The West Coast has been both kind and cruel to the Saint Joseph’s
Hawks the past three seasons.
First the kind part.
2000-01, the Hawks became the darlings of the NCAA tournament by
taking the #1 seed Stanford Cardinal down to the wire. Despite the
loss, the performance by the Hawks led to a standing ovation by the
crowd. Marvin O’Connor was unconscious, shooting 15-for-20 from the
field and torching All-American Casey Jacobsen for 38 points. His
backcourt teammate, freshman Jameer Nelson, nearly tallied a
triple-double. That performance coupled with the return of 4 starters
catapulted the Hawks into the pre-season top 10 of most publications.
to Part One of the cruelty.
the first game of the 2001-02 season, the heavily favored Hawks were
stunned by Eastern Washington. Freshman Delonte West had a chance to
send the game into overtime, but failed to do so at the foul line.
What a bitter start it was for the Hawks! Eastern Washington did to
them what they usually did to bigger name opponents. That loss was
the start of a disappointing season for the favored Hawks, an oddity
for the traditionally pesky underdogs.
Now to the 2nd helping of cruelty served by Pacific.
the heels of a surprising 7-0 start and on the edge of the top 25
rankings, Saint Joseph’s headed west for a 2 game road trip. Most
fans were really looking forward to the 2nd part of the
trip—a game at the Kennel vs. Gonzaga. But the wicked witch of the
west waved her nasty wand again at the Hawks.
The Pacific Tigers stunned Saint Joseph’s, 62-50. Nursing a 48-46
lead with nearly 5 minutes left, Saint Joseph’s was outscored 16-2
down the stretch. Heading to the free throw line must have felt like
walking to the electric chair at the stroke of midnight—the Hawks
wanted no part of it. John Bryant, Delonte West, and Jameer Nelson
combined to miss six consecutive free throws. That capped off a
horrid 6-for-18 performance from the so-called “charity stripe”.
Saint Joseph’s was led in scoring by the usual suspects—Nelson, West,
and Carroll. In what is becoming a disturbingly futile trend, the
frontcourt is producing little to no scoring. Although they are
defending well, challenging every shot, and hauling down enough
rebounds, the lack of scoring has placed the team in a hole in quite a
few games this year. Alex Sazonov (4 points) and Dwayne Jones (2
points) were the only frontcourt players to score.
The backcourt combined for a staggering 41 of the team’s 50 points.
Nelson had 5 steals and scored 16 on a sub-par 7-of-17 shooting
night. West tallied 13 points and 7 rebounds but committed 7
turnovers. Carroll chipped in with 12 points.
The Hawks netted only 21 points in the second stanza. Pacific more
than enjoyed the ending to the game. To cap off the run, one Pacific
player bounced the ball off the backboard to a teammate for a
thunderous slam at the buzzer. It was arguably the biggest win for
the Tigers since a defeat of UNLV nearly 9 years ago. Coupled with
their win over Western Kentucky, Pacific wrapped up a good
non-conference win total.
The Hawks were a miserable 4-for-20 from beyond the arc. Consistently
an effective passing offense, Saint Joseph’s registered a mere 7
assists. Limiting Pacific to 62 points, the Hawks showed that teams
still can’t score on them. Scoring on their own, well that seems to
be turning into a problem.
Christian Maraker led Pacific with 17 points and 7 rebounds.
Demetrius Jackson added 15 points and 3 assists. Kemper had a
double-double, posting 14 points and 15 rebounds.
The polls won’t be kind to the Saint Joseph’s Hawks. They rarely ever
are unless you are a household name. Teams like Kansas, Kentucky, and
Maryland can lose a few games and not slip much. But teams not in a
BCS conference have little margin for error. However, redemption
could possibly be only a game away. A win against the Zags at their
boisterous home court could right the ship.
Only time will tell.
E-Mail the Author: