As intimidating as Delaney has been all season with his 16.0 scoring and 9.4 rebounding averages, he says guard Anthony Johnson, a former Cougars ball boy who leads the team in assists and steals, "has been the difference in our season. He elevated his game, and he is the reason we are where we are right now."
"The other players are, I think, as good as Delaney," says Campbell coach Billy Lee. "Playing the College of Charleston is like fighting a buzz saw. Anywhere you hit it, you're going to get hurt."
The TV set in the St. Joseph's basketball office is wired to a satellite dish, and Phil Martelli, the Hawks' second-year coach, likes to channel-surf during idle moments. Whenever the remote lands on a college basketball coach's show, Martelli is overcome with boredom. "I saw the guy from Murray State had a show," he says. "It's the same show as the guy from Duquesne and the guy from Notre Dame. They talk about the 2 zone, the 3 play. It's all coachspeak."
So when a local television producer approached Martelli about doing a show this year for Sports-Channel in Philadelphia, Martelli decided he wanted to be different. Hawk Tawk with Phil Martelli is certainly that. Martelli hosts the show, Johnny Carson-like, from behind a desk, and presides over really bad comedy bits—Top 10 lists, viewer mail, even Martelli the Magnificent, a takeoff on the old answer-and-question Carnac routines, which were a Carson staple. "I'm not paid for it," Martelli says. "I do it because I enjoy it. If you're flipping through the channels, it makes you stop and say, 'Whoa, what's going on with this?' "
Of course, that last line might be applicable to this entire improbable St. Joe's season. After creeping into the Top 25 for the first time in 24 years, the Hawks beat Massachusetts 78-63 on Feb. 25 to secure the best record in the Atlantic 10's East division. Their success has been all the more surprising because they certainly are not overwhelming the opposition with talent. St. Joe's depends on balance and solid fundamentals. It starts a three-man backcourt of junior point guard Rashid Bey, senior Terrell Myers and freshman Arthur (Yah) Davis, who are all three-point threats. And though their lineup has been smaller than that of almost every opponent, the Hawks have outrebounded their foes over the course of the season. No player averages more than 5.2 rebounds, but five of them average more than 4.1. And thanks to Bey, who guides the offense with masterly confidence, St. Joe's keeps miscues to a minimum. "They know exactly what they have to do to win, and they don't get away from it," says UMass guard Carmelo Travieso.
Best of all, the Hawks seem to truly enjoy their success. They haven't been there, have never done that and aren't bothering to pretend otherwise. "Even our staunchest supporter wouldn't have told you this season was possible," Martelli says. "I mean, let's not get jaded. There's too much of that. There are going to be a lot of down times. So why not enjoy this?"