After nearly knocking off eventual national champion UConn in the NCAA tournament round of 64, Saint Joseph’s will have to account for the loss of three of the top four scorers from that team. Guard Langston Galloway and forwards Halil Kanacevic and Ronald Roberts Jr. are all playing professionally now, meaning that returnees such as senior guard Chris Wilson (9.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.7 apg) and sophomore forward DeAndre Bembry (12.1, 4.5, 2.7) will lead the way for Phil Martelli in 2014-15.
Another player who was expected to factor into the rotation was 6-foot-8 senior forward Papa Ndao, who averaged 2.5 points and 1.3 rebounds in 11.6 minutes of action per game. Given the departures mentioned above Ndao was in line to see his minutes increase substantially, with the Hawks’ five starters from last season all averaging at least 32.6 minutes per game.
Unfortunately that won’t be the case for Ndao, as it was announced by the school Friday that he will miss the entire 2014-15 season due to an undisclosed medical issue.
“Papa’s well-being is our primary concern,” Martelli said in the release. “While I am disappointed that Papa won’t be with us physically, I expect him to play a significant role as a team leader.”
Finding capable leaders will be key for Saint Joseph’s, which opens practice Saturday. One would assume that Wilson, as the team’s most experienced returnee, will be one of those players with Bembry being another option. As for the front court, losing Ndao hurts the Hawks from a depth standpoint with sophomore Isaiah Miles (9.3 mpg, 3.0 ppg) being the most experienced reserve.
Among the other options Martelli will have in the front court are freshmen James Demery, Markell Lodge and Obi Romero, and redshirt sophomore Javon Baumann. Despite playing in just 15 games last season, Baumann (1.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg) shared the team’s Most Improved Player award with Wilson.