The final game was sort of a microcosm of the season for St. Joseph’s – some good stretches, some rough ones and then a disappointing ending.
The Hawks finished 18-14 following Tuesday’s 63-61 loss to St. John’s in an opening NIT game at Hagan Arena.
The game received plenty of national attention, but not the type St. Joseph’s would desire. The game-winning, off-balanced fall-away jumper by St. John’s sophomore Sir’Dominic Pointer at the buzzer was considered the top play of the day by ESPN’s SportsCenter.
Now St. Joseph’s will begin looking ahead to next season because looking behind is a little painful.
Everyone knows that the Hawks were the preseason Atlantic Ten choice and fell way short.
It was a combination of bad predicting and an inconsistent season.
Leading scorer Carl Jones is the lone graduate so the Hawks should be more than competitive next season.
What hurt more than anything is that the players for the most part didn’t show improvement over last season. Ronald Roberts Jr. is the only Hawk who stepped up his game, but not significantly. Roberts, like many of his teammates, had too many inconsistent outings.
So much has been made of the Hawks possibly reading those preseason press clippings, but what seemed more damaging was how they struggled in the half-court offense.
Too many times the shot clock wound down too far and the Hawks were forced to force shots.
Whatever is the makeup of the A-10 next year, the Hawks should be very competitive.
Just like this year, there should be expectations of challenging for a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
For somebody reaching for positives, one can look at the Hawks performance this year past the regular season.
St. Joseph’s won a hard-fought 58-57 A-10 quarterfinal victory over Xavier, with Langston Galloway’s two free throws with 1.4 seconds the difference. Of course nothing came easy and Xavier almost scored on a length-of-the-court pass that hit the backboard, into the arms of Isaiah Philmore, who missed a very makeable layup.
Then the next night, the Hawks were getting outclassed by VCU before closing with a 22-10 run during the last two minutes in an 82-79 defeat.
A three-pointer at the buzzer by Papa Ndao, made the outcome look closer than it was, but the Hawks still fought until the end.
And then they played St. John’s right down to the wire.
So as coach Phil Martelli often said about the Hawks, “we played hard, but not always well.”
Next season they have the capability to do both, but that was the same case this season, so nothing should will assured other than the Hawks will have plenty to prove.