At some point during a season, there isn’t much more a coach can do to create a sense of urgency.
St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli has emptied his suitcase. He’s discussed with, encouraged, pleaded with and probably threatened his Hawks in an attempt to get them to find some kind of consistency that can still salvage some good things out of this season of adversity.
Martelli’s influence, however, ends on the sidelines. His playing days ended at Widener University during the Bicentennial year.
Whatever motivation the Hawks would find had to come from the players themselves.
Only the next game will tell but perhaps St. Joseph’s found something out of its 60-59 loss to St. Louis on Wednesday night at Hagen Arena.
Davell Roby made a free throw with 3.1 second remaining for the Billikens (12-11, 5-5) and the Hawks (9-21, 4-5) could not get a shot off at the end and dropped their third straight game.
Taylor Funk paced the Hawks with 21 points.
Ultimately a loss remains a loss, but the Hawks did show the type of determination they need to finish out the regular season and potentially set up a run in the Atlantic Ten tournament.
Playing without leading scorer James Demery, who sprained his left ankle in Saturday’s loss at Penn, the Hawks fell into an early double-digit hole against the Billikens. It took 25 minutes but St. Joe’s fought back and took its first lead on a three-pointer by Funk with 7 minutes, 44 seconds.
Then it was a matter of which team would make enough plays down the stretch. Unfortunately for the Hawks, that was St. Louis.
Down by six with under two minutes remaining, St. Joseph’s tied the score at 59 when Shavar Newkirk (16 points) made the first of two free throws with 13 seconds on the clock. He missed the second, which would have given the Hawks the lead.
Roby then was fouled. He missed the first but made the second to give St. Louis the win.
It was the ninth loss for the Hawks in a game decided by six points or fewer. That points to a vulnerability in the makeup of the team.
“We don’t really have an alpha guy,” Martelli said. “The only way we can do this is if everybody looks at themselves, but in that locker room, we don’t really have that guy. There’s nobody they are afraid of, and I’m not knocking them. They’re all nice guys, very quiet.”
The Hawks don’t have that player who will tell his teammates that enough is enough and demand that they elevate their level of intensity and play.
“We have that but it’s [Lamarr Kimble] and he’s out [for the season with a foot injury]. We just don’t have it with the guys who are playing – not that dirty guy.”