Dec 21, 2011; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Saint Joseph

Saint Joseph’s Hawks Basketball Season Preview

The college hoops season is right around the corner, and Busting Brackets is here to whet your basketball-starved appetite. Over the next five weeks, we are publishing season previews team by team, conference by conference, to offer a glimpse into the upcoming season. Busting Brackets is giving you the lowdown on the biggest storylines, offseason changes and x-factors for each team and each league as we roll into the 2012-13 season. Our complete season preview archive can be accessed here. Buckle up, peeps.

  Saint Joseph’s Hawks

Last Season 20-14 (9-7 A-10)
Lost to St. Bonaventure in A-10 tournament quarterfinals
Lost to Northern Iowa in NIT first round
Key Returning Players: Carl Jones, G
Langston Galloway, G
C.J. Aiken, F
Ronald Roberts Jr., F
Halil Kanacevic, F
Daryus Quarles, G/F
Chris Wilson, G
Key Additions: Kyle Molock, G (Dublin Coffman High School)
Isaiah Miles, F (Milford Mill Academy)
Javon Baumann, F (Theodore Huess School)
Key Losses: None
Top Non-Conference Games: Nov. 16 vs. Notre Dame (Coaches vs. Cancer Classic)
Nov. 17 vs. BYU or Florida State (Coaches vs. Cancer Classic)
Nov. 20 vs. Harvard
Dec. 1 @ Creighton
Dec. 11 @ Villanova
Dec. 28 vs. Iona
Dec. 31 @ Drexel
Jan. 19 @ Penn (The Palestra)
Top Conference Games: Jan. 9 vs. Butler
Jan. 17 @ VCU
Jan. 26 vs. Xavier
Feb. 2 vs. Temple
Feb. 9 @ UMass
Feb. 16 @ La Salle
Feb. 27 @ Saint Louis
Breakout Player: Ronald Roberts, Jr. Since Saint Joseph’s returns everyone of importance from last year’s team, and most Hawks players broke out last season (hence the lofty praise heading into this season), any player on the roster is capable of putting up a big year. We go with Roberts here thanks to the strides he made between his freshman and sophomore seasons. The Bayonne (NJ) native shot roughly 60-percent from the field last season, up six-percent from his freshman clip. He got tougher, bigger and smarter as a basketball player over last summer, becoming a far bigger factor on the defensive end as well. With similar strides this summer, Roberts could be good enough to earn mention in the discussion for second team all-conference by season’s end.  C.J. Aiken is the best player on the team, and arguably the best NBA prospect in the entire A-10. But Roberts has more to gain and more to prove in his junior season, so keep an eye on him. He’s one of the best all-around forwards in the league already.
X-Factor: Backcourt selflessness. The Hawks sport the most dominant frontcourt in the A-10…and it isn’t close. Ronald Roberts, Halil Kanacevic and reigning conference defensive player of the year C.J. Aiken comprise one of the toughest frontlines in all of college basketball. Their backcourt isn’t too shabby either. Returning backcourt starters Carl Jones and Langston Galloway comprise one of the better guard tandems in the league. Jones is one of the top point guards in the conference while Galloway is the A-10’s deadliest 3-point shooter. And it will have to remain that way for Saint Joseph’s to win the league. Strong frontcourt play at St. Joseph’s is as close to a cinch as there is in the A-10, so it will be up to the guards to pull their oar and ensure that production isn’t wasted in the standings. Jones and Galloway will have to be better defensively, where Saint Joseph’s was middle of the pack despite having the league’s top shot-blocker. And they’ll have to do a better job getting the big men touches. Jones and Galloway combined took close to 800 shots last season, 43-percent of the team’s overall total. That’s far too many for a school predicated on frontcourt play. For the Hawks to tap their tantalizing potential—and make no mistake, their starting lineup is loaded—the backcourt will have to be more judicious with its shot selection and place a greater onus on utilizing the frontcourt as much as possible.
Best Case: Galloway and Jones lower their shot total, up their assist totals (the two combined for only 5.5 dimes per game last season) and are better on the defensive end. The frontcourt is as good as advertised, serving as the bedrock of the team all season. Saint Joseph’s proves to have the best inside-out combination in the league, with a starting lineup that trumps that of any other contender in the league. This proves to be Martelli’s best season since the Jameer Nelson, Delonte West Elite Eight squad that notched a No. 1 seed in the 2004 NCAA tournament. Fueled by signature non-conference wins over Harvard, Villanova and Drexel on top of winning the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, the Hawks, spearheaded by experience, soar to the top of the A-10, edging out VCU and Saint Louis. After winning the A-10 tournament, the Hawks earn a No. 3 or 4 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Worst Case: Galloway and Jones continue to be ball stoppers, not facilitators, and the lack of chemistry ultimately holds the Hawks back. Poor free throw shooting (Saint Joseph’s shot just 69-percent as a team from the charity stripe last season) dooms Martelli’s squad, while continued flimsy perimeter defense undoes the great advantages the squad has inside. Weighed down by heavy expectations, Aiken has a disappointing junior campaign. The Hawks tumble to a sixth place finish in conference play. Thanks to a poor showing during the non-conference slate, Martelli’s team finds itself squarely on the bubble. An early exit in the A-10 tournament puts Saint Joseph’s on the outside-looking-in come March.
Projected Finish: 19-9 (11-5 Atlantic-10)
Lose in championship game of A-10 tournament
NCAA at-large berth

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