March 8, 2008
For almost 60 years, Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse has played host to thousands of fans and players alike. In its final game on Thursday, before its historical transformation to the Michael Hagen '85 Arena, one last senior has to step out onto its famed court--Pat Calathes.
The senior from Casselberry, Florida, has grown in major strides in his last two years on Hawk Hill. From a gangly, awkward freshman who seemingly turned the ball over on every other possession, to a scoring threat his senior year, the likes of which no one at Saint Joseph's has ever seen before.
"The first two years were tough," Calathes says. "When I came in as a freshman I was really immature. I was thinking the wrong things like being in the NBA, all the immature stuff."
Currently, Calathes and the Hawks are thinking of how to dig themselves out of an untimely losing streak, having dropped its last two to Saint Louis and Temple, and five of the last seven. The turnaround could start tonight.
"As of now a little behind [where we want to be]," Calathes remarks. "After losses to La Salle and Saint Louis, those were tough losses. We have to come out, play tough and pick up the next [couple of] games."
Tonight's game will be no easy feat, however, as the Hawks will battle the eighth-ranked team in the country in Xavier. Just a few weeks ago, Saint Joseph's held a late lead against the Musketeers at the Cintas Center, only to see it drift away and with it, their chances of an upset bid gone. After the Sunday's heartbreaking loss to Temple, tonight's game has more importance than ever before.
"They're a really tough team," says Calathes. "We should've beaten them the last time when we were out there. They got the best of us in the last minute of the game. We have a good shot of knocking them off [tonight]."
On top of the pressure of the biggest game of the season for Calathes and the Hawks, it is also senior night for him, Rob Ferguson and Arvydas Lidzius. Add into effect that tonight's battle versus the Muskies is the last game in the Fieldhouse as anyone will know it. For Calathes, games against familiar foes are what triggers his memory on Hawk Hill.
"[The most memorable game is] probably beating Xavier here [last year]," Calathes says. "At the Palestra there are so many, especially the Villanova game [this season]."
As for his proudest moment, the 6-10 forward cited this year's Villanova game as such. After losing the first three years to the Wildcats, the 22-point triumph can easily be seen as a defining moment for Calathes, but he doesn't want it to end there. Additionally, he doesn't want to play any more games at the Fieldhouse after tonight's battle.
"Hopefully we can win the game against Xavier," says Calathes. "And win against Dayton and do well in the [Atlantic 10] Tournament then we won't have to come here to the NIT."
Calathes will be joined by his parents, step-parents and both of his brothers to celebrate the last home game for the senior. His family has been important to his success, as his dad helped him and his two brothers growing up, learning the basics and improving his game. Before and after every game, Calathes speaks to his younger brother, Nick, who is a freshman at Florida.
"We help each other," Calathes says. "We tell each other what we need to work on and pretty much mentally prepare the other one for the next game and tell each other what we did wrong. It's a lot easier for a guy who is watching the game to see other things on the court."
And what would happen if the Calathes bothers had to face off?
"It would be a cutthroat," Calathes says seriously. "Obviously brothers off the court, but on the court he would be the first one to intentionally foul me into the stands."
After the final horn sounds tonight, one thing will be certain. It will be tough for Calathes to leave the court and the support he has received at Saint Joseph's, a place that has allowed him to expand his game and allow him to possibly take the next step in his basketball career.
"It'll be really hard leaving my teammates and the school," Calathes adds. "The school has really meant a lot to me the past four years. Over the first couple of years were really tough and I kind of got used to [it]. As time went on, meeting the fans and the alumni, it meant more and it will be tough to leave."
by Jeremy S. Fallis `06