Krimmel Optimistic Saint Francis Will Contend

Down 11 points with 9:33 remaining in the Northeast Conference (NEC) quarterfinals, it was shaping up to be another ho-hum season for Saint Francis University basketball. There was some progress worth highlighting, but a 9-21 final record would’ve given the Red Flash four straight seasons of failing to reach ten wins, and 23 consecutive years of falling short of the NEC semifinals. Continue reading “Krimmel Optimistic Saint Francis Will Contend”

A New Generation of NEC Point Guards Ready to Emerge

Because point guard play has been a strength for the NEC in previous seasons, it’s expected the position will take a significant step back with the graduations of Julian Norfleet, Sidney Sanders, Jr., and Jason Brickman – the latest NCAA student athlete to crack 1,000 career assists. All three all-conference first teamers will be sorely missed. We’d also be remiss failing to acknowledge the departures of Kenny Ortiz, Corey Maynard and Anthony Myers-Pate, all of whom were also solid to terrific contributors on teams in contention for an NCAA berth.

Continue reading “A New Generation of NEC Point Guards Ready to Emerge”

Malik Harmon Steady in Debut for St. Francis (PA)

Ask any one of the 2,036 fans at Rose Hill Gym last night, and they would proclaim that Jon Severe was the star of the show. And they would be 100% correct.

In his first ever collegiate contest, the coveted recruit poured in 28 points on only 15 shots. The guard drained seven of ten from behind the arc, even though a hand was in his face on most of those attempts. The Rams faithful were loving every minute of it.

Severe and his Fordham teammates may have beaten St. Francis (PA) in a laugher, 87-67, yet Red Flash head coach Rob Krimmel was able to take away some positives from the disappointing Friday night. One of those highlights was the play of his freshman point guard and former Severe teammate at Christ the King, Malik Harmon.

The 5’11” freshman was solid in his debut, scoring five points to go along with three rebounds, four assists and only two turnovers. While it’s not an eye-popping box score, Harmon possessed a steady confidence running the point, and perhaps more importantly, displayed an ability to penetrate off the dribble and create for his teammates. He was a little tenative in the early going, which was certainly understandable given the circustances, yet his head coach was impressed nonetheless.

“With Malik being a freshman and playing his first game in his hometown, I thought he did a much better job in the second half,” said Krimmel. “In the first half, I think he was so amped up, he was so tense. He’ll learn. He’s a great player, great kid and he got this game out of his system.”

Before Harmon stepped foot on the Loretto campus, Umar Shannon served as the Red Flash’s best perimeter playmaker. The fifth year senior guard now plays for the blue and gold of Quinnipiac, though, so St. Francis desperately needed someone to generate offense without the benefit of ball screens. Harmon will be leaned upon to fill that role, as well as serve as a secondary scoring option behind Earl Brown.

“By committee, I think (Steph) Mosley, Ben (Millaud-Meunier), Malik, those three guys are three guys that can carry some of the offense load when Earl (Brown) is out of the game,” explained the second year head coach.

It just illustrates the trust and faith the St. Francis coaching staff has in Harmon, despite the other roster options available. Freshman point guard Georgios Angelou, although a year older then Harmon, didn’t play a single minute agsinst Fordham. The current backup point guard, Greg Brown, struggled with four turnovers in 17 minutes. In the long run, Brown’s overall skill-set is more suited to playing off-the-ball.

Therefore, Krimmel will likely ask Harmon to shoulder the ball-handling load. It’s a unique, yet challenging opportunity for the rookie, but it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. In addition to Krimmel, the opposing coach also thinks highly of Severe’s former teammate.

“He’s a guy we looked at really hard and we were trying to decide if we needed a freshman point guard to be a part of this,” said Tom Pecora, who begins his fourth year as Fordham’s head coach. “I like Malik. He plays hard and I think he’s going to be a good player for them.”

It’s a long season, but St. Francis fans should be encouraged that Harmon stands to be their floor general of the future. There’s still a lot to learn on the job, but the season opener at Fordham was a step in the right direction for the Queens, NY native.

You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride

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

St. Francis, Rob Krimmel Fills Needs With Latest Recruiting Class

Malik Harmon (left) gives St. Francis something they didn't have last season: A true point guard. (Photo Credit - Times Ledger)
Malik Harmon (left) gives St. Francis something they didn’t have last season: A true point guard. (Photo Credit – Times Ledger)

The first year under the direction of head coach Rob Krimmel served as yet another rebuilding season for the St. Francis Red Flash. They were the 20th youngest team in the nation, thereby stumbling their way to a 5-24 finish. The Red Flash lost 19 of their first 20 games by an average scoring margin of -14.5 points, but to Krimmel’s credit, the team fought hard late in the conference season by winning four of their last nine contests. Continue reading “St. Francis, Rob Krimmel Fills Needs With Latest Recruiting Class”