Ask any one of the 2,036 fans at Rose Hill Gym last night, and they would proclaim that Jon Severe was the star of the show. And they would be 100% correct.
In his first ever collegiate contest, the coveted recruit poured in 28 points on only 15 shots. The guard drained seven of ten from behind the arc, even though a hand was in his face on most of those attempts. The Rams faithful were loving every minute of it.
Severe and his Fordham teammates may have beaten St. Francis (PA) in a laugher, 87-67, yet Red Flash head coach Rob Krimmel was able to take away some positives from the disappointing Friday night. One of those highlights was the play of his freshman point guard and former Severe teammate at Christ the King, Malik Harmon.
The 5’11” freshman was solid in his debut, scoring five points to go along with three rebounds, four assists and only two turnovers. While it’s not an eye-popping box score, Harmon possessed a steady confidence running the point, and perhaps more importantly, displayed an ability to penetrate off the dribble and create for his teammates. He was a little tenative in the early going, which was certainly understandable given the circustances, yet his head coach was impressed nonetheless.
“With Malik being a freshman and playing his first game in his hometown, I thought he did a much better job in the second half,” said Krimmel. “In the first half, I think he was so amped up, he was so tense. He’ll learn. He’s a great player, great kid and he got this game out of his system.”
Before Harmon stepped foot on the Loretto campus, Umar Shannon served as the Red Flash’s best perimeter playmaker. The fifth year senior guard now plays for the blue and gold of Quinnipiac, though, so St. Francis desperately needed someone to generate offense without the benefit of ball screens. Harmon will be leaned upon to fill that role, as well as serve as a secondary scoring option behind Earl Brown.
“By committee, I think (Steph) Mosley, Ben (Millaud-Meunier), Malik, those three guys are three guys that can carry some of the offense load when Earl (Brown) is out of the game,” explained the second year head coach.
It just illustrates the trust and faith the St. Francis coaching staff has in Harmon, despite the other roster options available. Freshman point guard Georgios Angelou, although a year older then Harmon, didn’t play a single minute agsinst Fordham. The current backup point guard, Greg Brown, struggled with four turnovers in 17 minutes. In the long run, Brown’s overall skill-set is more suited to playing off-the-ball.
Therefore, Krimmel will likely ask Harmon to shoulder the ball-handling load. It’s a unique, yet challenging opportunity for the rookie, but it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. In addition to Krimmel, the opposing coach also thinks highly of Severe’s former teammate.
“He’s a guy we looked at really hard and we were trying to decide if we needed a freshman point guard to be a part of this,” said Tom Pecora, who begins his fourth year as Fordham’s head coach. “I like Malik. He plays hard and I think he’s going to be a good player for them.”
It’s a long season, but St. Francis fans should be encouraged that Harmon stands to be their floor general of the future. There’s still a lot to learn on the job, but the season opener at Fordham was a step in the right direction for the Queens, NY native.
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride