Saint Joseph's (PA) and La Salle have very poor basketball programs. Neither generate much fan interest; neither have had much success. But the performances of both their coaches has reached the level of unacceptable, and both coaches should be fired.
As reported by Bleacher Report at the beginning of the season, Phil Martelli started out on the Hot Seat. And let's just say things have not gone well for Saint Joseph's (PA) this season. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/483203-college-basketball-coach-phil-martelli-of-saint-josephs-pa-on-the-hot-seat
La Salle was picked to win the Atlantic 10 last season. They finished at the bottom, missing the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Their best players, Aaric Murray and Rodney Green, were healthy all season. Now, with Murray a sophomore, things are just as bad for the Explorers. A truly horrible program.
Phil Martelli had a great season in 2004. Things have been downhill ever since. To summarize:
- More transfers than one can count on one hand.
- Poor player development for the respectable recruits, such as Ahmad "Ice Cream" Nivins.
- Poor talent evaluation on the recruiting trail. Example: overhyping Pat Calathes and Darnell Govens as better recruits than Kyle Lowry and Scottie Reynolds in their respective years.
- Poor motivation of players. Saint Joseph's (PA) is able to score moral victories against their hated rivals, Villanova, yet find themselves being trounced by very poor teams like Penn and St. Bonaventure. For more on Saint Joseph's (PA)'s "rivalry" with Villanova, read this Bleacher Report article: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/529641-villanova-versus-saint-josephs-pa-college-basketballs-holy-war
- Phil tends to shift blame for poor performances from himself to his players.
- Weak scheduling has fans feeling cheating.
- Fan apathy has set in at Saint Joseph's (PA). Saint Joseph's (PA) had to cancel midnight madness this year because of lack of fan interest.
- Failed to finish in the top 50 RPI since 2004 and have become a staple outside the top 100.
- Questionable academic issues as Delonte west remained eligible his entire career at Saint Joseph's (PA).
Phil clearly does not know how to build a successful college basketball program.
So how does Phil Martelli respond in this oh-so-critical season?
- 5-14 overall record to start this season.
- 0-5 in the weak Atlantic 10.
- Just lost to Penn, for the first Penn win for their senior class (1-15 total). For more on the Big 5, read this Bleacher Report article: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/557440-college-basketball-phillys-big-5-villanova-temple-penn-st-joes-la-salle
- Lost to No. 200 ranked Western Kentucky by 28 points.
- Lost to Drexel by a dozen.
- Lost to Princeton.
- Lost to No. 134 Creighton.
- Lost to No. 200+ Boston University.
- Lost to Duquesne.
- Lost to No. 200 George Washington.
- Lost to No. 155 St. Louis by 16.
- Lost to No. 200+ Penn by a dozen.
Are those wins over Rutgers, Norfolk State, Fairfield, Holy Cross and Siena, none of whom are top 100 teams, really enough to save Phil's job?
This journalist says heck no. Time for Phil to go.
Many Saint Joseph's (PA) fans agree. Long time fans on message boards, such as Blow This Garbage Off The Floor, NumberOneFan, Hawk91, 6thMan and HawkDog14 are calling for Phil's head. Long time Hawk Hoops Club President, Head Painter, has abandoned the team all together.
Dr. John Giannini
As reported by Bleacher Report, La Salle should be kicked out of the Atlantic 10 conference. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/492829-college-basketball-sorry-la-salle-but-atlantic-10-should-trim-the-fat
But the poor situation at La Salle is no excuse for Giannini's failure at La Salle.
This season, La Salle is horrible. They are able to keep some games close, but Dr. Giannini has proven to be a mental midget as La Salle loses close games and continues to be unable to win basketball's mental game.
I have already mentioned La Salle's complete failure last season. Picked to win the Atlantic 10, picked by many to make the NCAA Tournament, yet finished 12-18 (4-12) with an RPI of 173 and missed the Atlantic 10 Tournament. This train wreck lost 9 of their final 10 games.
There is really no reason to expand on Dr. Giannini. He is apparently a nice guy, but last year's failure coupled with this year's weak mental performances lead this journalist, and most La Salle fans, to believe a change is needed.
Should La Salle and Saint Joseph's (PA) fire their coaches?
The Replacement Candidates
Saint Joseph's (PA) has a little more clout in finding their replacement for Phil. Saint Joseph's (PA) has small, but revamped, facilities, a larger budget, and a passionate fan base. Leading candidates for the Saint Joseph's (PA) position include:
- Fred Hill—the front runner. Hill was a great recruiter for a long time before his somewhat disasterous stint as head coach of Rutgers. In Hill's defense, what was Rutgers thinking hiring a coach with no experience to try to rebuild their putrid program? Hill did land some solid recruits while at Rutgers. Will Hill be able to learn from his mistakes in his first go as head coach and win some games in the Atlantic 10?
- Tim Welsh—Welsh went a decade at Providence without a tournament win. However, he did have some decent teams. His team with Ryan Gomes did crack the national top 10 before slumping late in the season and falling to Pacific in the first round of the tournament. Welsh was recently hired by Hofstra, but was fired after being arrested for driving while under the influence. Welsh has a high octane offensive style, but a poor defensive philosophy.
- Norm Roberts—Roberts struggled while at St. John's, but has a good reputation as a coach who can help to rebuild a program. St. John's was in the gutter when Roberts took over, and he left them in better shape. Roberts is currently doing television work for the Big East Network out of New York; would he want to pass that up for a job at Saint Joseph's (PA)?
- Steve Lappas—Lappas had great success in Philadelphia in the past. He coached Villanova to one Big East Tournament title in 1995, a top 10 season in 1996, and a Big East regular season title in 1997. Seven of his last nine years resulted in RPI top 50 teams. Villanova has lofty standards, so they went in a different direction, but Lappas could do okay at Saint Joseph's (PA).
- Bruiser Flint—Many Saint Joseph's (PA) fans really want Bruiser to be their next guy, but why would Bruiser leave Drexel to go to Saint Joseph's (PA)?
La Salle is not likely to be able to poach a head coach from another school. They have no fan base and weak administrative support for their program. Not many college assistants would be interested in this job either. La Salle may have to look to the local high school ranks for a replacement. Some suggestions:
- Huck Palmer—Palmer is currently affiliated with the West Catholic High School Burrs as their stat man. Palmer is a huge La Salle fan and knows the game well. Palmer could be the man to turn La Salle around.
- Wade Garrett—Garrett is located in New York City and is considered to be a guru of the hardwood.
- Jake Tickles—Another young coaching option with strong New York ties and a passion for the game.
- Eric Watkins - Watkins is a highly respected northeast corridor talent evaluator based out of Philadelphia. One has to wonder if Watkins would be interested in the headache that comes along with coaching La Salle.
TJ Corbs - tackling the hard hitting issues of the northeast corridor.