Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hawks should consider lineup change

St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli isn’t going to make change just for the sake of trying something different, but that doesn’t mean things will stay the same, at least concerning the starters.

Hawks should consider lineup change

St. Joseph´s head coach Phil Martelli calls plays against Butler<br />during the second half in Philadelphia, Wednesday, January 9, 2013.<br />Butler wins 72-66. (  Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer )
St. Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli calls plays against Butler during the second half in Philadelphia, Wednesday, January 9, 2013. Butler wins 72-66. ( Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer )

St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli isn’t going to make change just for the sake of trying something different, but that doesn’t mean things will stay the same, at least concerning the starters.

When asked if he would look to shake things up by making a starting lineup change in the final five Atlantic-10 games as the Hawks must now scramble just to get in the conference tournament, Martelli said he will only make a change if it makes sense.

“I am not sure you want to make a change to stir emotions,” he said during Monday’s A-10 conference call.

What about a change that could help the team?

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It’s just this reporter’s opinion that the best lineup is with Carl Jones and Langston Galloway in the backcourt and Ronald Roberts, Halil Kanacevic and C.J. Aiken in the frontcourt.

That would mean moving point guard Chris Wilson to the bench, where he would still see plenty of time.

When it was suggested (by me) to move Kanacevic as a starter, Martelli didn’t seem inclined to go that way.

“Halil has been terrific off the bnech and that has been a strength of our team,” he said, before adding, “but I am thinking and looking at the matchup for Saturday and looking at the lineup that gives us the best chance to win the game.”

The Hawks (14-10 overall, 5-6 A-10) are off until hosting George Washington (11-12, 5-5) 4 p.m. on Saturday. GW has a game Wednesday against Fordham.

This is not to put things all on Wilson, but the fact remains that the sophomore point guard, after impressing early in the season, hasn’t played exceptionally well lately.

While scoring isn’t his main duty, Wilson has not scored more than seven points in each of the previous five games. He had four points (2 for 7 shooting) in Saturday’s 76-64 loss to La Salle. Wilson did have seven assists, his highest total since getting nine in a 92-86 OT loss at VCU on Jan. 17.

Wilson has been guility of dribbling too much, running the shot clock down and then having the Hawks force a shot.

Again, he’s not the only one, and he has done some positive things, but nobody could suggest that Wilson has been a difference maker, especially the way he was in the Hawks’ most impressive win of the year. That was the 79-70 OT victory over Notre Dame in the second game of the season when he had 19 points, three assists and just one turnover in 41 minutes.

One thing is for sure – something had to happen with the Hawks. They are playing like a team without much confidence and they haven’t been able to build one good effort into another. After erasing a nine-point halftime lead in last week’s 61-55 win over Richmond, one would think they could have carried that momentum against La Salle.

Instead, it was the Explorers who were the aggressors throughout the game.

These are desperate times for the Hawks. It appears as if they have only one chance to reach the NCAA Tournament – winning the A-10 tourney. Even reaching the A-10 final may not be enough.

They will be a team that nobody will want to face, but also one that has not shown the ability to win four consecutive games (something they haven’t done all year this regular season, let alone trying it in the A-10 Tournament).

Martelli says the Hawks aren’t scoring enough and he’s right, but the defense is nothing to brag about either.

In A-10 games, the Hawks are avering 66 points and allowing 68.5. Is it any wonder they are struggling?

Again, this should not be pinned on Wilson along. One could make an argument that maybe only Ronald Roberts is having a better season than last year and even the 6-8 junior has shown inconsistency.

Still, St. Joseph’s needs to do something. Maybe the week off will help.

The Hawks will need Wilson and everybody else from the thin rotation to step up. Kanacevic is such an energy player that he could give them a needed jolt early, set the tone so to speak.

It’s certainly worth trying because little else has worked to this point and time is clearly running out.

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About this blog
Marc Narducci has performed a variety of jobs at The Inquirer since beginning with the paper in 1983. A long-time high school sports reporter in South Jersey, Narducci has also served as a beat writer for the 76ers, a backup Eagles and Sixers writer and has covered all the professional and colleges in the Philadelphia area. Among his duties at The Inquirer over the years, Narducci has covered one Super Bowl, two World Series and three NBA all-star games. Most recently he has covered the Philadelphia Union soccer team and this season will be adding college basketball duties, paying specific attention to St. Joseph’s. A life-long Southern New Jersey resident, Narducci is a 1977 graduate of Paul VI High and 1981 graduate of Glassboro State College (now Rowan University). Email Marc at and follow him on Twitter.

Marc Narducci
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