There is a scene in the Ice-T vehicle, Surviving the Game, where the rapper-cum-actor realizes that the old, rich white dudes that have dragged him to a remote location are up to something sinister (aren’t they always, gang??). T’s character, Jack Mason, was a homeless man hired as a “hunting guide” by a seemingly random stranger (Charles Dutton in an unusually understated performance) with presumably good intentions. After years of stealing food from dogs and shitting into plastic bags, Mason has the chance to leave his life on the streets; the promise of a better day has finally become a reality.
However once Mason reaches the wilderness to meet the rest of the hunting party it becomes clear that his fortunes have actually taken yet another turn for the worse. He discovers that instead of hunting deer, boars or monkeys, the men plan on pursuing the sexist game of all: him.
The next 90 minutes is a cavalcade of violence and homo-erotic grappling sure to entertain anyone who has ever applied for a loan in sweatpants.
[su_testimonial name=”Cole” photo=”http://www.blackburnreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/5062.gif”]You know, Mason. You know why we’re gonna find you? Because I can smell your stinking ass from here.[/su_testimonial]
[su_testimonial name=”Mason” photo=”http://www.blackburnreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/9xBVt.jpg”]Yo, fuck you, Cole. You punk, sellout, motherfucker![/su_testimonial]
♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠
[su_testimonial name=”Hawkins” photo=”http://www.blackburnreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/r_194264.jpg”]I like my meat rare.[/su_testimonial]
[su_testimonial name=”Mason” photo=”http://www.blackburnreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/9xBVt.jpg”]Try well done, bitch.[/su_testimonial]
The moral of the story: you have to change your frame of mind once you become the hunted. As soon as Mason recognized he was the prey he had no choice but to take the fight right back at his pursuers. Jack no longer had the luxury of sitting back with the rest of the group, content to watch them hunt other game while he was just an afterthought.
So is the case with Archie Miller and the Flyers. After decades of scrounging garbage cans for scraps and using McDonald’s takeout bags to wipe their dirty assholes, Dayton has become the wanted man. UD is going to get St. Joe’s best shot tomorrow night and Miller has to get his players into a kill-or-be-killed mindset.
I know for a fact that Archie loves Surviving and quotes from it frequently. Will the Flyers watch the film prior to their game against the Hawks? I think we will have the answer to that question tomorrow night at six o’clock.
A cursory glance at St. Joe’s resume will tell you that the Hawks don’t have many quality wins; they simply accumulated a lot of victories quickly – which does count for something. I guess. SJU is 3-4 against the RPI Top 100, their best win according to that quantitative measurement is a 62-50 victory against…Princeton. Phil Martelli’s team has beat up on the lower level Atlantic Ten teams, the one exception being an eighteen point victory at George Washington last Wednesday night (although a victory over the Colonials is quickly losing its luster). Other than their victory over GW, there’s not much for the Hawks to hang their collective hats on.
Which is why tonight’s game against Dayton is so vital to their season. St. Joe’s could conceivably rack up 23-24 regular season wins and be firmly on the bubble going into the conference tournament, a win against the Flyers would give them a legitimate feather to put in their cap and bolster their uninspiring resume. As a quick reference point, UD entered Selection Sunday last year with a 25-8 record and a much stronger body of work than this season’s St. Joey’s team and were the last at-large team to make the field. It is clear St. Joseph’s still has a lot of work to do. Why am I so concerned with the Hawks’ postseason hopes?
Phil Martelli may look, act and smell like a bus driver who owes money all over town, but he is a peach of a man and a damn fine coach. Typically, Martelli’s teams are well-coached, play to their strengths and maximize talent. This year’s squad is no different.
First and foremost, the Hawks protect the ball. St. Joe’s turns the ball over on just 14.7% of their possessions this season, placing the Philly Hoopsterz in the top ten nationally (only Davidson, who currently leads the country in turnover percentage, outranks the Hawks in the Atlantic Ten). SJU is a below average perimeter shooting team, so guess what? The Hawks don’t take an obscene amount of three-pointers. Teams like Fordham and La Salle could learn a lot by adhering to Martelli’s philosophy: do less of what you ain’t no good at (I think that’s the way he would phrase it).
Defensively the Hawks are just as strategically sound as they are on offense. They guard the perimeter with tenacity and keep their opponents off the offensive boards. Most importantly, St. Joe’s makes you beat them from the field, not the charity stripe. SJU opposition is scoring a scant 15.2% of their points from the foul line this season, a tremendous barometer of how defensively sound the Hawks are. Nobody gets to the line more than Dayton in the A10 this season, so this will certainly be an aspect of the game worth following tonight.
DeAndre Bembry still has the “dat dude” title until further notice. The junior forward is enjoying another stellar year on Hawk Hill, playing damn near every minute of every game. He rebounds the ball with aplomb and is deadly with the ball in his hands facing the basket. Bembry has the ability to score off the bounce and is more than capable of finding the open man when double-teams come. The one knock on the St. Joe’s star is that he tends to take plays off and settle for perimeter looks too often (which, to be fair, is bound to happen when you are averaging 37 minutes per game). One thing is certain, Bembry will find a way to score and make a play or two a game that will chub you up a bit.
Bembry finally has a running mate capable of taking some of the pressure off of him in Isaiah Miles. Miles, not Bembry, leads the team in scoring and is the Hawks’ biggest threat from the arc. The 6’7” forward is an excellent rebounder and gets to the line with frequency, where he converts almost 90% of his attempts. Martelli said in the preseason that Miles had to become more multi-dimensional for SJU to be successful this season and the senior forward has responded, becoming more than a just a spot-up shooter.
Pierfrancesco Oliva, a lanky forward from Italy, starts alongside Bembry and Miles in the St. Joe’s frontcourt. Like most Italian men, Oliva prefers to let the “proletariat” pull the majority of the weight while he attempts to avoid perspiring. No true Euro-baller is whole without complete attachment to the three-point shot and P’Cesco is no different, as almost half of his shot attempts come from behind the arc (where he is hitting a mere 28%). Honestly, St. Joe’s is the perfect place for Oliva to play, where else do you receive a calzone along with your diploma during the graduation ceremony?
The Hawk backcourt is commanded by Shavar Newkirk and Aaron Brown. Brown never quite lived up to his billing after transferring to SJU from West Virginia before his junior season, but he is still a very serviceable guard. Brown is a streaky shooter who has a tendency to disappear in games, particularly against the Hawks’ better opponents. Newkirk backed up Chris Wilson last season and is now the team’s starting point-guard. Although not a huge offensive threat, Newkirk has gained some confidence after a dismal freshman campaign.
The St. Joe’s bench is directed by James Demery, Lamarr Kimble and Papa Ndao. Demery is Martelli’s number one option off the pine, a wing that started 29 games for the Hawks last season. Kimble is a prototypical Philly guard, built like a brick shithouse. Ndao is a 6’8” forward that camps out on the three-point line. A decent rebounder, the Sengal native is on the no-fly list.
When you look at St. Joe’s you immediately have to start with Bembry and Miles. It’s not hard to conclude that they drive the bus. They both play north of 85% of the available minutes and Bembry is actually 15th in the country out of all players in minutes played. Miles is extremely efficient from all points of the floor. His 2pt/3pt/FT shooting percentage splits are all near the top in the country at 60.6%/40.4%/88.6% respectively, while also having an extremely low turnover rate. Bembry may be the best player in the conference east of Charles Cooke. Ken Pom actually has Bembry first, Cooke second and Miles third in his fake conference player of the year rankings.
On offense the Hawks don’t shoot particularly well. SJU shoots slightly above average inside the arc, at the line and below average behind the arc. Miles is their only real long distance threat and Bembry is actually quite terrible behind the arc (cue Bembry shooting like Micah Mason now that I’ve written that). What they are elite at is protecting the ball, as they’re top 10 in turnover and steal %. These guys may miss some shots, but they’re not gonna give the ball away.
On defense St. Joe’s isn’t a team that is going to turn you over (thank goodness), but they sure as shit aren’t gonna foul you either. They’re #2 in the country in how little they foul teams, so you best get your points making field goals. Where could those points come from? Likely behind the arc. Over 40% of shots taken against St. Joe’s come from behind the three-point line. Additionally, they are allowing less than 30% shooting from behind the arc, but that typically has more to do with the shooters than the defense. This is especially pertinent if you allow a lot of shots to go up. Given the fact that St. Joe’s has played 7 teams in the bottom 50 in three-point shooting percentage and only 2 in the top 50, you could argue they’ve had some good fortune in 3pt percentage allowed.
I think UD’s defense takes care of itself as long as they can keep Miles from bombing threes. Our interior defense is almost always solid and outside of Miles no one shooting from the perimeter concerns me. If UD can knock down threes, and they’ll have plenty of opportunities, they will win this game. That’s a tall task for any road team.
To be honest, I had this game marked down as a loss for the Flyers before conference play began (KenPom is still leaning that way, he believes UD loses a close one and only gives Dayton a 34% chance of winning at St. Joe’s). The Flyers have lost their last seven games at St. Joseph’s, their last win coming in January of 2000. Regardless, I believe this particular Dayton team, as evidenced by their victory at Rhody, has turned the page on the road bugaboo and will win a close one in Philly, 64-60. Dyshawn Pierre puts up a double-double, 16 and 11.