Martelli: The pain is raw over firing by St. Joe's

Phil Martelli said Wednesday that "the pain is raw" from his firing as Saint Joseph's coach after 34 years at the Philadelphia school but that he wants to continue coaching.

"I do know this, 40 hours later," Martelli told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "I do have the juice. I do want to coach again. I won't let it scar me."

Martelli, 64, had been head coach at the school since 1995, after 10 years as an assistant. He was not given a choice to resign or retire, the Inquirer reported. Saint Joseph's athletic director Jill Bodensteiner told The Associated Press that although it was "excruciating" to part ways with Martelli, she "didn't feel like we were giving the student-athletes an optimal chance to succeed."

Martelli said he had not read the three-paragraph statement from the school announcing his firing.

"I don't really have an interest," Martelli said. "The pain is raw. It's still here. ... I haven't seen it. Nor will I."

The finality of the decision hit Martelli hard.

"It's hard not to say with this handling, to not say, 'You know what, I failed,'" Martelli said. "That's been the hardest part for me, to get beyond the fact that I failed." Martelli said he had not made a decision on what he would do next but did say television and the NBA are not as close to his heart as coaching in college.

"I want, and in a way need, to be on a sideline," Martelli said. "Not to justify my career at Saint Joseph's -- to have an impact, on players, on a campus, on a student body."

Under Martelli, the Hawks made seven NCAA tournament appearances and six NIT appearances. They had a historic season in 2004, winning their first 27 games en route to the Elite Eight behind the star backcourt of Jameer Nelson and Delonte West. Martelli earned national Coach of the Year honors that season. St. Joe's won four Atlantic 10 regular-season championships during Martelli's tenure.

The Hawks had struggled the past three seasons, failing to finish above .500 overall. This season, they went 14-19 overall and 6-12 in the Atlantic 10.