Saint Joseph's will be without the services of 6'8 junior forward Halil Kanacevic on Saturday. Kanacevic is serving a two-game suspension for an inappropriate hand gesture on December 11th in a loss at Villanova.
The Hawks have had nearly two weeks to dwell on that December 11th loss at Villanova. On Saturday they look to get back in the win column against a Fairfield team riding a three-game winning streak.
Last time out, St. Joe's squandered a late five-point lead in a rivalry game at Villanova. The Hawks fell to the Wildcats 65-61 despite a 22-point outburst from junior guard Langston Galloway.
With Kanacevic unavailable Saturday, look for the Hawks to start a three-guard lineup, with Chris Wilson, Langston Galloway, and Carl Jones starting in the backcourt. C.J. Aiken and Ron Roberts would fill out the starting five.
Fairfield does utilize a deep bench, which is an area of weakness for the Hawks. The Stags have nine players that average double-digit minutes per contest. That being said, the Stags only have one player, 5'11 senior guard Derek Needham, that averages double-digit points per game.
Even without Kanacevic, the Hawks will have a significant advantage over Fairfield on the interior. The Stags' leading rebounder is 6'8 freshman Amadou Sibide, who is averaging 5.7 rebounds per contest. Saturday's game is a homecoming for 6'6 freshman wing Marcus Gilbert. Gilbert is playing good basketball for the Stags, averaging just under 6 points a game in 17 minutes of action.
Saturday's game is a critical one for the Hawks. After an impressive overtime win in Brooklyn over a ranked Notre Dame squad, the Hawks have looked less than impressive for stretches of play. At 5-3, St. Joe's is in a position where they can't afford any bad losses. The Hawks have Fairfield Saturday, then have games at home against Iona, at Morgan State, and at Drexel. These four games are followed by a huge home contest against Butler.
With Kanacevic suspended, it will be interesting to see if coach Phil Martelli is able to give extended minutes to a bench that has seen very limited minutes. Junior Daryus Quarles, sophomore Papa Ndao, and freshman Isaiah Miles are three forwards that could be critical to the Hawks' long-term success this season.
Quarles is a two-year starter for the Hawks, but has seen his minutes dwindle down to just over 9 a game. Ndao and Miles are both averaging just under 7 a game. Saturday's game, with Kanacevic unavailable, looks like a prime opportunity to get these three bench players some extended minutes.
On Saturday at 2 o'clock, the Hawks will look to get back to their winning ways at Hagan Arena, where they are 4-0 this season. A win would put them at 6-3 heading into Christmas.
St. Joe's entered Saturday afternoon's home contest against Fairfield at 5-3 and looking to rebound…