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Saint Joseph's Hosts Rutgers in NIT Opener on Thursday
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications  
Release:  03/15/2006

March 15, 2006

PHILADELPHIA - Saint Joseph's men's basketball gets the opportunity to continue its season with another postseason run as it hosts Rutgers in an NIT 2nd Round game on Thursday, March 16 at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse. Game time is 7 p.m.

The Hawks are looking to rebound from a heartbreaking 62-61 loss to Xavier in the Atlantic 10 Championship game. SJU (18-13) has won eight of its last nine games while its making its sixth straight postseason appearance, and the eighth in Phil Martelli's 11 years.

Rutgers (19-13) advanced to the meeting with the Hawks by winning on the road at Penn State, 76-71, on Tuesday night.

The game will not be televised by all of the action will be carried on the Saint Joseph's Sports Network via SportsTalk 950 (WPEN-AM), with Tom McCarthy and Joe Lunardi as the broadcast team.

If the Hawks win, they would host the Hofstra-Nebraska winner on Monday, March 20.

Click here for game notes and live stats.

SAINT JOSEPH'S NOTES

• Saint Joseph's is seeded second in its NIT bracket. That assures the Hawks another home game if they advance to the next round. Rutgers is the 8th seed and defeated Penn State on Tuesday, 76-61.

• The Hawks continue to lead the nation in free throw percentage (79.3).

Phil Martelli owns the SJU record for postseason coaching victories with a 16-7 mark. He also has the highest postseason winning percentage of Hawk coaches (69.5%).

• A win tonight would give the senior class (Dwayne Lee, Dave Mallon, Chet Stachitas) a tie for the second most wins by a class in school history, equalling the mark of 96 by John Bryant and Pat Carroll (2001-05).

MORE HEARTBREAK: The Hawks had a familiar ending in the A-10 Final, falling one point short of the championship, 62-61, to Xavier. They missed two shots in the final seconds and Dwayne Lee's last attempt was blocked. It was reminiscent of the endings from the big games in the previous two years. In 2004, SJU fell two points short of the Final Four when Oklahoma State's John Lucas hit a 3-pointer with 6.7 seconds to play. The lasting image from that game was Jameer Nelson's final shot hitting the rim as time expired. Then in the 2005 NIT title game, Pat Carroll's 3-pointer with seven seconds to go appeared to give the Hawks the win, but South Carolina's Tarrence Kinsey hit his only 3-pointer of the game with 1.3 seconds left to beat the Hawks, 60-57.

INJURY REPORT: The Hawks suffered a key injury in the Saint Louis game when freshman Ahmad Nivins went down with a sprained ankle (left). He missed the A-10 semifinals and championship game, and is still questionable for tonight.

STEPPING UP: Chet Stachitas did what a senior is expected to do, carrying the Hawks in the four games of the A-10 Tournament. He averaged 17.5 points and 4.0 rebounds, but more impressively, shot 52.2 percent from 3-point range and 46.5 percent from the field. Stachitas earned a spot on the All-Championship Team.

SENIOR MOMENTS: Phil Martelli has credited the seniors for the Hawks' late-season push and they've certainly carried the team. Chet Stachitas had a game-high 17 points and career-high nine rebounds in the win over Saint Louis, keyed the 3-point attack vs. Temple (5-for-8 from the arc for 18 points), and scored 23 points in the final vs. Xavier. Dwayne Lee had 14 points and seven assists against Temple, while going a career-best 11-for-12 from the foul line. Dave Mallon continued to be the defensive anchor down low and grabbed eight rebounds vs. Temple.

SETTING THE STANDARD: Chet Stachitas is now the Hawks' all-time leader in games played with 128. The senior broke the record of 125 previously held by Jameer Nelson on March 9. Dwayne Lee is one game behind Stachitas, having played in 127.

MAKING IT HAPPEN: Although Phil Martelli gives alot of credit to the SJU seniors for this late-season run, the coach has again proven that he's one of the best in the business. The Hawks were lingering in 11th place in the Atlantic 10 after the Feb. 14 loss to Temple, and owned a 10-12 overall record, but put together a five-game streak to end the regular season, ascended to fifth place, and reached the championship game with eight wins in a row. It's similar to last season when Martelli worked his magic and earned A-10 Coach of the Year honors for the second straight season. The Hawks started out 3-6 on the year, and then went 21-6 from January on to post a 24-12 record, and reach the championship games of both the Atlantic 10 Tournament and NIT. • "This was the least-talented Hawks team during the six-season run. Which didn't stop them from playing with the passion and intelligence that have become the hallmarks of St. Joe's basketball under Martellli and his coaching staff. They always devise a way to give their teams a chance.... Ultimately, it is a chance many programs don't get because they are never in the fight. One way or another, the Hawks are always in the fight."- Phila. Daily News (March 13, 2006)

PHIL IN THE POSTSEASON: Phil Martelli is the winningest coach in the postseason in SJU history, with a 16-7 record (79.5 win. pct.). Martelli has taken his Hawk teams to a postseason tournament eight times in 11 seasons. Included in that resume are two appearances in the NIT Finals, a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight (2004) and a berth in the NCAA Sweet 16 (1997).