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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

A Minute with McCloskey: Injuries and poor player performance leads to Hawk basketball struggles

A+Minute+with+McCloskey%3A+Injuries+and+poor+player+performance+leads+to+Hawk+basketball+struggles

I entered Michael J. ’85 Hagan Arena on Feb. 8 with a new outlook on the St. Joe’s men’s basketball season.

With a monstrous 30-point victory over Saint Louis University where redshirt sophomore forward Charlie Brown scored 28 points, freshman guard Jared Bynum scored 20 points, senior guard Chris Clover scored 15 points and redshirt sophomore forward Lorenzo Edwards scored 11 points, I had high hopes for the rest of the season.

In the Feb. 12 game against St. Bonaventure, my high hopes came speeding to a halt once again in what has been a rollercoaster season for the Hawks. A 25-point defeat by a struggling St. Bonaventure team has led me to question what has gone wrong for the Hawks this season.

Senior guard Chris Clover drives in the paint against Davidson University on Jan. 15. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

I have two theories as to why they have struggled: Injuries and poor player effort and performance.

It is no secret that the Hawks have had challenges with injuries this season. Redshirt junior guard Lamarr Kimble is out indefinitely with a wrist injury. Redshirt junior forward Pierfrancesco Oliva had a season-ending injury against Duquesne University on Jan. 1. Sophomore forward Anthony Longpre returned on Feb. 12 from a four-week stint in concussion protocol. Redshirt senior forward Markell Lodge sustained a season-ending thumb injury on Feb. 8 against Saint Louis.

As the slew of injuries began to put more players out of our lineup than we have on the bench, it is plausible to pin the Hawks’ struggles on this misfortune.

However, there are certain obstacles preventing me from proclaiming this theory the sole reason that the Hawks have struggled to stay in the race for the Atlantic 10 Conference title.

In Kimble’s absence, Bynum has stepped up as a team leader, effectively taking the torch from Kimble and running the offense for the Hawks. In the absence of Oliva and Longpre, Lodge and  Edwards stepped into the role of big men for the Hawks, locking down the defense and providing offense at the necessary moments.

While yes, it very likely could be the injuries that have caused the second-seeded team in the A-10 preseason rankings to be 11th place, it may also be something else, player performance. Many are afraid to state: player performance.

In the Hawks’ loss to St. Bonaventure, they shot 16-for-55 from the field for a total field goal percentage of 29.1 percent, tying the worst field goal percentage for the Hawks this season. The other 29.1 percent field goal game also came against the Bonnies, this time on Jan. 9.

Lamarr Kimble makes a play on the basket against Old Dominion University. PHOTO: LUKE MALANGA ’20

During that game, I witnessed a lack of hustle and game awareness from the Hawks. In the first half, the Bonnies went on a 23-6 run. I watched as every Hawk walked into the locker room at half time with their heads down.

Coming out of the locker room for the second half, the Hawks’ heads were up again and looked ready to mount a comeback. When shots stopped falling in the second half, I watched as players began to lose confidence in themselves and their shot once again.

Passes were few and far between. It seemed as though every player on the Hawks was playing for themselves rather than the name on the front of their jersey. Every fan in Hagan watched the confidence drain from the faces of the players. It was not the same Hawk team I have come to love.

I want to believe that the Hawks will turn this season around and find a way to enter the A-10 tournament in a position to make a run for the title.

I just hope the players and coaching staff believe in themselves even half as much as I am trying to believe in them.

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