Head Coach: Glenn Braica, 2nd year (DI record: 30-30)
Last season: 15-15, 12-6 (NEC), lost in the first round of the NEC tournament to Quinnipiac, 80-72
NEC Preseason Coach’s Poll: 5th out of 12 teams
State of Program: Consistently compete
Key Player Lost: Stefan Perunicic (11.6 PPG, 2.4 PRG, 1.2 APG, 0.9 SPG, 42.4% 3PT%), Justin Newton (18.6 MPG, 1.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.0 SPG)
Incoming Players: Anthony White (G), Aleksandr Isailovic (G)
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Brent Jones (7.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.9 APG)
G: Dre Calloway (injured last season)
G: Ben Mockford (11.8 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 34.6% 3PT)
F: Jalen Cannon (8.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 55.6% FG)
F: Akeem Johnson (11.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 57.4% FG)
Key Reserves: Travis Nichols (F), P.J. Santavenere (G), Aleksandr Isailovic (G), Matt Milk (C), Kevin Douglas (G/F)
- Welcome Back Dre - Dre Calloway returns to the team this season after missing most of 2011-12 with an injury. His presence should give the Terriers another option at the point guard position, a place they struggled mightily last season. Turnovers were a big issue and neither Jones, nor Calloway during his first two seasons, showed a great ability to hang onto the ball. They’ll need to if the offense is going to improve.
- Which Defender Steps Up? - The loss that you don’t see from the statistics is that Stefan Perunicic was SFC’s best defensive player last season. In the NEC you have to be able to guard the perimeter and Perunicic made up for what he lacked in quickness with good smarts and a long wingspan. He was asked to guard Shane Gibson and an assortment of other talented wings during his time in Brooklyn Heights. What player is going to step into that role? With Cannon and Johnson in the paint opponents will have to shoot from the outside. Can SFC lock down the perimeter again?
- Surprise Them All Over Again - Last season SFC was picked 11th in the NEC preseason poll. Yup, 11th. They finished 4th. A young team developed well under Braica’s tutelage and the Terriers managed to pull out a bunch of close games. So of course SFC is picked 5th in the league this season. It’s an improvement, but some coaches think they can take a leap into the league’s upper echelon. Some key pieces are there, but young players will have to do even better the second time around for it to become a reality.
Lineup Analysis: The names aren’t flashy, but there are a lot of really good pieces on the St. Francis (NY) roster. The Terriers have 10 or 11 players that can step into an NEC game and make an immediate impact. That’s important because Braica will mix and match his lineups to a maddening extent. The two constants you can expect to see though are the two big men, Akeem Johnson and Jalen Cannon. Both players are difference makers in the NEC and even though they’re only listed at 6’6″ they’re matchup nightmares. Last season SFC relied on the three-point shot a lot. The departure of Stefan Perunicic, who made the second most threes in school history, means the shot might be deemphasized this season. Ben Mockford and Travis Nichols are the only players left that shot better than 34 percent from three last season. Nichols could start for a number of NEC teams, but he’s a microwave off the bench that can get SFC back into games or help extend leads by helping out the second unit. There’s a lot of talent here, but they’ll have to hang onto the basketball in order to improve on offense and take that next step.
“He’s added a jump shot to his game where he can step out and make shots. We can pick-and-pop him a little bit more. We’ve talked with him about being more aggressive to score in the low post because there were games last year where he’d have 20 rebounds and like eight points. We’d like to even that out a little bit and get a few more points, which I think he will with a year under his belt. We look for him to be one of the better players in the league as some point.” — Glenn Braica on Jalen Cannon’s improvement this summer
“It affected us in games last year, specifically games like Wagner, when we played teams like them. Where we got into foul trouble and really played without a point guard for stretches of the game, which really put us in a hole. I think having both those guys is really, really a positive for our team this year.” — Braica on having two point guards in Calloway and Jones
Ryan – St. Francis lacks that go-to-guy on their roster, yet they’re probably one of the most complete rosters in the NEC, with one of the best coaches in Braica. They can legitimately win a game every night versus any NEC opponent, but I think they’ll struggle a little to replace Perunicic. I’ll settling in for a #6 seed in the conference tournament, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they managed to infiltrate the top four.
John - Last season the Terriers were a surprise. This season they’re ready to make noise in the NEC. While finishing fourth again is going to be a difficult task, SFC should be right there until the end. Expect them to be safely in the NEC tournament this season.
Previous NEC Team Capsules:
October 24: St. Francis (PA) Red Flash
October 25: Fairleigh Dickinson Knights
October 26: Bryant Bulldogs
October 29: Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers
October 30: Central Connecticut Blue Devils
October 31: Monmouth Hawks
November 1: Sacred Heart Pioneers