2008-09 St. Joseph's Basketball Preview: #91
St. Joseph’s Hawks
Overall Rank: #91
Conference Rank: #8 Atlantic 10
2007-08: 21-13, 9-7, 4th
2007-08 postseason: NCAA
Once again there will be a very thin line between success and failure in the Atlantic 10 Conference and that might be bad news for St. Joseph’s. The Hawks slipped into the NCAA Tournament last year, mostly thanks to two victories over top ten ranked Xavier in the last ten days of the regular season. There is potential to do it again, but it will be very difficult with a couple key starters gone.
The biggest loss is Pat Calathes and it is not just because of his 17.5 points per game. The 6-10 guard was a great outside shooter and, with his height, created a ton of mismatches on the offensive side of the floor. He was second on the team with 2.7 assists and led the squad with 7.5 boards per contest. The rebounding might be the biggest issue now that Rob Ferguson and Arvydas Lidzius have also run out of eligibility. Ferguson stretched out the defense with outside shooting as well and tallied 11.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Lidzius saw far fewer minutes, but he was at least another big body who could come in and grab some rebounds and the team will be in desperate need of players like that this season. Guard D.J. Rivera left the team after playing 13 games during the 2007-2008 campaign.
The obvious need is for some depth at the forward positions and Temidayo Adebayo fits the bill. The 6-10 native of Nigeria might need a little time to adjust to playing at this level, but he should be able to contribute in some areas as a freshman. Small forwards Bryant Irwin and A.J. Rogers will battle for playing time as well. Irwin, at 6-8, has the size to man the four spot for the Hawks and eventually he could develop into a great replacement for Ferguson. Rogers is a little smaller at 6-5, but he does great work on the glass and will give the team a rebounding threat on the wing. He will not put up numbers on the glass like Calathes any time soon, but the Hawks can use all the help they can get in the rebounding department. Chris Prescott, a 6-3 shooting guard, might be the next in a long line of great St. Joe guards. He can get to the basket with ease and has a decent jumper. For now, he will likely play a role off the bench. Adding more depth to the backcourt is Michael Auriemma, the son of Connecticut’s women’s coach Geno.
Who to Watch:
Ahmad Nivins is the only player left on the roster who averaged over four rebounds per game last season. Nivins is a superb scorer under the basket and will always work hard, but he needs some help now that Calathes and Ferguson are gone. There are very few candidates and Idris Hilliard is the only option with any experience. The 6-6 Hilliard lacks the shooting range to be an effective small forward, but he should do fine as an undersized four. He does not lack in toughness and will create space for Nivins under the basket. After averaging a mere 5.7 minutes per game as a freshman, Hilliard needs to be ready to see that number increase drastically.
While the frontcourt readjusts, the backcourt will be winning some games for the Hawks. Tasheed Carr averaged 5.6 assists per game and did a fine job keeping the turnovers to a minimum. It will be his job to get all the new players involved in the offense and find a new scoring threat or two. Much of the scoring could be done by shooting guard Darrin Govens. The junior never really found his shooting touch as an underclassman, but this could be the year he becomes a leader of the team and puts up much better numbers. The same could be said for former sixth man Garrett Williamson, who will likely find a starting job this time around. Williamson will not do it with his outside shot, but he does get to the basket effectively and, at 6-5, can be the rebounder on the wing the team needs.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Tasheed Carr, Senior, Guard, 10.8 points per game
Darrin Govens, Junior, Guard, 9.8 points per game
Garrett Williamson, Junior, Guard, 5.3 points per game
Idris Hilliard, Sophomore, Forward, 1.2 points per game
Ahmad Nivins, Senior, Forward, 14.4 points per game