I’m back with another installment of the “How Long Until We’re Back” series. This time, it is the St. Joseph’s University Hawks. “The Hawk Will Never Die” slogan has been the culture at Hawk Hill for as long as I can remember. As a fan for another A10 school (Dayton), I always questioned myself, “How in the world is this small school from Philadelphia always successful?” It seemed like yesterday I was back in school watching this team always give my Flyers problems, both at home and on the road, as well as in the A10 tournament. It became evident that having a long time coach even through dark times, developing talent, having an administration that cared about the success of the program, and having a loyal fanbase was the key to success in a mid-major program. Well, the time finally came for Phil Martelli to move on to greener pastures, which left St Joe’s in a state of uncertainty. Let’s examine the program as it stands now.
The Story So Far
St Joseph’s finished last season 14-19, 6-12 in conference play. It was one to forget, as many injuries compromised what could have been a good season for the Hawks. After the season, Martelli and the school parted ways and players transferred or went to the pros. In comes Billy Lange, who was serving as a coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, but had some previous college coaching experience with Navy. At Navy, Lange struggled a bit and only had two seasons where they finished over .500. So far this season, the Hawks are on their way to one of their worst seasons, if not the worst, in school history. The team is 4-14 overall and 0-5 in conference play. The Hawks do, however, have one of the best and craziest wins by a team in the A10 this season, winning at UConn. It looked like the team had something, but it turned out to be just a really good night for the Hawks and a terrible one for the Huskies.
Everyone by now should know about Ryan Daly. Daly, a transfer from Delaware, has been essentially the only offense for the Hawks so far. He might end up being on one of the all-conference teams at the end of the season. Along with Daly, St. Joe’s had a good player decide to stick with the team and not transfer in Taylor Funk. However, Funk has been out since the beginning of the year, which killed a lot of what Lange had to work with. Daly and Funk will be back next year for the Hawks. After Daly, Lange has employed a different set of starting lineups throughout the season, giving the notion that a lot of the young players are going to get minutes to learn and develop their game. Lorenzo Edwards and Anthony Longpre are the two junior big men who switch off starting. The only seniors on this team are Dennis Ashley and Toliver Freeman, who see little minutes and will open up a few scholarships next season for Lange. Toliver does start some games for the Hawks, but does not contribute a lot offensively.
St. Joseph’s does have a handful of freshmen and sophomores that have seen increased action due to the injury to Funk and lack of contributions by upperclassmen. Myles Douglas is their sophomore power forward that starts and averages 8.8 ppg. He is a key piece to the Hawks in the next two years and can become a good player if he continues to get better. Cameron Brown is a tall freshman small forward than averages 9.3 ppg as a starter. These two guys are going to have to be key pieces for St. Joe’s in the next two years. Rahmir Moore and Cheeref Knox are both freshmen that provide good contributions off the bench as well.
The transfer portal is where Bill Lange has done a tremendous job in his first year at St. Joe’s. First is Dahmir Bishop, a four-star shooting guard who is transferring from Xavier. He barely played at Xavier and is transferring back to his hometown of Philly. Next is Greg Foster, Jr., a point guard transfer from almighty Gonzaga. Foster was evaluated by ESPN as a four-star recruit. Both Bishop and Foster will have three years of eligibility remaining, although Bishop transferred at the end of the semester, so he will have to wait to be eligible to play until the 2021 spring semester. These two players are going to be huge next season for Bill Lange’s squad.
As for recruiting, Lange has gotten two commits for next season. Anton Jansson is a big man from Sweden that can shoot the three (gulp). He is an early arrival to campus this year and is practicing with the team, but he will start playing next season. As for a more traditional commitment, Lange got a LOI from Jordan Hall, a two-star small forward from Philly. Both Jansson and Hall will look to make good contributions as young players in their first season at St. Joe’s.
When Will The Hawks Be Back?
Believe it or not, but St. Joe’s can be back next year. Looking at this roster, the transfers, and the amount of young players contributing now as starters, I can see this team, at a maximum, finishing in the top 4 of the conference next season. Getting an at-large bid? Maybe too soon, but who knows with a program like St. Joseph’s. They have a supportive fanbase, a coach that knows the pros and apparently how to recruit highly-touted guys, and a great culture. For the NCAA tournament, they can make it if these transfers make an immediate impact next season, but I can see it in two years with Lange’s squad. They won’t have Daly in two years, but they will have a good squad still with Foster, Bishop, and their young players.
Next season, the team is bringing back another year of Ryan Daly and his 19.9 ppg, which actually leads the conference. Daly is going to get some help from Foster and Bishop as well. If guys like Edwards, Longpre, Moore, and Knox show improvement from the previous year, this team could be really deep next season. The pedigrees of Foster and Bishop are very high from when they were first recruited. If those players show up as the key contributors that they have the potential to be, this team is looking really good for Billy Lange next year. The Hawk may have been on its death bed this year, but it did not die. There are good days ahead on Hawk Hill.
Image courtesy of sjuhawks.com