Jan. 3, 2006
PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's men's basketball team makes its long-awaited return to its homecourt on Wednesday, January 4, for the Atlantic 10 opener against Xavier. Game time is 6 p.m. at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse.
The contest is first broadcast of the year for the A-10 TV Network and will be seen locally on Comcast SportsNet. The game can also be heard on the Saint Joseph's Sports Network on WPEN Radio (SportsTalk 950 AM) with Tom McCarthy and Joe Lunardi calling the action.
The Hawks (5-3) return home for the first time since the season-opening victory over Lafayette. On last week's West Coast trip, SJU defeated Saint Mary's, but fell short to #8 Gonzaga.
Xavier enters the league opener with a 7-2 record, having lost to Illinois and Creighton.
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Outside of the Philadelphia area, the game will be carried by: Fox Sports Ohio; NESN; Charter St. Louis; Cox (RI); Adelphia (NY); Charlotte Channel 22.
SAINT JOSEPH'S GAME NOTES: Saint Joseph's begins its quest for a sixth straight Atlantic 10 regular season title, a feat which has yet to be accomplished in conference history.
Abdulai Jalloh was named the Big 5 Player of the Week after averaging 24.0 points in two games on the West Coast last week. He now has four 20-plus point games on the season.
The Hawks have won 13 straight Atlantic 10 games at the Fieldhouse. Xavier was the last conference team to beat SJU on its homecourt, on March 5, 2003.
SJU has won seven straight Atlantic 10 openers and has been in first place in the Atlantic 10 for all but seven days since February 7, 2001. HOME AT LAST: SJU is playing in Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse for the first time since the season opener on Nov. 18. The Hawks did play two games in Philadelphia, at The Palestra on Nov. 29 and Dec. 10.
SHOOTING FOR SIX: Among the Hawks' goals this season is to become the first team in Atlantic 10 history to win six consecutive regular-season titles. With five titles, SJU is currently tied with the Massachusetts' teams from 1991 to 1996.
SPECIAL PLACE: Another fact which shows SJU's excellence in Atlantic 10 play is that the Hawks have been in first place in the conference (either shared or alone) for all but seven days since Feb. 7, 2001. SJU slipped out for one day in 2001-02 (Jan. 12) and had a six-day lapse last season (Jan. 19 to 25). The Atlantic 10 was a one division league in 2000-01, but then went to the two-division format from 2001-02 thru last season. This year the conference returns to a one-division alignment.
HOME SWEET HOME: Since 2000-01 (and counting this season), the Hawks own a 50-4 record in Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse. Seniors Dwayne Lee, Dave Mallon and Chet Stachitas have only lost two games on the home court in their careers, posting a 30-2 record. Bucknell handed SJU its last defeat in the Fieldhouse, 69-62 on Dec. 28, 2004. Xavier scored an 88-80 overtime win on March 5, 2003 for SJU's last Atlantic 10 loss in the Fieldhouse. The Hawks currently own a 13-game Atlantic 10 winning streak in the Fieldhouse, and a 10-game overall streak on their home court.
GOOD TRACK RECORD: The Hawks have won seven straight Atlantic 10 openers and own an 8-2 record in the first conference game of the year under Phil Martelli. The last loss in the conference opener was to Massachusetts on Jan. 3, 1998.
SURE SHOTS: Free throw shooting has been one of the team's strengths, and the Hawks currently lead the nation at 80.8 percent. It's a definite improvement from last year when SJU hovered around the 50 to 60 percent mark at the line. Abdulai Jalloh is the team's leader at 89.1 percent, with all five starters converting 77 percent or better. The Hawks own three of the top four spots in the Atlantic 10 rankings for free throw percentage (Jalloh, Chet Stachitas, Ahmad Nivins).
SLUMP BUSTER: After a three-game "slump", Chet Stachitas returned to his early-season form with a 24-point effort at #8 Gonzaga. Stachitas shot 8-for-15 from the field and 5-for-10 from 3-point range. Earlier this year, in front of a national t.v. audience, the senior put on a shooting clinic at Madison Square Garden, tying his career-high with 27 in the win over Kansas (Dec. 6). He made 9-of-12 from the field, with 6-of-7 from beyond the arc. In the three games prior to Gonzaga, Stachitas had averaged just 8.3 ppg and was converting 6-of-27 field goals and 3-of-16 of his 3-point attempts.
PRIME TIME PLAYER: Abdulai Jalloh turned in another big effort on national t.v., with 27 points at #8 Gonzaga. The sophomore scored 19 in the second half while shooting 6-for-12 from the field, 10-for-10 from the line and making 5-of-9 3-pointers. Coupled with a 21-point performance at Saint Mary's, Jalloh's averages for the week were 24.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists, earning him Big 5 Player of the Week honors. He went 11-for-21 (52.3%) from the field, 7-for-12 (58.3%) from beyond the arc, and 19-for-20 from the foul line. Earlier this season, Jalloh established a new career-high with 30 vs. Ohio State.
SCORING MACHINE?: Prior to the season, Phil Martelli was worried about how many points the Hawks could score, but for the second time this year, they surpassed the 90-point plateau. The bad news is that the Hawks have given up 100-plus points on both occasions, thus resulting in losses. SJU is averaging 73.8 points per game.