Lamarr Kimble, the freshman sensation, knocked down a clutch jumper to give the eighth-seeded St. Joe’s Hawks (28-8, 13-5) a 58-51 lead over the top-seeded Oregon Ducks (31-7, 14-4) with just 5:33 remaining in the game. A win would send the Hawks to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since their miracle Jameer Nelson run in 2004.
But the Hawks would go cold. An 18-6 Ducks run knocked off the upset bid as junior DeAndre Bembry (17.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists) and senior Isaiah Miles (18.1 points, 8.1 rebounds) would end their stellar careers in disappointment. Coach Phil Martelli is left to regroup and rebuild upon the success of last season, with such a big chunk of the offense gone from a season ago.
“The offensive part of it has been the biggest struggle,” Martelli said. “I don’t worry defensively, we’ll come up with a game plan, we’ll be able to organize them on defense, but it’s just such a hard game when you don’t score.”
The Hawks hope that Kimble can fill some of that void. While Kimble’s stats of 6.0 points and 2.5 assists per game last season don’t blow anybody away, he registered double-digits in points for 10 of the team’s final 20 games. With Bembry and Miles gone, he’ll be asked to do a lot more offensively this season.
“We definitely have the potential to be really scary in terms of we’ve got a lot of guys who can score in different areas, from different places,” Kimble said. “Once we get everybody in their strong spots and we all play together and share the ball, and do all the little things that you’re supposed to do to win, it’ll turn out well in the long run.”
Joining Kimble in the starting lineup will likely be junior guard Shevar Newkirk (8.0 points, 2.6 assists), junior forward James Demery (8.1 points, 3.6 rebounds), redshirt sophomore forward Markell Lodge and redshirt senior center Javon Baumann.
For Lodge and Baumann, it will be their first time playing extensive minutes for the Hawks, who both were limited to just above four minutes a game in 2015-16.
“We will play with a bigger player,” Martelli said. “That doesn’t mean we’ll play bigger, but we’ll play with a bigger player and we’ll play with less reliance on long-range shooting. We’re really trying to get this team to drive the ball as much as they can, try to put them on positions where they can drive the ball as much as we can.”
First up for the Hawks is the Toledo Rockets on Saturday. You can listen in at 7 p.m. on 610 WIP Sportsradio.
F – Charlie Brown, G – Nick Robinson, G – Toliver Freeman, G – Christian Vega, F – Lorenzo Edwards
F – DeAndre Bembry (NBA), F – Isaiah Miles (graduated)