Phil Martelli frustrated with 'really bad' basketball from St. Joe's in loss to George Mason

usa-phil-martelli.jpg
USA Today Images

Phil Martelli frustrated with 'really bad' basketball from St. Joe's in loss to George Mason

BOX SCORE

In a battle of underclassmen-filled rosters, it was a George Mason senior that made the difference at Saint Joseph’s on Tuesday night.

Patriots guard Marquise Moore finished with a double-double — leading all players with 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists — and George Mason held off St. Joe’s, 75-67, in an Atlantic 10 battle at Hagan Arena. The Hawks are now 8-7 (2-2 A-10) while the Patriots moved to 12-5 (2-2) with their first-ever win over St. Joe's.

The game heated up in the final three minutes. After George Mason had led most of the second half, St. Joe’s took its first lead in over 10 minutes when junior James Demery made a layup while absorbing a foul, giving the Hawks a 61-60 lead. That began a run of four consecutive baskets between the two squads, culminating in a go-ahead three-pointer by Patriots sophomore Otis Livingston off a Moore assist to put George Mason up, 65-63.

On the next possession, St. Joe's freshman Charlie Brown went up for a jumper that he said was tipped before it missed the net and went out of bounds. However, the refs gave the Patriots the ball and Moore drew a foul on the subsequent play, getting to the free throw line where George Mason pulled away in the final 90 seconds.

For most of the night, St. Joe's offense ran through the trio of Brown, Demery and Lamarr Kimble. The three players shot 47 of the Hawks' 64 field goal attempts, making 20 of them. Kimble led the team with 18 points on 18 shots, Demery fouled out with 16 points and Brown finished with a career-high 17 points.

St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli was frustrated with the offensive effort from his squad as it produced just five assists while turning it over 14 times. The team also made just five of its 21 three-point attempts.

“We’re not winning games with 67 points,” Martelli said. “I don’t know another way. Fourteen turnovers, and you saw them. Threw the ball off a foot. Offensive rebound and throw the ball back.

"... We had a very good practice [Monday]. A very good offensive practice [Monday] and had nothing. Nothing. We were just pulling and priding each possession down. That’s not successful for us."

Brown echoed his coach’s sentiments and said that St. Joe’s “should have won this game by at least 15 points.”

“I think we were just making mental mistakes,” Brown said. “Turning the ball over, missing shots that we usually don’t miss.

The Hawks were playing just their third game since leading scorer Shavar Newkirk went down for the season with a torn ACL. His absence was notable with the aforementioned trio forced to hoist shots during many empty possessions. Martelli mentioned that the team was putting too much on Kimble, saying "an 18-shot guy."

What may have frustrated Martelli the most was the lack of assists St. Joe's put together.

"It’s bad basketball. That’s the right number to look at," he said of the Hawks' five assists. "We over dribble and we need some playmakers. We need guys that are confident enough to make a play. That doesn’t mean take a shot, and we had a lot of that tonight. We had guys just taking shots.

"I have to do more for it. I have to help them with movement. I’m really disappointed because practice last night was really good, but that was bad basketball. Really bad."

While St. Joe's struggled on offense, Moore provided the difference on the other end. Despite his 6-foot-2 frame, the guard averages over 17 points and 10 boards, and he did a bit of everything on both ends of the court Tuesday night. He was particularly effective driving to the basket, including a few coast-to-coast layups. Demery was complementary of how Moore gets into a defender's body and produces despite being seemingly allergic to shooting threes.

As one of just two seniors to get significant minutes for the Patriots, Moore's strong veteran presence helped allow an underclassmen-laden squad find its bearings during a key road win.

"It’s huge because the one thing about him is that he didn’t get rattled," George Mason coach Dave Paulsen said. "I wouldn’t say he played great in the first half – he had nine points. He was frustrated but he didn’t get rattled. He kept playing. He kept moving the ball. And he did other things. He got on the glass. He was a willing passer."

With the loss, the Hawks fell to .500 in conference. Martelli referred to the loss as a “wasted opportunity” and it comes right before a big test: the Hawks face Atlantic 10-leading Richmond on Saturday afternoon.

Penn, Villanova back for more championships at Penn Relays

Penn, Villanova back for more championships at Penn Relays

Like many people who come from nearby high schools, Penn senior Chris Hatler has been running at the Penn Relays since he was 15. But his initial experience at the famed meet did not go exactly as planned

“The first relay ever, I fell in the first 100 meters,” he said, “and made a fool of myself.”

Such can be the dangers of overwhelmed teenagers competing at a competition that also features college and professional stars — a three-day track & field carnival that is the oldest and largest of its kind in the country.

But last year, Hatler became one of those college stars himself, helping Penn to a dramatic win in the 4xmile — the host school’s first win in that event since 1950 and its first championship in any of the meet’s marquee distance relays since 1974.

Now, with the 123rd running of the Penn Relays set to kick off in full Thursday — the same day that the NFL draft begins across town — Hatler is ready to add another wheel before graduating, along with fellow senior Nick Tuck.

“Last year was exciting to win the 4xmile, but I kinda felt like for the seniors last year, it was their win, it was their wheel,” said Hatler, who also helped the Quakers set a school record in last year’s distance medley relay. “I know Nick and I kinda have a little grudge here. We want our own wheel for ourselves our senior year. So we’re gonna come out and see what we can do.”

Although the USA vs. the World races Saturday to highlight the meet, the college relays are often the most exciting with wild sprints to the finish line occurring in front of packed Franklin Field crowds. Last year, in between Team USA races, then-senior Thomas Awad chased down two other runners in the 4xmile to give Penn the victory on national TV, before being mobbed by Hatler, Tuck and Keaton Naff. 

Hatler couldn’t quite see the track from where he was standing but had a feeling that Awad — one of the most accomplished athletes in Penn’s track & field history — would come through on the final lap of his Penn Relays career.

“You never bet against Tom at the end of the race,” said Hatler, who earlier this year cracked the 4-minute-mile barrier. “We kinda knew it was gonna happen.”

Few other people expected it because the host school hasn’t always been competitive in the college championships at Penn Relays. But another local school always is — Villanova.

And the Wildcats are glad to get some more competition from their Big 5 rival.

“It was thrilling for me to see it happen,” Villanova men’s track coach Marcus O’Sullivan said. “This is really the home school. We’re happy to be sharing the stress of Penn [Relays] every year with the real home school.”

As for his own team, O’Sullivan said the Wildcats are dealing with injuries so it may not be in top form for the men’s distance medley relay (Friday, 5:30 p.m.), men’s 4xmile (Saturday, 1:15 p.m.) and the men’s 4x800 (Saturday, 4:40 p.m.), the first two of which will be broadcast on NBC Sports.

But he touted the talent of redshirt freshman Logan Wetzel, among others, and seems ready to throw some youngsters into the fire.

“I always say Penn is a defining arena for kids to grow up,” said O’Sullivan, who ran the Penn Relays as a student at Villanova. “You really start to learn. You prepare a year for Penn. 

“My junior year, we were annihilated, lost everything, and it one of the most humiliating moments of my life because so much is expected of you and you drop the ball. I spent a whole year just waiting for Penn, just training for Penn. The year I made the Olympic team, I kid you not, running at Penn, winning at Penn, was way more important for me at that time of my life. That’s how big it is.”

Villanova women’s coach Gina Procaccio also ran the Penn Relays in college and has similar feelings about the significance of the meet. And she’s ready to lead her powerhouse teams to more championships in the women’s distance medley relay (Thursday, 5:30 p.m.), the women’s 4x1500 (Friday, 1:20 p.m.) and the women’s 4x800 (Saturday, 4:10 p.m.).

Those relay teams will be led by Angel Piccirillo, a fifth-year senior who redshirted last year, and junior Siofra Cleirigh Buttner — two of the best distance runners in the NCAA. But it won’t be easy for them as this year’s field will be stacked with the likes of Oregon and Stanford.

But no one has done better at Penn Relays than the Villanova women, who have won 14 DMRs all time, including four straight from 2012-2015.

“I’m not one to shy away from the competition,” Procaccio said. “I like to earn those wins.”

Big 5 Hall of Fame inducts 'maybe the greatest class we've ever put together'

Big 5 Hall of Fame inducts 'maybe the greatest class we've ever put together'

About midway through Monday night's Big 5 Hall of Fame ceremony, the oldest inductee of this year's class paid homage to the youngest.

That's how much hoops legend George Raveling, a 1960 Villanova graduate, was blown away by Penn alum Ibrahim Jaaber's impassioned speech that ended with a powerful poem about how basketball saved him.

"It kept running through my mind that you represent everything good about sports," Raveling said to Jaaber. "And I hope you'll continue to use your wisdom, your influence, to make the game better, to make the world better. As a 79-year-old-man, soon to be 80 in June, I want to tell you that if I come back in the next life, I want to be like you."

That touching moment, in many ways, was a perfect encapsulation of the ties that bind the Big 5, from one generation to the next. But aside from Raveling and longtime Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter Bill Lyon -- who, despite battling Alzheimer's, courageously gave an acceptance speech to a standing ovation at the Palestra -- this year's class was filled with contemporary guards who clashed in some great Big 5 games not too long ago.

Among them were two current NBA players in Saint Joseph's icon Jameer Nelson (class of 2004) and former 'Nova star Randy Foye (2006), as well as Temple's Lynn Greer (2002) and Jaaber (2007). La Salle women's player Carlene Hightower (2008) was the other member of the star-studded class defined by tough, gritty Philadelphia guards.

"The inductees here for the Hall of Fame have got to be maybe the greatest class we've ever put together," said Villanova head coach Jay Wright, who closed the night by accepting the Big 5 Coach of the Year award right after Josh Hart took home Player of the Year honors. "I grew up in Philadelphia and we always talk about what a great place the Palestra is -- and it is. But when you listen to Lynn, Randy, Coach Rav, Ibby, Jameer, you know why this is a great place. It's because of all the great man that have played here -- outstanding, humble, articulate, intelligent men that understand they're part of something that's bigger than themselves. That's what makes the Big 5. That's what makes the Palestra."

Nelson, the National Player of the Year during St. Joe’s historic 2003-04 season, certainly showed what kind of person he is, inviting all of his old Hawks teammates who were in attendance to stand behind him as he accepted his Hall of Fame award. And he even choked up at one point as he described what those teammates, coach Phil Martelli and Saint Joseph's University have meant to him as he's forged a long and fruitful NBA career.

"Without them, none of this would be possible," said Nelson, the Hawks' all-time leader in points (2,094) and assists (713). "These guys mean the world to me."

Nelson, now with the Denver Nuggets, just wrapped up his 13th season in the NBA, calling it an "unbelievable ride" for a 5-foot-11 kid from Chester. That's two more years spent in the league than Foye, who Nelson thanked for forcing him to be better back in their college days. He also called Greer one of his "great friends" and said that Jaaber's speech "touched me in so many different ways, I wish more young kids could hear it."

"I'm very grateful to be inducted with you guys," Nelson said, although he did point out that when he was at St. Joe's, the Hawks had Villanova down 43-9 at halftime one year. 

"But those next couple years, we paid y'all back," said Foye, now with the Brooklyn Nets, during his own speech.

Those rivalries were especially meaningful to Foye, who also played against Jaaber in both high school and college.

"Being from North Jersey, you never hear about the Big 5," said Foye, a first-team All-American and Big 5 Player of the Year in 2006. "For me coming here and witnessing it up close and personal, it's just something truly amazing."

Foye added that everywhere he goes, he tries to embody what a Philly guard is -- "small but play big," as he put it -- while reminding people that he's proud to be a Villanova alum. The same can be said of Raveling, a longtime college coach and executive who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.

"I'm so proud to say I'm a Big 5 product -- and a proud graduate of Villanova University," Raveling said. "I look back many times and realize the wisest decision I ever made in my lifetime was to enroll at Villanova University."

Just as he opened his speech, Raveling also closed it by saying he was "proud" to enter the Big 5 Hall of Fame the same year as Jaaber, whose remarks touched on spirituality, family and a unique journey from Morocco to New Jersey to Penn.

Jaaber also made sure to thank the person who perhaps embodies the Big 5 more than anyone else: former La Salle player, former Penn coach and current Temple coach Fran Dunphy.

"I don't think I could have had a better coach for me in my situation than my Coach Dunphy," said Jaaber, the 2006-07 Big 5 Player of the Year and the all-time Ivy League leader in steals (303). "I'm almost embarrassed to be inducted into the Hall of Fame before Coach Dunphy."