St. Joe’s (11-3, 1-1) has found its one-two punch.
Much like the illustrious 2003-04 team which featured the stellar point guard play of Jameer Nelson and crafty forward Delonte West, the 2015-16 Hawks are led by a duo of their own in do-it-all forward DeAndre Bembry and maybe the hottest forward in the country right now – Isaiah Miles.
Despite a narrow 85-82 loss to the VCU Rams (10-5, 2-0) at home on Tuesday, the Hawks have the makings of an NCAA Tournament team due to the emergence of their potent duo.
Bembry, who was the most decorated player on the team coming into the season, is averaging 16.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals on the year. But the play of senior forward Miles in recent games has been a pleasant surprise to the Hawks’ faithful and people around the country are starting to take notice.
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“I always believe a senior has two options,” St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli said. “They can say, ‘Been there, done that. I’ve done my individual work, now I deserve a certain respect, whether that’s minutes played or shots taken or the way that I am expected to perform in practice.’
“[Isaiah’s] been the other senior. He’s said, ‘You know what, I’ve got 30 more chances to do this, and I’m going to go out emptying my tank. … Success begets success. He is just a different guy. He walks around different. His shoulders are back, his head is high.”
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In Tuesday’s loss to the Rams, Miles poured in 31 points along with nine rebounds. In a 77-73 win over Richmond on Saturday, he notched a strong double-double with 17 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Two weeks ago against Virginia tech, the senior had his best performance of the year with 36 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks in a 79-62 Hawks win.
He’s overtaken Bembry as the Hawks leading scorer on the year, averaging 18.3 points per game. He’s averaging an incredible 25.3 points per game in the Hawks’ past four games.
“This team can be really, really good,” Miles said. “I’ve been saying that. There are so many pieces; it’s hard to stop us when we’re clicking.’’
Next up for the Hawks is Rhode Island (10-5, 2-0) on Sunday. The game will air at 12 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.