Coach Glenn Braica refused to get caught up in the hype of his St. Francis College team being picked to win the Northeast Conference for the first time in program history.
“We are going to disregard all that stuff, we appreciate the complement, but it does nothing for us,” said the Terriers men’s basketball slipper of the prediction by the league’s coaches. “It’s almost like being up at halftime. It doesn’t really matter. We will just go from there and try to be as good as we can be.”
The Terriers went 18–14 overall and 9–7 in conference play last season with a win over Miami and a tight loss at Syracuse. St. Francis was upset by Mount St. Mary’s in the opening round of the conference tournament, but returned two of the its best players in senior forward Jalen Cannon and point guard Brent Jones.
The 6-foot-6 Cannon was an All-Northeast Conference Team selection after averaging 14.9 points and 8.2 assists last year. Jones averaged 7.5 points and 6.0 assists. Their presence on a young roster leaves them the clear leaders, and two of the more established players when many other teams are turning over its rosters.
“They have developed very good chemistry,” Braica said. “They have been through some tough times. They learned to fight through them. We are blessed to have guys like that at different positions with that type of experience. They are guys we can rely on.”
The coach also plans to rely on the team’s other familiar faces, such as guard Kevin Douglass and forwards Amdy Fall and Lowell Ulmer while its talented group of newcomers prove themselves. Freshmen Glenn Sanabria, Gunnar Olafsson and Keon Williams all have the talent to contribute, according to Braica.
Douglass has been one of the team’s best players when healthy, and Braica is particularly hopeful for a big year from Fall, who showed flashes of what he is capable of a year ago. Fall taking the next step will only make life easier on Cannon.
“It helps me out a lot, especially on the defensive end,” Cannon said. “I feel his defense has gotten a lot better. His offense. He added a little jump shot.”
These are the ingredients Braica and the Terriers will use to try and live up to the their own expectations and those now placed on them by the league.
“I’m not going to react to it. I’m just going to take it as a challenge and go from there,” Braica said.