Jan. 23, 2009
PHILADELPHIA - Saint Joseph's (10-7; 0-1 Big 5) will look to extend its winning streak to six games when it takes on Penn (4-9; 0-3) in a Big 5 matchup at The Palestra on Saturday evening, January 24. Game time is 7 p.m. and a limited number of tickets will be available at the door.
The game will be televised on The Comcast Network Philadelphia (formerly CN8) with Jon Gurevitch and Rob Kennedy calling the action. The Saint Joseph's Sports Network team of Tom McCarthy 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.
Fans are reminded that for the rest of the season, parking in Lot #5, between Franklin Field and The Palestra, will no longer be accessible. Alternate parking is available in Lot #1 and Garage #26 (enter off Chestnut St. by turning at 32nd St.), Garage #7 (off Convention Ave. and South Street) and Garage #37 (So. 34th St. between Ludlow and Chestnut Streets.).
GAME NOTES: The Hawks are riding a five-game winning streak, which is their longest of the year and longest since a six-game winning streak from Jan. 19- Feb. 4 of 2008. SJU has not yet lost in the calendar year of 2009. The Hawks' 4-0 record in the Atlantic 10 is the best start since the 2004-05 team had the same record. Senior Ahmad Nivins tops the Hawks with a league-leading 10 double-doubles and is averaging a team-high 20.5 points and 11.3 rebounds. He hit for a career-high 34 points in the Hawks' overtime win over Duquesne on Wednesday evening. Ahmad Nivins leads the A-10 in field goal percentage (.676) and ranks fourth nationally. He also tops the league in rebounding (11.3), offensive rebounds (4.6) and minutes played (39.6), while ranking among the conference's top 10 in eight categories. He's averaging 25.8 points and a league-best 14.8 rebounds in conference games only, Ahmad Nivins was named the Big 5 Co-Player of the Week for Jan. 19 and the third time this season. The senior averaged 20.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in two wins, while shoooting 11-for-19 from the field.
LAST TIME OUT: Idris Hilliard tapped in a missed shot at the buzzer to give Saint Joseph's a thrilling 99-98 overtime win over Duquesne, in a game which saw both teams lead by double digits. Ahmad Nivins had a career-high 34 points and grabbed 16 rebounds and Hilliard added 20 points for SJU, which won its fifth in a row. Nivins hit two free throws with 30 seconds left in OT to give the Hawks a 97-96 lead. But Jason Duty hit a 3-point shot with eight seconds to go for a 98-97 Duquesne advantage. The Hawks brought the ball down the court and Tasheed Carr drove to the hoop but had his shot blocked. Garrett Williamson rebounded and put up another shot, which Hilliard tipped in right before the buzzer. Duquesne took the early lead, 16-5, in the first six minutes. The Hawks fought back and outscored the Dukes, 25-16, to take a 31-30 lead. Nivins scored 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting to help SJU take a 53-37 lead at halftime, which was the most points scored in a half by the Hawks all season. Saint Joseph's led by as much as 18 points early in the second half, but saw Duquesne rally with a 24-4 run to move ahead 76-71 with 4:23 to play. The Dukes led 88-82 with 45 seconds to go in regulation, but Nivins scored six straight points and his two foul shots with 14.4 remaining sent the game into OT.
WHO'S COURT IS IT?: Tonight's game is a rarity with the contest being played in a building which both teams call "home", at least for this year. The Palestra is the Hawks' primary homecourt this season, because of the ongoing Fieldhouse Expansion and Renovation project (see pg. 9 for more info). With the exception of the Rider game that was played at the Wachovia Center, the Hawks will play 13 home games at The Palestra. SJU, which owns an all-time record of 325-154 at the famed building and is 4-3 this season, will return to campus in 2009-10 to the Michael J. Hagan `85 Arena.
SEEING DOUBLE: Ahmad Nivins has now scored in double figures in 75 of the 111 games of his career and in 29 consecutive games. He's grabbed double-figure rebounds 22 times, with a league-leading 10 double-doubles this season alone. The senior has 20 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 45-23 record (66.1%). This season, SJU was 5-7 at the end of December and has since won five in a row to start 2009, including a 4-0 conference record.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE: In conference games, Ahmad Nivins is averaging a dominating 25.8 points and 14.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 65.2 percent from the field and 78.2 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."
SHARING THE BALL: The Hawks had an impressive 21 assists on 23 field goals against Charlotte. Overall, SJU is averaging 15.9 assists per game with Garrett Williamson leading the way with his 5.2 average.
DOUBLE HEADER : Ahmad Nivins has been averaging a double-double all season and would join a select group of Hawks if he finishes the year that way. The last Hawk to average a double-double was Dwayne Jones in 2004-05, with his averages of 10.1 points and 11.6 rebounds. Prior to Jones, Will Johnson was the last one to notch the double-double in 1995-96 (10.5 ppg; 10.2 rpg). Since 1952-53, the feat has been accomplished 29 times by a total of 16 different players.
AHMAD'S ACCOLADES: Ahmad Nivins continues to compile the weekly honors this season. He was named the Big 5 Co-Player of the Week for Jan. 19, marking the third time he's received the city's honor. Nivins earned the nod by averaging 20.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in the Hawks' 2-0 week. He has also been named the Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week four times thus far (Nov. 16, Dec. 7, Dec. 28, Jan. 11), which is the most by any player this year.
NO HARM, NO FOUL: The Hawks have done a good job limiting the fouls this year, and there was no better example than the St. Bonaventure game. SJU committed just 10 fouls in the game and limited the Bonnies to just eight trips to the foul line - going into the game, SBU was averaging 16 free throws made and 25 attempts. Ahmad Nivins has done a good job of staying out of foul trouble as he's committed only 33 fouls in 17 games (1.9 average) and has no disqualifications.
HILLIARD'S HEROICS: Idris Hilliard had his biggest basket in a Hawk uniform when he tipped in the gamewinner at the buzzer to lift SJU to the overtime victory over Duquesne. The sophomore tied his career-high with 20 points in the game while grabbing six rebounds.
CARR SHOW: Senior Tasheed Carr has scored double figures in the past six of seven games, averaging 14.7 points in that stretch. Carr scored 14 points in the first half vs. Ball State, helping the Hawks overcome an early 10-point deficit and take the lead by halftime. He finished that game with 18 points while scoring 19 in the loss to Drexel. He had 14 against Rhode Island, while handing out six assists.
CITY RIVALRY: The Hawks are 0-1 in the Big 5 after losing to Villanova on Dec. 11 Last year, Saint Joseph's went 2-2. In both 2006-07 and 2005-06, the Hawks went 3-1 in the Big 5, with the lone loss each year coming to Villanova. SJU has won a total of 19 Big 5 titles (9 outright/10 shared), which is second all-time to Temple's 23 titles (5 outright/18 shared).
KEY TO THE CITY: SJU owns a 29-12 record against city teams over the last six seasons (counting this year). This mark counts all games against Philadelphia teams (Drexel included). So far, SJU has been defeated by Villanova and Drexel.
LOOKING AHEAD: SJU goes on the road for two straight at Richmond on Jan. 28 and at Dayton on Feb. 1 and returns to The Palestra to host George Washington on Feb. 4.