Positives Emerge for St. Francis Brooklyn Despite Season Opening Loss

Coming off a monster upset in Miami on the opening night of the 2013-14 season, fans and pundits alike were expecting St. Francis Brooklyn to give Georgetown a run for their money in Washington D.C. this Saturday.

jones_drive_SFNY
Brent Jones (right) drives the lane versus D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (left) on Saturday. (photo courtesy: St Francis Brooklyn Athletics)

That didn’t happen, as the Hoyas simply possessed too much length and athleticism for the visiting Terriers. The recruiting additions John Thompson III made to improve his roster should reap dividends in the Big East. In particular, L.J Peak (23 points on 9 of 9 shooting) and Tre Campbell (7 points) looked fantastic as regular members of JTIII’s rotation. They’ll certainly be impact freshmen for the Hoyas when Big East play commences.

For the Terriers, they struggled offensively and their transition defense was soft, but overall I was encouraged with this group. With so many newcomers, we all had our questions regarding this team. As Braica echoed after the loss, “We have a lot of new guys, we are a work in progress. I think we’ll get better as the year goes on.”

Here are my takeaways from the Terriers’ 83-62 defeat at the Verizon Center.

  1. While Glenn Braica may have his concerns with how the Terriers would shoot it from the perimeter, he strongly felt this group would excel at attacking the basket, as he told me at NEC Social Media Day. Against a more talented Georgetown club, the Terriers (mainly Tyreek Jewell, Kevin Douglas and Antonio Jenifer) didn’t disappoint in that regard, attacking off the bounce when the opportunity presented itself. Of course, finishing those drives against the likes of Josh Smith and Mikael Hopkins were a different story, but there surely aren’t any NEC teams that possess the length and athleticism JTIII has assembled at Georgetown. I have little doubt that St. Francis will keep NEC opponents on their heels with their aggression. If they can keep defenders honest by striking from the perimeter, well, that leads me to my next point…
  2. In regards to their outside shooting, it’s a concern when Jewell and freshman Gunner Olafsson, two guards that are supposed to help with the departure of Ben Mockford, failed to connect on all nine of their 3-point attempts. Overall, the team shot 32% from behind the arc, even though a majority of those attempts were decent to good looks. Those long misses inevitably led to several fast break points for the Hoyas. It’ll be interesting to see how mid-majors attack when the Terriers’ shots are falling, especially with guys like Jalen Cannon, Amdy Fall and Chris Hooper crashing the offensive glass hard (it’s in their DNA after all).
  3. With Cannon (10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 of 12 shooting) and Fall (2 points, 4 rebounds, 4 blocks) struggling in their season opener, the Terriers still had an impact on the glass, outrebounding the Hoyas 40 to 38 even though Georgetown had a size advantage at practically every position on the floor. Transfer Chris Hooper was a thorn in the Hoyas side, grabbing 4 offensive rebounds and making 3 of 4 on put-backs for 7 points. Douglas wasn’t terribly effective overall, but he still grabbed 8 rebounds, frequently gliding over his opponents in traffic. Even if he doesn’t give you much offense, a healthy Douglas is absolutely a good thing for the Terriers.
  4. This isn’t Earth-shattering breaking news, but Brent Jones is a terrific point guard. With so many talented floor generals leaving the NEC via graduation, Jones is head and shoulders the best one in the NEC for the 2014-15 season. He played a nearly complete game versus Georgetown, registering 13 points, six assists, three rebounds, and two steals. His assignment on defense was D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, a player who posted a ridiculous 120.6 offensive rating while handling 24% of the team’s possessions as a sophomore, and yet Smith-Rivera was held to just eight points on 2 of 9 shooting. The ultra talented Smith-Rivera still made his mark elsewhere with nine rebounds and six assists, but Jones’ excellent on the ball defense gave a Big East stud guard a difficult time getting his points.

Cannon certainly agrees with my assessment regarding Jones: “What people don’t give Brent [Jones] credit for is he’s probably one of our best defenders on the team, that’s what I would say. Brent is definitely the most complete player on our team. When he gets everyone going, gets people in spots, we really start clicking. I feed off of him. Some people say they feed off of me, but I really feed off of him.”

Overall, I think the rotation for St. Francis will be solid (one game sample size shall apply!). I had my concerns with the departure of Wayne Martin this past summer, but I think their frontcourt play will be a decided strength versus league competition. We’ll find out a lot about the Terriers when they host Army, a team pegged as a top four Patriot League squad by yours truly, next Wednesday.

You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride

One thought on “Positives Emerge for St. Francis Brooklyn Despite Season Opening Loss

  1. Although the final score vs Georgetown was disappointing, there were a lot of SFC positives, as you pointed out. Don’t think that the outside shooting will be as bad (only 32%), going forward. Both Jewell and Olafsson may have had some first game jitters, as neither had been in a Div-1 game before and certainly not against an opponent of this caliber. Jones did open up a bit from three, as had been expected and was pretty effective. Jon Doss, who hit threes last year in juco at a 40% clip, did not play for the Terriers on Saturday, for whatever reason. Underneath, the Terriers were relentless, outrebounding the much bigger Hoyas, especially on the offensive glass, which should bode well once the Terriers start playing other mid-majors and their NEC slate. Georgetown had six players over 6-8, while no Terrier was taller than 6-7. After sitting out last year, Tony Jenifer started showing some of the skills that made him a Juco All-American. He may start to see major minutes going forward. Also, Amdy Fall was a defensive standout, with four blocks. However, the Terriers missed too many easy shots around the hoop and shot poorly from the free throw line. Their inability to close out the MSM game from the foul line was one of the reasons that they went home earlier than expected from the NEC playoffs last year. Overall, it was a great effort. It illustrated the difference between an upper tier team from the NEC as compared to an upper tier program in the Big East. Can’t wait to see their next game against West Point. It should give Terrier fans a better idea of the relative strength of this team versus another quality opponent.

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