It had been 26 days since Saint Joseph’s had won a basketball game going into Wednesday night. Three straight losses to open the Atlantic 10 season had some Hawks players hanging their heads, and Phil Martelli took notice.
He called his senior point guard into his office. He challenged him in film study ahead of what turned out to be a 66-55 win over Fordham. He also let him know how much he meant to the program.
“[Coach Martelli] called me into his office yesterday and he said, ‘if we are going to turn this season around it starts with you,” Chris Wilson said. “You are our leader. You are our senior. You have played one hundred or some college games.’ He said ‘I just want you to know that I am your biggest fan but I expect more out of you. He said from this day forward he wanted me to step up.”
From a standpoint of stepping up, Wilson is one-for-one. His career high 23 points fueled a weak St. Joe’s offense to a much needed victory at Hagan arena over Fordham. The win not only looks good on paper for Martelli’s squad, but helps their ever-delicate confidence moving forward.
“We’ve had a lot of hurt feelings, a lot of guys walking around with their heads down,” Martelli said after the game. “Twenty-six days is a long time to go between wins. And I said to them at halftime, we’ve got to stop feeling sorry for ourselves.”
Wilson had 12 points in the second half, including a three that pushed the game out of reach with just over a minute remaining. The senior did not care about having a career high. He cared about the win.
“Four losses straight,” Wilson said. “That’s the first time in my life, high school, middle school, AAU, not in college. It didn’t feel good. I’m just out here saying I want to win. That’s all that’s on my mind, to be honest.”
“Chris Wilson has not been playing well and he’s been challenged in film sessions and he answered that. That’s a positive,” Martelli remarked.
Wilson took nine shots from beyond the arc in the game, nailing five of them. As a team, the Hawks were 7-for-24 from the field. He had been struggling from the field, shooting just 38.2 percent from the floor coming into the game. He was an ugly 25.9 percent from beyond the arc. He knows the deep threat is not one of St. Joe's stronf suits.
“That is not really our specialty,” Wilson said of shots from deep. “I still don’t think we shot it great tonight. When a team plays zone, it is hard because you get good looks. We shot almost 30 threes against Duquesne.”
While Wilson found success from distance on Wednesday night, he knows that success is not just scoring the ball. For him, sometimes it has nothing to do with scoring the ball at all.
“[Stepping it up] doesn’t necessarily mean scoring more points,” Wilson said. “Tonight it was, but as the point guard it just means playing better and being a better leader. That’s really my mindset going forward.”
The team will have Thursday off, leaving two days to prepare for the Bonnies. While getting back into the win column may feel good now, they are keeping the bigger picture in their minds.
“You can’t get too low when you lose you can’t get too high when you win,” Wilson said. “It feels good to get a win, but we are 1-3. We know that we still have a lot of work to do. It feels good to get the win but if we go out and play poorly Sunday, it doesn’t mean anything.”