Jan. 30, 2009
DAYTON, OHIO - Saint Joseph's (12-7; 5-0 A-10) takes its seven-game winning streak to Dayton (19-2; 5-1) when it takes on the Flyers on Sunday, February 1 at noon at UD Arena. The game will be televised locally on Comcast SportsNet.
The CBS College Sports team of Tom McCarthy and Steve Wolf will call the broadcast while Saint Joseph's Sports Network Ken Krsolovic and Joe Lunardi will call the action 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: The Hawks are riding a seven-game winning streak, which is their longest of the year and longest since an eight-game winning streak from Feb. 18 thru March 10, 2006. SJU has not yet lost in the calendar year of 2009. The Hawks' 5-0 record in the Atlantic 10 is the best start since 2003-04, when that squad went a perfect 16-0. Senior Ahmad Nivins tops the Hawks with a league-leading 12 double-doubles and is averaging a team-high 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds. He has scored in double figures in 31 consecutive games, also the best in the Atlantic 10. Ahmad Nivins leads the A-10 in field goal percentage (.680) and ranks third nationally. He also tops the league in rebounding (11.7), offensive rebounds (4.5) and minutes played (39.6), while ranking among the conference's top 10 in eight categories. He's averaging 23.6 points and a league-best 14.6 rebounds in conference games only, Ahmad Nivins was named the Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week for Jan. 25 and a league-best fifth time this season. He also earned Big 5 weekly honors for the fourth time this year. The senior averaged 26.3 points and 14.3 rebounds in three wins. Today marks the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers National Awareness Weekend. Coaches around the nation, including Phil Martelli, will wear sneakers to call attention to the cause.
LAST TIME OUT: Tasheed Carr scored 21 points and had eight assists to lead Saint Joseph's in a 68-58 win over Richmond for the Hawks' seventh straight win. Ahmad Nivins notched 15 points and 14 rebounds while Idris Hilliard added 11 points. Richmond took an early lead at 12-5 five minutes into the game, but SJU scored 12 of the next 16 points to go ahead, 17-16. The Hawks never trailed again, stretching the lead to eight after a layup from Nivins with 3:16 to go in the half. A Darrin Govens 3-pointer with 48 seconds remaining gave SJU a 29-22 halftime lead. The Hawks controlled the second half, stretching the lead as high as 18 at 50-32 with 12:05 to go after Carr fed Bryant Irwin for a bucket in the paint. Richmond scored the next nine points, cutting the lead in half with 7:47 to go. Out of a timeout, Govens hit another three to push the lead back to double digits. The Spiders would get as close as five in the final minute, but SJU converted 10 of 12 free throws over the final 66 seconds, including five by Carr, to secure the victory.
SEEING DOUBLE: Ahmad Nivins has now scored in double figures in 77 of the 113 games of his career and in 31 consecutive games. He's grabbed double-figure rebounds 24 times, with a league-leading 12 double-doubles this season alone. The senior has 22 career double-doubles.
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 47-23 record (67.1%). This season, SJU was 5-7 at the end of December and has since won seven in a row to start 2009, including a 5-0 conference record.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE: In conference games, Ahmad Nivins is averaging a dominating 23.6 points and 14.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 66.7 percent from the field and 79.3 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."
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 95.3 percent. Nivins is averaging 39.6 minutes per game and has played 752 out of a possible 790 minutes.
THE THROWBACK: Ahmad Nivins ranks 22nd 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 134 field goals and 115 free throws.
SJU AND SUPER BOWL SUNDAY: This is the third time in history that the Hawks are playing on Super Bowl Sunday, and the second time in three years, with SJU owing a 2-0 record. The last time was also against Dayton at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse on Feb. 4, 2007, when the Hawks scored a 71-65 win. The first occurence was on Jan. 25, 1981 when the hometown Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Oakland Raiders. Even more noteworthy was that 8,553 fans showed up that day at the Palestra to watch the Jim Lynam-coached Hawks defeat UNC-Charlotte in a 1 p.m. game.
THE STREAK: SJU's numbers during its current seven-game winning streak tell the tale: outscoring the opponents 77.8 to 67.4 points shooting 48.1 percent from the field hitting 72.8 percent from the foul line holding foes to 29.2 percent from 3-point range
LACING THEM UP: Phil Martelli will be among the many coaches around the nation today participating in the Coaches vs. Cancer "Suits and Sneakers Awareness Weekend," a collaborative initiative of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the American Cancer Society Participating NABC-member coaches will wear sneakers instead of dress shoes with their usual game attire during weekend games to demonstrate their support for the Society and the fight against cancer. Martelli is the co-chair of the Philadelphia Coaches vs. Cancer group which has become one of the most successful groups in the country.
NEVER A DULL MOMENT: The Hawks have certainly kept it entertaining this year and they have been on both ends of the spectrum with leads and deficits. In 16 of 19 games, the Hawks have held leads of eight points or more, and have posted a 12-4 record in those contests. In 14 of 19 games, SJU has led by at least 10 points or more, and has gone 11-3 in those games. The Hawks have endured deficits of 10 or more points in nine of 16 games, posting a 4-5 record. The only game in which SJU did not lead by at least 10 points was the Cornell win, while the only wire-to-wire losses were to Texas and Alabama in the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
ALL-STAR HAWK: Jameer Nelson, arguably the greatest player in Saint Joseph's history, added another title to his resume - that of NBA All-Star. The Orlando Magic guard was named as one of the reserves for the East Team for the 2009 NBA All-Star Game on February 15 in Phoenix. He becomes the first-ever player from Saint Joseph's to earn the honor. Nelson has played and started in 39 games this season for the Magic, averaging 16.9 ppg., a team-high 5.4 apg., 3.4 rpg. and a team-high-tying 1.23 stlpg. in 31.5 minpg. He is shooting .504 (252-of-500) from the field, .446 (75-of-168) from three-point range and .880 (81-of-92) from the free throw line. Nelson has been named the NBA's Eastern Conference Player of the Week twice this season. He has scored in double figures 35 times, has netted 20-plus points 14 times and recorded a career-high-tying 32 points on Dec. 15 at Golden State.
LOOKING AHEAD: SJU returns home to host George Washington on Feb. 4 at The Palestra and then travels to UMass on Sunday, Feb. 8. SJU hosts city rival Temple at The Palestra on Feb. 12.