It doesn’t matter what the score is, any college basketball coach gets up after that first game and talks about how his team has to get better.
St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli made that proclamation after the opening 61-35 win over visiting Yale. And before anybody says, it was only an Ivy League team, Martelli pointed out that the Hawks were 0-2 against the Ivy League last year (losing to Penn and Harvard).
There were positives and negatives in the opener and here’s a look at both.
*The Hawks played great defense, limiting the Bulldogs to 13 of 52 shooting from the field and causing 18 Yale turnovers.
*Langston Galloway was a standout on both ends of the court, scoring 20 points and holding Yale Guard Austin Morgan to four points, or 24 fewer than he had in the opening 85-82 OT loss to Sacred Heart.
*Halil Kanacevic overcame a first half back injury to finish with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
*Ronald Roberts, last year’s A-10 Sixth Man of the Year, got the start and had 12 rebounds.
*Chris Wilson, in for Carl Jones, who was sitting out the second of a three-game team suspension, had zero turnovers in 36 minutes.
*The Hawks outrebounded Yale, 41-34.
*C.J. Aiken had a game-high three blocked shots.
Now the negatives
*The offense didn't look fluid and performed inconsistently. inconsistent.
*Roberts shot 3 for 12 from the field and Wilson was 1 for 6.
*The Hawks connected on just 3 of 14 three-pointers.
*St Joseph’s was 16 for 30 from the foul line. “That is deplorable foul shooting,” Martelli said. “There is no other way to call it and it could cost us.”
*Aiken, who rarely gets in foul trouble, committed four fouls. He only played 21 minutes.
It doesn’t take a hoop expert to suggest that the Hawks have to play much better when they face Notre Dame in Friday’s 9:30 p.m. matchup at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Yet that is what games like this are for, to shake off the rust under game conditions.
Notre Dame, which is 2-0 after Monday’s 84-57 victory over Monmouth, is in the same boat, trying to develop cohesion.
If St. Joseph’s plays the same air-tight defense, albeit against a much better opponent, then the Hawks will surely be competitive. Martelli can only hope that the Hawks can see a more consistent performance on the offensive end.
They could get away with it against Yale, but that won’t be the case against the Fighting Irish.