Saint Joe’s ready to bring thrill back to Hawk Hill

Don’t pay attention to the overall record.

Just look at the final 11 games. That’s when everyone witnessed the maturity and growth of a young Saint Joseph’s team.

The Hawks finished 11-22 last year with the youngest team in coach Phil Martelli’s 16 seasons. But they won six of their last 11 and came within three points of a spot in the Atlantic 10 title game.

Those freshmen who went through the growing pains — guard Langston Galloway, and forwards Ronald Roberts, C.J. Aiken and Daryus Quarles — came back to Hawk Hill much more experienced as sophomores.

They’ll be joined by highly touted freshman guard Chris Wilson, who averaged 18.4 points and 5.7 assists per game as a high school senior.

Combine everything and the Hawks feel really good about the 2011-12 season, which begins Friday at Western Kentucky.

“There’s definitely been a carryover effect,” said Martelli, who needs 10 victories to surpass Bill Ferguson as the school’s career leader with 310 wins. “I don’t think enough can be said about the progress at the end of last year.”

Junior guard Carl Jones, who led the team in scoring last season at 17 points per game, has already scored 842 career points. He’s on pace to become the 48th Saint Joseph’s player to reach the 1,000-point mark.

But Jones is sick of losing games, and he’s anxious to alter that trend.

“Definitely,” Jones said. “There’s more fire in our belly. I feel like we’ve worked harder this year than we did last year.”

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