Archive for Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Hawks’ perseverance pays

December 7, 2005


— Brandon Rush and Jeff Hawkins came out shooting so hot from three-point land that it amounted to a big test of faith the St. Joseph's players have in their coach, Phil Martelli.

The Hawks from St. Joe's passed the test.

KU made six of its first seven three-point shots, and still the Hawks stuck to their game plan of clogging the middle and trying to make the Jayhawks beat them from long range.

It worked well enough that St. Joe's prevailed, 70-67, although KU's horrendous free-throw shooting had even more to do with it.

"Our guys stuck to the game plan, and we were down 17-4," Martelli said. "I told them they weren't a three-point shooting team, and they come out and make six of nine in the first half. We stayed with the game plan."

KU freshman Brandon Rush scored 10 points in the first six minutes and three points the rest of the way. Chet Stachitas (27 points, six of seven three-pointers) guarded Rush for much of the night.

"I think our entire team defense deserves credit," Martelli said. "He was primarily Chet's matchup, but we thought that when the going got tough, when they couldn't pound it in the lane, that Rush would be the guy they would lean on to be the guy to take big shots."

A 6-foot-5-inch senior, Stachitas showed that experience can be more valuable than talent on a night he more than doubled Rush's scoring output.

"The big key was that he was a freshman, even though he is a great talent," Stachitas said. "It is a big stage, especially for a freshman. It was a team effort. I wasn't always guarding Rush. They were getting the ball up the floor, we were scrambling to match up against them, so I wasn't always guarding him."

Kansas tried several different defenders on Stachitas, and none of them could cool him off.

"What I like about Chet's three-point shooting is that they are open shots, which means his teammates are delivering the ball properly and he is being properly screened," Martelli said. "He is the type of player people should enjoy because he plays the way we all used to play. He is always in motion."

St. Joe's (4-1) suffered its only loss at Davidson, 100-94 in overtime.

"We demand that we get better than we are today," Martelli said. "We were good, but we were not nearly as good as we have to be to face what we have going forward and into the Atlantic 10."

And St. Joe's is not as good as what KU will face through much of its Big 12 schedule.

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