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New day, a different St. Francis. UD is 2-0 and, like an illegal alien, doesn’t care how it got here. During Wednesday night’s press conference after the Saint Francis win, Archie Miller described the “initial shock and awe” that has resulted from the team’s struggles over the season’s first two games. Kid Yuma explained that the substitution patterns and overall lack of team chemistry have made the Flyers feel like their “feet were stuck in the mud.”  Miller stressed that the team needs to go through this learning process, and if they can figure it out quickly enough, “We can have a heckuva team.”

[pull_quote_right]”Right now, we have some guys who catch it and make sure there’s air in the ball and they can dribble it and it comes back into their hands and then they just double-check and dribble it again. We’re a team that dribbles, dribbles, dribbles, dribbles. We’ll just keep dribbling. At the end of the day, everyone’s standing and watching.”–Archie Miller[/pull_quote_right]

The one good thing about operating under the radar is that you get to experience these type of growing pains and false starts without worrying about it affecting your team’s psyche. No one outside a five-mile radius of Dayton gives a shit. La Salle struggled out of the gate last season, losing to Central Connecticut State at home before clicking and then rocking and rolling to the Sweet 16. It happens.

Nothing statistically jumps out as a point of concern. The Flyers are shooting the ball better than their opponents, out-rebounding their competition and turning the ball over less. UD is even shooting three-pointers at an impressive clip (47.6%). On paper, the Cagerz should have won both games comfortably. But, as my CYO basketball coach used to tell me in his dimly lit basement when his wife was out of town, games aren’t played on paper.

Regardless of Dayton’s performances to this point, they are 2-0 and looking to add another low-level scalp to their belt this weekend against the other St. Francis. Heading into Atlanta to face BG with a 3-0 record will feel good, trust me.

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Overall

The Terriers, coached by part-time mob enforcer Glenn Braica, started the season with an upset of Miami (who we have learned by now isn’t the Miami we all enjoyed cheering against last season) and a victory over Florida Atlantic. That’s right, high noon, two teams enter, only one leaves with their season still perfectly intact. This is appointment viewing, if I understand the definition correctly. From what I can gather, the Terriers went down to South Florida, likely returned to Brooklyn for a day or two, are coming out to Dayton before heading way up to Syracuse to play the Orange on Monday night. They are like a well-funded band with an absolutely incompetent tour manager (When are these kids even in class, amirite???).

St. Francis finished 12-18 last season, landing in the cellar of the Northeast Conference. Braica’s team returns four starters from last year’s club yet are inexplicably picked to finish seventh in their league. The Northeast Conference apparently has the depth of a Chilean copper mine, consider me impressed. Although the Terriers are more than lacking offensively, they make up for it on the defensive side of the ball. St. Francis is currently allowing just 59.5 points per game, almost eleven full points less than the national average (70.47) at this point in the season. It should also be noted that the Terriers are giving up around twenty points less than their conference counterparts, who are averaging 79.43 points allowed per contest, just dismal. Additionally, the Terriers are fourth in the nation in defensive effective field goal percentage (33.2%). I should write St. Francis’ media notes.

Fun fact: this game technically counts as a part of the Maui Invitational. SFNY will take on Dayton, Syracuse and Coastal Carolina under the tournament’s umbrella. Tomorrow’s game is categorized as an “opening round” game, with the “championship round” taking place in Maui during the week of Thanksgiving. Saint Francis’ game against Coastal Carolina is termed a “regional round” game, because obviously. Dayton gets to spend a week gazing at ethnically ambiguous ass in Hawaii while SFNY gets to travel to Dayton and Conway, South Carolina. We are the one percent!

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Meet and Greet

Junior forward Jalen Cannon is the Terriers’ featured player. Cannon was named to the Northeast Conference All-Rookie team as a freshman and was selected to the league’s  Second Team last season after leading SFNY in scoring (14.7 ppg), rebounding (8.8 rpg) and field-goal percentage (55.6%). Unsurprisingly, he was named to the league’s preseason All-Conference team back in September, Cannon has accolades for days. He is on pace to become just the second player in St. Francis history to score 1,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds, so good luck trading war stories when this guy is around.

Cannon is from Allentown, PA — which begs the question, did he enroll at the wrong St. Francis by accident? Did he accept a scholarship from “Saint Francis” assuming it was the one in Pennsylvania? If you are going to go to one of the St. Francises, wouldn’t you opt for the one closer to home? Just spitballin’. How confusing was that for his friends back home? “Oh, Jalen, heard you are going to St. Francis. That’s pretty awesome, a couple of us cool guys are too. What’s that? You are going to one in Brooklyn? Nah, I’m pretty sure it’s in Pennsylvania, brah.” I’d imagine it’d be like telling someone in Ohio you were going to OSU and having to explain it was the one in Oklahoma, not the school down the road. This is fucking with my mind more than it should.

Freshman (sensation?) forward Wayne Martin lines up beside Cannon and is off to a flying start this season. Martin has already established himself as the Siegfried to Cannon’s Roy (or is it Roy to his Siegfried? I have no idea who the top/bottom is in that relationship). Martin was named the Northeast Conference Rookie of the Week after posting an impressive 17 and 8 effort against Miami. With Martin and Cannon, the Terriers have a two-headed monster fueled by pure effort and stubbornness.

Senior guard Ben Mockford (13 ppg/39% 3PT) is a tatted up Brit who chats up the birds by day and fires long-range jumpers at twilight. He is the Terriers’ most accurate three-point shooter, a lefty who rarely shoots anything inside of twenty-one feet. Mockford, a transfer from Iona, averaged 2.7 threes per game last season, it’s all he knows. 5’10” junior Brent Jones returns as St. Francis’ point-guard. There is a fair chance that Jones won’t even attempt a field-goal during the contest, he has just fired up five shots in fifty-five minutes of play and has yet to connect. He is a consummate “pass-first, pass-second, oh shit, is B-Jonesy gonna have to fire up an off-balance jumper with the shot-clock expiring?” kinda point-guard.

Bench guys? You better believe St. Francis is fielding a regulation roster, folks. Kevin Douglas, who was a starter last season before going down with a hand injury, should get plenty of time against the Flyers tomorrow afternoon.  Douglas is described as a kid with “size and rebounding ability. He’s not a great shooter, but he gives [St. Francis] toughness.” Center Matt Milk has an awesome name. Amdy Fall is a big body who can rebound and block shots. I don’t know, what do you want from me?

Numbers Game

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Prediction

We must protect this house!! This is a look-ahead game…for St. Francis. The Terriers will be completely focused on playing Syracuse on Monday night, completely disconnected from their noon tilt with the Gem City Cagers. Sibert runs free, leading all scorers with 22 points. Dyshawn Pierre AND Devin Oliver register back-to-back double-doubles. UD wins handily, 78-62.

Lastly, we just can’t have this:

If a Sweater ever dares to ask you to keep it down, you have every right to follow that octogenarian out into the parking lot and mash his/her (God willing, a her) face into their windshield. We need the Arena to turn into the Midwest college basketball version of the “Black Hole” out in Oakland. The Arena must get to the point where grown men are afraid to bring their children to games because people are chain-smoking and trading child pornography in the seats behind them. Let’s get that old magic back.