Dec. 5, 2008
PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's men's basketball team (3-3) will host Creighton (4-2) on Saturday, December 6, in the home opener at the Palestra. Game time is 7 p.m.
Fans are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the game to support the annual Toys for Tots drive sponsored by SJU Athletics and the Office of Government Relations.
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.
Tickets are available for the game by calling the SJU Ticket Office at 610-660-1712.
GAME NOTES: Tonight begins a string of four games in 11 days for the Hawks, before they break for final exams after the Villanova game on Dec. 11. Senior Ahmad Nivins leads the way for the Hawks with double-doubles in four of the first six games. He's averaging 18.3 points and 12.8 rebounds. Garrett Williamson ranks second in the Atlantic 10 in assists (5.3) and 3rd in assist/turnover ratio (2.29). He's totaled 20 assists in the last three games. Ahmad Nivins leads the A-10 in field goal percentage (68.4), offensive rebounds (5.0) and minutes played (38.3). Saint Joseph's and Creighton are both Jesuit schools. The Jesuit Basketball Spotlight has been introduced this year to draw attention to the 90-plus men's and women's basketball games that are scheduled around this season amongst the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities across the United States. The Hawks are currently 0-1 thus far this year, losing to Holy Cross on November 16.
LAST TIME OUT: Ahmad Nivins scored a game-high 20 points and added a career-high 17 rebounds to lead Saint Joseph's to a 77-64 victory over Lehigh. The senior made 7-of-10 shots and went 6-for-8 from the foul line to record his fourth double-double in six games this season. Darrin Govens added 16 points and Idris Hilliard contributed a career-high 15 points for the Hawks. Govens opened the game with a pair of 3-pointers to start a 10-2 spurt that gave SJU the lead for good on the way to a 35-24 halftime edge. Lehigh had a six-point run in the second half to close to within 44-40, but the Hawks answered with a 7-2 run with points from Bryant Irwin and Charoy Bentley to extend the margin to 51-42. The Hawks took a 66-55 lead on a jumper from Hilliard with 2:15 to play and then made nine of 10 free throws in the final two minutes, while Lehigh missed six 3-point attempts over the same time period. SJU shot 51.9 percent in the second half and totalled 20 assists on 27 field goals.
A LOOK BACK: Creighton scored a 90-84 overtime win over the Hawks last season at the Qwest Center. The Bluejays overcame a four-point deficit in the final minute of regulation to force overtime. After CU tied it 70-70 at :14, Pat Calathes' 3-pointer bounced off the rim. The home team scored nine of the first 11 points in the OT, and despite SJU closing to within four points twice, Creighton went 17-for-20 from the foul line in the extra period. Tasheed Carr had a career-high 23 points and nine assists, but Ahmad Nivins was held without a shot in 31 minutes of action. Nivins scored just two points from the foul line and it was only the fifth time in his career that he went scoreless.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: The Palestra, the SJU's "home away from home", is the Hawks' primary homecourt this season, because of the ongoing Fieldhouse Expansion and Renovation project (see pg. 8 for more info). With the exception of the Rider game that was played at the Wachovia Center, the Hawks will play 13 home games at The Palestra. SJU owns an all-time record of 321-151 at the famed building and went 4-2 there last season. The Hawks will return to campus in 2009-10 to the Michael J. Hagan `85 Arena.
ROAD WARRIORS: This is the Hawks' first game at this season's homecourt, The Palestra. SJU opened the year playing its first-ever game at the Wachovia Center, but has been on the road since. The Hawks will then travel to Towson (Dec. 9) and Villanova (Dec. 11) before starting a string of three consecutive home contests.
IN FINE COMPANY: Phil Martelli remarked how the Hawks' first-ever participation in the EA Sports Maui Invitational was a tremendous opportunity for the SJU program. "It was an experience that we will never forget. To have a chance, with all that we done in this program, to be treated this way and play with those level teams, for three days in a row, I'm really excited about getting back to Philadelphia and preparing to go forward. It's an NCAA Regional environment and we'd like to be in that environment come March."
SEEING DOUBLE: Ahmad Nivins has now scored in double figures in 64 of the 100 games of his career. He's grabbed double-figure rebounds 17 times, with four this season alone. He has four double-doubles in the six games of the season.
STRAIGHT SHOOTER: Senior Ahmad Nivins is vying to join former George Washington standout Alexander Koul (1995-97) as the only players in A-10 history to lead the league in field goal percentage three consecutive years. Nivins shot .647 (165-of-255) from the field a year ago, setting the SJU single-season mark while also ranking fourth in the nation. He currently leads the conference hitting 68.1 percent this season and holds the Saint Joseph's career record with a percentage of .638 (448-702).
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARDS: Phil Martelli has stressed that for the Hawks to be successful, Ahmad Nivins has to average double-figure rebounds. Martelli said of the senior, "His game is in great shape. But if he's a double-digit rebounder, then he will be playing for money next year and we'll be playing late into the season. If he's not a double-digit rebounder, then we're going to be in a little bit of trouble." Nivins has gotten off to a good start, posting four double-doubles in the first six games of the season and is now averaging 18.3 points and 11.8 rebounds.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Hawks go on the road for two games next week - at Towson (Dec. 9) and for the annual rivalry game with Villanova (Dec. 11). SJU then takes a break for final exams and will return with three straight games at the Palestra, beginning December 22 against Cornell.