“He walks around different. His shoulders are back, his head is high.” Coach Martelli says of senior forward Isaiah Miles. He does indeed have an air of confidence about him lately, and deservingly so.
Over the course of the last four games, Miles is averaging 25.3 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Against Virginia Tech, Miles put up a career-high 36 points and 15 rebounds. He’s been a crucial part of the historically great start for Saint Joseph’s this season.
An 11-3 start has earned the Hawks three votes in this week’s AP poll. One of the big questions heading into the season was who was going to step up and give DeAndre Bembry some help on offense? No one has answered the call as well as Miles and as a result, Bembry has been able to play more within the offense.
Critics have often called Bembry’s scoring this season into question. His average isn’t quite as high as many had thought it would be by this point in the year. He’s additionally had several silent offensive first halves this season, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Thanks to the impressive emergence of Isaiah Miles, there’s much less pressure on Bembry to score. In fact, Bembry is taking less shots per game this year than he did last year. It’s not because he’s became less aggressive. It’s because he now has the freedom to let the offense come to him.
The Richmond game was the perfect example. Bembry was scoreless in this first half. Despite managing to total 16 points by the end, it didn’t seem like he was scoring much. In addition to six rebounds and six assists, the number at the end of the game is why Bembry’s scoring average shouldn’t trouble fans.
In that game, with the game tied at 73, DeAndre Bembry hit a step back jumper from about 18 feet away with his defender right in his face. He then proceeded to sky in for the rebound on the other end, get fouled, and hit both free throws to ice the game. Not to mention he intercepted Richmond’s inbound pass a second before the final buzzer sounded. Although Bembry wasn’t the team’s leading scorer, he contributed in every other facet of the game and stepped up offensively when he needed to. Thanks to Miles, he just doesn’t need to all of the time anymore.
VCU coach Will Wade says, "[Bembry's] a tremendous player. He's playing much more efficiently and [Saint Joseph’s] is playing really well with him and Miles."
The duo has led the team to a great start this season. The emergence of Isaiah Miles has helped take this team from a middle of the pack Atlantic 10 team to a very possible first round bye in the conference tournament.
As the Hawks delve into their Atlantic 10 schedule, it’s imperative that Miles continues to produce at a high rate, rebound consistently, and hit free throws. His 88.9% free throw percentage ranks him 20th of all Division I players in a category in which Saint Joseph’s generally struggles. Together, Bembry and Miles are leading this team to the level of national recognition.
Photo: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
-Saint Joesph's loses to #25 Rhode Island in the Semifinal of the A-10 tournament