Saturday's matchup between Creighton and Saint Joseph’s probably isn’t one that leaps out onto the national radar, but it intrigues me for a number of reasons.
The Atlantic 10 is again a sneaky deep conference this season -- as UMass proved early with its wins over Boston College and LSU -- and I think the Hawks are a sleeper.
Saint Joseph’s is motivated after losing to Creighton in a big way, 80-51 last season, when the teams met in Omaha, Neb. But Saturday’s meeting could be much different. For starters, it’s in Philadelphia, where the Hawks are always tough.
Plagued by slow offensive starts last season, Saint Joe’s appears to have benefited from taking a foreign tour and playing games in Italy this summer. Guard Langston Galloway may not have picked up Italian, but so far he's been fluent in scoring. The 6-foot-2 senior is averaging 20.5 points and is a major reason why it seems the Hawks’ scoring problems from a season ago are in the past.
Forward Ronald Roberts Jr. is a much better player than he showed in last season's meeting, when he was limited to 1-of-3 shooting and finished with just three points and five rebounds. Roberts is averaging 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds through two games.
In addition, the Hawks are not likely to repeat their forgettable first half against Creighton last season when they shot just 29 percent from the field, scored 20 points and ended up trailing by 27.
The Bluejays are hovering as the first team in the “others receiving votes" in both the Associated Press and USA Today coaches' polls. A win likely gets them ranked next week. You have to admire coach Greg McDermott for playing a true road game so early in the season, but with his veteran lineup, there’s good reason to take that risk.
Senior forward Doug McDermott manages to make his 28.5 scoring average through two games look mundane. But what’s been a bit surprising is the emergence of Devin Brooks. The 6-2 junior college transfer is a reserve who is averaging 9.5 points and leads the team with 7.5 rebounds per game.