Saint Joe’s showed a ton of promise in their Thanksgiving 96-91 overtime loss to Auburn. The Hawks kept up with the Auburn Tigers for over 60 minutes of play. But in the end, Auburn proved to be too much for the Hawks and took the win in overtime.
Auburn was Bigger
Saint Joe’s had a better FG% and 3pt% throughout the entire game. What gave Auburn the edge over Saint Joe’s was fouls and rebounding. Auburn had 43 free throws to Saint Joes’ 23. In addition, the Tigers had over 19 more rebounds than the Hawks.
Unfortunately, both stats are tied to the size difference between the two teams. Without size, Saint Joe’s found itself swiping at the ball more than they needed too. In addition, the lack of size meant that Saint Joe’s spent more effort trying to double guys near the rim rather than grabbing rebounds.
Even though Saint Joe’s saw itself losing to Auburn, there is still much to be excited about. Taylor Funk played up to par with all the rumors. Forrest flashed some of his shooting skills one game into his career on Hawk Hill. Finally, Bishop and Daly carried the offensive load for the starting rotation.
Taylor Funk is GOOD
Taylor Funk proved that all the rumors around his improvement were true. First, Funk grabbed the crucial rebound off a Daly free throw. After quickly scoring off the aforementioned rebound, Funk found himself hitting a crucial breakaway layup with 38 seconds in regulation.
In addition to making game changing plays, Funk proved that he can be a consistent source of scoring for Saint Joe’s. Funk flashed both his three point and screening ability today. His capacity to screen and roll to the rim provided much needed interior scoring for Saint Joe’s. Multiple times Funk used his quickness to slip to the rim and score unattested.
Funk is leaner, faster, and more skilled than ever before! He led the Hawks in points thanks to his improved interior and exterior scoring. In the end, he established his role as a leader for this roster.
Welcome to Hawk Hill Jack Forrest!
Jack Forrest receiving a waiver may be the blessing in disguise for Saint Joe’s. The transfer sophomore put up impressive numbers from the bench. Forrest, who shot 5-9 from the field, demonstrated that he can score from all over the court.
While fouling out of the game was not ideal, it was understandable given the way the refs were calling the game in favor of Auburn. Moving forward, Forrest needs to show that he can stay on the court for longer. The Hawks will need him out there if they want to continue playing this way!
Ryan Daly Missed when it Mattered
Ryan Daly is going to be the glue that keeps this roster going all season long. However, his missed free throws with a minute to go cost Saint Joe’s the opportunity to win the game in regulation. To see a returning veteran, and top A10 scorer from 2019, go 2 for 4 from the foul line in a big game is a hard pill to swallow. Daly had a chance to help put the Hawks up by more than a basket and came up short.
Look, Daly is going to be the rock of this offense. He hasn’t missed a beat from last year and helped Saint Joe’s climb back multiple times tonight. While he did miss the big shot, Saint Joe’s would not have been in a position to win without him. Yes, fans should expect a returning senior and leading scorer to sink free throws when a game against Auburn is on the line. Yet, I am not willing to hang a loss on someone who plays as hard as Daly did tonight.
The Big Picture
In the end, Saint Joe’s played above expectations. Yes, fans can be disappointed that Ryan Daly missed those important free throws. However, everyone, including Daly, did their part and gave Auburn a run for their money.
One game into the season and Saint Joe’s is on track to giving a lot of teams trouble. This isn’t the Saint Joe’s of 2019. This is a Saint Joe’s team with a real roster and a real chance to bring pride back to a school that needs it.
Be on the lookout for more of my coverage of Saint Joseph’s/Atlantic 10 basketball as the season approaches! Like the commentary and want more? Make sure to follow me on twitter @Jelly_Morelli and check out my podcast “Tony’s Takes” on Apple iTunes and YouTube.