NCAA

Lamarr Kimble delivers game-winning jumper for St. Joe's over La Salle

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Lamarr Kimble delivers game-winning jumper for St. Joe's over La Salle

BOX SCORE

It didn’t matter that it wasn’t an official Big 5 game. Two Philadelphia teams were playing on Saturday night and Philly kid Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble wanted the ball in his hands in the final seconds.

“I live for that type of moment,” Kimble said. 

The sophomore guard will remember the moment for a long time as he buried the game-winning jumper with 15 seconds left to lead Saint Joseph’s to a dramatic 73-72 win over La Salle in an Atlantic 10 matchup Saturday night at Hagan Arena (see Instant Replay).

“He’s a kid who loves Philadelphia games,” St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli said. 

Kimble, a former star at Neumann-Goretti High, has certainly played well against Big 5 rivals, pouring in 23 points in a win over Penn last week after previously scoring 12 and 15 against Temple and Villanova, respectively. (Mark your calendar for when Kimble and the Hawks play La Salle again on Feb. 18 — the game that will count toward the Big 5 standings).

But things haven’t been all peachy this season for Kimble, who’s had to carry a big load after backcourt-mate Shavar Newkirk suffered a season-ending knee injury and the Hawks sputtered to a 2-5 mark in his absence heading into Saturday’s game. And Kimble, too, has struggled with his midrange game at times, as he tries to develop into a more complete college basketball player.

All of that made the sophomore’s game-winning shot from the elbow even more gratifying.

“I guess today I really wanted to will that shot in,” Kimble said. “That’s kind of the approach I took. We’ve been losing a lot — and games at the end too. For us to turn it around and be able to come out with a win in a tight game against a good team, that’s a great win.”

Martelli was less enthusiastic about the victory, lamenting many aspects of his team’s performance, particularly their “awful” free throw shooting; the Hawks shot 9 for 17 from the line.

But he was glad to see Kimble, only the third sophomore captain in program history, to step up when his team needed him most.

“He hasn’t made that shot,” Martelli said. “We’ve talked to him a lot about his eyes being on the rim. His eyes are always down and he’s been short-arming things. … But he’s well-received by his teammates and I’m glad he has the keys to the house, so to speak.”

After Kimble put the Hawks ahead by one, it was Jordan Price’s turn to try to hit a big shot of his own. But the La Salle star, who had scored 21 points and 16 points in the second half, missed at the buzzer after getting into the lane.

“I’m really appreciative of the crowd,” Martelli said. “We were the home team and the ball didn’t go in for them on the last play.”

It was a good look, though.

“A one foot shot?” La Salle coach John Giannini said. “I like a one-foot shot.”

Price also missed a shot on the previous possession with La Salle clinging to a one-point lead. But Giannini was mostly upset with some turnovers and “foolish fouls” down the stretch after a rough first half when Price only had five points and few other players were able to get going as the Explorers fell behind by eight en route to their third straight loss.

“I thought we were atrocious in the first half,” the La Salle coach said. “I thought in the second half we really played well. But we have to understand what goes into winning close games.”

The Hawks, who are trying to climb up from near the bottom of the Atlantic 10 standings, still need to learn more about winning close games, too. But they took a big step in that direction as sophomore Chris Clover (21 points), freshman Charlie Brown (15 points) and junior James Demery (13 points) joined Kimble (14 points) in double figures in what was one of the team’s most balanced efforts of the season.

The play of Clover was especially promising considering the former St. Joseph’s Prep star and Philadelphia Catholic League MVP only scored 10 points during his entire freshman campaign and hadn’t scored more than 11 points in any game this season.

Until Saturday when he surpassed his career high midway through the first half and set the Hawks on their way to a big city win.

“Chris’ confidence is rising every game and we’re confident in him,” said Kimble of his old Philadelphia Catholic League rival. “He could do big things as seen today. He’s capable of scoring and going on a run like that. For him to come out and produce like that in his first breakout game, I’m definitely happy for him.”

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.