Feb. 13, 2009
PHILADELPHIA - Saint Joseph's (14-9; 7-2 A-10) will make a quick turnaround and return to The Palestra and take on host La Salle (13-10; 4-5) on Saturday, February 14. Game time is 2 p.m.
The Saint Joseph's Sports Network team of Tom McCarthy 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. Streaming video will also be available thru a subscription to Hawks' All-Access.
GAME NOTES: Today's game counts in both the Atlantic 10 and Big 5 standings. A-10 Player of the Year candidate Ahmad Nivins tops the Hawks with a league-leading 15 double-doubles and is averaging a team-high 19.7 points and 11.5 rebounds. He has scored in double figures in 35 consecutive games, also the best in the Atlantic 10. Ahmad Nivins leads the A-10 in field goal percentage (.647) and ranks second nationally. He also tops the league in rebounding (11.5), offensive rebounds (4.2), defensive rebounds (7.3) 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 12.8 rebounds. Saint Joseph's tops the A-10 in free throw percentage both in overall games (74.3) and conference games (76.9). The Hawks have won nine of the last 11 games, after going a perfect 7-0 in January.
AST TIME OUT: Saint Joseph's rally in the final minute fell short as city and conference rival Temple held on for a 61-59 victory at the soldout Palestra. Ahmad Nivins led the Hawks with 21 points but saw his double-double streak end at nine games as he had six rebounds. It was another down-to-the-wire finish in the series which has seen the past four meetings decided by a combined total of nine points. The Hawks trailed 56-46 with :54 to play but were successful in sending Temple to the foul line as the Owls missed eight free throws in that final stretch to keep SJU in the game. Garrett Williamson made both two foul shots at :06 to pull SJU within 60-59. TU's Juan Fernandez made only the second of two shots at :05 to provide the winning margin, and on SJU's last chance, Tasheed Carr tried a halfcourt shot with two seconds to play. Saint Joseph's held the lead in the early going, by as much as 21-15, but saw Temple take a 22-21 lead with 3:32 to play. The Owls used an 18-0 run stretched over the first and second halves to build a double-digit lead, while the Hawks missed 10 straight shots in the same span and went scoreless for almost nine minutes. SJU went on a short spurt to pull within 33-27 early in the second half, but saw Temple run its lead to 42-31. The Owls held a comfortable lead the rest of the way until the Hawks made their run in the final minute. Carr finished with 15 points and nine rebounds while Williamson had 10 points.
SEEING DOUBLE: Atlantic 10 and Big 5 Player of the Year candidate Ahmad Nivins has now scored in double figures in 81 of the 117 games of his career and in an A-10 leading 35 consecutive games. He's grabbed double-figure rebounds 26 times, with a league-leading 15 double-doubles this season alone, giving him 24 career double-doubles.
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.
FACE THE NATION: Ahmad Nivins ranks among the top 50 in the nation in four categories - field goal percentage (2nd); rebounding (6th); scoring (34th); and blocked shots (46th).
CARR SHOW: In the past eight games, Tasheed Carr is averaging 15.7 points and 5.1 assists, with a high of 21 points at Richmond. The senior has recorded 14 points in four consecutive games.
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 49-25 record (66/2%). 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 12.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 59.2 percent from the field and 83.7 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."
BATTLING BACK: At UMass, Saint Joseph's held the lead for only 3 minutes and 12 seconds, but it was the right time to lead. The Hawks held a lead in the first half for only 21 seconds and then took its second lead of the game with 4:48 to play on a Garrett Williamson basket. UMass regained it but then the Hawks took the lead for good at 2:28 when Williamson hit a jumper en route to the 68-64 victory. Phil Martelli said, "All year long the players have talked to themselves about toughness and what it means on the road. I don't think this was a great basketball effort, but I think it was a great mental effort." FEBRUARY BLUES: The second month of the year hasn't been as kind to the Hawks as the first. After going 7-0 in January, SJU is now 2-2 in the month of February.
MAGIC NUMBER: Tasheed Carr is approaching the 1,000-point mark for his career, although he will not have scored all 1,000 at Saint Joseph's. Carr totaled 290 points in his first two years at Iowa State, and since transferring, has notched 634 here on Hawk Hill. He's 76 points away from 1,000.
STRAIGHT SHOOTING: The Hawks top the conference in free throw percentage, hitting 74.3 percent. Ahmad Nivins leads the way hitting 80.1 percent with a team-high 176 attempts. Fellow starters Darrin Govens and Tasheed Carr are each hitting over 70 percent as well. In conference games only, SJU is converting a league-leading 76.9 percent while Nivins is hitting 83.7 percent in league games. When Saint Joseph's takes 20 or more free throw attempts, it owns a 10-2 record and when the Hawks make 20 or more free throws, they're 4-0.
STRAIGHT SHOOTING, PART 2: But then again, maybe it's not a good thing when the Hawks are perfect from the foul line. SJU has lost both games in which it has not missed a free throw. The Hawks went 18-for-18 from the line in the loss at Dayton and were 15-for-15 in the loss to Temple.
SCORING DROUGHT: The Hawks had one of their longest droughts of the season vs. Temple. SJU went without a field goal for 8:50 from the end of the first half into the second.
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 908 out of a possible 945 minutes for the Hawks this season.
KEY TO THE CITY: SJU owns a 30-13 record against city teams over the last six seasons (counting this year). This mark counts all games against Philadelphia teams (Drexel included). So far, SJU has lost to Temple, Villanova and Drexel, but has defeated Penn in 2008-09.
CITY RIVALRY: The Hawks are 1-1 in the Big 5 after losing to Villanova and defeating Penn. The recent game with Temple did not count in the standings, but the March 5th game will. Last year, Saint Joseph's went 2-2 in the City Series. In both 2006-07 and 2005-06, the Hawks went 3-1 in the Big 5, with the lone loss each year coming to Villanova. SJU has won a total of 19 Big 5 titles (9 outright/10 shared), which is second all-time to Temple's 23 titles (5 outright/18 shared).
LOOKING AHEAD: Saint Joseph's will travel to Saint Louis' new Chaifetz Center to meet the Billikens on Feb. 17 before returning home to face UMass on Feb. 22 and Xavier on Feb. 26.