the fourth time.
LOOKING AHEAD: Saint Joseph's returns home to host city rival Temple at The Palestra on Feb. 12, in a nationally-televised contest (ESPN2). The Hawks will face La Salle on Feb. 14, also at The Palestra, before making the trip to St. Louis to play in SLU's new Chaifetz Center.