Saint Joseph’s managed to snap an 8 game losing streak at home against William & Mary before a two-week break. The Hawks were the first to finish their non-conference slate and enter league play 3-9. They’ll open up conference play with a tough couple of games — on the road against Richmond and at home against Dayton.
Despite only picking up 3 wins, one of them was enormous. SJU walked into Connecticut’s house and beat the Huskies 96-87 after knocking down 13 threes. Unfortunately, this is less of a “good win” for SJU as it is a “bad loss” for UConn, but the Hawks can smile knowing Connecticut could be left out of the NCAA Tournament because of that loss. A win over Bradley at home was also nice (the Braves currently rank 120th in Kenpom). Once the Hawks started dealing with injuries, it was apparent this is a young squad that has some work to do. Still, those 2 wins were hopefully a glimpse into the future under Billy Lange and what he might be able to do.
The Hawks had 2 pretty poor losses at home, and they came back-to-back against St. Francis PA and Lafayette. All of Saint Joseph’s opponents rank higher than the Hawks do in Kenpom right now, so it’s not like any of these losses were horrible considering the strength of this team. Still, you’d expect any A-10 team (maybe not Fordham) to take care of the cupcakes at home. Again, it’s a rebuilding year, so you can’t expect a ton. I would have been pretty indifferent with the Hawks’ overall performance had they not lost these 2 games, but you can’t expect a ton from this team.
Looking Ahead to Conference Play
The Hawks will struggle in league play. They’ll be the favorites in one game (currently), and it’s at home against Fordham. Kenpom projects the Hawks to win 7 games in league play, but I think that’s generous. It’d be nice for the program if Saint Joseph’s manages to pull off a few upsets, but it’d also be tragic for the league’s chances of getting a few teams in the NCAA Tournament. Saint Joseph’s will be a landmine whenever it faces a school in the top half of the league. Essentially, this team has nothing to lose; the goal should be staying out of the bottom 4.
Non-Conference Grade: C
I’m giving the Hawks a C because of a redeeming win over Connecticut and because they actually played a pretty tough schedule with a young roster. The first few games of the season felt like an A, and the recent losing streak with home losses to Lafayette and St. Francis P.A. felt more like an F. Let’s settle somewhere in the middle.