It is fair to say that most people would feel that tying the program record for wins at Saint Joseph’s University, a school that has had such coaching legends as Bill Ferguson, Jack McKinney and Dr. Jack Ramsay, is a big deal. Phil Martelli accomplished this feat last night in a 81-72 victory over Coppin State, tying Bill Ferguson’s program-record with his 309th career victory. But if Martelli thinks its a big deal, he certainly isn’t showing it. “I didn’t really think about it,” Martelli said after the game in which the Hawks knocked down 12 three-pointers and outrebounded Coppin State 39-29.
“Just to have the honor of coaching here is enough for me,” Martelli later quipped, “the numbers are the fact that you have good players and supportive people around you.”
The record-tying victory came on a night where the Hawks (9-3) played a solid game, but were not at their best as they committed 18 turnovers, which Martelli attributed to “the atmosphere and the time of the year,” meaning the holiday season, when players become a bit anxious to head home to spend time with their families for Christmas.
Meanwhile, the atmosphere in Hagan Arena for this game was far different from the one on Saturday night when Saint Joseph’s knocked off Villanova in front of a sold-out crowd of raucous fans. While last night’s crowd was announced at 3400, there were surely no more than 2500 people in the building last night and that may even be a generous number.
The crowd that was on hand for the game did show their support for Martelli, who has been the subject of a firestorm in the national media this week regarding Todd O’Brien’s attempt to transfer to UAB. The student section loudly chanted his name as he came out onto the court for the first time, with Martelli replying with a fist pump back at them. After the game, no questions were asked by the media about the O’Brien situation.
The Hawks led this game for about 38 of the 40 minutes of game time tonight and once again made some highlight reel plays as they threw down at least eight dunks during the course of the victory.
Despite the win, there were some reasons for concern as Saint Joseph’s did let Coppin State (4-7) hang around throughout the game, never feeling totally comfortable about their lead. Coppin State knocked down 14-of-30 three-pointers in the game and Martelli praised Coppin State head coach Fang Mitchell for his team’s style of play, which was different from any other team the Hawks have faced to this point.
C.J.Aiken led the Hawks with a career-high 20 points, while the backcourt duo of Langston Galloway and Carl Jones added 18 and 16 points respectively. Martelli also lauded the play of Halil Kanacevic, who had 7 points, 8 rebounds, and a career high 8 assists. Kanacevic was also strong defensively, swatting away 4 Coppin State shots.
Martelli will look to become the sole leader in wins in program history on Wednesday December 28th as the Hawks will take on Morgan State at 7PM at Hagan Arena.