St. Francis Brooklyn Will Be Competitive Next Season

In the shadow of Robert Morris’ impressive First Four victory over North Florida last night, the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers fought admirably at the University of Richmond.

Despite trailing for much of the second half by double-digits and having Jalen Cannon plagued with foul trouble, the Terriers refused to go quietly in their first national postseason performance since 1963. A Tyreek Jewell put-back jam cut Richmond’s once sizable advantage to just two points late, but back-to-back buckets by Kendall Anthony essentially sealed the deal. The Spiders advanced to the NIT second round, whereas the Terriers season officially concluded.

Overall, it was a fantastic season in Brooklyn Heights. St. Francis finished with 23 victories, which hasn’t been done since — get this — the 1953-54 season when Daniel Lynch was the head coach. More than a half a century later, a team led by seniors Cannon and Brent Jones will go down as one of the most successful and memorable teams in program history.

Glenn Braica’s crew was out-matched against a very good Richmond squad — a team that was likely a mere quality win away from earning an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. With the Terriers’ 84-74 NIT setback now in the books, it’s time to offer my takeaways on St. Francis Brooklyn for the near future and why I believe they’ll be better than advertised.

The Terriers Will be Fine with Glenn Sanabria Running the Show

Losing arguably two of the NEC’s three best players in Jones and Cannon would be fairly crippling to any mid-major roster, but the cupboard is hardly bare for Braica moving forward. A senior group of Jewell, Chris Hooper and defensive stalwart Amdy Fall (more on him later) is a solid nucleus, but Terrier fans need to be most enthusiastic about the emergence of their soon-to-be-sophomore point guard, Glenn Sanabria. The numbers from Sanabria (6.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, 0.7 spg) in his freshman campaign aren’t gaudy by any stretch, but he occupied the role Braica asked him to fill perfectly alongside Jones in the backcourt. Clearly, the head coach trusted Sanabria enough to give him vital minutes down the stretch and now Sanabria will be a better player because of the invaluable experience. His superb 111.4 offensive rating was buoyed by his ability to shoot the long-range jumper (44.4% on 63 three-point attempts) and keep his turnover rate under a very respectable 20%. Perhaps most impressive, however, was Sanabria’s ability to embrace the pressure moments — in the NEC championship game the freshman never appeared to waiver in the face of immense pressure. You simply can’t teach that type of composure.

This preseason, I concluded that NEC sophomore point guards typically take a big step in year number two of their development. Sanabria will not be an exception to that rule. There’s a lot to like with a starting backcourt of Sanabria and Jewell – the Terriers will have two tough, heady guards leading the charge for the 2015-16 season.

The Defense Will Still Be Pretty Good

With the exception of Naofall Folahan and 7’3” Monmouth center John Bunch, no one has posted a better NEC single season block rate this century than Amdy Fall did this past season. When the junior was on the floor, he swatted away more than 12.5% of his opponent’s shots. The next highest block rate (Taylor Danaher) was more than five percentage points below Fall’s league leading number! Fall’s presence around the rim is a game changer and it can only improve as he heads into his senior season.

Throw in an improved Chris Hooper, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds in last night’s loss to Richmond, and the upside of a versatile Antonio Jenifer, who in limited time had exceptional rebounding rates, and Braica has something to build off of after his team held conference opponents to a league worst 42.0% shooting on their two-point attempts. I expect that percentage to remain depressed with the reigning NEC Defense Player of the Year back.

The aforementioned Jewell is a very good defender as well, so with a couple more pieces in place, it isn’t a stretch to believe the Terriers could defend at a high level once again. Maybe they won’t match a defense that was second in defensive efficiency this season (96.3 points allowed per 100 possessions), but I doubt they’ll deviate far from that defensive baseline, even without Jones, Cannon, Lowell Ulmer and the moderately used Kevin Douglas.

We Need To Trust Glenn Braica

Braica has been a model of consistently in his five years leading the Terriers, guiding his team to a 0.500 record or better in four of those five seasons. He’s lost plenty of productive players along the way from Ricky Cadell to Stefan Perunicic to Akeem Johnson to Travis Nichols to Ben Mockford, and yet he’s done very well to fill their roles the following seasons and keep his program consistently in the running for a top four NEC berth. Replacing his graduating seniors this time around will be far more daunting, no question, but after earning 56 conference victories in five years, including a conference regular season championship, it’s clear that the league’s latest NEC Coach of the Year can flat out run a program. He warrants the benefit of the doubt.

Do I believe the Terriers are a top conference four program next year? At this juncture that’s difficult to ascertain, but with a couple of solid newcomers and another offseason of maturation for the returnees, it isn’t out of the question to think Braica’s group could finish in the league’s upper half. After Robert Morris (assuming if everyone returns, which may be a BIG if given Andy Toole’s sudden surge of popularity) and Mount St. Mary’s (who only graduates Kristijan Krajina), their isn’t a clear number three.

With plenty of competition in the middle of the conference next season, it’s my expectation that the Terriers will be in the mix along with Bryant, Sacred Heart, LIU Brooklyn and Wagner. We shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the Terriers as a factor for next season.

22 thoughts on “St. Francis Brooklyn Will Be Competitive Next Season

  1. NEC Fan

    Very optimistic take. Cannon and Jones were 1st Team performers. Cannon was an all-time player in the NEC. Sanabria is a nice player, but Jones took a ton of pressure off of him. Hooper, Jenifer and Jewell are all very average to slightly below average starting-type players in the NEC. Hooper also benefited greatly from having Cannon as a sidekick.

    Unless they get a few impact-type guys in the recruiting class for next year, with what the league has coming back I really can’t see them being a top 4 team losing as much as they did. And before you compare this team to what RMU lost last year, RMU brought in the Rookie of the Year, a JUCO All-American-type player and had Lucky Jones returning. Very rare for that to happen.

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  2. Ryan Peters Post author

    With all due respect, who else besides RMU and the Mount are locks for the NEC upper half next season? Let’s go though each team…

    Bryant – loses Starks and O’Shea. Can Hunter Ware step in, after an inconsistent rookie campaign, as Starks’ replacement and hit the ground running? Garvin must emerge as a consistent star as well and Bryant needs Kostur to continue to mature.

    Sacred Heart – loses 3 heady senior guards. Has really solid nucleus in Broome, Barnett, Falzon & Allen, but can the excellent (supposedly) recruits — especially Quincy McKnight — come in and fill the void? Can Chris Robinson, who was erratic as a freshman, replace Steve Glowiak’s production from behind the arc? Frontcourt is good and athletic but guard play after Broome is unproven.

    LIU Brooklyn – Loses defensive stud Martin and Atterberry. Young foundation very promising plus FIU transfer Frink comes on board. But we’ve been wrong about transfers and their future impact before (see Chris Martin, Jay Harris, Vaughn Morgan, etc.) so we can’t just assume he’ll fit right in.

    Saint Francis U – loses Earl Brown, Ollie Jackson and Dom Major. Can Drinnon and Malik Harmon step up to become all-conference team contributors. Will sophomore Basil Thompson take that next step as Drinnon’s frontcourt mate?

    Wagner – How will the sophomores do with all of the possessions Marcus Burton once handled? Mike Aaman is awesome down low, but can he stay healthy? One more concussion could sadly end his career and force Mason to rely more on Nolan Long and Greg Senat, which oddly he didn’t play too much this past season.

    As you can see, every middle tier team has significant question marks, so I don’t think it’s outlandish at all for me to call SFBK a top 5 (upper tier) team right now. A lot will certainly shake out this offseason, so we’ll reassess in October.

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    1. El Mayimbe

      Completely agree.

      The conference is very tiered at the moment:

      Top Tier- RMU, MSM

      Mid Tier- 6 other teams

      Bot Tier- CCSU, FDU

      Of course, JUCO transfers could easily muddy this up. And who knows what team rises up? That’s the beauty of college basketball.

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  3. Dan From Staten Island

    At the end of the 2010-11 season, the Terriers graduated then all-time leading scorer Ricky Cadell and NEC Defensive Player of the Year Akeem Bennett. Cadell went on to the pro ranks in Europe while Bennett was drafted by the NBA’s D-League. Observers at that time dismissed the SFC returning and incoming talent as lower tier material and picked them to finish 11th the following year. Coach Glenn Braica’s recruiting class that year included lightly-regarded Iona transfer Ben Mockford and under-recruited frosh Jalen Cannon, Brent Jones, Kevin Douglas and Lowell Ulmer. The Terriers battled and wound up in 4th Place in 2011-12 and Braica walked off with the NEC Coach of the Year honors. The guess here is that the Terrier coaching staff will again come up with an under-estimated roster and proceed to make the squad a presence in the NEC’s top tier. Think most Terrier fans really like the potential of the returning veterans and are looking forward to another under-recruited but extremely effective group of newcomers, highlighted by 6-9 frosh Joshua Nurse of Queens and 6-4 redshirt frosh Keon Williams from Kentucky. Rumors are that the coaching staff are pretty excited about the upside for both. The Terriers appear to have good potential for another solid run at it in 2015-16.

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    1. Dan From Staten Island

      Some brief background on Joshua Nurse and Keon Williams, potentially key additions for St. Francis Brooklyn next year:

      Nurse really jump-started his overall game his senior season at the Queens HS of Teaching. He averaged almost 11 ppg and over 15 rpg during the PSAL regular season, upping his scoring line to almost 14 ppg during the PSAL playoffs. He appears to be a pretty decent passer for a big man, averaging 2.3 apg. About 38% of his total rebounds were on the offensive end, a Cannon-like rebound ratio.

      Williams brings with him some serious credentials, having played in the prestigious Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Game, before red-shirting on Remsen Street this year. He averaged almost 19 ppg as a senior, while registering 7.7 rpg, 2.4 spg and almost 2 blocks per contest. Extremely athletic, he appears to be able to stick the three ball with consistency.

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      1. El Mayimbe

        Hey Dan,

        They also have Jonathan Doss who red-shirted or perhaps because of transfer rules sat out this season and Jagos Lasic who is a JUCO transfer they recently signed, any info on these guys?

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        1. Dan From Staten Island

          Jon Doss effectively red-shirted this year and should have two years of eligibility left for the Terriers as a wing player. Originally from Chicago, Doss played for Eastern Wyoming JC before coming to Remsen Street this past Fall. He averaged 18 ppg for Eastern, a NJCAA Division One program, and was a pretty effective three-point shooter, knocking down 40% from beyond the arc. Similar to Williams, he goes about 6-4, 180 and can really elevate. His bio is on the Terrier Athletics website.

          Another talented player who may eventually wind up on the SFC roster at some point is 6-4 frosh SG Marlon Alcindor, who walked into St. Francis last Fall, but did not play this season. Alcindor played at St. John’s Prep for two years before transferring to the HS For Construction, Engineering & Architecture for his senior year. As a junior at St. John’s Prep, he scored over 23 ppg, scorching one particular CHSAA opponent for 41 points, and was named by the NYSSWA as a second team Class A All-State selection. The following year, as a senior at Construction, he averaged 19 ppg and 5 rpg, helping to lead the Redhawks to the PSAL Queens Boro Final, where they defeated powerhouse program Cardozo 65-62. Alcindor apparently scored 25 points in that final, knocking down crucial FTs in the final seconds. Alcindor also started for the PSAL in last year’s Mayor’s Trophy Game. (Ironically, current Terrier Glenn Sanabria started for the CHSAA in that same game.).

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          1. Dan From Staten Island

            Jagos Lasic is currently listed as a freshman on the New Mexico Military Institute’s Juco website, having sat out last year after graduating from Morgan County HS in KY. As a result, he may have three years of eligibility left. He is a not your classic 6-8 big man, as he only goes 185-190. He appears more of a wing player who can handle the ball. His Juco stats from earlier this year were not that noteworthy: 3.8 ppg and 2.9 rpg. However, his prior HS and club experience is impressive. As a Senior at Morgan County, he averaged 21 ppg and 15 rpg and was selected to play in the Kentucky-Ohio All-Star Game. Lasic played for the KK Zitko club team in Serbia, prior to attending HS in Kentucky. KK Zitko played in a lot of prestigious tournaments in Europe, including the Cholet Mondial in France. Website “European Prospects” mentioned Lasic as a big man to watch in 2011.

      2. Proud Alumnus

        Why has Keon Williams disappeared from the SFC roster. His name is no longer listed. That has been the case for about the last 10 days. Go to the Terrier website, link on to the men’s roster and he is no longer there. This after Coach Braica in a newspaper article talked about the sustainability of the program with the the commitment from the incoming Joshua Nurse and the red shirting of 2 athletic wings in Jon doss & Keon Williams. Jagos Lasic signed a letter of intent in early October while the very next day Joshua Nurse verbally committed. Would like to see that made official in the next few weeks with a signing. The big mystery is the disappearance of Keon Williams just as the postseason was consuming all of us .Any info Dan?

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        1. Dan From Staten Island

          Yeah — Noticed that too, but have no idea why his name was removed from the roster. The guess is probably because he didn’t suit up all year. In the past, Terrier redshirt players who sat out their first year on campus weren’t even listed on the roster. For example, that was the case with former frosh redshirts Brent Jones and Lowell Ulmer in their initial academic year at St. Francis. If Keon Williams was sitting out this year as a redshirt frosh, don’t even know why the Terriers had him listed on the roster in the first place, given past practice. Maybe the difference is whether a student-athlete is on a full athletic scholarship or whether they’re walking in and paying the first year tuition themselves. Don’t think that there is any NCAA rule about who is required to be listed on a roster. Does anyone know?

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          1. Proud Alumnus

            I do not know about any NCAA rule but Keon Williams was a scholarship player. Molic is the only non scholarship player on the 14 man squad as a walk on. Hopefully he (Keon) didn’t decide to leave after riding it out the whole year. if you notice he (all 14) and the entire roster were in that group photo after capturing the regular season NEC championship. His playing time would have been limited at best this year while next year with his athleticism and skill he has a golden opportunity to make a significant contribution and keep the Terriers if things jell near the top.

  4. El Mayimbe

    Replacing Cannon (leading scorer, rebounder, second in blocked shots) and Jones (second in points, first in assists and steals) will be very difficult.

    In addition, I am very uncomfortable with Tyreek Jewell handling the ball, irrespective of his 3 missed FT attempts at the end of the Robert Morris game. The kid needs to mature, he never makes the extra pass and settles for bad shots (.344-FG, .200-3PT). Braica needs to use him more as a slasher, he is very athletic and in the Richmond game was very effective in that role even though he is only 6’1”.

    Yet I am extremely excited about Sanabria, the kid has so much composure and is a clear floor general. In addition his 3pt shot, highest percentage in the NEC will help break the zone.

    Keys for next years success will be for the team to learn to play against the zone, decrease turnovers, and get better at free throws. This season alone the Terriers could have easily won 2-3 more games had they done this. Hopefully Braica, Ganulin, Bentick and Womack will shape these guys. I see them going 15-15 in the regular season, in what is clearly a rebuilding effort. I just hope they can mature down the stretch and go deep in the NEC Tournament.

    Look out for Mount St. Mary’s and Robert Morris next year, they always find a way to win.

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    1. Dan from Staten Island

      Tyreek Jewell showed that he could hit the three ball at the Juco level, but he appeared to be more comfortable in the role of a slashing scorer than a shooter. Despite being uber-athletic and having being able to jump through the roof, opponents’ size and the speed at the D-I level appeared to give him more problems than thought, but down the stretch he began to show some signs that he had figured it out. Think that one of the biggest surprises this season was Jewell’s ability to effectively defend vs the opposition’s best scoring guard. That was a definite plus and probably one of the keys to the Terriers’ successful run this year. You may see a more effective Jewell next season. Glenn Sanabria had an incredible frosh year and appears ready to blossom into the role of lead guard and primary outside scoring option. Gunnar Olafsson did not make the sort of impact as a long ball threat that the Terrier coaching staff had hoped for and never did get untracked. Perhaps some of that had to do with his assimilation into D-I ball and the US, although his fellow Icelanders at LIU appeared to adapt a bit more quickly. His effectiveness as a momentum-seizing long shooter in the Rutgers game gives some hope. However, Olafsson has the size and strength to make an effective swing man and has shown flashes of being an effective slasher to the hoop.

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      1. Dan From Staten Island

        Quick follow-up on the Terriers’ ability to shore up its three-point scoring ability next season: Looking at Tyreek Jewell’s numbers at Jamestown Community College, he apparently hit the three at a 39% clip for his two years there. A return to that level as a senior is not out of the realm of the possible, now that Jewell has had a full Div-I season under his belt. Although it’s a bit of a stretch for Terrier fans to expect Glenn Sanabria to hit almost 45% of his three ball attempts going forward, there’s no reason to believe that he can’t continue at a 35% to 40% rate, given the frosh season he just completed. Think the Terriers will take that sort of production without a complaint. It looks like both Junior Jon Doss and Freshman Keon Williams have been confirmed as being in the mix for next season and they should certainly help in this area of the court. Doss hit 40% of his three pointer attempts in his last year in juco. Don’t have numbers for Williams, but he has a reputation of being a solid long ball threat. Tony Jennifer built his Juco All-American credentials the year before last by being tough to defend both inside and out. Terrier fans caught glimpses of that long ball ability during this past season in Jennifer’s somewhat limited off-the-bench role. Think he’ll play a more prominent role in next year’s edition of the Terriers. Overall, it appears that the SFC’s ability to hit the three will be greatly improved over this year.

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        1. John Templon

          Tyreek Jewell is a better shooter than he showed this season – which I think has to do with a whole bunch of stuff. I think he’ll shoot much better than 21% from distance next season.

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  5. regular guy

    The Cannon of the last 15 games this season will be very difficult to replace. Cannons first 3.5 years were very good, but the last 15 games he carried the team on his back, something SFC has rarely had. Ray Minland comes to mind. I know Cannons numbers but he was very solid for a long time, but he clearly was dominant in the last 15 games, something he was not able to do in the last two games. To move to a different level you need 3 point shooting, look at the NCAA tournament. If you have long range bombers anything can happen. The players returning, no real scorers, Jewell has too low of a fg %, Sanabria looks good, but no scoring from the frontcourt. The freshman, who knows, could they win 20 games next year or 12 either one is possible. I would rather Glenn press all over the court at home create turnovers and get some easy baskets. Press with Hopkinson, Sanabria, Jewell and whomever else. The half court offense SFC struggles for every point, except last 15 games when Cannon carried the team.

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    1. El Mayimbe

      You saw some of that press against LIU in the quarterfinals, getting easy baskets off of turnovers. I think that’s what won them that game. The team is definitely defense focused and the offense thrives off of the defense.

      Their offense is quite good when they’re playing against man to man. But you’re right, they become stagnant against the zone. The team must improve on movement away from the ball. As I wrote earlier I think Jewell, can help with this, his movement away from the ball in the Richmond game was impressive. On the perimeter he needs to either shoot better, look for better positioning or learn to pass the ball.

      And they absolutely need a 3pt shooter, they missed Ben Mockford this season. Although Sanabria looks good from 3pt range and correct me if I’m wrong but I think Gunnar Olafsson was suppose to be a Stefan Perunicic type player who could shoot the 3 but he didn’t look to good.

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  6. regular guy

    from what I saw Olafsson looked lost. Glen rode Cannon as long as he could, he got there where they were and Glen was going to ride him to the finish line win lose or draw. Shooters are the name of the game, you cant have two major weakness and climb to the next level, SFC has foul shooting, 3 point shooting and turnovers as problems. Not sure how this will be corrected next year.

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    1. Proud Alumnus

      In addition to the mystery of why Keon Williams has disappeared from the SFC Terrier roster, some other thoughts. Frink while in the Sunshine state showed that he could very well be the best big man in the NEC & elevate LIU even further with the continuing development of the Icelanders. That makes Amdy Fall & his outstanding athleticism even more vital. He needs to improve offensively around the basket. Stop standing around & go right to the hoop. Worse case scenario get fouled. His foul shooting was not too bad compared to some of the other pathetic numbers we had at times. This makes the signing of Nurse (let’s make it really official) with Lasic (already signed) that more important. They would already be our tallest guys. With Fall, Hooper & Jennifer we could be strong upfront again. Finally Tyreek Jewell perhaps the most all around athletic player on the squad, with a summer of hard work, instruction & health and if he plays with smarts can be a huge key for next year with his versatility. Speaking of athleticism, has anyone seen Keon, APB!

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  7. James

    RMU lost many key players last year( karvel anderson, Meyers- Pate) Mount ( Wack, Norfleet, Prescott) but if you keep the same system, great coach solid vets ( sanabria,fall,hooper,Jewel) you will still be able to survive in a conference like the NEC. Remember who knew Glenn Sanabria and predicted he would be one of the best freshman in the league. Yes I say best. While his numbers arent amazing remember who he was playing behind. Brent Jones was a first team NEC player who averaged near 30 minutes per game. Put Sanabria on another team and his numbers would be greater. Better Yet many of you didn’t even know who he was until the 5th game. Glenn Braica has done a great job of recruiting under the radar players and squeezing their full potential out of them. Jalen and Brent got better each and every season. That comes from coaching and development. As far as keon go my sources tell me he is still enrolled at SFC and will be playing next season. If he is half the player he was in highschool paired with the returners and a bigger role for Jennifer
    ( previous JC all american) SFC will be good to go. BTW they also signed an Icelandic PG who is averaging more points in iceland than any of the previous 3 icelandic players in the NEC were before they got to the States. WIth this all being said give me a Coaching staff with results and I will take them with the talent that SFC will have.

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    1. regular guy

      James, I agree with you. Jones and Cannon got a lot better from junior year to senior year. So even though roster is unknown, I would never count Glenn or Ron out. I always look at Ray Minland, he was on Ron team, transferred in, had a so so junior year and exploded as a senior, so you never know.

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  8. James

    Exactly Regular Guy, Who knows when players get it and explodes. I really just like the Job Coach Braica has done overall. With all these names going around for new Jobs SFC will be lucky to have him stay. Breaks the record for wins in a season, beats Miami at Miami last season and takes the team to the post season for the first time in 50 yrs or more.. Thats a guy I would be calling if I need to rebuild my program. We may have forgotten what SFC was before he got there now they are contenders almost every season. With Vets like Ron and Coach Bentick and from what Ive seen in Interviews and his bio the kid Womack seems like he is is headed in the right path. They are built for the long haul over there.

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