PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The St. Joseph’s University Hawks have hit the ground running this season.
Phil Martelli’s squad is 4-1 on the season as they prepare to host Big 5 rival Villanova on Tuesday night.
“Since we gathered in August with this team, I’ve had a sense that good things could happen and would happen if we kind of followed a plan,” Martelli tells KYW Newsradio. “To the player’s credit, they’ve been great to deal with, easy to coach and they all have the desire to be a great teammate. So success comes from having a good team, obviously, but the fact that they’re good people really adds to everyone’s enjoyment.”
Listen to the entire interview with St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli:
The Hawks feature one of the most dynamic players in the country in junior forward DeAndre’ Bembry. He led the Atlantic 10 in scoring last season and was first-team All-Atlantic 10 and All-Big Five. He played nearly 39 minutes a game and also led the team in rebounds, assists and steals. This season, Bembry is getting a lot of help from his teammates.
“We have a balanced team,” Martelli says. “And I think because we have a lot of guys doing a little bit, DeAndre’ Bembry can do less and therefore I think he can be better than even he was last year.”
Through five games, Bembry is averaging 14.0 points and 6.4 rebounds a game, good for second on the team in both categories behind forward Isaiah Miles (17.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg).
“Isaiah Miles is having a great start to his senior year,” Martelli says. “A lot of hard work in the summer is paying off.
“(Sophomore) Shavar Newkirk and (freshman) Lamarr Kimble are doing a great job at the point guard,” Martelli adds. “But that goes down the roster, that goes to guys that people haven’t seen yet, (freshman guard) Chris Clover and (sophomore forward) Jai Williams and (junior forward) Javon Baumann, they’ve all improved.”
On Tuesday night at Hagan Arena, the Hawks will take on a Villanova team that has been very impressive here in the early going. The Wildcats are 6-0 after winning the NIT Season Tipoff title on Friday with a 69-52 win over Georgia Tech in Brooklyn. Martelli talks about what jumps out at him when he watches the Wildcats.
“The joy with which they play,” Martelli says. “It’s a cliche to say that they play hard, but (Villanova head coach) Jay (Wright)’s group plays so well together. They play smart basketball and they certainly play hard and they come at you at every position.”
Last season these teams played on the Main Line, Villanova cruising to an easy, 74-46 win.
Tuesday night’s game will tip-off at 7:00 p.m.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.