March 6, 2009
BRONX, N.Y. - Saint Joseph's (15-14; 8-7 A-10) will close out the regular season on Saturday, March 7, when it visits Fordham (3-24; 1-14) for a 1 p.m. contest at Rose Hill Gym.
The Hawks enter the game tied for sixth in the A-10 standings with La Salle, Richmond and Saint Louis. All 14 teams play tomorrow and the final standings will be announced Saturday evening, along with the bracket for the 2009 Atlantic 10 Tournament, which begins on March 11 at Boardwalk Hall.
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: Ahmad Nivins has surpassed the 900-rebound mark for his career and now has 912. Tasheed Carr needs just nine points to reach 1,000 for his collegiate career. A-10 Player of the Year candidate Ahmad Nivins tops the Hawks with a league-leading 20 double-doubles and is averaging a team-high 19.7 points and 11.6 rebounds. He has scored in double figures in 41 consecutive games, also the best in the Atlantic 10. The SJU record for double-figure scoring is 45 straight games, set by Pat McFarland from 1972 to 1973. Ahmad Nivins leads the A-10 in field goal percentage (.628) and ranks second nationally. He also tops the league in rebounding (11.6), offensive rebounds (3.9), defensive rebounds (7.6) 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 with 20.3 pts and 12.3 rebs. Saint Joseph's tops the A-10 in free throw percentage both in overall games (73.4) and conference games (74.4), while ranking 39th in the nation. Charoy Bentley missed the St. Bonaventure and Temple games due to a groin injury and is questionable for today. This afternoon's matchup between Jesuit schools Saint Joseph's and Fordham is part of the nationwide Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project.
LAST TIME OUT: Saint Joseph's fell to longtime city rival Temple, 68-59, for the second time this year at the Liacouras Center, and the fourth straight game. In a matchup of the A-10's top two Player of the Year candidates, SJU's Ahmad Nivins had 17 points and 16 rebounds while the Owls' Dionte Christmas scored 23 points.Tasheed Carr added 22 points and five assists for the Hawks.The teams traded single-digit leads throughout the first half, but Temple held the 30-23 edge at halftime.TU led 34-23 two minutes into the second half, but the Hawks scored nine straight points capped by a Nivins slam to trail by 34-32. Christmas and Craig Williams hit 3-pointers, igniting a 13-0 spurt and a 47-32 Temple edge with 11 minutes to go. Saint Joseph's closed to 52-45 with 4:29 remaining, but Christmas assisted on a Sergio Olmos layup, then hit a 3-pointer to put the game out of reach. Nivins missed 10 shots in the game, the most all season.
SEEING DOUBLE: Atlantic 10 and Big 5 Player of the Year candidate Ahmad Nivins has now scored in double figures in 87 of the 123 games of his career and in an A-10 leading 41 consecutive games. He's grabbed double-figure rebounds 31 times, with a league-leading 20 double-doubles this season, to give him 29 career double-doubles.
POST PRODUCTION: Ahmad Nivins is one of the most efficient and productive offensive players in the nation. The senior is registering 1.8 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.
HE'S BACK: Tasheed Carr missed the Xavier game because of a mild concussion suffered in practice two days before the game. He returned to play against St. Bonaventure, scoring 17 points, while notching 22 at Temple.
AHMAD'S ACCOLADES: Ahmad Nivins was named to the NABC All-District 4 First Team and is eligible for All-America honors. He has earned Atlantic 10 Player of the Week honors five times this season, which is the most of any player in the league. He has earned Big 5 Player of the Week honors four times.
SENIOR MOMENT: SJU's seniors shined on "Senior Day", the final home game of the year. Ahmad Nivins had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Tasheed Carr added 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting. Reserve Edwin Lashley made the first start of his career and scored the Hawks' first five points. Phil Martelli credited Darrin Govens, who suggested that Lashley could start in his spot for the final home game.
MOST VALUABLE HAWK: Ahmad Nivins had 44 percent of the Hawks' offense against Xavier, scoring 24 of the team's 54 points. On the season, he's scored 29 percent of the Hawks' points.
FREEBIES: Free throw shooting has been one of the Hawks' strengths all season, and they have put up solid numbers all season, despite a 21-for-35 effort against St. Bonaventure. Ahmad Nivins has led the way, shooting over 80 percent. Here's the breakdown: Last 10 games: Team 74.2 pct (167-225); Nivins 82.0 pct (73-89) Last 7 games: Team 73.2 pct (112-153); Nivins 83.0 pct (54-68)
THREE-LESS: SJU went 0-for-7 from 3-point range against UMass (Feb. 22) to snap a streak of 495 games with at least one 3-pointer made. The last game prior to UMass in which a Hawks' team did not hit a "three" was at Southwest Missouri State on Mar. 18, 1993.
STRUGGLE TO SCORE: All season long, Phil Martelli has said that the Hawks would be "offensively challenged". That's proven to be true with a scoring average of 68.1 points. In the last 11 games, SJU has only reached 70 points twice, while they've been in the 50-point range four times.
FACE THE NATION: Ahmad Nivins ranks among the top 50 in the nation in four categories - field goal percentage (2nd); rebounding (6th); scoring (30th); and blocked shots (55th).
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 1145 out of a possible 1185 minutes for the Hawks this season.
THE NUMBERS GAME: For the most part, the Hawks have been solid defensively, limiting the opponents to 66.4 points per game. In fact, they've only allowed 70 or more points in seven games, and two of those were overtime contests (Rhode Island, Duquesne) where the opponents scored 80-plus. However, 70 is not the Hawks' magic number as they are 0-5 when an opponent scores 70-75 points.
MAKING HIS MARK: Ahmad Nivins owns the top three single-season field goal percentage marks in school history, with the all-time record of 64.7 percent set last season. His current shooting percentage of 62.8 ranks third all-time. He is SJU's leader in career free throws made (546), ranks third in scoring and seventh in rebounding.
NOT-SO BALANCED EFFORT: At Temple, the Hawks had only four players get into the scoring column. Starter Garrett Williamson went 0-for-5 in the game and the bench went scoreless.
MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: Ahmad Nivins had a rare "off" night shooting against Temple. The senior made only 6-of-16 from the field, with the 10 misses being a season-high.
FINAL GAME NUMBERS: The Hawks are 8-5 in regular-season finales under Phil Martelli. SJU ended its regular season against Fordham in 2004-05, scoring a 67-53 win.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Hawks will get underway in the Atlantic 10 Tournament on March 11 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. SJU has reached the championship game three times in the last four years.