NCAA

La Salle routs shorthanded St. Joe's for 1st Big 5 win in 2 years

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La Salle routs shorthanded St. Joe's for 1st Big 5 win in 2 years

BOX SCORE

Good grief.

Saint Joseph’s freshman guard Charlie Brown started the game 0 for 8 from the field, tossing up contested shot after shot, even airballing twice.
 
Even poor Snoopy wasn’t spared.
 
“Charlie Brown is having a wonderful year,” St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli said. “When he misses a shot, any shot … I don’t know if he owns a dog, but if he does own a dog, that dog died 10 times in the first half.
 
“Every shot. Drops his head, misses his assignment at the other end. You gotta grow up.”
 
As Brown took his seat on the bench midway through the first half, the La Salle band taunted his effort with the Peanuts’ theme song.
 
The rout was on.
 
La Salle raced out to an early lead and didn’t look back, pummeling St. Joe’s, 83-68, Saturday at Tom Gola Arena for its first Big 5 win in two years (see Instant Replay).
 
Brown wasn’t the only Hawk to feel Martelli’s wrath, though.
 
“We have to get emotionally older in a hurry,” Martelli said. “Because they’re nice, young guys who are immature.“
 
With veteran leaders and the team’s two leading scorers Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble out for the year, Martelli elected to start a young lineup — freshmen Brown and Nick Robinson, sophomores Chris Clover and Markell Lodge and junior James Demery.
 
“It doesn’t have anything to do with age, at this point,” Martelli said.
 
“The healthier team won today,” La Salle head coach John Giannini said.
 
While age isn’t the problem, Martelli cited that, in what has become a lost year of sorts, he wants to see his young players mature on and off the court.
 
“We had a player get a slight concussion yesterday,” Martelli said. “One of his teammates threw the ball off his face. It’s impossible.
 
“I reach out to the kid last night and say, ‘Are you all right, have you been able to eat, do you have an upset stomach? Call me tomorrow at 11:30, that’s when I write up my pregame notes.’
 
“11:30 no call, 11:40 no call. So I text him. I go, ‘I guess you’re out?’
 
“How hard is it?”
 
Martelli’s Hawks responded with some maturity in the second half.
 
Down by 27, St. Joe’s amassed an 18-2 run to cut the lead to 11. In the end, La Salle’s lights-out shooting and stifling defense prevailed.
 
“We played well,” Giannini said of the game as a whole. “Our defense wasn’t great the last 10 minutes, but other than that, I was pleased with everything else.”
 
“It’s just numbers,” Martelli said of the reason St. Joe’s was dominated. “It has nothing to do with anything else."
 
And those numbers were not pretty for Martelli’s squad.
 
The Explorers built their lead with the long ball, making 12 threes and shooting 41 percent from behind the arc. The Hawks made just two of 11 from deep.
 
La Salle put up 44 puts in the first half. St. Joe’s managed just 26.
 
The game was a microcosm of the season for both teams, each heading in different directions just two weeks away from the Atlantic-10 tournament.
 
Ravaged by injury this season, St. Joe’s is fading fast, having lost six straight games and 11 of its last 14. So what is there left to play for with the team in freefall?
 
“We keep going,” Martelli said. “I’m not collecting uniforms yet.
 
“We had to walk in here like big boys, and we got to walk out like big boys. It’s the cards that we have and we gotta play the hand.
 
“We’re going to show up and we’re going to play again on Wednesday. And no one should feel sorry for us. We gotta be better.”
 
La Salle, on the other hand, is getting healthy at the right time. B.J. Johnson, the team’s leading scorer with 18 points per game, and redshirt sophomore guard Pookie Powell have returned from injury just in time to make a charge up the A-10 standings.
 
The Explorers currently sit in a three-way tie for fifth in the conference with the top four teams getting two-round byes.
 
“That’s still two weeks away,” Giannini said of his team’s A-10 positioning. "The seeding’s important.”
 
With four games left in the regular season — all vs. A-10 foes — Giannini and the Explorers stress the importance of not getting caught looking ahead.
 
“I’d really hate to be boring, but it’s really about the next game, and your seeding,” Giannini said.
 
“You look at the standings and what you have to do in the next game. And then after that, you do the process over again."
 
La Salle hosts Rhode Island, who currently hold the third-seed in the A-10, Tuesday.
 
“Rhode Island is a heck of a challenge,” Giannini said. “It’s going to be a real battle Tuesday night.”

Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

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Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

Fresh off a second national championship in three years, this was bound to happen. Jay Wright is a hot name. 

And according to the New York Daily News, the Knicks plan on reaching out to Wright about their vacant head coaching job. 

Just don’t expect Wright to be interested. 

The 56-year-old coach has been determined to build Villanova into a powerhouse since he took the head coaching gig way back in 2001 and he’s finally done that. On the surface, maybe some think that would be enough to make him want to take his coaching to the top league in the world. Not so fast. 

In a recent interview with The Athletic, Wright said pretty flatly that he’s staying at Villanova because he loves it there. 

“The NBA does intrigue me,” Wright said. “That challenge is appealing but it’s not worth giving up working with these guys. The whole thing is, to take a new challenge you have to give up what you have. I don’t want to give up what I have. Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.”

In that interview, Wright talked about his time at Hofstra and quoted Jim Valvano, who once said, ‘Don’t mess with happy.’ That was true at Hofstra until the Villanova job came around, so maybe there’s a chance the Knicks could blow him away. It just doesn’t seem likely. 

The Knicks just fired head coach Jeff Hornacek after a 29-53 record in 2017. The Knicks haven’t had a winning record since 2012-13. 

The New York Daily News cites a source, who said the Knicks believe Wright would be a “perfect candidate for a rebuilding club.” The Knicks might be right, but don’t bet on them getting Wright. 

Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

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Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

Villanova is losing its second star player in two days. 

Guard Jalen Brunson has decided to hire an agent and enter the 2018 NBA Draft, he wrote in a letter to Nova Nation on ESPN. He will forego his senior season at Villanova after an incredible college career. 

This news comes a day after his teammate Mikal Bridges announced he will also head to the NBA draft.

“It is with great honor and privilege that I have called Villanova University my home for the past three years,” Brunson wrote in ESPN. “When I decided to commit to Coach Jay Wright and the basketball program, I was driven by three goals: getting my education, competing at the highest level and winning a national championship. While I pride myself on remaining disciplined and focused to achieve these goals, I have grown as a man and have established lifelong relationships with my teammates, classmates, members of the basketball staff, fellow student-athletes and the wonderful educators and administrators of this prestigious university.”

Brunson leaves Villanova as one of the greatest players in Wildcats history, helping lead Villanova to its second national championship in three years. 

The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 18.9 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game this season. Brunson was named the Big East Player of the Year and was the Wooden Award and Naismith Award winner this season.