Nov. 13, 2007
SYRACUSE, NY - The Saint Joseph's men's basketball team squares off against host Syracuse in the NIT Season Tip-Off's East Regional title game Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN and broadcast locally on radio station WNTP (990 AM). The winner of tonight's contest earns a berth into the semifinals at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, November 21.
The Hawks opened 2007-08 with a dominating performance, defeating Fairleigh Dickinson, 86-66, on Monday night. Pat Calathes had 20 points, Ahmad Nivins had 19 points and nine rebounds, and Tasheed Carr had 11 points and 12 assists in his SJU debut. Arvydas Lidzius came off the bench to hit a career-high 11 points.
After tonight, Saint Joseph's travels to Boston University on November 17.
DAZZLING DEBUT: Philadelphia native Tasheed Carr had a sparkling debut with the Hawks after sitting out 2006-07 upon his transfer from Iowa State. Against FDU, he had 11 points and 12 assists, just two shy of the SJU record. The 6-4 guard averaged 5.8 points and 2.2 rebounds as the Cyclones' sixth man 2005-06, and was named to the Big 12 All-Bench Team. Carr attended University City H.S., but then graduated from Mt. Zion Academy in North Carolina. Carr has two years of eligibility left.
SENIOR EFFORT: Arvydas Lidzius showed a shooting touch that's been mainly seen only in practices. The fifth-year senior came off the bench to make all four shots and record a career-high 11 points in the win over FDU, in 12 minutes of action.
TEAM EFFORT: The Hawks did a good job of distributing the ball in the FDU win, recording 23 assists on 33 field goals. SJU also took care of the ball, turning it over only nine times.
HAWKS AND THE NIT: Saint Joseph's has a storied history in the Postseason NIT, with 14 appearances and two trips to the title game, but has only been in the Preseason NIT once before. That was in 1996-97 when the Hawks traveled to Durham, N.C. and lost to 10th-ranked Duke, 89-60.
SJU IN THE DOME: Saint Joseph's owns a 6-3 record in the Carrier Dome, having participated in the Carrier Classic three times. The Hawks won the tournament in 1981-82, defeating host Syracuse. SJU's last appearance here, and only under Phil Martelli, was in the 1998-99 Carrier Classic. The Hawks defeated Long Beach State, but then lost to 14th-ranked Syracuse, 82-60, in the championship game. SJU also played here in the 1986 NCAA Tournament, falling to Cleveland State in the second round.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK: A win would send the Hawks to the NIT Semifinals in one of their favorite buildings, Madison Square Garden. If it happens, it would mark the fifth straight year that SJU has played there. In 2003-04 the Hawks were in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic; in `04-05 it was the Post-Season NIT; in `05-06 they were in the Jimmy V Classic; and last season it was an appearance in the Holiday Festival. SJU owns a 4-2 record at MSG during this four-year span.
FRONT AND CENTER: Saint Joseph's has one of the top frontcourts in the Atlantic 10, comprised of Pat Calathes, Rob Ferguson and Ahmad Nivins, the team's top three scorers from last season. All three averaged double figures last season with Nivins scoring 16.6 points per game, Calathes averaging 13.9 and Ferguson scoring 11.3 points. Nivins and Calathes, who each received 2007 All-Conference honors, are also among the league's top 20 returning scorers. Last season, the trio accounted for 61 percent of the Hawks' scoring.
FIGHTING FOR THE CAUSE: Aside from being good friends, Phil Martelli and Jim Boeheim share the passion for their work in Coaches vs. Cancer. Martelli and Philadelphia's Division I coaches are one of the highest fund-raising groups in the country, behind Boeheim's group. In fact, Martelli and his wife, Judy, recently received the Inspiration Award from the American Cancer Society, an award previously received by Boeheim and his wife Juli.