Nov. 9, 2007
SYRACUSE, NY - The Saint Joseph's men's basketball team opens the new year on Monday, November 12 against Fairleigh Dickinson in the Preseason NIT Tip-Off at Syracuse's Carrier Dome. Game time is 9:30 p.m.
The game will not be televised, but will be broadcast on WNTP (990 AM) with Tom McCarthy and Joe Lunardi calling the action. Streaming audio will also be available on www.sjuhawks.com.
Saint Joseph's returns four starters from last year's team, and has one of the top frontcourts in the Atlantic 10 with Ahmad Nivins, Pat Calathes and Rob Ferguson. Coach Phil Martelli enters his 13th season with a 240-139 career record.
The winner of this game will meet the winner of the Siena-Syracuse game on Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. That contest will be televised on ESPN. The losers of each first-round game will meet on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m.
GAME NOTES Saint Joseph's has won six of its season openers in the past eight years, and four of the last five. Last year the Hawks defeated Fairfield in the season's first game. This will be the sixth season opener in the last eight years that the Hawks have played on the road or at a neutral site. Entering this season, SJU has compiled a 159-68 record (70.0 winning percentage) in the past seven years. The Hawks return four starters from last season - Pat Calathes, Rob Ferguson, Ahmad Nivins and Garrett Williamson. That squad went 18-14 on the year and ended its season in the Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals.
SERIES: Saint Joseph's and FDU have only met once before, on January 22, 1998 at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse, with the Hawks picking up a 78-74 win.
HAWKS AND THE NIT: Saint Joseph's has a storied history in the Postseason NIT, with 14 appearances and two trips to the title game, but has only been in the Preseason NIT once before. That was in 1996-97 when the Hawks traveled to Durham, N.C. and lost to 10th-ranked Duke, 89-60.
SJU IN THE DOME: Saint Joseph's owns a 4-2 record in the Carrier Dome, having participated in the Carrier Classic three times. The Hawks won the tournament in 1981-82, defeating host Syracuse. SJU's last appearance here, and only under Phil Martelli, was in the 1998-99 Carrier Classic. The Hawks defeated Long Beach State, but then lost to 14th-ranked Syracuse, 82-60, in the championship game.
FRONT AND CENTER: Saint Joseph's has one of the top frontcourts in the Atlantic 10, comprised of Pat Calathes, Rob Ferguson and Ahmad Nivins, the team's top three scorers from last season. All three averaged double figures last season with Nivins scoring 16.6 points per game, Calathes averaging 13.9 and Ferguson scoring 11.3 points. Nivins and Calathes, who each received 2007 All-Conference honors, are also among the league's top 20 returning scorers. Last season, the trio accounted for 61 percent of the Hawks' scoring.
DIFFERENT LOOK: The Hawks will put a more experienced starting five on the floor than last season. In 2006-07, SJU started two freshmen (Jawan Carter and Garrett Williamson). This season, the frontcourt of Pat Calathes, Ahmad Nivins and Rob Ferguson have made a total of 142 starts. Tasheed Carr starts his SJU career after two seasons at Iowa State, and Garrett Williamson made 31 in 2006-07. If Darrin Govens gets the nod, he has made only six starts, but played in 27 games last year.
HAWK DEBUT: Philadelphia native Tasheed Carr makes his debut with the Hawks after sitting out 2006-07 upon his transfer from Iowa State. The 6-4 guard averaged 5.8 points and 2.2 rebounds as the Cyclones' sixth man 2005-06, and was named to the Big 12 All-Bench Team. Carr attended University City H.S., but then graduated from Mt. Zion Academy in North Carolina. Carr has two years of eligibility.
N TARGET: Ahmad Nivins set the school record for field goal percentage last season, converting an impressive 63.1 percent (176-279). That number also ranked as the top in the Atlantic 10. For his career, he is shooting 62.6 percent from the field.
MR. VERSATILITY: Pat Calathes put together solid all-around numbers last season and ranked among the Atlantic 10's leaders in seven different categories - scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks, defensive rebounds, assist/turnover ratio, and free throw percentage. Calathes ranked second on the Hawks with career-best averages of 13.9 points and 7.1 rebounds, but led the squad in assists, with 3.6 per game.
SITTING IT OUT: Sophomore D.J. Rivera will not participate in competition this semester in order to concentrate on academics. Rivera will practice with the Hawks on a schedule determined by Coach Martelli and the academic tutors. Rivera was the Hawks' "sixth man" last season, leading the team in steals (41) and averaging 5.9 points. His status for the rest of the season will be determined when the first semester is completed.