Nov. 11, 2008
PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's men's basketball team opens the 2008-09 season on Friday, November 14, when it hosts Rider at the Wachovia Center. Game time is 7 p.m. This will mark the Hawks' first-ever game at the Wachovia Center.
Tickets can be purchased through the Wachovia Center Box Office online at www.comcasttix.com or by calling 800-298-4200.
The game will be broadcast on WNTP (990 AM) with Tom McCarthy and Joe Lunardi calling the action for the sixth consecutive season. Audio streaming of the game will be available via on www.sjuhawks.com.
GAME NOTES: Saint Joseph's has won seven of its season openers in the past nine years and five of the last six. Last season the Hawks defeated Fairleigh Dickinson in the opener in the Preseason NIT. Leading returning scorer and rebounder Ahmad Nivins was named to the Atlantic 10 Preseason All-Conference First Team. Nivins averaged 14.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in 2008-09, while earning All-A10 Third Team honors. This is the first game ever played by Saint Joseph's at the Wachovia Center. The Hawks return three starters from last year's team which went 21-13, reached the Atlantic 10 championship game and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. SJU enters this season having compiled a 180-81 record over the past eight years while making seven trips to postseason play.
WELCOME BACK: Saint Joseph's returns three starters from last year - Ahmad Nivins, Tasheed Carr and Darrin Govens. Also back is junior Garrett Williamson, who was a starter as a freshman, and came off the bench as the sixth man last season.
A LOOK BACK: Last season, Saint Joseph's became one of six non-BCS schools to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. It marked the Hawks' first trip to the NCAA Tournament since the 2004 Elite Eight season. The Hawks finished 21-13 and reached the Atlantic 10 title game for the third time in four years.
FILLING THE VOID: The Hawks lost a great deal of scoring and rebounding with the graduation of Pat Calathes and Rob Ferguson. Calathes led the Hawks with 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while Ferguson averaged 11.9 points and 4.8 boards. Ferguson shot 51.7 percent from the field while both players converted over 80 percent from the foul line.
STRAIGHT SHOOTER: Senior Ahmad Nivins enters the 2008-09 season vying to join former George Washington standout Alexander Koul (1995-97) as the only players in A-10 history to lead the league in field goal percentage three consecutive years. Nivins shot .647 (165-of-255) from the field a year ago, setting the SJU single-season mark while also ranking fourth in the nation. He also holds the Saint Joseph's career record with a percentage of .634.
FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: This marks Saint Joseph's first-ever game here at the Wachovia Center, although the Hawks have played 27 games at the Spectrum over the years, winning 10 of them. SJU's last game at the Spectrum was on March 7, 2002 when the Hawks lost to Dayton, 81-74, in the Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals Saint Joseph's will partner with the Wachovia Center again later this year as it will serve as the host institution for the 2009 NCAA Men's Basketball First/Second Rounds on March 19 and 21.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: The Palestra, the SJU's "home away from home", will be the Hawks' primary homecourt this season, because of the ongoing Fieldhouse Expansion and Renovation project (see pg. 7 for more info). With the exception of tonight's game, the Hawks will play 13 home games at The Palestra. SJU owns an all-time record of 321-151 at the famed building and went 4-2 there last season. The Hawks will return to campus in 2009-10 to the Michael J. Hagan `85 Arena.
SIGN HIM UP: Phil Martelli's commitment to Saint Joseph's is equaled by the University's commitment to him. The coach agreed to a new contract prior to the 2003-04 season that would extend his tenure through at least the 2009-10 campaign. Following the thrilling run in `03-04, the University extended the coach's contract through the 2011-12 season. That commitment was taken a step further in October when Martelli's contract was extended through 2015-16.
HANDOUTS: Senior point guard Tasheed Carr ranked second in the Atlantic 10 last season with 5.6 assists per game. He averaged 10.8 points while hitting 47.4 percent from the field. Last year was Carr's first with the Hawks after he transferred from Iowa State following the 2005-06 season.
DEAN OF COACHES: Phil Martelli has the most Atlantic 10 wins among active coaches with 132 and owns the longest tenure at one school (13 years) of any of the league's coaches. Only Jim Baron of Rhode Island has been in the A-10 longer (16 years), but it's been at two schools, St. Bonaventure and Rhode Island. LONG-RANGE ATTACK: SJU averaged 18.8 3-point field goal attempts last season and connected on seven per game. Graduated players Pat Calathes and Rob Ferguson accounted for 133 long-range field goals and the Hawks will be looking for others to fill in those numbers this year. Darrin Govens should be one of the team's top outside threats as he converted 68 3-pointers last season.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Garrett Williamson is the Hawks' top perimeter defender and earned a mention on the Atlantic 10's Preseason All-Conference Defensive Team. Williamson flourished as SJU's "sixth man" last season but will move back into the starting lineup this year. The Hawks are looking for increased offensive production from the junior this year, and Williamson took that challenge to heart, as he worked on his outside shot in the offseason.