St. Joe's junior captain Langston Galloway's game is as efficient as it is understated. He had a game-high 20 points on just nine shots against the Bulldogs. His defense on Yale's Justin Morgan was even better than his offense. Morgan had scored 28 on Saturday against Sacred Heart. He did not score in this game's first 36 minutes, and finished with four points.
"Langston is a terrific all-around player and very conscientious," Martelli said. "What I thought he did, every possession he worked."
He never stopped working until he went to the bench in the final moments.
"I was just using my length to bother [Morgan]," Galloway said. "He's a little shorter than me . . . It definitely bothered him a little tonight."
The length was important. The effort was more important.
The Hawks are very big on the front line, even bigger now that Ronald Roberts has worked his way into the starting lineup. The Hawks' issue last season was that they did not always give attention to defensive detail on the perimeter. They surely did against Yale.
With Chris Wilson starting at the point for leading scorer Tay Jones (out for the second of three games for violating the "university's community standards"), the Hawks (1-0) gave up nothing easy. They had nine steals and five blocks while holding Yale to 25 percent shooting. Yale had five more turnovers than baskets.
It was different without Jones, who can score on anybody at any time. He is a very tough cover who puts serious pressure on any defense.
"We've been learning to play without him right now," Galloway said. Wilson, Galloway said, "is a different style of point guard than Tay . . . He tries to pass first and get everybody involved."
SJU got better on offense as the game went on, shooting 50 percent in the second half after a first half highlighted by a spectacular missed dunk from Roberts.
He was so high above the rim that he ended up too far from the basket and the dunk had too high a degree of difficulty. The ball blasted off the rim out past the Yale bench nearly to midcourt.
"I actually got undercut," Roberts said. "The ref didn't see it, but that's OK."
Not actually sure anybody from Yale could get high enough to undercut Roberts, but he knows best.
Was that his best missed dunk?
"He's had at least five better than that," Wilson said.
The coach said: "I don't get real enthralled with missed dunks."
Roberts (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Halil Kanacevic (11 points, 11 rebounds) each had a double-double. C.J. Aiken played only 21 minutes because of rare foul trouble, but was a defensive intimidator near the rim and all the way to the three-point line. He got his fourth foul early in the second half on an offensive-foul call that would have drawn the attention of the NBA's flop police.
The story was the defense. Yale made consecutive baskets once in each half.
"We play defense like that every night, sky's the limit," Kanacevic said. "Shots are going to fall."
The Hawks, however, left some points out there. Roberts missed nine of 12 shots. His coach suggested that, given the same shots on another night, he might make all 12. Shooting 16-for-30 from the foul line and 3-for-14 from the arc won't dazzle anybody. But it is called the opener for a reason.
"That's deplorable foul shooting," Martelli said. "There's no other way to call it. It could cost us."
But not when they play defense like that.
"We've practiced better than that, we've practiced better than we played, but not defensively," Martelli said. "That was really enjoyable to watch from a coach's view. I'm sure fans would like to see . . . dunks and all that other stuff."
That will all come in time. Defense is about a concept. It is about concentration. It is about heart. And it can be a constant if winning really matters.
Those 35 points were the fewest any SJU team has given up in the shot-clock era. That would take us back to the 1985-86 season. The 35 would work nicely in any era.