PHILADELPHIA, PA - The Saint Joseph's men's basketball team is ranked 18th in the first ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll of the 2003-04 season. Connecticut is ranked number-one, followed by Duke, Michigan State, Arizona and Kansas. Missouri, Syracuse, Florida, Kentucky and North Carolina round out the top 10. The Hawks head into the 2003-04 campaign returning four starters from last year's team which went 23-7, earned its third consecutive Atlantic 10 regular season title and reached the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. Saint Joseph's is led by National Player of the Year candidate Jameer Nelson, who topped the Hawks in scoring last year with his 19.3 average. Nelson has been named a Preseason All-America First Team selection by all of the preseason publications. Another key returnee for the Hawks is junior guard Delonte West, who comprises with Nelson what many feel is the best backcourt in the country. West suffered a late-season injury in 2003-04, and finished with a 17.3 average and All-Atlantic 10 honors. Junior Pat Carroll, a 6-5 swing player, gives the Hawks another serious scoring threat from the outside. The Hawks are one of the first teams to open the season, participating in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 14. SJU takes on 12th-ranked Gonzaga at 9 p.m. in a nationally-televised game (ESPN2). The ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll is voted on by 30 Division I coaches. Hawk coach Phil Martelli is a member of the Coaching Board.
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