By Ed Benkin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Last year, the St. Joseph’s Men’s Basketball Team won a total of 13 games. The Hawks can equal that total this season with just one more victory.
The improved Hawks will be on the road Wednesday night to face George Mason. St. Joseph’s is 12-3 overall, and 2-1 in conference play. It has been quite a turnaround for Phil Martelli’s squad so far this season, and the Hawks have already displayed their resilience. After a tough conference loss at home to VCU, the Hawks bounced back with a win over Rhode Island at Hagan Arena last Sunday. Martelli is hoping it is another indication of things to come for his squad.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that good things will happen,” said Martelli. “Not just because of Rhode Island and the result against Rhode Island, but because of the way that this team prepares. This team has given me everything that they have mentally, physically and emotionally in every practice since August.”
Forward DeAndre’ Bembry is once again enjoying a successful season, but the junior is getting plenty of help. Bembry is second is scoring on the team to Forward Isaiah Miles, who is averaging 17.7 points per contest. Miles knew the rest of the Hawks had to step up this season after Bembry was forced to carry the load for much of last year.
“He was kind of on an island by himself last year,” Miles said. “This year, I’m stepping it up. We have some key freshman who are doing their part. We have so many parts that even when DeAndre’ and myself aren’t having a good game, we have other pieces on the team that step up and do their part.”
The Hawks will face a young George Mason squad which appears to be rebuilding this season. However, Martelli and his players are well aware of the challenges they face against anybody in the Atlantic 10. The Patriots came close to knocking off Davidson over the weekend before falling by six points, so Martelli isn’t worried about his team taking George Mason lightly.
“You don’t know what to expect,” said Martelli. “They could be feeling great. They just played a wonderful game up at Davidson. I don’t have to convince my team. I’m interested in my team, making sure that we show up and we act like champions and play like champions.”
St. Joseph’s has already proven itself on its home court with a 6-2 record at Hagan Arena this season. Now, the Hawks will have to find a way to continue with their success on the road. St. Joseph’s picked up a conference win at Richmond on January 2nd. Road wins will not only boost the Hawks’ Atlantic 10 record, but will also help build their resume for the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s just like any other road game,” Miles said. “We normally pay attention that it’s a conference game. It will be tough on the road, but those are the ones that we need to get. Good teams win at home, but better teams win on the road.”