Despite coming off an 11-20 season, Saint Joseph's was picked to finish third in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll released this week.
It's the highest the Hawks have been picked to finish since 2012-13 when they were the preseason favorite.
St. Joe's went just 4-14 in the conference last season after winning the A-10 with a 13-5 conference record the previous year. The Hawks have won the A-10 twice in the last four seasons.
Phil Martelli enters his 23rd season as head coach, and he has all five starters coming back. The Hawks lost some key players last season. Shavar Newkirk was averaging 20.3 points per game until he tore his ACL in the conference opener. Lamarr Kimble was averaging 15.5 points and leading the team in assists when he fractured his foot in February.
Newkirk was named to the preseason All-Conference Second Team; Kimble and Charlie Brown Jr. were third-teamers.
St. Joe's begins its season on Nov. 11 at Toledo, with the Hawks' home opener coming the following Saturday, Nov. 18 against Princeton (see schedule).
Freshman Taylor Funk hit five 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 23 points to lead Saint Joseph's to a 71-58 win over Princeton on Saturday night.
Funk made 7 of 8 from the field and hit 4 of 4 from the free throw line. James Demery had 13 points, Shavar Newkirk scored 11 and Anthony Longpre' added 10 points for Saint Joe's (2-1).
Funk made back-to-back 3-pointers and had 10 points during a 14-2 run that gave the Hawks a 59-50 lead with six minutes to go. Mike LeBlanc hit a 3 to pull Princeton within seven points with 3:37 left, but Funk answered with a 3-pointer and Saint Joe's led by double figures the rest of the way.
Devin Cannady led Princeton (0-3) with 22 points, including six 3-pointers. Amir Bell added 15 points and Myles Stephens had 13 with eight rebounds.
Funk has back-to-back 20-plus point games and has 61 points through his first three games, the second most in school history behind Bernard Blunt's 67 points in the 1990-91 season.
The Tigers led for all but 90 seconds in the first half, but hit just 3-of-15 second-half 3-pointers.
Saint Joseph's will be without a key player for the remainder of the 2017-18 season.
Junior guard Lamarr Kimble will undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season after re-injuring the fifth metatarsal of his left foot. Kimble suffered the injury in St. Joe's season-opening loss to Toledo on Nov. 10.
Kimble fractured his foot toward the end of last season and missed the final seven games after undergoing surgery.
“I’m very disappointed for (Lamarr) that all of his hard work and dedication from the spring, summer and fall won’t be shown on the court,” head coach Phil Martelli said in a release. “He and his family recognize how much I, and we, value their partnership. His teammates recognize that all must come forward to fill not only the playing gap, but the leadership gap as well. I fully expect that (Lamarr) will continue to be a vocal and inspirational leader for this team.”
Kimble paced the Hawks in assists (4.5 per game) and was second in scoring (15.5 points per game) last season. The captain and Philadelphia native was named to the Preseason Atlantic 10 All-Conference third team.
St. Joe's currently sits at 1-1 in the '17-18 season. The Hawks' next game is a 7 p.m. home matchup on Saturday against Princeton.