St. Joseph’s had one of its best all-around efforts of the season in Saturday’s 73-62 victory over visiting Massachusetts and the Hawks used what seems to be their best lineup for extended periods.
The two sequences are directly related.
For long stretches the Hawks used Langston Galloway and Carl Jones in the backcourt with Ron Roberts, C.J. Aiken and Halil Kanacevic in the frontcourt.
Usually Daryus Quarles starts and Roberts is the sixth man and that happened against UMASS.
When Roberts, Aiken and Kanacevic were paired together, the Hawks became a strong defensive team that didn’t lose anything on the offensive end.
“I think the significance was the length of time we were able to play Ron, Halil and CJ,” coach Phil Martelli said. “Ron deserves a lot of credit because he was playing a guard and had to guard a guard a lot of the time.”
They were all major offensive contributors as well. Roberts had 14 points and eight rebounds. Aiken added 13 points and five rebounds. And Kanacevic had six points, 15 rebounds and six assists.
Also adding to the defensive effort was the fact that Aiken blocked four shots and Kanacevic rejected two.
For all the talk about the exciting transition offense that St. Joseph’s can unveil, it’s the defensive end that will determine the Hawks fate once the Atlantic-10 conference tournament begins.
This was one of the finest defensive efforts and having the aforementioned trio together was a big part of it.
Consider that UMASS had beaten St. Joseph’s 71-62 earlier this season and the Minutemen entered the game averaging 77 points and 21.5 free throws. In this game UMASS only attempted 10 free throws.
So the big lineup had a major impact and look for more of it to occur. Martelli can’t do it all the time, especially if the game is tight down the stretch because Roberts and Kanacevic are below average free throw shooters.
Still, there will be plenty of opportunities for this frontcourt unit to play together and as they showed against UMASS, this is a formidable trio on both ends of the floor.