By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – St. Joe’s will be looking to shake off a disappointing Wednesday night loss to Richmond on Saturday when they host #22 Temple at Hagan Arena in a key Atlantic 10 and Big 5 match-up.
The 18-11 Hawks fell to the Spiders 52-49. This came just three weeks after the Hawks went down to Richmond and beat the Spiders on their home floor 70-60. Head coach Phil Martelli talks about what changed from one match-up to the next.
“Richmond made an adjustment defensively, they came after the ball in a much more aggressive fashion than they did (in the first game). That’s to their credit. We didn’t make the necessary adjustment on the floor, on the sideline. I also thought that Richmond played a little bit longer on offense than they had when we played them down there in Virginia. They kept the ball and kind of slowed everything down, so that they were going to dictate that it was going to be a 55-point game. That’s not to our strength.”
So now the Hawks get ready to face the red hot Temple Owls. Winners of eleven-straight, 22-5 Temple is ranked 22nd in the country and they are coming off that thrilling 80-79 overtime win at La Salle on Wednesday night. Martelli talks about moving past the loss to the Spiders and on to the Owls.
“I think there is two things at work here. One, the deflation that comes with losing as we did on Wednesday night. But we also have to acknowledge the fact that when we went to Temple (January 28th) we weren’t really competitive in that game. So everything has to be at a much sharper level.”
Temple won that first game 78-60. Martelli says this is a very talented Owl team that is made even more difficult to deal with given the strong return of forward Michael Eric from that patella injury.
“You can say it’s pick your poison, because Ramone Moore’s averaging (18 points), and Khalif Wyatt’s averaging (17points) and Juan Fernandez, in our last game, had 17 points. Juan Fernandez the other night against La Salle, 0-4 from the field, two foul shots and in my opinion was the most valuable player on the floor. He put the ball into Khalif Wyatt’s comfort zone, Ramone Moore’s comfort zone.”
Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s interview with Phil Martelli:
Fernandez finished with seven assists against La Salle.
Temple is leading the Atlantic 10 with an 11-2 league mark, while the Hawks are 8-6 in A-10 action. This game will also decide the Big 5 title – Temple wins it outright with a victory (currently 3-0) while St. Joe’s would share the championship with the Owls with a win (2-1 so far).
St. Joe’s and Temple will tip-off at 7:00pm on Saturday night.