St Joe's Preview

By Steve DiMiceli

As we enter the A-10 season, I think it's time to focus a little more on our opponents. First up is a very tough St Joe's team. I rated them 6th preseason and the Yuku staff rated them 8th overall. Right now, they are looking like a likely top 4 finisher, and a solid bet for the NIT if not better.

The Hawks have the 38th best RPI in the country. They're 10-4 and have played the 45th hardest schedule so far. They have quality wins against Creighton and Vilanova at home but they've struggled on the road including a loss at American. In their most recent game, they fell to Harvard after holding a 10 point lead the half. Phil Martelli has his young squad playing responsibly with a PG turning the ball over and fouling very infrequently, two of the trademarks of his successful early 2000's teams. Sophomore Langston Galloway is averaging a stellar .8 turnovers per game.

This will be a difficult but winnable game for the Dukes who will be without senior leader BJ Montiero due to some South Side hooliganism. He's out the next two contests for sure with a cut on his chin and left hand and could be out for a total of two weeks.   Montiero is coming off two of his finest games as a Duke, but his absence may actually help Duquesne match up better with St Joe's. One of the most surprising factoids about the 2011-2012 Dukes is that they are currently 6th in the nation in shooting inside the 3 point arc. That's right the Dukes with no true center and blow at least two to three make-able lay ups a game are among the best in the nation scoring around the hoop.  Problem is, the St Joe's Hawks led by CJ Aiken have the 16th best interior defense in Division 1. If the A-10 ever allowed underclassmen to win conference awards, Aiken would win the next 3 D-POY's. Like any good yinzer, I understand that you take defense over offense every day so the Dukes are likely to have a hard time scoring inside. St Joe's three point defense on the other hand is mediocre. With BJ out of the lineup , the Dukes will lose a fine interior scorer who would likely struggle taking on Aiken  one on one anyway with two players who are better 3 point shooters in Jerry Jones and Kadeem Pantophlet.

3 point shooting will be a key for the Dukes tomorrow if they hope to win. So will pressuring the right people. Galloway is the wrong bet to focus on to create turnovers. In the A-10 tournament last year, he had 6 assists and one turnover against us. If we sell out against him and miss, he will find someone and likely won't cough it up too much anyway. Carl Jones and Aiken on the other hand are fair game. They turned it over against us a combined 14 times in two games against us last year. They will need to compensate by taking care of the ball themselves and getting offensive boards. Neither should be all that difficult. The Hawks are 290 in turnovers forced and 306th in offensive boards allowed likely because Aiken tries to block everything. St Joe's is a great shooting team. The Dukes are going to need to defend, defend, defend.

 I think the Dukes will leave this one knowing they had opportunities to win but will come up 3 points short. Really hope I'm wrong.