NEC Team Primer: #9 St. Francis (PA) Red Flash

St. Francis PA Red Flash logo

St. Francis PA Red Flash logo

Head Coach: Rob Krimmel, 2nd year
Last season: 5-24, 5-13 (NEC), failed to qualify for the NEC tournament
RPI/KenPom: 322/329
NEC Preseason Coach’s Poll: 9th out of 10 teams
State of Program: Slowly rebuilding
Key Loss(es): Umar Shannon (11.2 ppg, 3.3 apg, 2.3 rpg), Anthony Ervin (4.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg)
Incoming Players: Malik Harmon (PG), Georgios Angelou (PG), Patrick Wrencher (PF)

Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Georgios Angelou (Fr.)
G: Ollie Jackson (7.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
G: Stephon Whyatt (6.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.2 apg)
F: Earl Brown (10.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg)
F: Stephon Mosley (7.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg)

Key Reserves: Ben Millaud-Meunier (G), Greg Brown (G), Malik Harmon (PG), Ronnie Drinnon (PF), Patrick Wrencher (PF), Dominique Major (G)

Major Storylines:

  • Clean Up Mistakes – The Red Flash turned the ball over on 23.3% of their offensive possessions last season, the worst rate in the NEC. St. Francis just can’t afford to give possessions away. Whether that rate improves will heavily depend upon two talented freshmen. Georgios Angelou (Greece) and Malik Harmon (Christ the King, NYC) will split the duties at the point and Krimmel hopes that the combination of the two can provide a steady hand for the offense. Avoiding turnovers though is a focus for the entire roster as Krimmel wants his more veteran players to take some of the pressure off the freshmen.
  • Staying Healthy – Only two players managed to play in every game last season for the Red Flash. Health will be a major factor for SFU, especially because Rob Krimmel just doesn’t have much depth in the front court. Losing any of his three veteran rotation players up front could have disastrous results. There are only four players on the roster 6’6″ or taller.
  • Continue Building – There are no seniors on St. Francis’ roster this season. Krimmel is asking junior forward Earl Brown to be a more vocal leader. Assuming this entire core sticks around for one more season in Loretto, this could be the warmup to a breakout season for the Red Flash in 2014-15. One of the most important aspect of that will be getting plenty of playing time for all the talented young players on the roster.

Lineup Analysis: There is a lot of depth in the backcourt for the Red Flash. Two freshmen point guards are going to try to replace the departed Umar Shannon, who transferred to former conference foe Quinnipiac for his final season. The wing spots can be split between four talented players and the 5’9″ Dominique Major will also play a role. The loss of Anthony Ervin is also a blow for the Red Flash; he was the team’s most efficient scorer a year ago. Another talented scorer was Ben Millaud-Meunier. Described as a “gym rat” by his head coach, Millaud-Meunier shot 47.6% from three on 84 attempts last season. That’s bound to regress if he’s given more playing time, but he’s certainly one of the best shooters in the entire conference. The sophomore guard could start the season on the bench, but expect him to break through as the season progresses.

Up front it’s all about health and finding a way to rebound, while being incredibly undersized. The Red Flash ranked 336th in effective height last season, as opponents were an average of 3.7″ taller. That deficiency revealed itself mostly on the defensive end where opponents grabbed 35.2% of their misses. With a young team, Krimmel is focusing on making sure everyone gets stronger. That’s super important because players like Earl Brown, Stephon Mosley and Ronnie Drinnon have to be more aggressive on the boards. Brown grabbed 8.1 rpg last season while having the 14th best defensive rebounding rate in the nation. He needs help though. Health is also hugely important for the Red Flash. Drinnon has already been a little banged up during practice and Krimmel and his staff are working him back slowly so that he’ll be available during NEC play.

Ultimately this roster has enough talent to challenge for a playoff spot in the NEC. The Red Flash certainly won’t be a pushover. SFU finished 5-13 last season and even with the 16-game schedule it’s possible that they’ll improve upon that win total and be competitive in most games. Also, unlike last season when the Red Flash went winless in non-conference play, there’s an opportunity to grab some victories before diving into the teeth of the NEC slate.

Coach’s Quote:

“As a team we were inexperienced. I was inexperienced.” – Rob Krimmel on his first season as head coach in Loretto, PA

“Our freshmen point guards are playing well. They’re trying to figure out the pace of the game. Their style of play and their personnel. It’s easy in workouts, but when you go 5-on-5 you have to put all those pieces together.” – Krimmel on his two young point guards

“I just feel confident all around. From outside in the perimeter. From in the post. Even just being a leader. I think that’s what’s changed the most, trying to be more vocal on the court.” – Earl Brown about stepping up during his junior season

Final Prediction:
Ryan – There are some intriguing young pieces in Loretto, but it’s really hard to rely on two rookie point guards. Really hard. If Angelou and/or Harmon develop ahead of schedule and Earl Brown takes the next step toward NEC stardom, though, it isn’t wacky to envision a fifth or sixth place finish in the conference. The more likely scenario has them fighting with Sacred Heart for the final NEC playoff berth. I’m currently in that camp. (8 total wins, 5-11 NEC)

John – This is still certainly a rebuilding season, but the Red Flash can be competitive in the NEC. We might look back at this ranking and regret it a bit. Or SFU might get hit by injuries and struggle to top last season’s five victories. (7 total wins, 4-12 NEC)

Other NEC Team Primers:
#10 Fairleigh Dickinson