By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The St. Joe’s Hawks improved to 4-1 on the season Wednesday night as they beat American at Hagan Arena, 74-55.
Now the Hawks focus on a tough match-up Saturday when they travel to #11 Creighton.
The Hawks beat American without starting forward Halil Kanacevic, as he sat out with a back problem.
“Took us awhile to get use to the fact that we were playing without Halil,” St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli tells KYW Newsradio. “But we had a nice response. Four guys in double figures. We had an assist on 72% of our baskets, that’s good basketball, sharing the ball. We have to do a much better job defensively in the lane, which has usually been one of our strengths and it wasn’t one last night.”
Martelli talks about Kanacevic’s status going forward.
“He was a little bit better (Wednesday) than he had been Monday and Tuesday so he was improved,” Martelli says. “Now, whether it will be improved enough to get into a practice session and get his feet wet for a challenge against Creighton, we don’t know. But we will only make a decision based on his long term health and not just an immediate game.”
Creighton is 6-1, but the loss came Wednesday night as the Blue Jays were upset by Boise State, 83-70. Despite that defeat, Martelli says this is an outstanding team.
“The thing that jumps out when you look at the Creighton statistics is the shooting percentage,” Martelli says. “They are shooting 53% as a team, they have a number of guys shooting over 60%. They have a marvelous, marvelous player, first-team All-American, player of the year candidate in Doug McDermott. They run an awful lot of action through him, he gets a touch of the ball just about every time down the floor.”
McDermott is averaging 21 points and 7.3 rebounds a game so far this season for the Blue Jays.
Last season, St. Joe’s beat Creighton on Hawk Hill, 80-71, in December.
St. Joe’s and Creighton will tip-off at 6:00pm on Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.