St. Joe's to open Wooden Legacy Tournament against Washington State on Thanksgiving

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St. Joe's to open Wooden Legacy Tournament against Washington State on Thanksgiving

This year, Turkey Day entails Hawks basketball.

Saint Joseph's has drawn Washington State in the first round of the Wooden Legacy Tournament, which opens on Thanksgiving, Nov. 23, on the campus of Cal State Fullerton. The game is set for 6:30 p.m. on ESPN3. Win or lose, Phil Martelli's team will play the next day against either Saint Mary's or Harvard.

Cal State Fullerton, Georgia, San Diego State and Sacramento State fill the other side of the eight-team bracket. SJU is guaranteed three games and will also play one of those four schools, depending on results. The final day of the tournament is Sunday, Nov. 26.

The injury bug took a big bite out of the Hawks' 2016-2017 campaign that resulted in a disappointing 11-20 record. However, all of the team's key players are back for another year, and with health and experience figure to improve on that mark.

Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble, SJU's two leading scorers from last season, should both be good to go in the fall after suffering season-ending injuries.

Atlantic 10 reveals 2017-18 schedule pairings

Atlantic 10 reveals 2017-18 schedule pairings

Philadelphia basketball fans will be getting a double dip of one of the Atlantic 10 conference's best rivalries once again next season.

With the league's 18-game regular season format in place for a fourth straight year, it was revealed Wednesday afternoon that Saint Joseph's and La Salle will battle twice — once in North Philly at Tom Gola Arena and a second time at the Hawks' home just off City Line Avenue. Each team in the 14-member conference will play eight teams once and five teams twice.

The full pairings for the Explorers and Saint Joe's are listed here:

La Salle
Home: Dayton, George Mason, St. Bonaventure, VCU, Fordham, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s, Saint Louis
Away: Davidson, Duquesne, George Washington, Richmond, Fordham, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s, Saint Louis

Saint Joseph’s
Home: Dayton, Duquesne, Saint Louis, VCU, Fordham, George Mason, La Salle, Massachusetts, St. Bonaventure
Away: Davidson, George Washington, Rhode Island, Richmond, Fordham, George Mason, La Salle, Massachusetts, St. Bonaventure

It was also rumored earlier in the day that the Hawks have added a Big Five matchup at Temple for Dec. 9.

Atlantic 10 Tournament preview: St. Joe's, La Salle have tough roads

Atlantic 10 Tournament preview: St. Joe's, La Salle have tough roads

Last year, for the second time in three seasons, Saint Joseph's went to Brooklyn and came home with an Atlantic 10 championship.

But as this year's Atlantic 10 Tournament is set to begin, the battered Hawks will be significant underdogs to win another one -- or even a game. And Big 5 rival La Salle will also have its work cut out to make a deep run.

Here's a closer look at both of the league's Big 5 teams heading into the tourney, which has shifted to PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh after four years at the Barclays Center: 

Saint Joseph's

Record: 11-19 overall, 4-14 league

Seed: 13

Opener: 12th-seeded UMass (14-17, 4-4) in first round (Wednesday, 6 p.m., CSN)

Postseason hopes
The Hawks need to win five games in five days or their season is over. 

Looking at St. Joe's
It was always going to be tough sledding for the Hawks after the program lost two stars in DeAndre' Bembry and Isaiah Miles from last year's terrific team. But then things went almost comically awry when four players were lost to season-ending injuries, including the dynamic starting backcourt of Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr "Fresh" Kimble. Without their top guys, St. Joe's lost nine straight before snapping the skid with a 63-60 win over Duquesne in its regular-season finale, riding 19 points apiece from junior swingman James Demery and sophomore guard Chris Clover.

Looking at UMass
The Minutemen finished with the same record in league play as St. Joe's (both finishing a game ahead of last-place Duquesne) and have won just twice in their past 12 games. UMass is led by junior guard Donte Clark, who's averaging 13 points per game and has already eclipsed 1,000 points for his career.

Series
The Minutemen have beaten the Hawks in both matchups this season, winning by five in Amherst and by 11 in Hagan last month behind four threes from Clark in the first three minutes. Overall, the series has been very even with UMass holding a slight 36-34 edge.

Player to watch
Charlie Brown has been a bright spot for the Hawks and was just named to the 2017 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team. The freshman forward from Philly is averaging 12.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game -- both second on the team. And he led the Hawks with 15 points and eight rebounds while shooting 4 for 8 from three-point range in their last game vs. UMass. 

Tourney facts
The 13-seed is the lowest the Hawks have ever had in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. ... This will be the first A-10 tourney meeting between St. Joe's and UMass since 2001. ... St. Joe's head coach Phil Martelli is 28-8 in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, including a 16-5 mark in the team's first game. 

Up next
The winner advances to face fifth-seeded Saint Bonaventure in the second round on Thursday (2:30 p.m.). 

La Salle

Record: 15-14 overall, 9-9 league

Seed: 8

Opener: 9th-seeded Davidson (15-4, 8-10) in second round on Thursday (noon, NBCSN)

Postseason hopes
The Explorers need to win their first-ever A-10 tourney title to get into the Big Dance, but a couple of wins may put them in the conversation for the CBI or the CIT.  

Looking at La Salle
The Explorers were in the picture for a top-four seeding and a coveted double-bye before losing five of their last seven games. La Salle heads into the tourney following a 66-54 win over Fordham behind 19 points from junior transfer B.J. Johnson.

Johnson (17.5 ppg), Jordan Price (15.1 ppg) and Pookie Powell (13.6 ppg) are all among the league's top 20 scorers, but the Explorers rank last in the A-10 in scoring defense, allowing 77.4 points per game.

Looking at Davidson
The Wildcats finished one game back of La Salle in the standings, losing three of their last four games. They feature two of the league's top three leading scorers in senior guard Jack Gibbs (22.0 ppg) and junior forward Peyton Aldridge (20.6 ppg), and they make over nine three-pointers per game -- a league-best. Gibbs and Aldridge are the second-highest scoring duo in the nation.

Series
La Salle beat Davidson in the only matchup this season with Price scoring 29 points in a 91-83 win. 

Player to watch
Davidson appears to be a good matchup for Price. On top of his season-high 29 points vs. Davidson this year, Price had 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists in a loss to the Wildcats last year and 23 against them the year before. What might the senior have in store for his final A-10 tourney?

Tourney facts
Davidson has knocked La Salle out of the last two A-10 tourneys, beating them in last year's second round and in the 2015 quarterfinals. ... Gibbs needs 33 points in the tournament to become the fourth player in Davidson history with 2,000 career points. ... La Salle hasn't been to the A-10 semifinals since 2002, and the Explorers have never been to a tourney final. 

Up next
The winner faces top-seeded Dayton in the quarterfinals on Friday (noon).