By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – After an up-and-down, 17-12 regular season, the St. Joe’s Hawks now focus on the Atlantic 10 Tournament. St. Joe’s is the #10 seed and they will open things up on Thursday night in Brooklyn against the #7 seed Xavier.
“To be honest with you I look at the regular season in the rearview mirror,” St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli tells KYW Newsradio. “It is what it was and the only thing that we take is the Charlotte game (last regular season game on 3/9 – 52-40 road loss), in which, as a Division I team, we scored 40 points. Obviously, if we score 40 points in any of these Atlantic 10 games we’re going to be out and we’re going to be home worrying about the Phillies.”
St. Joe’s beat Xavier during the regular season, capturing a 59-49 decision at Hagan Arena back on January 26th. The Hawks will try to repeat some of the things they had success with in that game.
“They have a wonderful three-point shooter, Brad Redford. We were able to hold him 0-4,” Martelli says. “They have a young man who is an all-league player, Freshman of the Year, probably a unanimous Freshman of the Year, Semaj Christon. He took 21 shots to get (16) points. So that’s things that we have to repeat, or even do better if we can.”
Xavier went 17-13 during the regular season and they played pretty well down the stretch – upsetting St. Louis before losing a hard fought 67-62 decision to Butler in their regular season finale this past Saturday.
“Xavier, that program has been built on being competitive, being fierce, never taking a step back,” Martelli says. “If you’re going to get beat, somebody has to come through you to beat you. In the St. Louis game, they stood tall and every time they were banging bodies, there was a guy from St. Louis and a guy from Xavier. At Butler – banging bodies. So this is going to be a very physically challenging test for us because they are playing three big guys and they are really putting the ball on the backboard and just daring you to rebound with them.”
Not having a first-round bye means the Hawks will have to win four games in four days to win the tournament and earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. But Martelli says they are taking it one day at a time.
“Win on Thursday. That’s it,” Martelli says. “We can’t think about what it’s going to take to win four games in four days. All we can do is take care of the game that is front of us.”
The winner of St. Joe’s/Xavier will play the #2 seed VCU on Friday.
Thursday night’s first-round game is slated to tip-off at 6:30pm in Brooklyn.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.