As good as we are with advanced statistics, we haven’t quite gotten to shots adjusted or changed yet (it’s surely coming soon). The stat sheet told part of the story Monday afternoon, as Amdy Fall finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks as St. Francis Brooklyn suffocated Bryant 63-47 to move to 2-0 in the NEC.
However, Fall — who said he is feeling completely healthy for the first time all season — did much more that the numbers don’t encapsulate. He simply made Bryant’s offensive life miserable.
“Fall is the most unique player in this league with his shot blocking ability,” Bryant coach Tim O’Shea said afterward. “He really does impact the game by just his presence near the rim.”
The Bulldogs (4-7, 1-1), who will have to be content with a split of their NEC-opening trip to Brooklyn, didn’t look very comfortable away from the rim, either, shooting just 32.1% from the field (17-53) and just 3-16 from behind the arc. Dyami Starks was held to just five points, the first time he’s been held in single digits since Feb. 14, 2013 in a loss at Mount St. Mary’s in which he was in foul trouble and played just 21 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Terriers (7-7, 2-0) have won four straight and seven of nine, and look much more like the team that was picked to win the NEC by the coaches in the preseason. And they’re doing with it with a defensive mentality St. Francis Brooklyn hasn’t shown in the recent past.
“It feels good. I’d rather block a shot than score to be honest with you,” Fall (who led the team in blocks coming in despite missing six games) said. “You get momentum that way, get the crowd going, and get on offense.”
Here are my thoughts from Brooklyn Heights, where Brent Jones also became the second player in program history to record 500 career points and assists:
1. Slow and steady for the Terriers – Monday’s game had only 59 possessions, the slowest contest of the season. There are several reasons for that, Bryant being one, the fact that St. Francis Brooklyn had a lead and was in no hurry being another. But particularly on the defensive end, the Terriers looked very comfortable at that pace, with Fall and Jalen Cannon (who had only eight points and eight rebounds to break his double-double streak at six) to protect the rim and Tyreek Jewell (who had another good game) and Lowell Ulmer making things extremely difficult for Starks on the outside. “I was proud of our guys the way we defended,” St. Francis Brooklyn coach Glenn Braica said. “What we held Starks to was amazing; he’s a great player. Tyreek did a tremendous job on him with a little bit of Lowell helping. And Amdy just changes the game with his shot blocking. I thought what he did today was guarded ballscreens great as well. On the hedges, his length bothered them and didn’t give them any easy looks.”
2. Without Starks contributing, it’s going to be a struggle for Bryant – Starks came in 37-93 (39.8%) from behind the arc. but was just 1-6 on Monday. Hunter Ware and Shane McLaughlin hit one triple each and the Bulldogs finished 3-16. For Ware, who played a pretty good second half and led Bryant with 13 points off the bench, it was his eighth three-pointer of the season, which now ranks him second on the team. And three-point shooting was pretty much the least of Bryant’s offensive troubles coming in, just 252nd in offensive efficiency, 280th in eFG%, 315th in offensive rebounding %, and 318 in two-point shooting. They need to give Starks some help. “Maybe it was their defense, and they played really great defense, but on the other hand – and I’ll have to watch the tape – I thought we had a lot of shots around the rim and we just didn’t put the ball in the basket,” O’Shea said. “And you’ve got to do that. I don’t know who you’re going to beat scoring 47 points.“
3. Things are starting to get a little serious – O’Shea was obviously disappointed, but added that a road split in Brooklyn wasn’t the worst way to start the NEC season. But with streaking St. Francis U and always feisty Fairleigh Dickinson coming to Smithfield over the weekend, they would like to be 3-1. Meanwhile, the Terriers have four straight on the road coming up, the back end next week being the extremely difficult trip out west to St. Francis U and Robert Morris. But road games at FDU and Mount St. Mary’s may tell us whether they are truly ready to assume the role of conference favorites (they also should get Kevin Douglas back soon as well). “If you look at the stats, we really haven’t been as good defensively,” Braica said. “We talked about in the league, we want to get our field goal percentage defense down, and we did that today. But it’s hard in this league. You can’t get too high or too low because every matchup is different, you encounter different things in each game, and you just have to grind it out.”
Game 50: Bryant at St. Francis Brooklyn – It’s an all-Brooklyn NEC Monday and it’s awesome. #TMMLegacy A photo posted by Ray Curren (@goldenbally) on