Assistant coach grateful to see easy win for the Hawks

ASSOCIATED PRESS Hawks assistant Geoff Arnold yells instructions to the players during last night's win over Marist. He said he is glad to be on the coaching staff after a prostate cancer scare in the summer.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Hawks assistant Geoff Arnold yells instructions to the players during last night's win over Marist. He said he is glad to be on the coaching staff after a prostate cancer scare in the summer.
Posted: November 15, 2013

WHEN ASSISTANT coach Geoff Arnold recruits kids to come to Saint Joseph's, part of his job is to teach the young flock lessons away from the basketball court.

After the scare of a lifetime, Arnold is now able to advise them in matters far more important than class attendance and avoiding troublesome frat houses.

Arnold, 49, was diagnosed in August with the beginning stages of prostate cancer - a disease that runs in his family. He had successful surgery in early September, however, and said he is rid of the disease.

"The mental part of it is tough, because you're a man and some of the things you have to go through [such as prostate removal] can be difficult," Arnold said. "I've had great support from my family and some friends who've had the surgery." Arnold, in his sixth season as a Hawks assistant, was on the first seat next to the scorer's table for last night's 81-62 win over Marist in the Hawks' home opener.

A 1986 graduate of St. Joe's, Arnold was feeling worn down after an extended run on the recruiting trail during the summer, which led to a night in the hospital. That's when his cancer was detected.

He fully expected to miss the Hawks' trip to Italy in August, but was told there was no reason for him to stay home and stew in his diagnosis. The biopsy had inflamed the prostate area, and it is typical for surgery to occur 6 weeks after initial diagnosis, Arnold said.

"My doctor told me to go drink the wine, eat the food and have a fantastic time," Arnold said. "Fortunately, my wife was able to go, and we saw some things we'll never forget." The canals of Venice were at the top of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold's highlight reel.

There is some heat on St. Joe's and coach Phil Martelli to get back to the NCAA Tournament after consecutive NIT appearances. Last night's win over Marist was expected and relatively easy.

St. Joe's scored the game's first 12 points, which included three dunks, to seize immediate control. Halil Kanacevic had two of those dunks and stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

Marist (0-3) had missed a ridiculous 27 consecutive three-point shots, dating back to its previous game, before swingman Jay Bowie connected from downtown early in the second half. On the night, the Red Foxes were 6-for-25, but started 0-for-13.

By the way, if Marist is nicknamed the Red Foxes, shouldn't Fred G. Sanford be its mascot?

Langston Galloway led the Hawks with 20 points. He is Arnold's nephew - Galloway's mom and Arnold are brother/sister - and a team captain.

He recalled when Arnold gathered the fellas about 10 days before Dr. Lee Schachter performed Arnold's prostate surgery on Sept. 4 at Abington Memorial Hospital.

"He told the team that he wanted us to get checked in the future," Galloway said. "Talk to your family; make sure they all get checked." The popular term is "teaching moment," and Arnold was seizing his.

There is a correlation that prostate cancer is to men what breast cancer is to women. Arnold mentioned that one in six men will be diagnosed with it. As a recent blood test revealed no prostate-specific antigens, he reflected how the ordeal changed him. And, hopefully now, he can change others.

"I'm a survivor now," he said, his voice rising. "My PSAs are undetectable. My doctor said I was deemed a 'survivor.' I will go and shout it from the bell tower: Go get checked. Please get checked."

The St. Joe's student section was packed up to the ceiling, which Phil Martelli said resonated with his players. He expects an even wilder crowd Saturday. That is when the Hawks welcome Creighton (2-0) into the cozy quarters of Hagan Arena (7 p.m., The Comcast Network). The Bluejays are led by All-America Doug McDermott, who dropped 37 on Missouri-Kansas City on Monday night. Creighton hammered the Hawks by 29 last season in Omaha, Neb. . . . The Hawks outrebounded Marist, 47-26 . . . Vegas Vic's line was 18.5. The Hawks won by 19.

On Twitter: @EdBarkowitz

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