Galloway's big-time move pays off for Hawks

St. Joe's Langston Galloway after he hit the winning basket against Dayton. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
St. Joe's Langston Galloway after he hit the winning basket against Dayton. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 16, 2014

NEW YORK - Back on Hawk Hill, his coach had asked St. Joseph's guard Langston Galloway to be just a little more aggressive, a little more selfish.

Galloway's understanding of the request goes straight into Hawks lore, since the senior's aggressiveness had a direct bearing on a 70-67 Hawks victory over Dayton in Friday's Atlantic 10 quarterfinals, a game that was as important as the Hawks have played in a long time.

When you are the dominant focus of opposing defenses, there are a couple of ways to play it. You can set screens for teammates, and get them the ball more, since their opportunities will look like better opportunities. Or you can go in the other direction.

In the pivotal play Friday at the Barclays Center, Langston Galloway created space for himself in a most aggressive way. Call Galloway's move Jordanesque, if you go back to the most famous shot of Michael Jordan's career.

Sure, Galloway found himself some space with his extended left arm before draining a game-winning three-pointer, a play that may very well have pushed St. Joe's into the NCAA tournament.

During a timeout right afterward, they kept showing the play on the Barclays Center big screen - three times, four times, Galloway's arm up each time, a Dayton player going backward, then stumbling to the ground, inciting Dayton's faithful fans, now livid.

"I felt like he got some space," said Dayton coach Archie Miller. "Now, is every referee going to call the call with that much on the line? Probably not."

No, probably not, which is why aggressiveness is a guiding principle of late-game heroics.

"The move he made was really a pro move," said St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli, skipping right past the college rulebook. "That's a move that the pros teach."

You could argue with conviction that Galloway had earned that play. Although La Salle had slowed Galloway and beaten the Hawks last weekend with a box-and-one, Dayton started out more straight-up. Galloway had beaten the Flyers with a banked three-pointer with 1.8 seconds left, but he had only scored 19 points in their two regular-season meetings.

This time, he had 20 by halftime. The first St. Joe's possession, every Hawks player touched the ball, but it ended with Galloway draining a three from the wing.

As Galloway kept making shots, Dayton appeared to up the defensive ante, not just hedging off screens but doubling. A good thing, or Galloway probably would have gone past his final tally of 31 points, including 6 of 11 threes.

"I was really conscious of talking to him about how to find opportunities, look at opportunities," Martelli said of their conversation about being a little more selfish. "His teammates trust him and they're willing to let him be selfish."

It's not like Galloway suddenly turned into a ball hog. There was plenty of ball movement throughout.

"The second half, I was just trying to get the ball inside, because that's our balance," said Galloway afterward, his lip bloodied from a last-second defensive stand.

Another conversation Martelli had with his team was about the "elephant in the room," as he called it. When your own radio analyst is on ESPN all week deeming St. Joe's part of the "Last Four In," it's hard to ignore that, since if that's right, a loss to Dayton would mean "Out."

"I know the world that you're living in," Martelli said he told his players. "You're watching a game, and there it is, your [team's] name appears like every 45 seconds, so there has to be some angst. They wanted it so bad, and they've talked about wanting it so bad."

And, Martelli said, to feel like it had slipped away with subpar finishes against George Washington and La Salle. He told them, "Let's go get a win, not three wins, not a win next week, not a win on Sunday night at six o'clock. Let's get a win on Friday."

Still, he wondered how they slept the night before.

"Monday and Tuesday, I didn't read a newspaper, which is very unusual for me, because I read them cover to cover," Martelli said. "I didn't watch any games other than the Delaware game. Any time I heard anything about bracketology or whatever, I wiped it out."

Joe Lunardi, Hawks radio analyst and co-host of Martelli's radio show, knows a thing or two about bracketology. "He said, 'I think . . .' Martelli said of Lunardi. "I said, 'I can't handle it right now.' "

Saturday afternoon, the Hawks face St. Bonaventure in the A-10, and they will now try to ignore the talk that they're now, in fact, "in," thanks to an aggressive move at a most opportune time.


mjensen@phillynews.com

@jensenoffcampus

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