By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The St. Joe’s Hawks will be quite busy this Thanksgiving weekend, as they take part in the Old Spice Classic down in Orlando, Florida.
The Hawks will open play against LSU on Thursday night.
St. Joe’s is 2-1 here in the early going.
“I’m really pleased with this team,” St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli tells KYW Newsradio. “They have a terrific work ethic, they really have bonded together. I think that really started in the summer, when we prepared for our trip to Italy and played four games over there.”
Now the Hawks have been idle from game action since November 16th, when they lost a heartbreaker to now #20 Creighton, 83-79.
“Now we have to rebound,” Martelli says. “We’re coming off a dissapointment, losing a home game, and really losing a possesion game. The players response in practice has been good, we’ve been focused on improving our defense and also getting them the proper rest that they are going to need, because now we play 5 games in 12 days.”
The first of those games is the match-up with LSU. The Tigers are 3-1 here in the early going.
“They have tremendous size,” Martelli says. “They have a first-round draft pick in a kid named Johnny O’Bryant (junior forward). They have a nationally ranked recruiting class. They have started as many as three freshmen in some of their games.”
Martelli says his team will have to work hard to make sure the Tigers don’t get multiple looks at the basket.
“The thing that is of the most concern is their rebounding,” Martelli says. “They’ve had offensive rebound games of 25, 27, and if they are allowed to pound the glass, then that means foul trouble for our bigs, where we are a little bit thin. It won’t be a pleasant Thanksgiving if that happens.”
The field for this tournament is a real good one. In addition to the Hawks and Tigers, it features #5 Oklahoma State, #21 Memphis, Butler, Purdue, Siena and Washington State.
The winner of St. Joe’s/LSU gets the winner of Memphis/Siena on Friday. Hawks will play their final game in Orlando on Sunday.
St. Joe’s and LSU slated to tip-off at 8:30pm on Thursday night.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.