PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Over the last 16 games. St. Joseph’s has lost just two times. The second defeat took place last Wednesday on Hawk Hill.
After falling to St. Bonaventure, 83-73, at Hagan Arena, the Hawks will look to rebound on Saturday with a road game at Fordham. Phil Martelli’s squad has yet to lose two games in a row this season, and the Hawks head coach says the team has already dissected its loss to the Bonnies and is ready to move on to the next challenge.
“We have to look at the man in the mirror and say we got beat by a better team on Wednesday,” said Martelli. “We had to accept it, just like we accepted the fact that we were better than other teams for a long stretch of time and get back at it.”
The Hawks have actually felt at home on the road all season. St. Joseph’s has a 7-0 road record and is the only team in Division I Men’s Basketball with a perfect record away from home. Martelli believe his team’s preparation is a big reason why they aren’t intimidated playing in a hostile environment.
“Emotional stability,” Martelli said. “They go and they play. They listen. They prepare properly. They know how to rest on the road, and we’ve been the better team in a lot of those cases. We’re hoping to take that as a badge of honor.”
DeAndre Bembry continues to lead the way for the Hawks. Bembry is averaging 17.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. The junior forward believes the team learned a lesson last Wednesday and is confident the Hawks will be able to bounce back this weekend.
“It proves that we still need to get better,” said Bembry. “We let our guard down defensively. That’s not how we play defense this year. It’s something that we know we need to work on, and that’s something that we’ve been doing the past two days.”
St. Joseph’s has nine games remaining before the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Now that the calendar has turned to February, the discussion of an NCAA Tournament birth has begun with teams across the country. At 18-4, the Hawks have already put together an impressive resume, but Bembry insists their main focus now is to excel in conference play.
“Of course we think about it,” Bembry said. “But the season’s going to be over and the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament is about to come. That’s the first thing we’re worried about. We’re worried about trying to get as many wins as we can now so when the conference tournament starts, we can be ranked and get a couple of byes.”
Martelli agrees with Bembry when it comes to the Hawks’ mentality. There will be time to dissect NCAA possibilities. For now, the focus is on the conference.
“The second half of the Atlantic 10 Season starts,” said Martelli. “How did we do? We came in third. Are we okay with third? Marco Rubio was okay with third the other night, but we’re not okay with third. We’re going to move forward striving to be the best team in the league.”