By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The St. Joe’s Hawks will play their second of five straight home games on Saturday afternoon, hosting undefeated and 19th ranked Creighton at Hagan Arena.
The Hawks come into this game fresh off a win in the first game of this home run, when they held off Boston University on Wednesday, 75-68 (see game story).
This series of games on campus comes at a nice time for St. Joe’s. It will carry them through final exams and most of the holiday season. Head coach Phil Martelli says it’s also good news because the Hawks have been getting loads of support on Hawk Hill.
“Our student turnout for our exhibition game with Scranton, our home games with Penn State and Drexel and BU, it’s just been extraordinary,” Martelli tells KYW Newsradio. “Really has Hagan Arena alive.”
Hear Matt Leon’s full interview with Phil Martelli in this CBS Philly SportsPod…
Right-click to download podcast
The Hawks are 3-0 at home, with wins in every one of those aforementioned games.
But 7-0 Creighton will present the biggest challenge by far on the Hagan Arena slate to this point. Martelli talks about what makes this Missouri Valley Conference power so tough:
“Balance. Balance. Balance. They balance the game in that they run very hard at you offensively. They balance their game by their very aggressive guarding (of) the basketball. They balance the game by playing ten guys, only two of which average double figures. This is a team that is coming in averaging 87 points a game, but they only have two double-figure scorers.”
One of them is sophomore forward Doug McDermott. The 6’7″ son of the Blue Jays head coach Greg McDermott averages 23.7 points and 9 rebounds per game. Both figures lead the team.
The Hawks’ balance isn’t bad either, as they have four players averaging double figures — led by junior guard Carl Jones and his 18.3 points-per-game average. Sophomore forward CJ Aiken is third on the team in scoring at over 11 points per game, and he leads in rebounding at 5.8 per game.
Aiken is also critical to the Hawks defensively, as he leads the nation in blocked shots at five per game (45 total on the season).
St. Joe’s and Creighton have split eight all-time meetings, but the Blue Jays’ four wins have come in the last four games, including a 2010 matchup.
Tipoff at Hagan Arena is set for 12 noon on Saturday.