A year ago big things were expected of Saint Joseph’s and they did not deliver. This year, the expectations were tempered a bit and the Hawks responded in a memorable manner.
Saint Joseph’s defeated VCU 65-61 to capture the Atlantic 10 Title at the Barclays Center on Sunday. For the second straight year, VCU is the tournament runner-up. Last March the Rams were defeated by Saint Louis in the conference championship.
The pace of the game was in Saint Joseph’s favor – a 64-possessions affair, more at a deliberate tempo rather than full-court, high-speed. The latter is the type VCU enjoys to impose their will of HAVOC, especially on the defensive end. Offensive efficiency saw Saint Joseph’s with a 102 while holding VCU to 95.
VCU forced the Hawks into a 19 percent TO rate. That is below the Rams’ average of 23 percent this season. A big difference was the 54 percent eFG percentage of Saint Joseph’s. The Hawks shot 35 percent from three (6 of 17), with Langston Galloway burying five treys en route to a game-high 19 points.
The Hawks went on a late season tear, winning 10 of 13 from February 1. Phil Martelli’s club takes a three-game win streak and Atlantic Ten championship into their NCAA Tournament second round matchup against UConn.
Saint Joseph’s forward Halil Kanacevic, following a big game in a semifinal win over St. Bonaventure, was asked about talk regarding being on the bubble. “We don’t talk about that stuff,” Kanacevic said. “We stay together as a team, listen to our coaches and just focus on winning.” On Sunday the Hawks ended any need to discuss status on the bubble.
How did the Hawks get ready for VCU after their semifinal win? “We would meet as a team (Saturday night) about 8:30 and watch film,” Martelli said. “Then stay off our feet try to get rest. The next morning, go through an 8 a.m. walk through (the final was at 1 p.m.) in the hotel ballroom.”
- Despite the semifinal loss to Saint Joseph’s, it was an 18-win season for St. Bonaventure. There was no postseason selection, but coach Mark Schmidt was proud of the accomplishments. On Twitter, Schmidt complimented the seniors for being a big part of the 2012 Atlantic 10 title team and contributing to build a strong foundation for the future. Schmidt added, “you will always be part of the Bona family.”
- The VCU win over George Washington saw a margin of 19 points. That number was deceptive. “They had us on our heels early,” said VCU coach Shaka Smart. “We kept telling our guys to stay aggressive.” They did, putting away the 74-55 decision with a significant 21-8 run the final eight minutes.
- The A-10 wound up getting a record six teams in the NCAA field. Automatic qualifier Saint Joseph’s was joined by VCU, Saint Louis, George Washington, UMass and Dayton.