Feb. 17, 2009
ST. LOUIS, MO. - Saint Joseph's (14-10; 7-3 A-10) will look to snap a two-game losing streak when it visits Saint Louis (15-10; 6-5) on Wednesday evening at the new Chaifetz Arena. The game will tip-off at 10 p.m. EST (9 p.m. locally) and be seen nationally on CBS College Sports.
Tom McCarthy and Steve Lappas will handle the CBS broadcast while the Saint Joseph's Sports Network team of Ken Krsolovic 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: SJU has lost two in a row, tying its longest losing streak of the season. After going 7-0 in January, the Hawks have lost three of their last five games. A-10 Player of the Year candidate Ahmad Nivins tops the Hawks with a league-leading 16 double-doubles and is averaging a team-high 19.3 points and 11.6 rebounds. He has scored in double figures in 36 consecutive games, also the best in the Atlantic 10. Ahmad Nivins leads the A-10 in field goal percentage (.643) and ranks third nationally. He also tops the league in rebounding (11.6), offensive rebounds (4.1), defensive rebounds (7.5) 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 only with 19.9 points and 12.9 rebounds. Saint Joseph's tops the A-10 in free throw percentage both in overall games (74.3) and conference games (76.5), while ranking 24th in the nation.
LAST TIME OUT: La Salle used a 32-8 run that bridged two halves to defeat Saint Joseph's, 75-68, at The Palestra. The Hawks were led by Darrin Govens (21 points) and Idris Hilliard (20 points). SJU got off to a quick start and owned a 20-8 lead with 12:37, but the Explorers would dominate the rest of the half. La Salle used a 17-2 run to take the lead at 25-22, and by halftime, had outscored the Hawks 27-8 to take a 35-30 lead. The Hawks went to the line 18 times in the first half, but converted just 12 free throws, while committing 12 turnovers. After La Salle stretched the lead to 10 at 40-30, the Hawks started to battle back. SJU looked to be closing the gap on a Darrin Govens layup to bring Saint Joseph's within four at 57-53 with 4:50 to play. Nevertheless, the Explorers punched back with a 3-point play with 1:26 remaining to give La Salle a 67-56 advantage. Ahmad Nivins tallied 11 points and 14 boards, but only managed one made field goal on three attempts. Garrett Williamson dished eight assists, while Hilliard added eight boards to his career-matching 20 points. The Hawks committed 18 turnovers, while only forcing five by La Salle.
SEEING DOUBLE: Atlantic 10 and Big 5 Player of the Year candidate Ahmad Nivins has now scored in double figures in 82 of the 118 games of his career and in an A-10 leading 36 consecutive games. He's grabbed double-figure rebounds 27 times, with a league-leading 16 double-doubles this season alone, to give him 25 career double-doubles.
POST PRODUCTION: Ahmad Nivins is one of the most efficient and productive offensive players in the nation. The senior is registering 1.9 points per every shot taken. Lately, Nivins has had to get 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.
FACE THE NATION: Ahmad Nivins ranks among the top 50 in the nation in four categories - field goal percentage (3rd); rebounding (6th); scoring (35th); and blocked shots (55th).
CARR SHOW: In the past nine games, Tasheed Carr is averaging 15.2 points and 4.9 assists, with a high of 21 points at Richmond.
FLEE THE CITY: A flight out of town might just be what the Hawks need after losing to two Philadelphia teams last week. The losses to Temple and La Salle and make the Hawks just 1-5 in city games this season, with the only win coming over Penn. SJU gets another crack at Temple on March 5.
SCORING DROUGHTS: The Hawks had two of their longest droughts of the season last week. SJU went without a field goal for almost nine minutes from the end of the first half into the second against Temple, watching the Owls cut a six-point Hawk lead. Against La Salle, SJU went without a field goal for nine minutes, and saw the Explorers go on a 25-8 run to erase the Hawks' 12-point lead.
JUST WARMING UP: Phil Martelli's teams are known for their strong play as the season progresses, especially during the conference slate. In the past four years, the Hawks have headed into January with a combined 22-19 record (53.6 winning pct.). But during the conference regular season (counting this season), Saint Joseph's has compiled a 49-26 record (65.3%). This season, SJU was 5-7 at the end of December and went 7-0 in January.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE: In conference games, Ahmad Nivins is averaging a dominating 19.9 points and 12.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 58.4 percent from the field and 82.7 percent from the foul line. After Nivins' 34-point, 16-rebound performance against Duquesne, Phil Martelli said, "Any discussion about the best player in the city... please, the precincts have closed. I'll go as far to say - he's the best player in the league." BATTLING BACK: At UMass, Saint Joseph's held the lead for only 3 minutes and 12 seconds, but it was the right time to lead. The Hawks held a lead in the first half for only 21 seconds and then took its second lead of the game with 4:48 to play on a Garrett Williamson basket. UMass regained it but then the Hawks took the lead for good at 2:28 when Williamson hit a jumper en route to the 68-64 victory. Phil Martelli said, "All year long the players have talked to themselves about toughness and what it means on the road. I don't think this was a great basketball effort, but I think it was a great mental effort."
FEBRUARY BLUES: The second month of the year hasn't been as kind to the Hawks as the first. After going 7-0 in January, SJU is now 2-3 in the month of February.
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 948 out of a possible 985 minutes for the Hawks this season.
THE THROWBACK: Ahmad Nivins ranks 35th in the nation in scoring but more impressively, he is the only player among the nation's top 50 scorers that has not hit at least one 3-point field goal. Nivins has accumulated his points with 157 field goals and 150 free throws.
LOOKING AHEAD: Saint Joseph's closes out the home schedule at The Palestra with three straight games, beginning with a second meeting with UMass on Feb. 22. Nationally-ranked Xavier faces the Hawks for the first time this season on Feb. 26, and then St. Bonaventure visits for "Senior Day" on March 1.