PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Any loss in college basketball is tough for a coach, but a loss in the NCAA Tournament is as tough as it gets.
Even though time may give enough perspective to be proud of the team’s accomplishments, the feeling of knowing that with that loss, the season is over, is tough to get over.
St. Joe’s Hawks coach Phil Martelli is feeling that way today.
After his team appeared to have Thursday night’s second round NCAA Tournament game against UConn in hand, the Hawks ended up losing in overtime. St. Joseph’s still had a great season, but it’s hard not to wonder ‘what if?’ the day after.
“The day after the last game is always the hardest day for me because I just wanted to coach them one more day and that could be selfish,” Martelli told the 94WIP Morning Show on Friday. “It could be seen as kind of a really selfish motive, but that’s all I want because I always believe there is a little bit more I can get out of them.”
After a 4-4 start, St. Joe’s got hot, and ended the season with a 24-10 record, and the national spotlight in an NCAA Tournament game. Still, the loss was tough for Martelli, who was very emotional during the interview.
“Those two seniors that had to go in and face the media, and we asked them if they wanted to do that, if they were up for it,” Martelli said. “Each of them in their own way, for one play in a 45 minute game, took unwarranted blame for the loss. I take that out of it. I take the fact out that the players at the end of the night thanked each other and took the time to think of the support staff, the managers, the strength people, and the assistant coaches. I take that out of it. This is the hardest day, like I’ve done this now 19 times at St. Joseph’s, I did it seven years as a high school coach.”
If the Hawks had won, they’d have face a familiar opponent on Saturday, the Villanova Wildcats, who got past the University Of Milwaukee-Wisconsin on Thursday.
“I sure hope that Villanova gets past Saturday. I feel pretty comfortable that they will and I’m hoping they’ll be playing in Madison Square Garden next week with a chance to go to the Final Four,” Martelli said.