Halil Kanacevic had the look of relief in the St. Joseph’s locker room. The last time when meeting him in this same setting following Wednesday’s 52-49 loss to visiting Richmond, he was almost inconsolable.
Kanacevic was the player who called the timeout when St. Joseph’s didn’t have any, was assessed a technical foul that earned Richmond two free throws and extended the lead from 50-49 to 52-49 with three seconds left.
To his credit, Kanacevic didn’t hide and took too much of the blame where there was plenty to go around.
Now fast forward to arguably the most impressive win of the year, Saturday’s 82-72 victory over Temple.
Kanacevic talked after the Richmond game about making amends against Temple and he certainly achieved that goal.
The 6-foot-8 sophomore ended with 14 points, 12 rebounds and six assists as the Hawks snapped Temple’s 11-game win streak.
More importantly, St. Joseph’s is 9-6 in the Atlantic-10 with one game to go. The Hawks have clinched at least home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs and could still earn a first-round bye.
So this was a huge win and some serious vindication for Kanacevic.
“I definitely felt horrible, we all felt horrible after Wednesday but I felt terrible and I wanted to help the team as much as much as I could so we could get this win,” Kanacevic said.
It also shows the resiliency not only of Kanacevic, but his teammates who were able to bounce back from a subpar effort.
And it enabled the Hawks to go from one extreme to another.
"I would definitely put that (Richmond) game as the worst," Kanacevic said. "As a team, this game might be the best we played all year."
Coach Phil Martelli said he didn’t have the team practice on Thursday. Worse than practicing, the Hawks got an earful from their coach.
“I let them have it and stew in it,” Martelli said. “They were terrific (Friday) I practice and we did a very nice job maintaining our composure across the board for 40 minutes.”
Kanacevic probably didn’t need a tongue-lashing. He was tough enough on himself.
It’s only fair if he beats himself up over the Richmond loss, then Kanacevic has the right to pound his chest for his and the Hawks best bounceback effort of the season.