Carl “Tay” Jones has a lot of unreturned text messages and calls sitting in his phone. Maybe those will be answered now.
Jones was so upset after scoring two points in Wednesday’s 70-53 loss at St. Louis that he didn’t answer calls or texts – not even from his parents. He went back to the gym and counted down the minutes until the next game.
Jones redeemed himself by scoring 24 points and leading Saint Joseph’s to a confidence-building 82-56 rout over Fordham on Saturday night at Hagan Arena.
“I don’t think I talked until the next day, I was out of it,” Jones said of how he felt after Wednesday’s loss. “I was feeling down about myself. Just felt I let my team down and didn’t do enough that day.”
“I couldn’t wait until today.”
Jones attacked the basket on his first possession, sending a message to the Rams and himself that Saturday wouldn’t be a repeat of Wednesday when he shot 1-for-9 from the field, including 0-for-3 from the arc, in 32 minutes.
But Jones came out determined against the Rams, scoring 17 points in the first half, to help the Hawks (16-11, 7-7 Atlantic 10) remain in the A-10 tourney field with two regular-season games remaining. He finished 9-for-15 from the field, including 5-for-8 from the arc, while having his second-best scoring game this season.
“He and I had a conversation about guard play,” St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli said. “We just have not had high-level guard play. He had to understand what that meant. Tay’s response to our conversation makes me feel better.”
Said Jones, “Last game was a wake-up call for me.”
Halil Kanacevic had a strong game for the Hawks, with 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Kanacevic also brought much-needed energy in the first half to prevent any kind of Fordham run.
“That’s what he does,” Martelli said. “Halil comes every day, that’s what he does every day in practice.”
The Hawks opened the game by missing their first nine shots, but Fordham was even worse in misfiring on its first 11 tries. The result was the Hawks jumped to a 10-2 lead they never would relinquish. St. Joe’s led 39-22 at halftime and the Rams never got closer than 14 points after halftime.
The win keeps the Hawks one game ahead of three teams tied for the final spot in the A-10 tourney. St. Joe’s entered Saturday’s game in a four-way tie for ninth in the league. Twelve of the 16 A-10 teams will make the A-10 tourney, which will be held in Brooklyn.
Martelli isn’t focused on the in/out scenarios with two regular-season games remaining.
“I think it’s the most overblown thing I’ve read,” he said. “I just don’t get what that is all about. … The negative tone has been silly, I think, I really do. It’s flat-out a negative tone. Do you point out who’s in a bye and who’s not in a bye? I think it’s been overdone.
“I just see this game that’s in front of us and let’s get our next win.”
-Aiken out: Hawks big man C.J. Aiken didn’t play after injuring his lower back in Wednesday’s loss at St. Louis. Aiken also has been nursing a sore left wrist, first hurt in a loss at Dayton loss month.
-Miles’ minutes: Freshman Isaiah Miles, who hadn’t played in last 10 games and 11 of last 12, saw some second-half action against Fordham. Miles had three points, set a few good screens, but had three fouls in seven minutes.
Martelli said Miles hasn’t seen the floor because of his subpar performance in practice.
“His practices from December 15 to now have been inadequate,” Martelli said.
However, Miles’ practice sessions have improved since switching to the scout team. Martelli said Miles had a bounce in his step at Friday’s session, earning him minutes in Saturday’s game.
Miles has had to make the adjustment from high school star to benchwarmer.
“Just getting used to it because coming out of high school you were a star player and now you get here and people are just as good as you,” he said. “I’m just waiting my turn and getting ready for next season so I can be on the court.
“Coach told me he wants me to improve my rebounding and my defense so when I do go out there I can contribute in that way. He doesn’t need me to score right now because he has enough scorers out there.”
-Notes: Ronald Roberts had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Hawks. … The Hawks had 19 assists against eight turnovers. … St. Joe’s returns to the court on Wednesday when it hosts Rhode Island at 7 p.m. … Mandell Thomas had a team-high 15 points for Fordham, which played without star big man Chris Gaston (stomach flu). … The Rams fell to 6-23 overall and 2-12 in the A-10.
Phil Martelli press conference