By Jon Rothstein
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1. HIGH HOPES
This is without question the best team Phil Martelli has had since Jameer Nelson and Delonte West took the Hawks to within a possession of the Final Four in 2004. St. Joseph’s has eight to nine solid players and appears to have the proper chemistry needed to have a memorable season. The biggest thing now for this group? Dealing with something they’ve never dealt with before — expectations.
2. THREE’S COMPANY
All three of the Hawks’ big men — C.J. Aiken, Halil Kanacevic, and Ron Roberts are good enough to play at a BCS level — they’re that good. Now comes the interesting part — trying to play them all together at once. Martelli said he plans to spend ample time this preseason rotating both Kanacevic and Aiken at small forward in the hopes of maximizing what is one of the more physically imposing front court trio’s in college basketball. Despite Aiken’s size (6-9) and the fact that he blocked 3.5 shots per game last season, he’s still skilled enough to shoot from the outside and be a threat on the perimeter. Last year as a sophomore, Aiken shot 30.5% from three-point range.
3. MILES AND MILES
One thing St. Joseph’s lacked last season was a legitimate wing — that’s not the case anymore. At 6-7 and a legit 220 pounds, freshman Isaiah Miles should challenge for a regular spot in the Hawks’ rotation immediately. His addition could potentially take minutes away from veteran Daryus Quarles, whose lacked consistency during the first two years of his college career.
4. LETHAL LANGSTON
It’s not an oversight that Langston Galloway isn’t regularly mentioned as a legitimate Atlantic 10 Player of the Year candidate — it’s an insult. The 6-2 junior guard whom Martelli says reminds him of current NBA and former Villanova guard Randy Foye is a complete package. In addition to offensive prowess, Galloway frequently defends the opponent’s best perimeter scorer and is also a terrific rebounder, pulling down 4.5 boards a game last season. The Hawks may have other key ingredients to their overall team recipe this guy is the gas that starts the engine.
Chris Wilson showed moments of stellar point guard play as a freshman but he’s got to be much more consistent as a sophomore. If the lefty floor general can become a constant for St. Joseph’s, it will allow Tay Jones to get off the ball more regularly and flourish as a scorer. Wilson has worked feverishly on his shot during the summer and needs to become a knockdown shooter if he’s to remain in the game for long stretches. His growth will be paramount if the Hawks are to compete for an Atlantic 10 title as well as a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
There’s no questioning that the pieces are in place for a special season on Hawk Hill. Martelli has a group that has experience, role allocation, and a general belief that they have something to prove. If Wilson can evolve into a reliable option at the point and Miles can become a solid contributor on both sides of the floor, St. Joseph’s will be able to put a team on the floor that has a legitimate chance of getting to the field of 68 — and doing damage once they get there.
BY THE NUMBERS
St. Joseph’s led in the second half of 11 of their 14 losses last season. If the Hawks can cut that in half, they could be a top 20 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
What’s your prediction for St. Joseph’s in 2012-13? Be heard in the comments below!