10:51… The Worldwide Leader in Sports is here, bagels and orange juice replaced pizza and soda as the spread in the media room, and a number of bleery-eyed college students have descended upon the Palestra for this morning’s Big Five and Atlantic 10 tilt between the Temple Owls (14-5, 4-2 A-10) and the Saint Joseph’s Hawks (5-15, 0-6 A-10).
Today’s match-up features two teams headed in opposite directions. Temple is enjoying its usual success in the Atlantic 10. The Owls always seem to find themselves in the thick of the Atlantic 10 race, usually either winning the regular season or tournament championship over the past few years. Meanwhile, the Hawks, losers of seven straight, keep finding new ways to lose as the Phil Martelli remains stuck on 294 wins.
The Hawks step out of conference tonight as they descend upon the Palestra to tangle with the Penn Quakers. Saint Joseph’s, in the midst of a five-game spiral, hope to find their way against the 5-8 Ivy League squad.
If the Hawks are to win tonight, they may have to do it without freshman big man CJ Aiken. Aiken, who has started all 18 games thus far, averages 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and a conference-leading 3.8 blocks per game. His last time out, Aiken electrified the Hagan arena crowd, throwing down three fast break dunks and sinking two corner threes to help give the Hawks a 37-35 halftime lead against Rhode Island. Aside from his defense, he disappeared in the second half, scoring his 12 points in the game in the first half. He did finish with seven blocks. Aiken warmed up with the team, but is out of the starting line-up tonight and is questionable to play at all. Fellow freshman Ronald Roberts will start in his place.
The students are back on campus and, after a two-game road swing, so are the Hawks. St. Joe’s will need the energy from the home crowd to snap it’s four-game losing streak tonight against the Rhode Island Runnin’ Rams. Rhody is coming off a pair of wins against Richmond and St. Bonaventure and stand at 11-6 overall, 2-1 in the conference.
The Hawks dropped the pair of road contests, at Dayton and Saint Louis, and are now looking for some home-cooking to right the ship and get them on track in the Atlantic 10 season. St. Joe’s is winless in four conference games, dropping games to Duquesne and George Washington. The Hawks find themselves in the basement, 3.5 games behind leaders Duquesne, Xavier, and George Washington. This cold streak leaves Head Coach Phil Martelli six games shy of his 300th career victory. Continue reading