Dec. 18, 2009
PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's men's basketball team (3-6) will return to its new homecourt, Hagan Arena, to host Lehigh (4-5) on Sunday, December 20 at 7 p.m. It marks the first game on campus for the Hawks since November 17.
The Hawks last played on December 12, a loss at Minnesota, before taking a break for final exams. SJU is looking to snap a six-game losing streak.
The game can be heard on WNTP Radio (990 AM) with Matt Martucci and Joe Lunardi calling the action. Audio streaming will be available free of charge on SJUHawks.com, via Stretch Internet.
GAME NOTES: Tonight marks the Hawks' return to action since breaking for final exams after the Minnesota game on Dec. 12. Idris Hilliard had a near-perfect shooting game vs. #3 Villanova as he went 5-for-5 from the field and 12-for-13 from the foul line to score a career-high 22 points. After starting the season with three wins, the Hawks have lost six straight, which is the longest since a nine-game skid in 1998-99. Phil Martelli is in his 15th season as head coach and his 25th at the University. Martelli served as an assistant coach for 10 years on the staffs of Jim Boyle and John Griffin. Saint Joseph's is celebrating the Centennial of SJU Basketball this year, as the inaugural season took place in 1909-10.
LAST TIME OUT: Minnesota earned a 97-74 win over Saint Joseph's at Williams Arena, which was SJU's sixth straight loss. The Hawks were led by 15 points each from Garrett Williamson and Darrin Govens and a career-high 14 points from Chris Prescott, who shot 4-of-7 from 3-point range. The Hawks battled in the first half, trailing by single digits until Minnesota used an 8-0 run with four minutes to play,with back-to-back 3-pointers to go up 38-26. The Golden Gophers would stretch the lead to 48-33 at intermission. Saint Joseph's cut it to 52-42 in the first three minutes of the second half, but then Minnesota would use a 10-2 run to build the lead up to 52-44 with 13:17 to play. The Golden Gophers broke the game open with a 9-0 run, to take a 77-54 lead with eight minutes to go as the home team would shoot 58.8 percent in the second half. The Hawks shot 41 percent in the game, but turned the ball over 16 times and were outrebounded for the ninth time in 10 games by a 43-33 margin.
WELCOME HOME: It's been a long time coming for the Hawks to play again in their new arena. SJU has not played here since the November 17 win over Holy Cross. The Hawks have played just once in Philadelphia since that time when they hosted Villanova at The Palestra on December 9. The squad is currently 2-0 in Hagan Arena.
FORGETTING ABOUT FINALS: The Hawks are 7-3 in the first game after the break for final exams in the last 10 years under Phil Martelli.
WHERE'S THE "D"?: The Hawks have given up 97 points in each of the last two games, vs. Villanova and at Minnesota. The last time Saint Joseph's saw opponents score 90-plus points in back-to-back games was during the 2001-02.
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: The "bright spot" for Phil Martelli is that the Hawks have been able to put up more points than he expected going into this season and are currently averaging 71.4 points per game. The SJU scored 89 against Villanova and 74 at Minnesota, but the down side is that both opponents scored 97 points apiece. The Hawks' foes are averaging 78.9 percent.
STRIVE FOR PERFECTION: Junior Idris Hilliard was one basket short of a perfect shooting game against Villanova as he went 5-for-5 from the field and 12-for-13 from the foul line to tally a career-high 22 points. His only miss came at 8:03 of the second half. The last time a Hawk player achieved that was Delonte West at Xavier on January 17, 2004, when he went 12-for-12 from the field, 3-for-3 from 3-point range and 6-for-6 from the foul line.
FOCUS ON THE FROSH: Carl Jones and Justin Crosgile saw significant playing time against Villanova and the duo combined for 28 points, while each hitting 3-pointers in the final minutes to keep the Hawks in the game. Jones hit for 16 points and connected on 3-of-6 3-pointers while Crosgile went 4-for-5 from the foul line. Phil Martelli was happy with their competitiveness but said, "They had six turnovers. They're skillful players so that's too many. But part of it was they were at times just going too fast."
BEST OF THE DECADE: Saint Joseph's 2003-04 team was cited by SI.com in their review of the past decade as the "Best Single-Season Team". The Hawks went 27-0 in the regular season, were ranked number-one in the nation, earned a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. The website stated, "St. Joe's didn't quite pull off a championship, but the Hawks, led by incandescent point guard Jameer Nelson, became the first team to complete a perfect regular season since UNLV in 1991". Nelson also earned a mention on the All-Decade Team. Earlier this year, The Sporting News named Nelson to its All-Decade First Team.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Hawks get a break for Christmas and return to action on December 29 at Siena, before ringing in the New Year against Princeton on January 2 at Hagan Arena.