Key stretch: They have three city games in 14 days in December, at Temple,
followed by Villanova and Drexel at home. In the league, it has to be a 3-week stretch that starts in late January with games at Richmond and Dayton, followed by home games with Massachusetts, Saint Louis and VCU and then a visit to
La Salle. If they can win the majority of the games in both stretches, the Hawks have a chance to have a pretty solid resume.
Quote of note: "You need luck, you need health. We need to have minimal distractions." - Coach Phil Martelli
Bottom line: The Hawks will have a good starting lineup with the three seniors, steady junior point guard Chris Wilson and Bembry. That group can match up with any in the Atlantic 10. There is little obvious proven backcourt depth unless redshirt freshman Kyle Molock suddenly gets all his athleticism back after three devastating knee injuries. Can one or two among Daryus Quarles, Papa Ndao and Javon Baumann supply some bench scoring and minutes? Martelli: "It comes back to what college basketball is all about, guard play, guard play and more guard play." So the starters really need to stay healthy because they are going to be playing major minutes. Will they feel the same in February as they do in November? This will be a different team without scoring point guard Tay Jones and the shot-blocking of C.J. Aiken. Martelli: "This is more traditional. There's two frontcourt players and there's three perimeter players. The perimeter's going to stay on the perimeter and the frontcourt's going to stay in the middle of the floor." The parts may actually fit better so there is a chance for better chemistry. Whether that translates into a top-four finish in a league where there are going to be very few obvious wins is to be determined.
Hometown: Staten Island, N.Y.
High school: Curtis
Stats: 8.5 point, 7.2 rebounds
Career highlights: Had a wonderful game (15 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists) early last season in Brooklyn when SJU upset Notre Dame. Did not score a point in a game against Morgan State during his sophomore year, but did have 12 assists, 8 rebounds and 7 blocks. Led the team in rebounds and assists as a sophomore. Once had 19 blocks during a high school playoff game.
What they are saying: “He’s up and down the floor better ... He was always going because he wants to be in the action. Now, he’s more mobile. You can have really good basketball conversations with him. He’s talked to me about his flexibility. You look at his assist numbers. They’re not normal for a trail forward, but his assist numbers might be the same if I put him on the block.” — Phil Martelli
What he’s saying: On this season: “We definitely want to make the tournament.” On this being his final season: “I’ve never been a person to worry about the future. I just go with the flow. It’s a little crazy when you really do think about it.”
Something you don’t know about Kanacevic: Changed his number from 21 to 45 to honor his uncle, Rizo Popovic, who died during last season at age 45. His uncle lived in Europe, but they were very close with “constant contact.” Kanacevic said, “I talked to my mom about it. I read Kevin Durant’s story, why he wears 35.” Durant’s youth coach was murdered at 35. The NBA superstar has been wearing the number ever since.