“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.”
Those thoughts from Glenn Braica during NEC Social Media Day seem especially prescient after St. Francis Brooklyn went to Miami, FL and defeated the Hurricanes 66-62 in overtime on Friday night. While the defending ACC champs will be down this season, it was an early sign that the Terriers are ready to compete with anyone in 2013-14.
How did it happen? Well a lot of things had to go right. Take a look at the box score. Then note these key things.
- It was all about the defense. The Terriers held Miami to 0.84 points per possession in 74 trips. One guy who was vitally important to that defensive effort is Kevin Douglas. He missed the entire second half of last season, but played 36 minutes against Miami. Douglas’ 1-6 shooting night doesn’t even really matter. It’s his on-ball defense and the fact that he can stay with athletic guards that makes Douglas so vital to Braica’s defensive system. Teams will eventually make a three – Miami went 0-15 – but that tough perimeter defense is back.
- Brent Jones didn’t start, but he did finish the game. The junior point guard showed poise, even though he missed a key free throw at the end of regulation. Still, Jones finished with a 4:2 assist-to-turnover ratio. If SFC is going to be good, they need that type of effort from Jones every night. On a team with a ton of underclassmen it’s Jones that can provide a steady hand at the wheel from the point guard position.
- SFC played Miami to a draw on the boards. This might be a rebuilding Miami team, but they still have major conference forwards and it didn’t matter. Jalen Cannon was his typically excellent self on the glass – and really took over offensively in overtime. Cannon finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds in what should be the first of many double-doubles this season. Wayne Martin was also excellent in his college debut with 17 points and eight rebounds. Also impressive? The 5’10” Jones chipping in seven boards of his own. Both teams finished with a offensive rebounding percentage right at 33%.
St. Francis Brooklyn didn’t play its best game, but this wasn’t a fluke of a team raining threes – though the plus 21-point advantage from beyond the arc certainly didn’t hurt. Instead, it was a team fitting into its defensive identity and making the most of the athletic depth Braica has built up during his time on Remsen Street. The result might’ve been a surprise, but how SFC got there certainly isn’t. With its early season win the Terriers put the entire NEC on notice that their athleticism and depth will make SFC a contender sooner rather than later.