The NIT isn’t where a team picked as the preseason favorite in the Atlantic 10 wants to find itself on Selection Sunday, but that is where Saint Joseph’s will continue its season.
The Hawks earned a 4-seed in the NIT and will play St. John’s on Tuesday at Hagan Arena in the opening round of 32.
This is the second consecutive NIT appearance for Phil Martelli’s Hawks, who finished the season 18-13 and placed ninth in the A-10 at 8-8. St. Joe’s was a 2-seed in the NIT last year and lost, 67-65, to Northern Iowa.
If the Hawks get past the Red Storm (16-15, 8-10 Big East), they’ll play either 1-seed Virginia or eighth-seeded Norfolk State.
St. Joe's was plagued by inconsistency all season. The Hawks started off strong, beating No. 20 Notre Dame and losing by seven to Florida State in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Brooklyn in mid-November. But two weeks later St. Joe's lost by 29 to Creighton, a 7-seed in the NCAA tournament, and suffered a series of close defeats to Villanova, Fairfield, Butler, VCU (twice) and Dayton.
For the second straight year, the Hawks were led in scoring by Carl Jones. But St. Joe's shot three percent worse this season from the field and from three, and big man C.J. Aiken's blocks average dropped from 3.5 to 2.7. Langston Galloway, who shot 47 percent from three last year, was at 39 percent this season.