Nestled on 600 acres of forests and farmland in the city of Loretto, Pennsylvania, is this small private school, Saint Francis, with an undergrad population of around 2,000 students.
The Red Flash play in the Northeast Conference, which has sent few regulars to the tournament, like Robert Morris, Long Island, and Fairleigh Dickinson, but none have made it past the Round of 64. SFU’s last tournament bid was in 1991.
Coached by Rob Krimmel in his ninth season and returning all but one player from last year, the Saint Francis Red Flash are currently 4-5 with wins over D3 Franciscan University, Patriot League stalwarts Lehigh (1-8) and Bucknell (0-8), and American East foe Hartford (1-8), who appeared in the tournament last year.
I think that we can safely say that by its standards, the Flash are having an above-average year.
Players to Watch
The Flash are led by power forward Josh Cohen, who is shooting an absurd 73% clip. Advanced stats say that he active on the boards and is a good passer.
Redshirt-senior Ramiir Dixen-Conover leads the team in scoring with 14.4 points per game and has an effective field goal percentage of 49% while shooting 26.9% from beyond the arc. Against its only Power Conference team this year, Virginia Tech held Dixen-Conover to an effective field goal rate of 13.6%.
Cohen, however, stayed consistent, making his 16 minutes count going 3-of-4 from the field and grabbing a few boards and assists. The Hokies beat Saint Francis 85-55.
After the loss to Arizona last week, Illinois is going to come out and play. There is no matchup for Kofi and the SFU guards are undersized. Even in a year that Saint Francis might win the NEC and make the tournament — again, their D1 wins so far have a combined 2 wins; it’s mid-December — Illinois won’t break a sweat winning this game.
Brad Underwood will use this game as a tune-up for the Braggin’ Rights game against Mizzou next week.