This isn’t happening again, is it?
That thought had to cross the minds of Phil Martelli and Saint Joe’s fans on Wednesday as the school announced that sophomore forward Charlie Brown would miss a “few weeks” with a wrist injury. This comes after a season in which the Hawks were gutted by injuries.
Shavar Newkirk (20.3 PPG) tore his ACL in late December, limiting his season to just 12 games. A little over a month later, Lamarr Kimble (15.5 PPG, 4.5 APG) suffered a foot injury that ended his sophomore campaign after 24 games. This removed the two best players from Martelli’s squad and in their absence, Brown continued a great freshman season. Shortly after Kimble’s injury, he talked about the Hawks’ mindset.
“Just got to get better,” Brown said. “Can’t say nothing more other than that.”
And that’s what he and a young core suddenly thrust into leading roles did. The baptism by fire given to Brown (12.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG), fellow freshman Nick Robinson (23.4 MPG), as well as sophomores Chris Clover (22.7 MPG) and Markell Lodge (17.7 MPG) was the silver lining in a frustrating year.
With Newkirk and Kimble back, along with senior forward James Demery, the Hawks suddenly had an experienced supporting cast. Brown is the headliner of that group: an athletic wing that can stretch the floor and make defenses pay for focusing on either of Saint Joe’s backcourt stars.
That very likely could still be the case, and there’s no indication in the school’s brief release that Brown’s injury is serious. But it is a grim flashback to the issues that derailed the Hawks’ A-10 Tournament title defense a year ago. And it’s exaggerated by the fact that Saint Joe’s could very well be a factor in the league this season.
There doesn’t seem to be much certainty in the A-10 heading into 2017-18. Rhode Island looks to be the favorite, with Saint Bonaventure also primed for a great year behind a top-flight backcourt. Dayton and VCU, on the other hand, are replacing coaches, while other teams (George Washington, Richmond, Davidson) lost stars. Healthy seasons from Newkirk and Kimble could put Saint Joe’s right in the mix.
Now, the health watch, even if minor, needs to be put on Brown as well.