There are certain teams that can’t afford to lose certain players.
For Saint Joe’s, Shavar Newkirk is one of those players. Unfortunately for the Hawks, Newkirk will miss the rest of the season after tearing his left ACL in a comeback win over George Washington in their A-10 opener.
It’s a crushing blow for Newkirk, who was enjoying a breakout season in an expanded role with DeAndre Bembry, Isaiah Miles and Aaron Brown gone from last year’s NCAA tournament team.
It’s also clearly a gut-punch to a team that had stabilized as of late, winning four of its last five games, including quality victories over Princeton and GW.
But the Hawks will still tip-off Tuesday night against Rhode Island, and here are several things to look for as they carry on without Newkirk:
Keep it up, Charlie Brown
The freshman wing has been a nice surprise, averaging 11.0 points per game and scoring in double figures the past four games. Brown, who’s played over thirty minutes per game, was likely thrust into a bigger role than Phil Martelli would’ve preferred after James Demery went down in the season opener.
Demery returned against GW, but Brown’s role will only grow as he’ll need to shoulder even more of the scoring load. Fittingly, he was named the A-10 Rookie of the Week for the past week. That honor will need to keep rolling in if the Hawks hot stretch is going to continue.
The inevitable lineup shuffle
Lamarr Kimble hasn’t really come off the court this season, and that won’t change. Sophomore guard Chris Clover (14.1 MPG, 4.3 PPG) would seem to be the main candidate for increased playing time. The Philly native has been a part of the rotation this season, but has played 20 minutes or more in a game just once in his career.
Martelli may also consider going even smaller than he’s already been forced to go. Freshman wing Nick Robinson (22.1 MPG, 6.0 PPG) stepped into Demery’s starting role at the four. With Demery back, it could make sense at times to run out a lineup that has Robinson and Demery in the frontcourt, alongside Brown, Kimble and Clover.
Losing a strength?
The Hawks have avoided turnovers this season, primarily because the ball has almost always been in either Kimble or Newkirk’s hands. They’ll obviously miss Newkirk’s scoring, but may miss his ball-handling just as much. Brown has been good as well, but will that continue as the freshman steps into an expanded role? They’ll get an immediate test against a disruptive URI defense.