Top 50 Team Previews: #43 San Diego

Top 50 Team Previews: #43 San Diego

Nobody at the University of San Diego will forget this shot by De'Jon Jackson anytime soon. (NY Times)

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By Shaun Albin

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

St. Joseph's Hawks
Last Season: 21-13 (9-7)
Key Losses: Pat Calathes, Rob Ferguson
Head Coach: Phil Martelli

Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Darrin Govens 6-1 Jr.
SG: Tasheed Carr 6-4 Sr.
SF: Garrett Williamson 6-5 Jr.
PF: Idris Hilliard 6-6 So.
C: Ahmad Nivins 6-9 Sr.
Key Reserves: Chris Prescott 6-3 Fr. SG, Bryant Irwin 6-8 Fr. SF

The St. Joseph's Hawks want revenge. After losing the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship game to rival Temple, Phil Martelli's squad still received a berth in the NCAA tournament but lost in the first round to Oklahoma. A year later, the Hawks will be without Rob Ferguson and leading scorer Pat Calathes. Fortunately for St. Joe's, the Atlantic 10 will be much weaker this season and the Hawks have a legitimate chance to win the Atlantic 10.

If the Hawks want to get back to the NCAA tournament, Ahmad Nivins will absolutely have to have a great season. The 6-foot-9 senior averaged nearly 17 points and eight rebounds per game as a sophomore, but averaged just 14 and six last season. Nivins is certainly capable of being an elite player in the A-10, and Hawks fans will hope that he shows up to play this season. Nivins is a very good post scorer and can move well inside. It will also be up to his backcourt to get him the ball inside.

That backcourt, Tasheed Carr and Darrin Govens, is an experienced one. Carr transferred from Iowa State after his sophomore year. In his first season with St. Joe's, the 6-foot-4 Philadelphia native averaged about 11 points, six assists, four rebounds, and two steals per game. Govens, also a Philadelphia area native, is a 6-foot-1 junior point guard. Govens may not have the same playmaking abilities as Carr, but it will be up to Govens to make the offense flow.

Garrett Williamson has been a little disappointing thus far for St. Joe's fans. In two seasons, Williams has averaged just five points, three rebounds, and two assists per game. While he certainly needs to improve on the offensive end, Williamson has been stellar on the defensive end and has been considered the Hawks' defensive stopper on the perimeter. Williamson will be counted on a lot this year, so Hawks fans are hopeful that he will have improved his outside shooting. It appeared that Garrett was a better ball handler as a sophomore, but it seems that he lacks confidence on offense.

Idris Hilliard may not have contributed greatly as a freshman, but he will certainly be counted on as a sophomore. The 6-foot-6 small forward can handle the ball on the wing or play inside. His role will significantly increase on a Hawks team that will lack depth this year.

A pair of freshmen will be counted on to contribute immediately. Chris Prescott, a 6-foot-3 guard, will provide a scoring punch off the bench for the Hawks. Bryant Irwin, a 6-foot-8 small forward, is very long and athletic and will be needed to contribute in the frontcourt.

The 2008-09 St. Joseph's Hawks will rely heavily on players who have not played much or at all in the past. The incoming freshmen combined with players like Hilliard and senior Edwin Lashley will be counted on to play significant minutes and take some of the offensive pressure away from Carr, Govens and Nivins. Besides depth, the Hawks' biggest weakness will be rebounding. Nivins is the only decent rebounder returning to City Ave. He will be counted on to play 35-40 minutes every night. Besides Nivins, who will grab rebounds?

It is obvious that Carr, Govens and Nivins will all have to play well for the Hawks to compete with Xavier and Temple at the top of the A-10. More importantly, the Hawks have Martelli, so fans don't have to worry much. As long as Martelli is around, St. Joe's will always be one of the best in the A-10.

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