Monday, August 31, 2015

Hawks prepare for NIT

St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli isn’t looking at his team’s second straight NIT appearance as a way to prepare for next year.

Hawks prepare for NIT

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St. Joe´s coach Phil Martelli. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)

St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli isn’t looking at his team’s second straight NIT appearance as a way to prepare for next year.

At 18-13, Martelli sees the NIT as an opportunity to improve now. “It’s a chance to win a game against great competition,” he said.

The Hawks will host St. John’s (16-15) in a 7 p.m. matchup Tuesday at Hagan Arena.

“It’s a chance to play an iconic school, one that is very talented,” Martelli said.

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The Hawks had an up and down regular season, but showed some spark in the Atlantic Ten Tournament. After an opening 58-57 win over Xavier, the Hawks were eliminated, 82-79 by VCU.

In that game, St. Joseph’s played hard to the end, outscoring the Rams 22-10 in the final two minutes. VCU led by 10 points at halftime and its lead was never seriously threatened despite the late run that included a Papa Ndao three-pointer at the buzzer.

Still it bodes well that the Hawks have continued to compete hard, even though this was a season in which an NCAA bid was expected.

As for St. John’s, this has been a disappointing season with a young team. Sophomore guard D’Angelo Harrison, who led the team in scoring with a 17.8 average, was suspended for the rest of the year with three games left in the regular season for conduct detrimental to the team.

JaKarr Sampson, a 6-8 freshman, averages 14.8 points for the Red Storm.

“They are a team that likes to take it to the basket because without (Harrison) they don’t shoot many three’s,” Martelli said.

This season Harrison connected on 58 three-point field goals and the rest of the team had just 57.

Last season the Hawks lost a first-round 67-65 NIT game at Hagan Arena to Northern Iowa. Now St. Joseph’s is in again and looks to make the most of its second season.

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Marc Narducci
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