It wasn’t that long ago the Hawks were struggling, having lost four of five games and were 3-4 in the Atlantic-10.
Since then the Hawks have won three in a row, five of six and are 18-10 overall, and 8-5 in the conference. They are currently in fourth place. The top four teams receive first-round byes, no small occurrence since the league is so balanced.
So with three games left against Richmond (5-8 A-10), Temple (10-2) and at St. Bonaventure (7-5) the Hawks have plenty to shoot for.
And few thought this appeared possible prior to this recent surge.
So what happened?
“It sounds simple, but we are playing better basketball,” coach Phil Martelli said. “It’s the only way I can describe it.”
Only somebody around the team every day can truly identify with what Martelli said.
“We know what it looks and feels like when playing good basketball,” he said. “A lot of it starts with pace and pace defensively and having a bounce in you step, definitely not playing flat-footed and reactive.”
That makes a lot of sense.
Even though they are college players with plenty of energy, St. Joseph’s hasn’t played with great emotion, specifically in home losses to Charlotte and St. Louis.
And it’s no coincidence that Carl Jones has stepped up his game .
He’s scored in double figures in six consecutive games after not scoring in double figures in three of the previous four before that.
Jones has battled an ankle injury and it no doubt took away some aggressiveness.
Yet Martelli also has talked about Jones having some great recent practices and having that translate into games.
Martelli has even praised Jones for his defense lately.
“That’s something I haven’t done much in the first two and a half years,” he said.
So with a rejuvenated Jones, the Hawks have gotten their second wind.
They are good enough to do damage in the A-10 Tournament, but getting a first-round bye would be crucial to the Hawks hopes.
It won’t be easy, especially with Saturday’s game at Hagan Arena against Temple. Yet St. Joseph’s can’t overlook Richmond, coached by former Archbishop Ryan star Chris Mooney.
It was at Richmond that St. Joe began its streak of winning five of six, with a 70-60 victory.
“They have a really nice balance of athleticism, basketball ability, guys who can score and shoot and they are a really good team,” Mooney said of the Hawks.
They certainly have been that way the last six games.
Now the key will be not to let up. And to simply continue what the coach say shas been happening - playing better basketball.