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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
ST. JOSEPH'S

The key to the Hawks' success is to get lots of production from the program's most talented crop of newcomers in years; shoot better from outside (30%, 12th in the A-10); get more inside scoring; hit the boards harder (a whopping -8.0 margin, worst in the league); and improve in every area defensively (45% FG defense, 12th in the A-10).

In short, do everything better.

The Hawks are one of the youngest teams in the league, but the good news is that Phil Martelli appears to have sharply improved the talent level. SJU fell short in so many areas last season mainly because of a overall lack of talent. That won't be the case this year, but expect lot of growing pains for the youngsters. The A-10 is much better top to bottom than it was just a few years ago. No longer can Martelli take a team with mediocre talent and coax a winning league record out of it.

Keep an eye out for combo forward Ron Roberts, though skinny big forward C.J. Aiken could be the next big star after he gains some weight. There's also lots of buzz around wing guard Langston Galloway.

SJU has a ridiculously tough schedule for such a young team, but if the newcomers are as good as their reputations, the Hawks will get much better in January and February, pull off some big upsets and look like a team to be reckoned with for the following season. Assuming, of course, that Phil Martelli has only lost his hair and not his mojo.


NONCONFERENCE SCHEDULE

W - WESTERN KENTUCKY
L - At Penn State
W - NORFOLK STATE
L - At Fairfield
W - Rutgers (Palestra)
W - At Drexel
L - At Villanova
L - At Princeton
L - MINNESOTA
L - At Creighton
W - At Boston University
W - At Holy Cross
W - SIENA
W - PENN (Palestra)


NONCONFERENCE RECORD: 8-6

This is a surprsingly tough slate for such a young team coming off a tough season. St. Joe's opens with a hard game vs. Western Kentucky, but the Hilltoppers have suffered heavy graduation losses the past two years and have lots of new faces. They will probably win 20 games, but the Hawks catch them early.

Playing at Penn State is a tough one, too. Nittany Lions fell apart last year and lost 20 games, but Penn State is deep and experienced. I expect them to bounce back this year, starting with a win over SJU. Norfolk State is decent enough but the Hawks should prevail.

Fairfield has perhaps the best player in the MAAC in Derek Needham and the Stags are favored to win their conference. The program has been on the upswing and won 20 games last season. I expect them to beat the young Hawks. Rutgers has a fine new coach in Mike Rice, a former assistant to Martelli, but the roster is depleted. SJU should win.

Drexel plays excellent defense, but Bruiser Flint's team lacks the offensive firepower to beat the Hawks. SJU needs to beat Drexel because the next four games are daunting.

Nova is a top 10 program. Princeton has a lot of experience, discipline and shooting ability. Both teams should prevail at home over the Hawks.

A veteran Minnesota team is too big and physical for the yougish Hawks. And while Creighton lost Dana Altman, new coach Greg McDermott has big success at Northern Iowa. Altman also left him a darn good roster, including Rutgers transfer Greg Echenique.

Road games at BU and Holy Cross arent a walk in the park, but both teams are somewhat down. BU lost a trio of top seniors, though the Terriers are good enough to beat the Hawks if SJU doesnt give a good effort. The Cross fell apart last year after coach Ralph Williard left and they already fired his orginal replacement.

These are must games for the Hawks after a killer stretch.

SJU finishes at home with Siena - minus coach Fran McCaffery and three key players from last year. The Saints are certain to be good again, but much more beatable than they were the last two years. And Penn still hasn't recovered from losing Fran Dunphy. SJU is simply better at every spot on the floor.

BONUS A-10 PREDICTION: 5-11 (13-17 overall)

The Hawks pair up with Massachusetts, Richmond and Temple (dropping St. Bonaventure). SJU went 0-5 vs. that trio last season. This is a tough group and I could see the Hawks going 2-4.

SJU also goes on the road at Fordham, LaSalle, St. Louis, Dayton and Charlotte. Hard to see the Hawks winning more than two, and one is more likely.
 

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This looks a tad optimistic to me for the OOC, though I'm sure you know better than I do about whether WKU, Siena, Rutgers, and Drexel at home will be worse than SJU. I think the OOC tracking post could get a little depressing this year if you're wrong.

Last year shook my confidence in Martelli a bit. And if they only go 5-11 in conference this year, that's two straight years as bottom-feeders. How long until Martelli has teams in the upper echelon again?
 

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This looks a tad optimistic to me for the OOC, though I'm sure you know better than I do about whether WKU, Siena, Rutgers, and Drexel at home will be worse than SJU. I think the OOC tracking post could get a little depressing this year if you're wrong.

Last year shook my confidence in Martelli a bit. And if they only go 5-11 in conference this year, that's two straight years as bottom-feeders. How long until Martelli has teams in the upper echelon again?
i don't think you understand how good these five freshmen are.
 

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Just a point of information, WH - Rutgers transfer Greg Echenique is not eligible until 12/18. That is a week after we play them. But with the game on the road prob does not matter. This team will probably perform as you predicted, but there is a lot of upside. It will be a better team than last year. Also, last years team took until late feb to win a road game. If this team can beat Penn State or Fairfield on the road early, it could set the tone to make your predection flip flop to 17-13
 

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I do not believe you understand the level of the competition. Freshmen are still freshmen.
True. I absolutely agree. What these predictions fail to recognize is Freshman become sophomores. I expect that both Justin Crosgile and Tay Jones will impress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
A late-night typo, duq81. A little bourbon will do that! Thanks for the info, hawkhill, though I think Creighton will win anyway. Very few A-10 teams have won in Omaha, though I seem to recall the Hawks maybe doing it a few years ago?

I think the Hawks can win 8 games in noncon, and more than 5 in league play, if the new guys are as talented as I have heard/seen/read. They will get a ton of minutes and get better as the season wears on. And as I have noted, some of those midmajors that are typically pretty good could have down years.

Even if SJU wins just 5 A-10 games, however, it won't mean the program is running in place. SJU won a few games last year on the strength of senior leadership from Williamson and Govens. If they won the same number of games with younger players, well, the only way to go is up. The Hawks would be setting the springboard for next season.

It's hard to win in the A-10 or any other league with so many young players. I think it's even harder now than it was a few years ago. The Hawks would still be building toward the future.

I should also point out that the Hawks do have some experience. PVP notes that Crosgile and Jones will be sophomores - the year in which the biggest leaps usually occur. Nor should we forget upperclassmen Idris Hillard and Todd O-Brien as well as sophomore bigman Carl Baptiste.
 

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WH is about right, 13 wins. youth is an issue and coaching is still an issue. I am not convinced PM will ever get back to where he was, regardless of who is on the floor for him. to me, 2012 is back to dance or bust.
 

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My biggest concern about this coming Hawk season is point guard play. All along, I have predicted that the Hawks will win 16 games this year. However, the lack of an established point guard--if any point guard at all--on the roster makes me pause and think that goal may be a reach. Crosgile or Jones has to assume control of the position for at least this season and until Chris Wilson--the first true point guard they've signed since Dwayne Lee--arrives next season. Having said that, I am not overly optimistic that either Jones or Crosgile can handle the position. Crosgile just doesn't strike me as skilled enough since he's small and doesn't have the quickness or dead-on shooting ability to compensate. Defense seems to be more his specialty. Jones does have some of the skills but neither his head nor his heart seem to be in the point guard position. He wants to be a scorer. I probably wouldn't be allowed to say this on the Hawk board, but I am not convinced that both Jones and Crosgile have a long-term future here. Both seem to be combo-guards and I get the sense that one ultimately will settle into a sixth man role once Wilson arrives. Will the other one have a significant role? Was there fire behind the "Jones to USC" smoke we heard this past spring?

Othwerwise, the rest of WH's anaylysis is spot-on. The Hawk hatchlings will take their lumps early on but get better as the season progresses and the future will look very bright by season's end.
 

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So much for the prediction of a win against Western Kentucky. It is OK for the young team to lose, but to be blown out by nearly 30 points at home is unacceptable.

I recall Saint Louis fielded a similarly young team last year coached by Rick Majerus (all freshman and sophmores)and at one point there was talk of them being on the NCAA bubble, so just being young doesn't excuse horrible play.

Now of course we are only talking about one game, but if the blowouts continue (and this team does not compete at the A-10 level and show improvement over time), I would have to think there is some truth to the Bleacher Report that Phil Martelli's job is in trouble.

Let's not forget last year's 11-20 debacle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
As a UMass alum, I am so anxious about playing at Hawk Hill that I figured SJU could squeeze out a win. Obviously a terrible call. I originally had WKU winning but changed it in a last-second moment of optimism.

Clearly the Hawks have a lot of work to do, but it is just one game and the players will get better. Just going to take time.

I can now see, though, that my hope for a late winning streak in noncon action is generous. Probably no chance for SJU to beat BU and the Cross on the road. We'll see.
 

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Let me ask you this - after last night's result, do you see any sure wins on the OOC schedule other than perhaps Norfolk State and Penn? I'm skeptical of almost any other game in that OOC.

It could easily turn into a disaster if Phil doesn't have a plan. I am interested to hear his comments on this game and in the forthcoming ones to get a sense of his attitude.
 

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The Saint Joe's job should have been given to Mike Rice in the natural course of events.

Hopefully things will improve and this conversation will be irrelevant. But I am not sure if Phil has what it takes.

WKU is a good team but we weren't playing Kentucky, UNC or Duke last night?

They literally did not compete at all on the defensive end.
Very worriesome.
 

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I think I am the only one to see encouraging things. The upper classmen, with the exception of Jones and possibly Crosgile, are backup A10 talent. To expect freshmen in their 1st game to play great D is asking a little too much. WK is a good team. And they played a great team game. The young Hawks just cannot do that yet. I am impressed with the talent.

I will say Phil's fixation with man D has always puzzled me. It is like throwing one of your main tools out of the toolbox. I hate layup drills in games.
 
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