Don't misunderstand Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli or Hawks guard Lamarr Kimble.

Because if it takes "Fresh" scoring 31 for the Hawks to win like it did on Wednesday against the University of Illinois at Chicago, then that's how it has to be.

Still, Martelli and Kimble are on the same page — if Kimble has to score 30, it means other critical facets aren't working well enough for St. Joe's to be successful.

That proved true when Kimble scored 31 but the Hawks lost to 13th-ranked West Virginia and, while they beat UIC, it also showed as they had to rally from 13 down in the second half.

So, if Kimble has to put in at least 30 points for the third time in four games for St. Joe's to beat Temple in their Big 5 matchup at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at Hagan Arena, Martelli will again be happy but his foresight tells him that six nickels for Kimble will likely be more of a bad sign than a good one.

Saint Joseph’s guard Lamarr Kimble passes the basketball against Monmouth on Monday, November 12, 2018. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
YONG KIM
Saint Joseph’s guard Lamarr Kimble passes the basketball against Monmouth on Monday, November 12, 2018. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer

"Winning always is better medicine so to speak," Martelli said. "… I'm not walking out of here saying, "You know for us to be successful on Saturday night Fresh will get us 30.

"I expect [Kimble] to lead, not necessarily [score a lot of points]. The players voted him captain almost unanimously so they believe he is our leader.

"Now what has to happen sometimes is somebody may have to jar him to say, 'Come on, let's go,' and then he will have to get other guys going."

"[Kimble] is not a scoring machine but he is a leader."

Last season, when Kimble missed all but 20 minutes because of a broken foot, Martelli fretted about how the Hawks missed that something extra that Kimble brought to the table.

It's showing now as St. Joe's (4-3) enters Big 5 competition.

Kimble (18.3 ppg) is second to Charlie Brown, Jr. (24.1 ppg) in scoring and his 21 assists are second to freshman guard Jared Bynum (24).

Still, Kimble's most valuable asset is an intangible one – the ability to determine what the Hawks need to do to win and how to make it happen. Sometimes that means verbal motivation. Sometimes that might mean a kick in the fanny.

There have been some early glitches in the first seven games as Kimble knocks off the rust from not having played in almost 1¼ seasons, but when he is on, the Hawks are a serious challenge.

"Scoring is just part of the game," Kimble said on Wednesday. "The ball has to go in the basket.

"Leading is all the things people don't necessarily see on the court. It's what you tell your guys in the huddle; the plays that you see going on out there.

"It's my job to know every play that the other team is running and try to relay that to my guys. As the game is going on, I'm just leading all of the way, trying to give us the best chance to win."