St. Joe's Roberts puts back ailment behind him

Posted: January 24, 2014

Ronald Roberts Jr. certainly hasn't eased his way back into the lineup for St. Joseph's. The Hawks' 6-foot-8 senior missed two games with a back injury he suffered in a 66-62 loss at Massachusetts on Jan. 8.

He returned during Saturday's 85-68 win over Penn at the Palestra, scoring 10 points and grabbing four rebounds while shooting 4 for 6 in 20 minutes.

His second game back was doubly impressive. Roberts had 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots in 37 minutes during Wednesday's 61-57 win over Rhode Island at Hagan Arena.

It was the Hawks' fourth consecutive win and ninth in 10 games.

"It feels great and I love playing basketball," Roberts said. "I know I was only out a week but it was a struggle lying in bed all the time and I love being out there."

He says the back is giving him no issues.

"My back is great," he said. "Bill [Lukasiewicz], our trainer, did a good job of getting me back to normal and I am 100 percent."

Roberts, who had some ferocious dunks against Rhode Island, said the real pain came in having to sit out.

"It was really tough but I was really proud of my teammates, the way they we went out here, especially Pop [Papa Ndao], who stepped up a lot in my absence and I was happy to see that," Roberts said.

St. Joseph's won both games that Roberts missed and Ndao was especially key in an 84-80 win at George Mason, where he scored 13 points. Ndao hit all four field-goal attempts, including three from beyond the arc.

Against Rhode Island, Roberts shot 7 for 9 from the field and 6 for 12 from the foul line. He really came on in the second half when he scored 13 of his points and grabbed eight rebounds.

"At halftime I was really bothered by the fact that he had one rebound, one offensive rebound," St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said. "But Ron is a senior and deserves these opportunities and has 13 games left and we have to take advantage of each and every one of them."

Actually, there are more than 13. Martelli was only referring to the regular-season games remaining. Roberts hopes he has an extended Atlantic Ten tournament and that his career goes well beyond that.