St. Francis Brooklyn Season Recap

From opening night the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers made their mark on the 2013-14 college basketball season. SFC started the season out with maybe Nov. 8’s biggest shocker, defeating defending ACC champion Miami (FL) in overtime. Continue reading “St. Francis Brooklyn Season Recap”

St. Francis Brooklyn 78, LIU Brooklyn 64

In order to become champions a team must defeat those that have climbed the mountain before them. St. Francis Brooklyn started its ascent up the NEC standings with an impressive 78-64 victory over LIU Brooklyn at the Pope Athletic Center in Brooklyn Heights on Thursday. Continue reading “St. Francis Brooklyn 78, LIU Brooklyn 64”

NEC Team Primer: #7 St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers

Head Coach: Glenn Braica, 4th season (42-48, 30-24 NEC)
Last Season: 12-18, 8-10 (NEC), Lost to Robert Morris NEC tournament quarterfinals
RPI/KenPom: 209/223
NEC Preseason Poll: 7th out of 10 teams
State of Programs: Hoping to Surprise
Starters Returning: 4
Key Loss(es): Akeem Johnson (10.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.6 apg), Travis Nichols (9.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg), Dre Calloway (5.2 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 2.8 apg)
Incoming Players: Amdy Fall (F), Yunus Hopkinson (G), Sheldon Hagigal (G), Wayne Martin (F)

StFrancisTerriersProjected Starting Lineup:
PG: Brent Jones (6.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 4.2 apg, 1.6:1 A/TO)
G: Ben Mockford (11.1 ppg, 40% 3pt%)
G: Kevin Douglas (7.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 16 games played due to injury)
F: Jalen Cannon (14.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 58% 2pt%)
F: Amdy Fall (So. JUCO transfer)

Key Reserves: Lowell Ulmer (F), Matt Milk (F), Aleksandar Isailovic (G), Anthony White (G), Wayne Martin (F), everyone… (Braica’s rotation is deep)

Major Storylines:

  • More Athleticism – When Kevin Douglas went down with an injured arm midway through the season the Terriers lost more than a player who was coming into his own offensively. They also lost their most athletic on-ball defender. This recruiting class brings in a plethora of athleticism, including sophomore Amdy Fall who should make his presence immediately felt on the defensive end. The lineup is loaded with athletic players that should be able to play the tight man-to-man defense that Braica desires. The lack of athleticism was also apparent on the offensive end last season when the Terriers had the lowest offensive free throw rate in the NEC.
  • Picking Up the Point – Considering that St. Francis Brooklyn’s top two point guards hand a turnover rate greater than 25% last season it’s impressive that the Terriers actually led the NEC in offensive turnover percentage during conference play. The graduation of Dre Calloway means that Brent Jones has the full reigns for the second time in his collegiate career. Jones needs to slow down and provide this team with a steady hand to run the offense.
  • Realigning the Offense – The Terriers need to figure out a way to get the erratic, but effective, Ben Mockford more involved offensively. Mockford is one of the best shooters in the NEC. Last season he shot 40% from three-point range on more than 200 attempts. Of course when he stepped inside the arc he actually shot worse (36%). Braica has shown the willingness to open up a three-point barrage if he has the personnel and the combination of Jalen Cannon and Amdy Fall on the low block surrounded by talented shooters like Mockford is the ideal scenario.

The Skinny:

Things didn’t go quite as planned last season on Remsen Street. After finishing 12-6 in conference in 2012-13 the Terriers brought a ton back, but tumbled to 8-10 in the NEC. Much of the issues had to do with the defensive end. There were times last season where St. Francis just didn’t seem to have the athleticism to hang with some of the run-and-gun styles in the NEC. More than that though they were just inconsistent all around. Still, this team did beat Wagner twice a season ago. Once again the Terriers return a bunch, but now they’ll complement it with some much needed athleticism, which should help the team’s depth.

After splitting point guard duties with Dre Calloway last season Brent Jones is officially being handed the keys to the SFC car. He’ll have to cut down on turnovers though, if he’s going to be an effective point guard. The empty trips are what contributed to Jones finishing with an 84.5 offensive rating last season. That type of performance just isn’t going to cut it if the Terriers want to have any hope of moving into the upper echelon of NEC teams. A couple of youngsters should provide Braica some insurance at the point guard position. Sheldon Hagigal is more of a combo guard, but his body is college ready after a year of prep school and he could help immediately in the backcourt. The two other backcourt positions will be manned by Ben Mockford and Kevin Douglas. Mockford is an excellent, if streaky shooter and Douglas was coming into his own last season before an injury sidelined him for the second half of the season. Most importantly, Douglas is an athletic defender that has a better chance of staying in front of top NEC guards that run the offense at CCSU, Mount St. Mary’s and LIU Brooklyn. There’s a lot of depth on the wing too as Aleksandar Isailovic was forced into starting duties last season and proved a capable defender. He came to Brooklyn Heights with a good reputation as a shooter, but struggled a bit last season from beyond the arc. He could provide a boost during his senior season. P.J. Santavenere and Anthony White along with the newcomers provide plenty of competition for playing time.

It’s up front where the Terriers are going to see a big change. Amdy Fall is only listed at 6’6″, but his athleticism and reach give him a chance to be one of (if not the) the best shot blockers in the NEC. He should also add a physical presence up front that the Terriers have lacked since Braica took over. Both Jalen Cannon and Braica are impressed with Fall’s early work in practice. Cannon, of course, gives the Terriers an all-conference talent in the front court. One of the best rebounders in the nation Cannon knows what to do when he gets the ball in his hands. Wayne Martin and Matt Milk provide depth on the interior as well, while Lowell Ulmer will once again be a spark plug off the bench.

Braica loves to run out a deep rotation. This Terriers roster gives him the ability to mix and match players to fit certain situations and could lead to a very successful season. It’ll come down to how fast the personnel gels and if the changes really help improve SFC’s defense as much as anticipated.

Coach’s Quotes:

“I think even watching the tapes of practice we look much more athletic than we were last year. That’s undeniable I think. But we did lose some good offensive players, so we’re going to have to make up for that. I think the ceiling is higher on this team.” – Glenn Braica on the Terriers’ new athletic look

“We had a lack of focus at the time. We have be a little more disciplined. I think that Canada trip helped a lot of people mature.” – Jalen Cannon on last season’s team

“I think he’s developing a better feel of when to go, when not to go. He’s developing more like a point guard and playing more under control and with more confidence… I’ve liked the way he’s looked in practice.” – Braica on his junior point guard Brent Jones


Ryan – Even though the Terriers have, in my opinion, top four potential, I’m somewhat bearish on their chances to crack into the top half. Jalen Cannon is fantastic and the athleticism of Amdy Fall and Kevin Douglas can’t be ignored, but until Brent Jones learns not to cough it up 25% of the time, I’ll remain skeptical. This is a team poised for a run at the NEC title for ’14-15, but not right now. (13 wins, 7-9 NEC)

John – I’m trying not to get too excited about the Terriers as more meaningful games at the Pope Center certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing. While the gym is tiny, the place absolutely rocks when there’s something to play for whether a city rivalry or the final spot in the NEC tournament. There are a bunch of reasons to like the Terriers this season, but the talented recruiting class will probably take some time to adjust to the Division I game. (13 wins, 7-9 NEC)

Convincing Defeats Dominate NEC Thursday

There was plenty of action across the upper east coast tonight for the NEC, so let’s jump right into it!

Robert Morris 88, Fairleigh Dickinson 54
If there was any doubt that the Colonials would respond after their two lackluster losses at home, you quickly got your answer in the early going. After one half, Robert Morris jumped out to a 19 point lead, forcing ten Knight turnovers and holding them to 42.7% shooting. I guess all teams should run the balance a chair between the legs drill! The Colonials sizzled from beyond the arc, hitting 13 of 24 threes. Coron Williams had a game high 27 points, but really everyone played well in this one. Anytime you can force 17 turnovers, dish out 22 assists versus nine turnovers (2.4 A/TO) and make more than half your shots, the head coach will probably smile during the post game. Not bad for a bunch of prima donna players led by a prima donna coach! (sorry I couldn’t help myself)

Guest contributor Ray Floriani had these observations on Thursday:

Robert Morris rang up 88 points en route to a rout of FDU. Forget the offense for a minute. The 88-54 wipe out was courtesy of defense. Close outs, ball pressure, communication etc. The Colonials came in and dominated on the defensive end.

The Colonials finished 8-5 in pre-NEC contests. They squandered a great opportunity for a solid start by losing home contests to Bryant and Central Connecticut.

“I think our guys got a wake up call.” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said following the win at FDU’s Rothman Center.  “We were reminded that in this league there are good teams and you have to be ready and play every night.”

Against FDU they did just that. In non-conference games, Robert Morris showed a 98 defensive efficiency. It fell considerably with a 114 in the recent ‘lost weekend’. Against FDU, the Colonials were outstanding. They limited FDU to an 86 efficiency in a 63 possession contest. On the offensive end, Robert Morris posted an outstanding 140 efficiency. A 21-7 turnover scoring advantage largely contributed as the Colonials forced FDU into a 27% turnover rate. A classic example of defense creating and energizing the offense. And on the offensive end, the Colonials scorched the nets with a 67 effective field goal percentage mark made possible in part by a gaudy 14% turnover rate.

Individually, the Colonials had five players in double figures. Coron Williams led the way with 27 points, shooting a torrid 8-10 from beyond the arc.

Melquan Bolding led the way with 17 points for FDU, now 1-2 in conference play. Despite the one sided affair, Toole sees improvement in FDU. “We watched a few of their games on tape,” he said. “They have a few good seniors like Bolding and (Lonnie) Robinson plus they really play well together from what we have seen.”

Next up for Robert Morris on the ‘Garden State’ swing is a visit to Monmouth on Saturday. “It will be tough,” Toole admitted. “They play very hard.”

Central Connecticut 84, Sacred Heart 78
Sacred Heart jumped out to a double digit lead in the first half, but it was mainly because of the Blue Devils’ incompetence on offense, as CCSU missed nine of ten three pointers (several were open looks) in the first half. After Kyle Vinales went scoreless in the first 20 minutes, the sophomore exploded for 15 points, 7 assists, and two rebounds pushing CCSU to their second straight NEC victory. The Pioneers lost the lead midway through the second half, after Shane Gibson exited with four fouls. Brandon Peel had the game of his life (although there will be many more for this freshman) registering a career high 17 points and 17 rebounds. No one down low for Sacred Heart could keep Peel off the boards and it cost them dearly. What also cost the Pioneers dearly was their transition defense, as CCSU outscored SHU 14-4 in fast break points. Shane Gibson and Steve Glowiak – playing in his hometown of New Britain – each had a team high 22 points, although both players needed a combined 40 shots just to get there.

Bryant 103, Quinnipiac 95
This is not a typo, I repeat this is not a typo. Bryant dropped 103 points on Quinnipiac, as the Bulldogs continue their torrid display of offensive basketball. I didn’t see much of the game, but here are the wonderful statistics: Bryant shot 60.7% from the floor, made 12 of 19 three-pointers, had 24 assists against ten turnovers, and scored 1.38 points per possession! Wow. Every Bulldog starter scored at least 14 points with Frankie Dobbs leading the way. The fifth year senior netted 20 points (his 10th game of the season in double figures), 6 assists, and 2 rebounds. Despite their defensive ineptness, Quinnipiac actually hung around in this one, but a Bulldog 14-4 run midway through the 2nd half essentially sealed the deal. Now winners of five straight, Bryant is 3-0 in the conference for the first time ever, while Quinnipiac drops to 1-2.

Monmouth 65, St. Francis (PA) 60
It was another mediocre offensive performance by the Hawks, but these days King Rice will take any victory he can get. The Hawks only shot 40.7% from the field, but forced 18 Red Flash turnovers to earn their first NEC win. Monmouth did convert nine of their 20 three-point attempts on the night, including perhaps a slump busting performance by Jesse Steele. The senior did take 15 shots to register 17 points, yet he drained five of eight from downtown. The youthful Red Flash were only trailing by three points with less than five minutes remaining (I’m sure the MAC crowd was loving that), but missed seven of their final eight shots in the closing minutes. Earl Brown continued his mastery on the boards, registering his four straight double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Not bad for a kid who only had eight points and ten rebounds in the first five games of the season!

St. Francis 70, Mount St. Mary’s 55
Ben Mockford had a season high 19 points, including five threes, as St. Francis (NY) earned their second NEC victory of the season over Jamion Christian’s squad. Once again, the Mountaineers awful perimeter defense came back to haunt them, with the Terriers sinking more than half (51.0%) of their field goals attempts, while draining seven of 15 from behind the arc. The Mountaineers jumped out to a 25-17 lead, but were outscored 53-30 the rest of the way. Jalen Cannon had perhaps his worst game of the season, only scoring seven points to go along with three rebounds. St. Francis did cough the ball up 16 times, but still had two less turnovers than the Mountaineers, who have now lost five of their last seven games.

Wagner 86, LIU Brooklyn 75
In a surprising development, it was the Seahawks offense (1.18 points per possession) that snapped the Blackbirds 27 game winning streak at the WRAC tonight. Mario Moody, Kenneth Ortiz, and Latif Rivers combined for 59 points and led an surprisingly efficient Seahawk attack even without their star wing Jonathan Williams (hip). LIU sinks to 0-3 in the NEC and has a really important game versus the Mount coming up. John has a complete game recap here.

Ryan Peters covers Northeast Conference men’s basketball for Big Apple Buckets and Pioneer Pride. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride

Advanced stats from Saturday’s NEC action

New York’s three NEC teams – Long Island Brooklyn, Wagner and St. Francis (NY) all scored wins in NEC play on Saturday. The Blackbirds are now tied with Central Connecticut State in first place at 4-0 and the Seahawks and Terriers are right behind at 3-1. All of the wins on Saturday were important, but there were some interesting statistical oddities in each of the games.

Continue reading “Advanced stats from Saturday’s NEC action”

Three Bob Cousy Nominees and Notes

Three local guys have been nominated for the Bob Cousy Award. Brian Barbour of Columbia, Bryan Dougher of Stony Brook and Scott Machado of Iona are all on the list. Of course Barbour and Dougher only play point guard because their teams require it in a pinch. Both are really playmakers in the truest sense. Even though the Cousy guys get to pick 60 names to start they always seem to miss someone. This year the four big whiffs seem to Phil Pressey of Missouri, Jordan Theodore of Seton Hall, Vincent Council of Providence and Nate Wolters of South Dakota State. (At least they remembered Jordan Taylor this season!)

Also in the news is the fact that St. Francis (NY) plays its first home game of the season in Brooklyn against Albany tonight. The Terriers played nine true road games (and are 3-6) before returning home. Even though he wasn’t playing at home Ben Mockford hit seven threes against Howard to earn NEC Player of the Week honors.

Hofstra’s Mike Moore was named the CAA Co-Player of the Week along with Drexel’s Samme Givens. Iona’s Mike Glover was named the MAAC Player of the Week.

Finally, if you love point guards you should check out my Assist Tracker. It’s going to be updated nightly with stats and insights into the guys with the most assist each night. (Even one big guy each evening.) Because I don’t want to clutter up the home page with those updates you’ll have to go to Assists page to find it though, so make sure to bookmark it.

Saturday Round Up: Hofstra gets big win

Saturday was a busy day in college basketball. Besides Columbia’s win over Manhattan, full coverage of which you can find below, there were five other games on the schedule. Hofstra got the biggest win of the day, a 63-53 victory over Cleveland State, but there were some other good wins as well.

Continue reading “Saturday Round Up: Hofstra gets big win”