March 10, 2009
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Fifth-seeded Saint Joseph's (16-14; 9-7 A-10) will open play in the 2009 Atlantic 10 Tournament by facing 12th-seeded Charlotte (11-19; 5-11) in the first round on Wednesday, March 11 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Tip off is 2:30 p.m.
The Hawks, led by Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Ahmad Nivins, are looking to make another late-season run in the tournament. Saint Joseph's has reached the conference finals in three of the last four years, each time that the Hawks have been the fifth seed.
The game with Charlotte will not be televised but the Saint Joseph's Sports Network team of Matt Martucci 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.
If the Hawks win, they will face fourth-seeded Temple in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.
The 2009 A-10 Men's Basketball Championship, will be video/audio streamed live online. The first round games beginning at Noon on March 11, the quarterfinal games starting at Noon on Mar. 12 and the semifinals (6:30pm, 9:00pm) on Mar. 13 can all be viewed live at www.atlantic10.org. The finals of the 2009 Championship on Mar. 14 will not be available online but can be watched on ESPN2 at 6:00pm. Fans can subscribe beginning Wednesday, Mar. 10, for the cost of $7.95 per game. CBS College Sports All-Access subscribers for each A-10 school can watch the contests involving their team for free. However, monthly subscribers will have to purchase the contests via pay-per-view.
GAME NOTES: Ahmad Nivins becomes the third Hawk to earn the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year award in the last six years, and the fourth overall. A-10 Player of the Year Ahmad Nivins tops the Hawks with a league-leading 20 double-doubles and is averaging a team-high 19.2 points and 11.7 rebounds. Up until the regular-season finale, he had scored double figures in 41 consecutive games. Ahmad Nivins finished the regular season tied for the lead in scoring (19.7), and topping the conference in rebounding (11.7), field goal percentage (62.5), offensive rebounds (3.9), defensive rebounds (7.7) and minutes played (39.4). He led the A-10 in scoring and rebounding in conference games with 19.2 points and 11.7 rebounds. Saint Joseph's tops the A-10 in free throw percentage both in overall games (73.4) and conference games (74.4), while ranking 42nd in the nation. Saint Joseph's won the only meeting with Charlotte this season, with a 78-69 decision at The Palestra on January 18.
LAST TIME OUT: Saint Joseph's closed out the regular season defeating Fordham, 71-54, as Tasheed Carr scored 20 points. The senior tallied the 1,000th point of his career, counting two years spent at Iowa State and two at Saint Joseph's. Garrett Williamson chipped in with 11 points. The Hawks owned a 37-18 halftime lead, hitting 50 percent of their shots while Fordham went just 7-for-26. SJU led by as much as 30 in the game, but 16 turnovers helped the Rams cut the gap. Leading scorer Ahmad Nivins had only five shots in the game and finished with a season-low seven points to end his double-figure scoring streak at 41 games dating back to last year. The senior did grab a game-high 15 rebounds.
AHMAD'S ACCOLADES: Ahmad Nivins was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year after a stellar season that has him leading the conference in six categories, including scoring (tied for first), rebounding and field goal percentage. Nivins also earns All-Conference 1st Team honors and completes his career with A-10 honors every season. He was All-Rookie as a freshman, was a first-team selection as a sophomore, and received third-team honors last year.
IN GOOD COMPANY: Ahmad Nivins becomes the third SJU player in the last six years to earn the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year award and the fourth overall. Pat Carroll shared it with La Salle's Steve Smith in 2004-05 and Jameer Nelson won it in 2003-04 en route to earning consensus National Player of the Year honors. Maurice Martin also earned the A-10's top award in 1985-86.
SEEING DOUBLE: Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Ahmad Nivins has scored in double figures in 87 of the 124 games of his career. His league-best streak of scoring double figures in 41 consecutive games was snapped in the regular-season finale at Fordham. He's grabbed double-figure rebounds 32 times, with a league-leading 20 double-doubles this season, to give him 29 career double-doubles.
THE DEFENDERS: Both Ahmad Nivins and Garrett Williamson earned selections to the Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team. Nivins had a team-high 1.8 blocks per game. Williamson, regarded as the Hawks' best perimeter defender, notched 1.4 steals per game. It's the first time either player has earned All-Defensive honors.
DéJA VU?: The Hawks have gone 9-7 in the Atlantic 10 for four consecutive seasons and have been the tournament's fifth seed for three of those four years. In what could be a good sign for SJU fans, the Hawks have reached the A-10 title game three times in four years- and all three times they were the number-five seed.
POST PRODUCTION: Ahmad Nivins is one of the most efficient and productive offensive players in the nation. The senior is registering 1.9 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.
HAWK HISTORY: Saint Joseph's has posted a 29-24 record in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, advancing to the semifinals 12 times. The Hawks have reached the championship game five times (1986, 1997, 2005, 2006, 2008), including three times in the last four years.
IN SEARCH OF: The Hawks are seeking their first Atlantic 10 Tournament title since 1997, when they defeated St. Bonaventure, George Washington and Rhode Island en route to the crown. Rashid Bey and Yah Davis were All-Championship Team selections in the tourney held at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. It was Phil Martelli's second season as head coach at SJU, and the Hawks went on from there to reach the NCAA Sweet 16. Saint Joseph's other Atlantic 10 title came in 1986, under the late Jim Boyle.
MARTELLI AND THE CHAMPIONSHIP: There's one common thread in the two Atlantic 10 titles won by Saint Joseph's (1986 and 1997), and it's that Phil Martelli was a part of both of them. Martelli was an assistant coach under the late Jim Boyle during the 1986 title run and then after taking over as head coach in 1995-96, led Saint Joseph's to its second crown in 1997.
SJU IN AC: Saint Joseph's owns an overall record of 7-2 in this building (previously named the Atlantic City Convention Center). In 1982-83, SJU won the Atlantic City Classic, defeating Illinois-Chicago and Northeastern. In Phil Martelli's second season, the Hawks defeated #21 Tulsa, 67-64, in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Dec. 7, 1996. In the 2007 A-10 Tournament, SJU went 1-1, falling to GW in the quarterfinals. Last season, the Hawks won three games to advance to the final, but lost to Temple.
HE'S BACK: Tasheed Carr missed the Xavier game because of a mild concussion suffered in practice two days before the game. Since returning to action against St. Bonaventure on March 2, he's averaged 19.7 points in the past three games, with a high of 22 vs. Temple.
A NIVINS NUMBER: In another number that shows Ahmad Nivins' dominance of the stats this year, he has made 191 free throws this season. No other A-10 player has even attempted that many foul shots. The closest number is 174 attempts by Rodney Green of La Salle.