SAINT JOSEPH'S freshman Charlie Brown patiently waited Saturday night for his first shot in his first college game. When the ball finally came to him in shooting position behind the arc, he calmly knocked out a three. He then proceeded to miss his final five shots, most of them badly.
Fast-forward 48 hours to Monday night, back at Hagan Arena. There was Brown, the player his coach had suggested last week might be the Hawks' next pro someday, missing a defensive assignment on a three-point shooter two minutes in against Columbia right in front of that coach. When the ball swished, the coach appeared less than pleased. By the time Brown shot an air ball at the other end, his substitute, Brendan Casper, was already on his way to the scorer's table.
Brown sat for a few minutes, but the benevolent Phil Martelli has a short memory. When the former George Washington High star, who spent last year at St. Thomas More (Conn.) Prep School, returned, he was ready, really ready. He nailed a three from that Saturday spot. He drove the baseline for a layup. He came down the same baseline for a flying dunk, which brought a big smile to point guard Shavar Newkirk's face, like he had seen this all before. Brown hit another three and then, running the right wing, took a perfect pass from Newkirk to end a fastbreak with a layup, 12 points in six minutes, a nice early return on the promise.
As the 6-7 Brown was going off, so was his team. The Hawks lost so much scoring from last season that there was some question about who and how SJU would be scoring. So far, not an issue, as they put up 50 by halftime and crushed the Lions, 85-65.
"He's not like DeAndre' (Bembry) as a wing, but he's got a little bit of Delonte (West) in that he can really raise up on you quickly," Martelli said. "Look, I don't want to be sacrilegious or jinx this kid like if you don't look out there and see (former Villanova star) Kerry Kittles . . . I'm not saying he's going to be Kerry Kittles, but I'm just suggesting he's got fluidity . . . He's going to make a hard run here at some scoring records, in my opinion. He just has to be older tomorrow and understand it's not about one way here, it's not about one end here."
Brown smiled when asked about the early hook. Did the coach say anything?
"I just got the face," said Brown, who finished with 15 points. "I knew what was wrong so he didn't have to say anything."
When he returned, he "got real comfortable."
Newkirk has seen the talent from Brown in practice.
"He's a great player," Newkirk said. "He's young so he still has a lot to learn, but I love his game, I love playing with him."
They will need all that scoring as defensive stopper James Demery is on crutches, his left foot encased in a boot as the result of a stress fracture in the fourth metatarsal sustained during the opening-night win over Toledo. Demery will be out at least a few weeks.
Freshman Nick Robinson, from Chicago, took Demery's place in the starting lineup, making it two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior when the ball went up.
The game was over quickly. Columbia (1-1) went 25-10 last season and won the CIT, the second postseason tournament trophy in Ivy League history. The Lions not only lost four starters from that team, they also lost coach Kyle Smith to San Francisco. Jim Engles, who did such a wonderful job building NJIT from nothing, is now in charge.
The Hawks (2-0) shot 19-for-33 (57.6 percent) in the first half, with 10 assists and just three turnovers. Eight players scored and they could not have been much sharper, especially for a second game with so many new players and old players in more important roles. SJU shot 55.2 percent for the game with only eight turnovers.
The two starting point guards, Newkirk and Lamarr "Fresh" Kimble, were just as good as they were against Toledo, combining for 36 points, 12 assists and two turnovers. Kimble had a second straight career high with 19 points.
Sophomore Chris Clover, after scoring 1,248 points at St. Joseph's Prep, is getting his first extended run. After two early air balls, he recovered nicely to finish with 11 points in 13 minutes.
St. Joe's leaves for the Virgin Islands via Miami at 6 a.m. Wednesday, and they will play three games from Friday to Monday in the Paradise Jam. They won close Saturday and never close Monday.
"I didn't anticipate that we would score like this," Martelli said. "When we hit a bump, that's what I want to see, to see how much we grow."
The bumps are coming. So is the growth.