Win makes Martelli St. Joseph's winningest coach

Coach Phil Martelli waves to the fans after St. Joseph's victory over Morgan State.
Coach Phil Martelli waves to the fans after St. Joseph's victory over Morgan State. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: December 29, 2011

Phil Martelli has moved atop the St. Joseph's men's basketball coaching ranks, but, true to his nature, he's worried now only about the next one and not the previous 310.

Martelli became the school's all-time winningest coach with Wednesday's 81-50 victory over Morgan State (2-8) at Hagan Arena.

"I hope there are 310 more," Martelli said while addressing the crowd after being presented with the game ball.

With the victory, Martelli is 310-212 in his 17th season. He had shared the mark for career wins at St. Joseph's with Bill Ferguson, who was 309-208 from 1928 through 1953.

No doubt, to Martelli the number that is more important is 10 - the wins this season for the 10-3 Hawks.

After winning 11 games in each of the last two seasons, Martelli could match that total before 2012 arrives if the Hawks are able to win at dangerous Harvard on Saturday.

"I am delighted to get the number with this group and think it's a neat group," Martelli said. "In a lot of ways they have been knocked down the last two years, and they were genuinely excited for me, and it meant a lot for them to play in that game."

Hawks sophomore power forward Halil Kanacevic produced one of the most interesting lines, possibly in Martelli's career. Kanacevic had no points, 12 assists, 8 rebounds, and 7 blocked shots before fouling out late with 5 minutes, 12 seconds left in the game.

"It means everything to be part of this for coach," Kanacevic said. "He's a coach who doesn't just want you to excel on the court but off the court as a person, and he wants us to leave here as men."

St. Joseph's also blocked 17 shots, setting a single-game school record and breaking the mark of 16 set earlier this season in a 62-49 win over Drexel.

Martelli admitted that in later years he may take time to reflect on the record, one that shouldn't be taken lightly, especially with coaches that St. Joe's has produced.

The top three Hawks coaches, in terms of winning percentage, all eventually guided NBA teams. The group consists of Jack Ramsay, who at 234-72 (.765) owns the top winning percentage in school history, followed by Jim Lynam (65-28, .699) and Jack McKinney (144-77, .652).

Martelli's first win was a 64-56 triumph at Delaware on Dec. 2, 1995. He has guided the Hawks to five NCAA tournament appearances, including a trip to the Sweet 16 and another to the Elite Eight. Under Martelli, St. Joe's has also made four trips to the NIT, twice finishing as runner-up.

His postseason record is 17-9, including 6-5 in the NCAAs.

"I am not pushing this [record] to the side," Martelli said. "I am saying it's great, but this didn't end the season, and we didn't cut any nets, and let's go on to the next one, which should be a good one."


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com, or @sjnard on Twitter.

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