Expectations are high in Philadelphia this season. On paper, this Saint Joseph’s Hawks team should be the best since Coach Phil Martelli led them to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2016. They have some of the best roster continuity in all of college basketball and feature arguably the best backcourt in the Atlantic 10. It is an important season for Coach Billy Lange as well. In his fifth season with the Hawks, Coach Lange has yet to finish .500 or win double-digit conference games.
However, it has been a steady climb. After two total rebuilding seasons, the Hawks have been competitive for the last two years. This time around though there are high expectations for a program with a history of success.
Per KenPom, Saint Joseph’s is 12th nationally in roster continuity returning over 70% of their minutes from last season. Two of those returners are Erik Reynolds and Cameron Brown who were selected to the preseason first and third All-Atlantic 10 teams, respectively. Those two averaged a combined 32.9 points per game and are a major reason why this team is expected to compete toward the top of the A-10.
Coach Lange runs an analytics-friendly offense that relies heavily on three-point shots and layups. Saint Joe’s is currently 14th in three-point rate nationally and scores 39.5% of their points from deep. However, as witnessed in their home loss to Texas A&M-Commerce, the Hawks are susceptible to going cold as well. With their style of play, this is a team capable of beating any team in the country, but also capable of losing to any team in the country.
As usual, we have prepared a full, in-depth scouting report for Kentucky’s latest opponent. We will take a deep dive into the Hawks’ personnel, break down their offensive and defensive schemes, and highlight the keys to the game for the ‘Cats. Let’s dive in and get to know more about the Saint Joseph’s Hawks.
Saint Joseph’s Hawks Personnel
#5 Lynn Greer III: 6’2″ 180 lbs, Junior Guard
12.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 5.0 apg
Point Guard. Dynamic playmaker. Very capable shooter, but more aggressive as a right-hand driver. Need to play him as straight up as possible. 5-8 from 3 on the season. We need to go OVER the ballscreens and handoffs. However, be sure to get him corralled off of the ballscreen. Stay until the guard is all the way back in front. Excellent passer. We want to limit help from the perimeter. Make him throw it to the roll man if he is going to make a play off of the ballscreen. CHASE him off of downscreens and get OVER the flares. Be very willing to SWITCH to take him away from 3 and stay between him and the basket. Very aggressive driving it right. No straight-line, right-hand drives. Do not over-help from the perimeter when he drives. Make him finish contested 2s.
#2 Erik Reynolds II: 6’2″ 180 lbs, Junior Guard
14.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.5 apg
SHOOTER!!! NO 3s!!! 31 of 45 shots have been 3s. Shooting a better percentage from 3 than he is from 2. Have to be tight to him at all times to take away his 3-point ATTEMPTS. Get OVER the ballscreens and handoffs. CHASE off of downscreens and get OVER the flares. Be very willing to SWITCH anytime there is too much space to take him away from 3. Absolutely no help off of him. Have to find him in transition. Always the next most dangerous guy. We want to pressure him on the perimeter and make him drive it. Looking to drive it right. If he isn’t dribbling you aren’t close enough. Make him finish contested 2s. Do not over-help from the perimeter when he drives it. Just make him finish. Be tight to him at all times. No 3s!!!
#3 Cameron Brown: 6’6″ 225 lbs, Graduate Student Guard
8.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.3 apg
Bigger guard. SHOOTER!!! NO 3s!!! 24 of 38 shots have been 3s. Shooting just 29.2%, but made 81 3s at 36% last season. Have to treat him as a knockdown shooter. Have to be tight to him at all times to take away his 3-point ATTEMPTS. Get OVER the ballscreens and handoffs. CHASE off of downscreens and get OVER the flares. Be very willing to SWITCH anytime there is too much space to take him away from 3. Absolutely no help off of him. Find him in transition. Very capable right-hand driver. You need to be physical at the end of his drives as he will look to get into your body to finish. Will shot fake and pivot to come back and finish with his right. Stay down, wall up, and make him score over you. Good offensive rebounder. Box out. No 3s!!!
#13 Rasheer Fleming: 6’9″ 230 lbs, Sophomore Forward
10.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.5 apg
Super athletic, long 4-man. Very versatile player. He is going to play out on the perimeter quite a bit. Need to be close enough to at least get a hand up and contest his catch-and-shoot 3s. We will tighten up a little more if he makes a couple. Loves to face up on mid-post catches. Capable of shooting the little face-up jumper or driving it right. Likes to drive it right from the perimeter too, especially against closeouts. No right-hand drives! Much more dangerous as a driver than a shooter. Stay in front and make him score over you. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Stay down, wall up, and make him score with you between him and the basket. Excellent rim-runner and lob threat. Get all the way back in transition. Don’t help up off of him in the dunker’s spot. Box out!
#22 Christ Essandoko: 7’0″ 285 lbs, Redshirt Freshman Center
4.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.7 apg
Massive post. Skilled for his size. Plays on the perimeter as a ball screener or handing off in Zoom/Get actions. Will face-up on the elbows to act as a playmaker. Good passer. Will drive it right, but you can get up and pressure him to deter the passing angles. Eight turnovers in thre games. More comfortable as a passer than he is handling it. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Be physical and get him off of the block. His percentages will go down the further off of the block you make him catch it. Be physical, wall up, and make him score over you. We want to MAKE them throw it to him on the roll. Don’t help from the perimeter. Stay as long as you need to off of #22 on the roll to get the ball stopped. Make him beat us on the roll. Box out!
#11 Xzayvier Brown: 6’2″ 165 lbs, Freshman Guard
11.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.5 apg
Very talented backup guard. Aggressive offensive player. Good shooter, but even better and more aggressive as a driver. Nearly the same scout as #5 Greer. Need to play him straight up. 5-13 from 3 on the season. We need to go OVER the ballscreens and handoffs. However, be sure to get him corralled off of the ballscreen. Stay until the guard is all the way back in front. You can stunt and fake at him especially when he is driving it right. Make him give it up, but we still want to limit help from the perimeter. Make him throw it to the roll man if he is going to make a play off of the ballscreen. Get your hands up and make him score over you at the end of his drives. Very aggressive driving it right. No straight-line, right-hand drives. Make him finish contested 2s.
#0 Kacper Klaczek: 6’8″ 225 lbs, Junior Forward
7.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.0 apg
Backup forward. Face-up, pick-and-pop 4-man. Very willing shooter. 91 of 155 shots last season were 3s, but made just 29.7%. This season, 13 of 27 shots have been 3s but he has made just two. He is hunting catch-and-shoot 3s though. Need to be there on the catch to give a hard contest. Be VERY willing to switch when he ballscreens to get out and take away the catch-and-shoot 3s. When you take away the initial catch-and-shoot 3 he is going to look to drive it right. Bounce back and guard against the right-hand drives. Physical at the end of his drives. Will shot and pivot to come back with his right hand. Stay down, wall up, and make him score over you. Box him out. No uncontested catch-and-shoot 3s.
#23 Anthony Finkley: 6’6″ 240 lbs, Freshman Forward
1.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.3 apg
Backup 5-man. Undersized but very strong and moves well. Primarily in there to screen, rebound, and defend. Will ballscreen and roll to the basket. He is out on the perimeter a lot to move the ball in handoff/zoom/get actions. 8 of his 10 shots have been 3s but has only made one. Throw a hand up to contest if he shoots it. We will adjust if he makes a couple. Similar to #22, we want to make them throw it to him on the roll or pop. Don’t help from the perimeter. Stay as long as you need to off of #23 on the roll or pop to get the ball stopped. Make him beat us on the roll or pop. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Be physical, wall up, and make him score over you. Very active on the offensive glass. Box out!
Saint Joseph’s Hawks Offense
Don’t let their result against Texas A&M-Commerce give you a false sense of security in this game. The Saint Joseph’s Hawks are a good offensive team that can get hot in a hurry from beyond the arc. They are 13th nationally in three-point rate taking 49% of their field goal attempts from deep. Furthermore, 39.5% of their points come from beyond the arc which is the 22nd most in the country. The Hawks are going to play very fast and shoot a ton of threes. In terms of scheme, when they aren’t scoring in transition they will run a lot of 5-out Motion or 4-around-1 with their post primarily acting as a ball screener. We want to make them shoot as many contested two-point shots with us between them and the basket as possible.
First and foremost you have to slow down the Saint Joseph’s Hawks in transition. That is always going to be their first look offensively. Protect the basket, stop the ball, and matchup beginning with the next most dangerous guy. That is the transition defense checklist that you must go through IN ORDER. You do not have a “matchup” in transition. In the above clip, the defender on the far side should have matched up with #5 Greer III. He was the next most dangerous guy in this scenario (#3 in the corner is a sub-30% shooter). Transition defense will be key in this one.
We want to really focus on limiting the easy looks for their guards. Our goal is to either make them give it up (to the 5-man) or finish contested 2s at the rim. However, the one scenario where we can help from the perimeter is when #13 Fleming is on the weak side like he is in this clip. Excellent defense by Texas A&M-Commerce selling out at the rim. We don’t care if they throw it to #22 at the top of the key. If they throw it to #13 just stunt at him and then go to #2 or whoever the better shooter is on that side. No easy looks for their guards.
This is what we want to see from our defense against the Saint Joseph’s Hawks on Monday night. They are going to set a lot of ballscreens, we have to go over the top of them, but we want to stay between the ball and the basket. We will do that by abandoning the roll/pop guy for as long as necessary to corral the ball handler or contest his shot at the rim. This is really good defense by the Lions.
Here is a good example of Saint Joe’s in their Motion offense. Texas A&M-Commerce does a good job of staying between the ball and the basket and not over-helping from the perimeter. We do not want to give up inside-out three-point attempts. Help from their big men and make them finish contested 2s.
Saint Joseph’s Hawks Defense
Coach Lange will play man-to-man defense and be very willing to switch 1-4 and even 1-5 especially when #23 Finkley is in at the 5. Their guards are very quick and athletic which allows them to bother the ball some on the perimeter. We don’t want to get sped up, but we also need to take advantage of some of their aggressiveness and drive to the basket when we can. Saint Joseph’s will help aggressively with two hands and two feet on drives to force three-point shots as well. Opponents are shooting over 46% of their shots from deep against the Hawks which is one of the highest numbers in the country. Drive-and-kick opportunities will be there throughout the night. We must play off of two feet and then be ready to shoot it in from 3.
Keys to the Game
- Limit them from 3-point range. Have to take away #2 Reynolds II, #5 Greer III, #11 Brown, and # Brown. No more than eight made 3s for Saint Joseph’s.
- Limit turnovers. We have been excellent at taking care of the ball this season. They are good at forcing turnovers and are very good in transition. Turnover percentage needs to be below 13%.
- Dominate the glass. Shooting a lot of 3s leads to a lot of long rebounds. We need to continue to defensive rebound at a high level. 77% or better on the defensive glass.
- Shoot 75% or better from the free throw line.