We didn’t get to attend the Hawks’ 67-65 NIT los to Northern Iowa because of an assignment to cover Drexel at the same time.
However, Joe Juliano provided us with some comments from coach Phil Martelli, whose team was again hurt on the offensive glass.
Remember the 98-93 double overtime loss at St. Bonaventure when the Hawks when the winners had a 20-4 offensive rebounding edge.
This time it wasn’t as pronounced, but Northern Iowa owned a 14-7 edge.
““Again, it’s a numbers game – 14 offensive rebounds, they (Northern Iowa) came in averaging eight, 13 for 22 from the foul line (St. Joe's),” Martell said. “Those numbers in the post-season are going to get you.”
Actually, free throw shooting has been a season-long problem for the Hawks. As a team they shot just 69.2 percent.
Martelli said that loose ball recovery was a key in their 71-68 loss to eventual champion St. Bonaventure and it once again hurt the Hawks in the NIT loss.
“It’s sad to say that the loose-ball recovery … I don’t know, we’ll look at it and we’ll see how many field goals they had after we knocked the ball and they got it back. So it wasn’t enough,” Martelli said. “I didn’t do enough for them in terms of really getting them to really embrace the post-season, so … we’ll go from there.”
After consecutive 11-win seasons, finishing 20-14, winning one Atlantic-10 Tournament game and earning an NIT bid showed progress.
Now the bar will be raised considerably next season. With the entire team back, St. Joseph’s will be expected to earn an NCAA bid. Anything less, will be disappointing.