Nov. 12, 2009
PHILADELPHIA - Saint Joseph's University basketball will open a new era on Friday, November 13, when the Hawks host Drexel in the inaugural game in the Michael J. Hagan '85 Arena. The game will be televised in Philadelphia on The Comcast Network beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets for the contest are sold out.
The Arena is the result of a 16-month expansion and renovation of the previous on-campus home, Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse, which served as the Hawks' homecourt for 59 years.
Hagan Arena provides a number of fan-friendly renovations as well as an increase of 1,000 seats, bringing the capacity to 4,200. Among the renovations are: new upper level concourse with concession stands and restrooms; premium seating courtside and behind press row; air conditioning; new scoreboard and corner graphics boards; and a new sound system. A new fan entrance was also added on 54th Street.
"The first time I came through the second deck and looked out on the court, it gave me a chill. In a lot of ways I felt like Toto and that Dorothy was telling me, 'we're not in Kansas anymore.' I didn't think that I was at 54th and City Line when I was on the second deck of, really, an arena," said Hawk coach Phil Martelli, now in his 15th year. "To know the people that have supported this project and allowed this team to play in such a setting is really special, and it's important that the players understand that this is a little different this year. They're representing much more than just the Saint Joseph's name. They're representing a lot of people who care a great deal about this University."
The Hawks lead the series with the city rival Dragons, 43-8, but Drexel has won two of the last three, including last season's New Year's Eve meeting.
Streaming audio of the game can be heard on www.sjuhawks.com, with Matt Martucci and Joe Lunardi calling the action.
GAME NOTES Tonight marks the inaugural game in the Michael J. Hagan `85 Arena. The Arena is the result of a expansion and renovation of Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse, which began after the 2007-08 season. Hagan Arena has a seating capacity of 4,200, which is an increase of 1,000 seats from the Fieldhouse. (more info on page 7) Saint Joseph's is marking the Centennial of SJU Basketball this year, as the inaugural season took place in 1909-10. The Hawks return three starters - Darrin Govens, Idris Hilliard and Garrett Williamson - from last year's squad that went 17-15 and 9-7 in the Atlantic 10. Govens is the team's leading returning scorer, after averaging a career-best 12.5 ppg in 2008-09. Phil Martelli begins 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 was defeated by Drexel last season, 64-52, on New Year's Eve at The Palestra.
HAWKS' NEW HOME: Tonight marks the inaugural game at the Michael J. Hagan `85 Arena. It is the result of a 16-month expansion and renovation of the previous on-campus home, Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse, which served as the Hawks' homecourt for 59 years. Hagan Arena provides a number of fan-friendly renovations as well as an increase of 1,000 seats, bringing the capacity to 4,200. SJU men's and women's basketball programs also now have upgraded facilities with the Ramsay Basketball Center, that is adjacent to Hagan Arena. The Ramsay Center houses both the offices for both programs along with locker rooms, player lounges and a video study room. The $35 million upgrade (both Hagan and Ramsay) now provides the basketball programs with state-of-the-art facilities.
CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION: The 2009-10 season marks the Centennial of Saint Joseph's University Basketball. The first varsity team took the court in 1909-10, coached by John Dever. Since then, the Hawks have amassed 1,482 victories, a number which currently ranks among the top 40 programs in NCAA history. The Saint Joseph's program is synonymous with the term "tradition of excellence. Among the numbers that Saint Joseph's basketball can boast are: 19 NCAA Tournament Appearances; 14 NIT Appearances; 7 Atlantic 10 Regular-Season Titles; 2 Atlantic 10 Tournament Championships; 19 Big 5 Titles; 12 All-Americans; 30 NBA Draft Picks; 18 NBA Players; and 7 NBA Coaches.
FOR OPENERS: Saint Joseph's has won eight of its season openers in the past 10 years and six of the last seven. Last season the Hawks began the slate defeating Rider at the Wachovia Center. This is not the earliest season opener in Hawk history, but it's the second earliest, as SJU faced Fairleigh Dickinson in the Preseason NIT on November 12, 2007.
SILVER ANNIVERSARY: Phil Martelli enters his 15th season as head coach at Saint Joseph's but his 25th total at the University. He was an assistant coach for 10 years prior to taking the top job in 1995, serving on the staffs of Jim Boyle and John Griffin.
HERE COMES THE GOV: Darrin Govens is the Hawks' leading returning scorer after averaging a career-best 12.5 points per game last season and shooting 35 percent from 3-point range. The senior guard enters 2009-10 with 930 career points.
THE DEFENDER: Garrett Williamson is known as the team's top defender and Phil Martelli has put the senior in the class with SJU defensive standouts Dmitri Domani and Tyrone Barley. Williamson was named to the 2009-10 Preseason Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team after earning A-10 All-Defensive honors last season.
WELCOME BACK: SJU makes its return to Hawk Hill this year after playing all of its 2008-09 home games at The Palestra, due to the renovation and expansion project, which has resulted in Hagan Arena. The Hawks went 7-6 in The Palestra last season. In the 59 seasons of Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse, SJU compiled a 319-82 record, a winning percentage of 79.5 percent.
RETURN TO PARADISE: The Hawks will make their second consecutive trip to the tropics when they participate in the Paradise Jam at St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (Nov. 20-23). Last season, SJU made its first-ever trip to the EA Sports Maui Invitational. The Hawks open play in the Paradise Jam against Boston College on Nov. 20 with the rest of the tournament field being comprised of DePaul, East Carolina, Northern Iowa, Purdue, South Dakota State and Tennessee. SJU will play either Purdue or South Dakota State in the second round (either Nov. 21 or 22).