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

Predictions:

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)

One thought on “NEC Team Primer: #7 St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers

  1. Dan From Staten Island

    While the Terriers have a pretty impressive group in the starting lineup, it’s the guys on the bench that could make the difference in close games. Both Lowell Ulmer and PJ Santavenere have shown that they are certainly capable of exploding on the offensive end and are quick enough to contribute defensively, as well. Ulmer and Santavenere have progressed to the point that they could truly be factors during their third year. While Coach Braica is really counting on Brent Jones and Ben Mockford to elevate their game, it’s the presence of newcomers Yunus Hopkinson and Sheldon Hagigal that may truly motivate the starters to a higher level. Both Hagigal and Hopkinson come to the Terriers with outstanding HS and prep credentials and might really push the incumbents. Not a lot has been said about Hopkinson, who was a big-time scorer in the Manhattan PSAL, but he may surprise before the season is over. Think that most Terrier fans are excited about the talented roster, but are concerned about the lack of size. The fact that the coaching staff has added former head coach Ron Ganulin is seen as a real plus.

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