Phil Martelli won his first game on Hawk Hill on December 2, 1995. Sixteen years later, on December 28, 2011, he won his 310th basketball game, passing Billy Ferguson to become the winningest coach in St. Joseph's 112-year history.
The win came against Morgan State, at home in Hagan Arena, in front of a sell out crowd of 4,200, in a blowout 81-50 victory. After the game, Martelli, who said he hoped to win 310 more games and dedicated the accomplishment to his wife and children, was presented with the game ball.
The student section busted out the infamous chant, "Phil Martelli, Phil Martelli," which was a moving moment on this special night.
As for the game, the Hawks and the Bears traded baskets for the first four minutes, and Morgan State even led 12-10 at one point. The Bears lead didn't last very long, however.
St. Joe's found their groove when Halil Kanacevic threw an alley-oop to who else but C.J. Aiken. Just seconds later Carl Jones made a quick steal, which led to yet another Aiken slam dunk.
It was all Hawks from that point on.
But no one knew what Kanacevic was about to do. He single-handedly took over the game without scoring a single point. He was a one-man SWAT team. Recording seven blocks, he also took a page out of out of Jones' book with 12 assists while grabbing eight boards.
The best part is that he accomplished all of this before fouling out.
Another break-out star came off the bench in Ron Roberts. The big forward was good for 15 points, four rebounds, one block and one steal in 26 minutes of play. He provided the physicality the Hawks needed since they were out-sized by the Bears.
Roberts only had one assist, however it was as fancy as it gets. In a 2-on-1 situation, Roberts made a behind-the-back pass to silver-shoes Carl Jones, who put it in for the Hawks, which resulted in the fans almost taking the roof of Hagan Arena.
Other brilliant performances came from Langston Galloway and Daryus Quarles. Galloway added 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Quarles added eight points of his own and a steal. Also, Papa Ndao was second in blocks with four.
The difference maker in the game was speed and overall athleticism. The Hawks were without a doubt the faster and quicker team, which allowed them to push the ball more and control the tempo of the game.
The Hawks improved to 10-3 on the season and will take on an extremely-talented Harvard team on New Year's Eve in Boston. If the Hawks can win that game, they should be able to crack the Top 25.
Either way, their outstanding performances thus far has SJU turning heads. Let's hope they can keep the consistent play up.
Phil Martelli, the man-of-the-hour, may have just won his 310th game, but he is nowhere near satisfied. He realizes the talent he has on his 2011 Hawks team and demands they out-perform their opponents.
But for a little while at least, both he and St. Joe's fans can celebrate all the good Martelli has done for St. Joe's over his 16 year career.
I hope he is right about one thing, because another 310 wins would certainly be nice.
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