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The Hawk News

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 voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

‘Nothing short of a championship mindset’

Nothing+short+of+a+championship+mindset

Looking ahead to the 2017-18 men’s basketball season

After a disappointing and injury-plagued 2016-17 season, the Hawks basketball season rests largely on the limbs of three individuals: sophomore Charlie Brown and junior Lamarr Kimble and senior Shavar Newkirk.

The Hawks were voted third in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll, but this coaching staff and roster has much higher aspirations for the upcoming season.

Phil Martelli, entering his 23rd season as head coach at St. Joe’s, talked about what his team could take away from last season’s disappointing results.

“We lost a lot of games and that we lost games that, by profile, we couldn’t lose,” Martelli said. “Fordham here, Saint Louis there, George Mason here. I’m most responsible. We weren’t good enough. But, there’s definitely a hunger in all of us, starting last spring, to get it right.”

Martelli did the best he could with the severely depleted roster he was left with last year. This season, all players have improved according to Martelli, and the roster has much more versatility than it had last season.

The level of success of the basketball program heavily hinges on the progression of Brown throughout the offseason.

Brown’s ceiling is incredibly high, and his intangibles are a major reason that ten NBA teams have come through Hawk Hill during the preseason. Martelli was very specific though that all the inquiries made by scouts must not diminish Brown’s focus as a player this season.

“The biggest thing for Charlie Brown is all of the noise,” Martelli said. “All of the noise must dissipate. He must be able to listen to one voice. Everyone wants to talk to him about being the next [to the NBA]. That’s not how it works.”

Brown has great length and the ability to be a knock down three-point shooter. But, he will need to get better defensively, improve his basketball IQ in certain situations and continue to grow stronger if he wants to continue progress as a player.

Brown suffered a fractured wrist and underwent surgery on Oct. 24. His current timetable is that he is 1-2 weeks away from taking part in full basketball activities. He has been dribbling with his left hand and is still putting up shots, but he’s excited to get back to full action.

When he gets back on the court Brown will look to prove that he is the best basketball player in Philadelphia

“My expectation for this season, first is getting back, but my second plan is I want to be the best player in the A-10,” Brown said. “And I’m not saying that cockily, but I feel like I can be and I’m going to be.”

Junior captain Kimble is coming off a season ending ankle injury that abruptly halted his 2016-17 season. He plans on using this injury as motivation to be the best player and teammate that he can be.

“It motivated me a lot,” Kimble said. “One, to just know that the game can be taken away from you at any moment. It’s definitely made me more hungry and humble coming into the year, just knowing that one: we ended off wrong and I wasn’t able to be there to help my teammates out and that was basically the big part. I had to come back and make sure I was ready for them.”

Kimble has high expectations for the Hawks this season.

“I have nothing short of a championship mindset this season,” Kimble said. “We’re trying to bring the title back here. That’s our goal.”

The Hawks have two incoming freshmen this season, forwards Taylor Funk and Anthony Longpré, who are ready to make an immediate impact. Funk and Longpré will add much needed length to this St. Joe’s roster. Both forwards have the ability to stretch the floor, and according to Martelli, will be used primarily in catch and shoot situations on the offensive side of the ball. The ability of both freshmen to shoot the three-ball will open up the entire offense and clear the paint area for guards to attack the basket.

“I feel like I’m going to play a good role,” Funk said. “[A] stretch four who’s going to knock down some threes.”

Funk also talked about what it was like playing with the two star guards Kimble and Newkirk.

“I’ve never played with point guards like them,” Funk said. “Their court awareness and scoring ability is unreal. I’m just enjoying it a lot.”

Newkirk suffered a torn ACL in the game against George Washington University last December, and has been constantly rehabilitating and slowly working his way back onto the court ever since.

“It put a smile on my face [to be back on the court],” Newkirk said. “Tuesday, [Oct. 31] was the first day I got to get out there. My coordination was a little off, but I’ll get it.”

Newkirk is a player that relies heavily on his quickness and agility. Going down with an ACL injury is always concerning for a player who relies so heavily on his speed and athletic abilities. But Newkirk said rather than losing agility, he has actually improved both his strength and speed after returning from his injury.

“No, I haven’t [lost any quickness], it’s still there,” Newkirk said. “I actually probably got a little quicker so that’s all it is, building it back up, getting stronger than what I was before.”

According to Martelli, the perimeter players of the rotation are set, but the forward spots are still unclear.

Senior James Demery is returning for his final season on Hawk Hill, and is feeling more confident about his game than ever before. He has improved on both ends of the court, and has been working hard to improve his jumpshot.

“I’ve taken major steps,” Demery said. “Offensively, I’m more consistent around the field goal area, three-pointers and two-pointers. Defensively, I’m smarter, knowing my position and angles to the basket. I’ve really grown in both aspects.”

Demery also mentioned the time he has dedicated to improving his jump shot and free throws throughout the offseason.

“I have been working on that [jump-shot and free throws] all summer,” Demery said. “Just making sure my form is right and keeping the consistency going, so that was a major point for me because I get fouled and go to the basket like eight times a game.”

As far as a possible lineup, Martelli was very non-committal on who he thought would get major minutes this season.

“Shavar, Fresh Kimble, Charlie Brown, Nick Robinson, Chris Clover, James Demery – all of those guys on the perimeter,” Martelli said. “Checco Oliva, Taylor Funk, Anthony Longpre,Lorenzo Edwards is banged up again. He was under consideration. Both of the big guys – Markell Lodge and Jai Williams – are still under consideration.”

Both Lodge and Williams are expected to hold down the interior game for the Hawks.

Preseason predictions contribute to expectations towards the start of every season. According to the A-10 Coaches Poll, the

Hawks are projected to finish third in the conference, but Martelli chooses to ignore those predictions.

“It doesn’t mean anything to me,” Martelli said. “The years we’ve been first, it didn’t change my motivation. I don’t talk to the players about it. It doesn’t move the needle at all – never has. For us as a program, we’ve been at the top and at the bottom and we’ve finished at the top and at the bottom. I would not label it as a success measure if at the end of the year we finished third. It wouldn’t be us meeting expectations. It’s not what we would be shooting for.”

The Hawks open the season at University Toledo on Nov. 11. The home opener at Hagan Area is against Princeton University on Nov. 18.

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