Halil Kanacevic may be St. Joseph's best player

Posted: February 28, 2011

Phil Martelli raised some eyebrows early last week when he said, almost in passing, that the best player for St. Joseph's was a young man who has yet to officially wear the Hawks' crimson and gray.

He was speaking of Halil Kanacevic, who is sitting out this season after transferring from Hofstra following his freshman year. Kanacevic may be just what the Hawks need next season - a brawny body who plays with an edge. He is 6-foot-8, 252 pounds, and by all accounts he rules the boards at just about every practice.

"He's going to help us out a lot next year," freshman guard Langston Galloway said of Kanacevic, who exhorts the Hawks from a seat on the bench at home games. "He's a big-time rebounder and post player. He has a lot of combo moves. He's going to be real good. He's a big, tough guy. He definitely pushes [freshmen] Ron [Roberts] and C.J. [Aiken] in practice with his physical play and bulkiness."

As a freshman, Kanacevic, a native of Staten Island, N.Y., led Hofstra with an average of 7.6 rebounds a game. He also scored 8.6 points a game. He left Hofstra because of a coaching change. He was recruited by Tom Pecora, but Pecora left Hofstra for Fordham and was succeeded by Tim Welsh, who was replaced by Mo Cassara before coaching a game for the Pride.

"Sometimes it's easy to be the best player when you're a transfer because there's no pressure," Martelli said. "But he's been our best player."

Hold that rung

St. Joe's win over St. Bonaventure and Charlotte's loss to Richmond left the Hawks in sole possession of 12th place in the Atlantic Ten, the last berth for the conference tourney. St. Joe's and Charlotte play Saturday in Charlotte, N.C., in a game that will likely decide which team goes to the tourney and which calls it a season.

The Hawks and 49ers each have two games remaining. Both will be decided underdogs in their next games - St. Joe's plays host to Richmond on Wednesday while Charlotte plays at Xavier.

Even though the Hawks probably will go into Charlotte a game ahead of the 49ers, they'll have to win because Charlotte holds the tiebreaker.

"The standings are like a ladder," Martelli said after Saturday's win. "[Saturday] it was seize the rung ahead of us, and let's see what can happen."

In memory

In a thoughtful gesture, Don DiJulia, St. Joe's director of athletics, gave a commemorative gift to the son of the late Phil Jasner, Andy, at Saturday's game.

Phil Jasner, longtime 76ers beat reporter for the Daily News, died in early December after a two-year bout with cancer. Jasner covered St. Joe's season opener at Hagan Arena on Nov. 12 in what turned out to be his final assignment. A copy of his story, along with a photo of Jasner at courtside, were framed and presented to his son.

Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or rparrillo@phillynews.com.

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