Dec. 8, 2009
PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's men's basketball team (3-4) will take on traditional rival Villanova (8-0) on Wednesday night at The Palestra in a 9 p.m. game that will be televised by ESPN2. The Wildcats are ranked third in the nation.
A very limited number of tickets remain and can be purchased from the SJU Ticket Office by calling 610-660-1712.
Dave Pasch and Bill Raftery will broadcast the game on ESPN2, with a live stream also available on ESPN360.com.
The game can be also heard on WNTP Radio (990 AM) with Matt Martucci and Joe Lunardi calling the action. Audio streaming will be available free of charge on SJUHawks.com, via Stretch Internet.
GAME NOTES: This is the Big 5 opener for the Hawks, who went 1-3 in the City Series last season. The Hawks have lost four of the last five to the Wildcats but their last win in the series was two years ago, a 77-55 victory here at The Palestra on February 4, 2008. Senior Darrin Govens scored his 1,000th career point against Rider, when he tallied 10 points. Entering this season, the guard needed 70 to eclipse the plateau. He becomes the 48th player in school history to reach the mark. After starting the season with three wins, the Hawks have lost four straight, which is the longest since a five-game skid last season. Phil Martelli is in his 15th season as head coach and his 25th at the University. Martelli served as an assistant coach for 10 years on the staffs of Jim Boyle and John Griffin. Saint Joseph's is celebrating the Centennial of SJU Basketball this year, as the inaugural season took place in 1909-10.
LAST TIME OUT: Garrett Williamson scored 14 points and Darrin Govens added 10 but it wasn't enough as Saint Joseph's lost its fourth straight game, falling 78-66, to Cornell. Cornell had five players in double figures, led by Ryan Wittman's 17 points. Cornell led throughout the first half, but Saint Joseph's never trailed by more than seven despite shooting just 29 percent from the field. The Big Red took a 30-23 lead with 2:13 to go in the frame, but the Hawks drew even at the break with a 7-0 run keyed by four points from Todd O'Brien. The Big Red opened the second half with a 12-0 run to build a 42-30 lead. A free throw from freshman Carl Jones stopped the run four minutes in, but Cornell would build the lead back up to 48-34. A bucket by Williamson with 8:13 to go cut the deficit to 59-49, but Cornell scored seven of the next eight points,to go up 66-50. Jeff Foote then took over for the Big Red, scoring Cornell's next six points as CU took a 72-58 lead. Cornell shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half and made five of 11 three-point attempts. For the game, the Big Red shot 11-of-24 from long range while the Hawks went 5-for-17.
LAST TIME VS. VILLANOVA: Despite leading for most of the game, Saint Joseph's fell to 15th-ranked Villanova, 59-56, on December 11, 2008. The Hawks came out strong, shooting 56 percent, and kept the sold-out Pavilion crowd fairly quiet for most of the first half, leading by as much as 35-26 at halftime. SJU kept the lead for most of the second half, holding a 41-32 edge before Villanova scored nine straight points to tie it. Ahmad Nivins' free throws at :45 gave the Hawks a 56-55 lead but Darrin Govens missed the front end of a one-and-one at :17 which would've given the Hawks a cushion. VU's Scottie Reynolds made two free throws at :05 to give the Wildcats the lead, and SJU turned the ball over on the inbounds to allow Villanova to hit two more free throws and secure the win. Govens finished with 18 points, Nivins had 16 and Idris Hilliard had eight rebounds.
HAWKS VS. THE POLLS: Saint Joseph's last victories over a Top 25 team came in 2007-08 when it defeated Xavier twice in a span of two weeks. The Hawks topped #8 Xavier, 71-66, on March 6, 2008, in the final game at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse, and then beat the 12th-ranked Musketeers on March 14 in the A-10 Semifinals. Thus far this season, the Hawks have lost to #7 Purdue. Villanova will be the highest ranked team played by the Hawks since #2 Kansas on November 23, 2004.
EARLY SHOW: This is the earliest date for the Saint Joseph's-Villanova game since 1998, when it was played on December 1. Last season's contest took place on December 11, which ended a string of seven consecutive years that the game was played in either late January or early February.
NOT SO CLOSE CALLS: One odd stat from this rivalry is that the winning team usually posts a decisive win. In the last 12 meetings, there have only been three single-digit victories. SJU's average margin of victory is 15.3 in the past 12 years, while Villanova's is 12.7. Last year, Villanova won a close one, 59-56, which was the smallest margin of victory since SJU's 74-67 decision on Feb. 2, 2004.
KEY TO THE CITY: Saint Joseph's owns a 26-16 record against Philadelphia teams over the last seven seasons, counting this one. The Hawks struggled against their city foes last year, going 1-6. SJU is 1-0 this year having beaten Drexel in the season opener and inaugural game in Hagan Arena.
BRAGGING RIGHTS: This marks the Big 5 opener for the Hawks, who went 1-3 in the City Series last season. SJU has won a total of 19 Big 5 titles (9 outright/10 shared), which is third all-time to Temple's 23 titles (5 outright/18 shared).
A SELECT CLUB: Darrin Govens became the 48th player in Hawk history to score 1,000 career points when he tallied 10 points at Rider. The senior entered the season with 930 points and now has 1,015. Govens is the sixth SJU player to achieve the feat in the past six years.
NEED A STOP: Cornell opened the second half with a 12-0 run against the Hawks and would score 27 points in the first 10 minutes to pull away in the 78-66 win. Phil Martelli said, "We have a tough time right now stopping the boulder coming at you. We're not able to do that yet. That's going to take every guy stepping up and giving it more of a mental approach."
JUST-IN TIME: Justin Crosgile scored 12 points at Rider in his Hawk debut, after missing the first six games after recovering from surgery (Oct. 9) on a torn ligament in his left thumb. Crosgile shot 4-for-9 from the field and handed out three assists in 22 minutes.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: With the formation of the Philadelphia Big 5 in 1955, SJU began utilizing The Palestra as a home venue. Since that year, the Hawks have played at least one home game in the historic arena every season. The facility served as SJU's homecourt in 2008-09 with 13 games due to the expansion and renovation project at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse, which is now Hagan Arena. Saint Joseph's went 7-6 here last season, but has compiled a 328-157 record (.676) at The Palestra, with more wins than the program's victory total at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse (319). This season, SJU will host Villanova and Temple in this building and also face the home team, Penn.
PICK YOUR POINT: Although Garrett Williamson has been the predominant point guard, the Hawks have a number of players who can bring the ball up the court. Darrin Govens, Carl Jones, Justin Crosgile and Charoy Bentley can all be used at times to start the Hawk offense.
DARRIN'S DUE: The Hawks are seeking more offensive production from senior Darrin Govens. Although he's leading the team with 12.1 ppg, he has struggled from the field, shooting just 33.8 percent. Govens went 1-for-7 from the floor at Cornell, going 1-for-5 from beyond the arc.
YOUTH BE SERVED: The Hawks are a relatively young squad with a total of three freshmen, three sophomores and one redshirt sophomore among the top 10 players. SJU starts two seniors and one junior.
BENCH MARKS: Phil Martelli has been using 10 players in the rotation and all of them have gotten into the scoring columns in the majority of games. SJU has definitely gotten more points from its bench this year than last season. The bench scoring has accounted for 33 percent of the Hawks' scoring - last year it was at just 11 percent.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Hawks go back on the road on Saturday for the first meeting with Minnesota in over 40 years. After a break for final exams, SJU returns to Hagan Arena on December 20 to host Lehigh.