Media Day Recap: Hawks Receive Attention with First-Place Prediction
Oct. 5, 2012
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Saint Joseph's basketball was one of the main topics at the Atlantic 10's annual Media Day on Thursday at the Barclays Center. The Hawks were picked to finish first in the Preseason Poll and four Hawks - Carl Jones, Langston Galloway, C.J. Aiken and Halil Kanacevic - earned Preseason All-Conference honors.
Here's a recap of the day with audio and quotes from Phil Martelli:
Phil Martelli QUOTES:
Q: What's your reaction to being picked first in the league?
Martelli: I just felt that it would be further fuel for our passionate fans. We're in a situation where we sold out an allotment of student season tickets in four or five days. We put an additional allotment online yesterday and they sold out in three minutes, so there's a lot of passion and support for this team and when I saw the selection, I was neither surprised nor startled. I think the bigger thing is that there are six teams that got votes for first place and I think there's arguably a couple more that could've gotten votes or should've gotten votes.
Q: There's a positive buzz around the league regarding the conference's potential. Is that justified?
Martelli: I don't think that it can be undersold on how remarkable a job Bernadette (McGlade) and the athletic directors and the presidents have done. What a job they have done. The option was to sit on the sideline because until the Atlantic 10 made its move, college realignments were driven by football. The Atlantic 10 changed that dynamic, so the buzz about the league and the buzz on individual campuses . . . is because of the move that they made in the spring and the personalities involved. The two young coaches (Brad Stevens, Shaka Smart) have a following and they should have a following because they do things that right way and they do things that other people emulate. I think the big deal here is that Butler and VCU didn't come to finish fifth in this league and they don't do anything that would be labeled fifth in this league. Just by their mere presence, for months they've driven every other team in this league, every other program, and every other athletic department to up the ante.
Q: Does this seem to be a perfect storm for the league and your program hitting a high note?
Martelli: The Atlantic 10 has always hit high notes, but we've whispered about it. Sometimes we weren't quite apologizing but we weren't as aggressive in following up on the statement that we're the number one basketball-only conference in America. We kind of stayed in the shadows. The league, the numbers prove it out - who else has had at-large? That's what this is all about. This is not about your automatic qualifier. This is about the at-large, and those at-large bids are really in a thimble for non-BCS. The Atlantic 10 is going to get a much larger portion of that thimble because of the moves and the competitive nature of adding teams like Butler and VCU and the successes the teams had last year in both postseason tournaments.
Q: Do you think there will be more A-10 teams receiving at-large bids this year?
Martelli: The number that I use is that we will get our rightful share. Look at the schedules. Everybody in this league plays the schedule that prepares them to be a postseason team. The league now will be promoted. People have always gotten that wrong, in my opinion, [questioning] "Well, does the committee know?" That committee knows more information than any committee -governmental, athletic, it doesn't matter - [the committee] has the most information. I've sat through a mock selection; I know how much information they have so whatever the right number is, I guarantee you that it's going to be exactly the right number. It's not going to be one short because we're the Atlantic 10 and it's not going to be one too many because we're the Atlantic 10. It's going to be the right number and there's going to be multiple bids. It's just inevitable now in college basketball; look at these programs and look at these players returning.
Q: How good can your team be?
Martelli: To me, this is going to be about execution, execution, execution, and execution of the game plan off the court. It's execution of the game plan. We all run with numbers Well here's our number. In our 14 losses last year, we led us in the second half 11 times. So it has to be sharper. The coaching has to be sharper, the timeout has to be quicker, the substitution has to be different, individual players have to acknowledge if they got nervous in a situation or had a "brain freeze" in a situation, but to me, if our execution is to the highest level, then we can match some of these expectations. The only expectation that we really have to play to is our own . The players' expectation and my expectation.
Q: Which of your players have gotten better over the off-season?
Martelli: I would like to say that everybody got better because that's what we drive our program on: daily improvement. I think first and foremost you have to talk about what the NCAA allowed us to do with working with the kids on the floor. That can't be understated. In each area, with each guy, I see a little bit of a different player- a little bit more mature, a little bit more skilled, and a little bit less frequent of their idiosyncrasies arising. They all have them (idiosyncrasies ). Every player in this league has idiosyncrasies. I don't know that there's a specific guy that I would point to, but to me, there's a sense that they used their time wisely to improve.
Q: Is this team ready to play with the target on its back?
Martelli: The target that they have on their back is in our locker room, and it says "Act Like a Champion." That doesn't mean act like a champion in the Atlantic 10, that means act like a champion off the court. That means act like a champion when we do community service. That means act like a champion with whatever they're assigned to do. We ask them to think like a champion and to act like a champion.