The 2015-16 college basketball season is just around the corner. In honor of the Flyers winning 53 games the last two seasons (and because I couldn’t come up with 2,015 reasons), I’m counting down 53 reasons (in no particular order) to look forward to the season.
Follow the blog between now and the season opener against Southeast Missouri State on Nov. 13. I will have four to five updates per week.
I’ll post links on Twitter (@DavidPJablonski) and on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DavidPatrickJablonski.
No. 19: St. Joseph’s game
The best and worst mascot in the A-10 is the Hawk. It’s the only mascot in the A-10 that travels to away games. Everybody outside St. Joe’s hates its haphazard, wing-flapping sprints around the court. I think that’s the point, though. You’re not supposed to like the opposing mascot (not even the creepy Billiken), so long live the Hawk, I guess. As they say at St. Joe’s, the Hawk will never die.
The basketball Hawks suffered a sharp fall in 2014-15 a year after beating the Flyers three times and winning the A-10 tournament. They lost one of the A-10’s best players, Langston Galloway, but still had one of the A-10’s best, DeAndre Bembry. It wasn’t enough. St. Joseph’s finished 24-10 two seasons ago and slipped to 13-18 last season, finishing second to last in the A-1o in scoring (61.8 points per game) and ranking last in the conference in field-goal percentage (40.4).
The Flyers play at St. Joseph’s on Feb. 17 this season. I picked the Hawks to finish ninth in the A-10.
A Sports Illustrated writer predicts an eighth-place finish for St. Joe’s but raves about Bembry:
In his first two college seasons, Bembry, a 6’7″ forward, has risen to stardom. He’s a stat-sheet stuffer who contributes all over the floor and scores inside and out, averaging 17.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.9 steals and nearly one block last season. Bembry, now a highly regarded NBA prospect, remains the focal point of the Hawks’ approach, and no player in the conference shoulders more of a load.
The A-10 Talk blog also picks the Hawks eighth.
Phil Martelli’s squad finished 10th last season but should benefit by massive turnover at UMass and La Salle, two teams that finished ahead of them. SJU was a roller coaster ride last season, beating Davidson only to suffer a loss to SLU immediately after, a head-scratching trend they would later repeat by upsetting Rhode Island before losing to Fordham in their following game.
The Hawks return four of their top five scorers: Bembry (17.7); Isaiah Miles (10.7); Aaron Brown (9.3); and James Demery (6.7). Among their newcomers are two freshmen from Philadelphia: Lamarr Kimble and Chris Clover.
Speaking of the two freshmen, coach Phil Martelli told the City of Basketball Love blog, “Sometimes when you have local kids, they can be distracted because their friends come to watch practice or they want to come to the dorm and hang out, or they want to run home for their girlfriend’s birthday and then they’re late for something. These two, they’re beyond their years and they’re both playing very well.”