Saint Joseph’s fell to 0-3 on the season after a 77-81 loss to Drexel University. The Saint Joe’s Hawks will look to assess what went wrong as they prepare to face off against Villanova in the Holy War. The game is scheduled to tip off tonight at 9:00 pm EST on Fox Sports 1.
Saint Joe’s Was Very Rusty
Let’s face the facts. Saint Joe’s was coming off over a two week break due to a positive COVID-19 test within the organization. This break clearly had an effect on the performance of the team.
At one point, the Hawks found themselves down 26-40 in the first half. The team also shot 0-7 from beyond the three point line in the first half. In addition, many of the players on the roster looked lost on the defensive end. Look at the foul numbers in the first 20 minutes. Saint Joe’s was sloppy and every head fake they fell for ended in the refs calling a foul.
However, things did start to change by the second half. Thanks to Ryan Daly, Rahmir Moore, and Taylor Funk, Saint Joe’s found itself closing the gap between them and Drexel. The Hawks had the score within single digits by half time and were tied with their opponent five minutes into the second half.
While Saint Joe’s was able to tie up the game at one point, the Hawks simply had no energy left to close out the game. The most outstanding stat of the night was that the last field goal came at the 7:59 mark. Saint Joe’s would finish the final eight minutes by scoring exclusively at the free throw line.
How Can They Improve?
The first thing that went wrong for Saint Joe’s was the fact that Greg Foster Jr, and Cameron Brown were both out for the game.
The absence of Foster and Brown made an impact on the depth of the roster and it showed when they didn’t score a single basket for the final 8 minutes. Drexel had no problem cutting off Daly, Moore, and Hall at the lane all throughout the second half.
What’s worse is that Brown and Foster have been ruled out against Villanova and Tennessee, so it will be quite a sight when this team faces a legit defense. You thought getting to the rim against Drexel was painful, these next two games might be worse.
The other standout issue was the reliance on the three ball to start the game. As I said on my podcast the day before, Saint Joe’s needed to hit the lane and score at the rim to start this game. It would be an easy way for the team to find a rhythm after the hiatus.
For the first five minutes, Saint Joe’s did just that. Daly and Moore helped the Hawks grab an early lead with layups and jumpers. However, Saint Joe’s couldn’t stray too far from their “identity” and decided to revert back to three point shooting. In hindsight, this was a poor strategy considering that the Hawks shot 62% for two points and 16% from beyond three.
This may sound crazy, but maybe trying to have an exact 50/50 split between 2pt and 3pt shot attempts isn’t the answer.
What Does this Mean?
The loss against Drexel is the worst loss of Billy Lange’s tenure. Yes, Drexel was predicted to win Thursday’s game. But for Saint Joe’s fans, losing to Drexel isn’t an option. Drexel is not a basketball school. There is a reason they aren’t in the Big 5.
As I said in my season preview, this doesn’t have to be the year Coach Lange and the Hawks upset Kansas, Villanova, and Tennessee. What success looks like for a program that is still growing is beating the teams you are better than. Saint Joe’s is a better team than Drexel! You want Hawk Hill’s approval? Don’t lose to the school’s named Fordham, La Salle, or Drexel.
Saint Joe’s vs. Villanova Preview
Saint Joe’s next matchup will be against the #7 Villanova Wildcats in the “Holy War”. This is Saint Joe’s most anticipated game of the year. It is also the Hawks number one rivalry game.
Currently Saint Joe’s is a heavy under dogs. I expect the team to put up a fight. However, Villanova should take control by the second half, win the game, and avoid any drama.