By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – St. Joe’s sits at 15-10 on the season (5-5 in the Atlantic 10) as they get ready to host UMass on Saturday night at Hagan Arena.
The Hawks are coming off a 72-60 loss to St. Louis on Wednesday night. In that game they fell behind 12-0 right off the bat, fought back to tie the game – even took a brief first-half lead- but then they couldn’t keep up with the Billikens who started to pull away in the second half.
Hawks head coach Phil Martelli says his team just was not razor sharp against SLU.
“What we showed the team on tape was, we didn’t respond defensively four different times when we got the game tied. We weren’t able to get a hold on the next play, or if we did get a hold we didn’t convert that. I’m very, very big with our team in grinding situations that we think this way - ‘You must get a score, and then you must get a stop. You must get a score and then you must get a stop.’ And we didn’t do that well enough on Wednesday night.”
Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s interview with Phil Martelli:
It doesn’t get any easier with UMass. The Minutemen are one of the surprise teams in the conference this year with an 18-6 record. Martelli says they really can score the basketball.
“This will be a very high paced game. They take very quick shots. They are playing very, very comfortably because of their 18-6 and 7-3 in the Atlantic 10 start. They are playing very loose, very comfortable and they are led by a point guard who plays, basically 75 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone.”
That point guard is sophomore Chaz Williams who leads UMass in scoring at 15.8 points per game, he also is tops in assists on the squad with 141. Martelli talks about trying to defend a veratile threat like him.
“We have to have all five guys involved. We’re going to say, when you look at the game notes, ‘Ok, who is going to guard him?’ My answer is we are all going to guard him. (Carl) ‘Tay’ Jones will have the original assignment on him, but everybody is going to be responsible to make sure that he puts the ball where we want it. If he puts the ball where they want it, which is in the middle of the lane, then chaos will ensue.”
This is the second meeting between these two teams this season. UMass won the first back on January 14th in Amherst 71-62. Williams led all scorers in that game with 22 points. Ron Roberts paced the Hawks with 16 off the bench.
St. Joe’s and UMass will tip-off at 7:00pm Saturday night at Hagan Arena.