Monday, March 31, 2014

Big 5 Season Recap: St. Joe's clinches A-10 Title after rough start

March 31, 2014

By Michael Guise

Eight games into St. Joe’s season, the Hawks looked like they were headed for another disappointing season. 

They were 4-4, with blowout loses to Louisiana Sate University and Villanova on their resume. But Phil Martelli’s squad wouldn't go down without a fight. The Hawks won nine of their next 10 games and finished the season winning 20 of their final 25, which included a run to an Atlantic 10 Tournament Title. 

The team that hoisted the championship trophy in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center wasn't the team that walked off the floor dejected after a 30 point loss to Big 5 rival Villanova. 

St. Joe's season came to an end in the second round of the NCAA Tournament via an 89-81 loss to UConn in overtime, but the Hawks being able to right the ship after a rough start is something to respect.

They were able to turn things around because of leadership. 

The Hawks had three seniors in their rotation- guard Langston Galloway and forward’s Ronald Roberts, Jr. and Halil Kanacevic. The trio led the program to its most wins since the 2004-2005 season and its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007-2008. 

Galloway led the team in scoring at 17.7 points a game, while Kanacevic led the team in rebounding (8.8 per game) and assists (4.4 per game). Roberts was second in scoring and rebounds, averaging 14.4 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game. 

Despite the massive stats the three put up, their leadership is what helped the team turn around their season. There is nothing more important to a college basketball team than senior leadership and the Hawks proved that.

As a team the Hawks did nothing special. They were solid in every aspect, but their offensive efficiency is what allowed them to succeed without a bench to aid them. 

The Hawks ranked in the top 60 in field goal percentage (.470, 45th), two-point shooting percentage (.523, 48th), three-point shooting percentage (.379, 51st) and three-pointers made (250, 58th). Galloway led the Hawks on the offensive end, but he had help from his forwards, who controlled the paint and forced matchup problems for opposing teams.

Going forward, the Hawks have big shoes to fill. They will be losing a lot and will need their underclassmen to step up next year and assume the responsibilities left for them. The team will have four seniors, but only two-guard Chris Wilson and forward Papa Ndao, are the only ones that logged meaningful minutes. 

Wilson, the point guard, will have to be the leader on the court. Ndao averaged only 11.6 minutes per game, but Wilson will not be alone. He will have freshman standout, Big 5 Rookie of the Year and co-A-10 Rookie of the Year, DeAndre Bembry. 

Bembry averaged 12.1 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game. The freshman came on strong at the end of the year and was a catalyst to the team’s success. Bembry was the missing piece that Martelli was yearning for, and him and Wilson will we expected to handle the load next year.

The Hawks have four incoming recruits: forward James Demery, guard Shavar Newkirk, forward Obi Romeo and forward Markell Lodge. Demery is the most heralded out of the group, but all four will be expected to come in and have an immediate impact on a team that has minutes to be had. 

No comments:

Post a Comment