By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – These are good days on Hawk Hill for Cindy Griffin and the St. Joe’s women’s basketball team.

The Hawks sit at 12-5 on the season and 3-0 in the Atlantic 10 as they get ready to host St. Bonaventure tomorrow afternoon.

Not bad for a team that had a lot of holes to fill coming into the season.

“We lost a lot from last year’s team,” St. Joe’s head coach Cindy Griffin tells KYW Newsradio.  “We had four seniors that contributed a lot of minutes and a lot of points.  But I knew with the transfer sitting out, that we had a lot coming back and we were going to maybe surprise some people.  But I think we are where we should be.”

That transfer is redshirt senior Chatilla van Grinsven, who came to Hawk Hill from Colorado State.

Cindy Griffin (credit: St. Joseph's Athletics)

Cindy Griffin (credit: St. Joseph’s Athletics)

“She’s done an unbelievable job on the block, scoring and also facing up,” Griffin says.  “And the one area she’s really helped us is rebounding.  She’s averaging a double-double and she’s helped us tremendously.”

A 6’3″ native of the Netherlands, van Grinsven checks in at 14.8 points and 10.2 rebounds a game.  But Griffin says their list of standouts doesn’t stop there.

“From the outside, you have to talk about Erin Shields our second leading scorer who can drain it from downtown,” Griffin says.  “And she can also go off the dribble.  She’s smart, she’s savvy.  She really causes problems for the perimeter, and it really stretches out the floor for Chat.  And then our player that’s very versatile is Natasha Cloud.  She’s done an unbelievable job with her perimeter defense, her court vision, her strength and her ability to push the ball up the floor and play one through four for us.”

A junior, Shields is an Archbishop Carroll product who averages 11.6 points a game and shoots 39% from three-point land.  Cloud is a junior who played her high school ball at Cardinal O’Hara.  She scores 9.4 points a game, pulls down five rebounds a contest and leads the team in assists with 75, and steals with 31.

While the 3-0 start in A-10 play is critical, the win at the top of the resume for this squad is that 50-49 shocker over then-#5 Maryland at Hagan Arena back on November 17th.

“It was huge,” Griffin says.  “Coming into the season, you’re preseason ranked sixth out of sixteen teams this year in the Atlantic 10, so this team had a lot to prove.  But winning against a top-five opponent on your home floor, early in the season, is just a great confidence booster and it proved that if you stick with the game plan and do what you’re supposed to do and believe that you can do it, good things will happen.”

Despite the big wins and the impressive record, Griffin says they haven’t reached their full potential yet.

“I go into every practice and say, ‘We need to get better at this, we need to get better at that, we’re not as good at this anymore,'” Griffin says.  “I’m very happy with where we are, but I do think there is a lot of room for improvement.  We can be better rebounders, we can dominate a little bit more in that end.  We can shoot a little bit better from the inside, we can shoot a little bit better from the outside.  We can hold opponents ten below their average.  There’s areas that we need to improve on, for sure.”

Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Cindy Griffin:

Griffin’s Hawks will get a chance to do that tomorrow afternoon at 2:00pm at Hagan Arena against the Bonnies.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.

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