PHILADELPHIA (11/11/03) - Saint Joseph's is ranked 17th in the Associated Press men's basketball preseason poll, marking the fourth consecutive year that the Hawks have earned a national ranking, a streak which is a first in the history of the program. Last season, the Hawks entered the AP Top 25 on February 10, at number 25, Saint Joseph's did not finish the season in the poll. Head coach Phil Martelli has guided the Hawks into the nation's Top 25 five times during his tenure, with 1996-97 being the other season outside of the current streak. The Hawks return four starters from last year's 23-7 squad which won the Atlantic 10 East Division regular-season title and earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. Leading the way is national Player of the Year candidate Jameer Nelson, who averaged 19.7 points per game in 2002-03. Saint Joseph's season opener vs. 10th-ranked Gonzaga on Friday, November 14 is arguably becoming the marquee matchup of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden. The Hawks and Bulldogs tip-off at 9 p.m. EST following the Pittsburgh vs. Alabama game at 7 p.m. On Thursday, November 13, play begins in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic as Memphis takes on Wake Forest, with St. John's vs. Marquette to follow. All four games will be nationally-televised on ESPN2. Upwards of 3,200 tickets have been sold by Saint Joseph's for the contest, setting a new Coaches vs. Cancer sales record for one school.