Ever since Saturday’s 71-59 win over visiting George Washington, St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli has been giving the highest praise to Wednesday’s opponent St. Louis.
In addition to having to play on the road, Martelli says St. Louis is playing as well as any he has seen during his time in the Atlantic-10.
That’s quite a statement from somebody now in his 18th season as the Hawks’ head coach.
When asked what makes the Billikens so difficult, Martelli used one word, “fierceness.”
He then expanded his comments.
“Their cuts and screens are fierce and the attack the glass eve though they don’t’ have a high number of offensive rebounds,” Martelli said. “I am in awe and a little bit nervous to be honest.”
If St. Joseph could ever make a statement it’s this week. St. Louis is 21-5 overall and leads the A-10 with a 10-2 mark and is riding a nine-game win streak.
The Hawks (15-10, 6-6) would have a chance at the upset if Langston Galloway can duplicate his season-high 26-point effort against GW.
When Galloway is hitting from the outside, it just opens everything up for the Hawks and they seem to feed off his ability to hit from beyond the arc.
Martelli hasn’t lost his sense of humor, joking that he won’t make the trip to St. Louis.
“I am taking a sabbatical,” he quipped. “I am working on root canal instead of going on that trip.”
St. Louis doesn’t have a player averaging more than 12 points a game but the Billikens lead the A-10 in scoring defense (58.0).
This is a major challenge for the Hawks, but a game in which they can turn their season around if they are able to upset the No. 18 ranked Billikens.
The Hawks have to show they can do better on the road. They have lost their last three road games (including a matchup with La Salle at the Palestra) by an average of 12 points per game.
This will be a true measuring stick and to give any indication if the Hawks could do any damage in the A-10 Tournament.