As we count down the days to the start of the 2018-19 season, A10 Talk will be bringing you its preseason power rankings, as voted on by its team of writers. We continue the countdown with #T2 Saint Joseph’s Hawks.
Returnees to Watch
If there’s one thing the Hawks haven’t been able to find these past two seasons, it’s luck. Lamarr Kimble will be back in action, having played just one game since February, 2017; he’s suffered two season-ending injuries and will embark on his redshirt junior year with Saint Joseph’s. Charlie Brown also missed all of last season due to a nagging injury that he never fully recovered from; hence, Brown took a redshirt year but is now expected to be one of the best scorers in the league. Despite catching the injury bug yet again in 2017-18, the Hawks managed pretty well, snagging the 4 seed in the A-10 Tournament and even putting a whooping on Rhode Island on the road toward the end of the season. SJU returns quite a few pivotal pieces from that squad, but James Demery and Shavar Newkirk are going to be hard to replace. Taylor Funk comes back after an impressive freshman year that saw him shoot the lights out in his first few games. Chris Clover is back after averaging 8.2 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a junior. Look for him to make a big impact. Pierfrancesco Oliva and Anthony Longpre will be pivotal frontcourt players this year, as the Hawks lack depth down low despite having plenty of options at the top of the key.
Newcomers to Watch
Jared Bynum will be the feature newcomer for the Hawks; he’s a proven scorer and passer from Georgetown Prep and should see plenty of minutes in the backcourt despite being just a freshman. Troy Holston is a grad transfer from USF with 2 years of eligibility remaining for the Hawks. He has a history of injury, but he scored nearly 10 PPG two seasons ago with the Bulls and should be a nice scoring addition as well as a guy who can make three pointers for SJU. While Bynum and Holston should certainly play a role for Saint Joseph’s this year, the key “newcomers” are the guys coming back from injury.
Games to Watch
Saint Joseph’s schedule is no walk in the park. The Hawks open the season with Old Dominion and Monmouth at home — two opponents that could cause issues if you’re not careful. They’ll follow that up with a neutral matchup against Wake Forest in the Myrtle Beach Invitational. Depending on how the Hawks fare, they could end up playing UCF and West Virginia that weekend. SJU also gets Temple at home, Loyola Chicago at the Palestra, and Princeton, William & Mary, and Villanova on the road. Needless to say, the Hawks will get adequately tested prior to opening conference play at home against George Mason.
It’s a new season for the Hawks, and that’s a relieving feeling for those who have had to deal with the frustrating realities of countless injuries. Knock on wood, the Hawks should stay healthy this season and compete for the crown in the Atlantic 10 conference. How they play in the non-conference slate of their schedule will be pivotal. The Atlantic 10 has managed to sneak 3+ teams into the NCAA Tournament for as long as I can remember, but unless the league is winning crucial games out-of-conference, that might be a difficult feat in 2018-19. SJU is certainly a team that has a chance at going dancing.