Tuesday, December 27, 2011

St. Peter's Men Preview: Tough Transition

Here's another in the series previewing conference teams.

Up now ...


2011-12 RECORD TO DATE: 2-10.

2010-11 RECORD: 11-7 in MAAC play, 20-14 overall.


KEY RETURNEES: 6-7 junior forward Darius Conley (13.2 points, 8.7 rebounds), 6-3 junior guard Yvon Raymond (8.9, 5.1).

KEY LOSSES: Guard Wesley Jenkins (12.6, 4.8), forward Jeron Belin (11.6, 5.2), guard Nick Leon (10.4, 2.2, 3.2 assists), forward Ryan Bacon (10.0, 7.4).

NOTES: Conley is the team's only returning starter, and has played well to date leading the team in scoring and rebounding. His rebound average is the conference's second-best thus far. And, he is getting better with three 20-point games in his last five, including a 22-point, 12-rebound effort in the Peacocks' last outing ... Two teams lost four starters from a year ago, Saint Peter's and Canisius. And, not coincidentally, those are the two programs with the worst records to date. Saint Peter's is 2-10 and Canisius is 2-9 ... Head coach John Dunne, who molded a defense-first, well-working team in every sense of the word last season, knew this season's squad would be a work in progress and hoped things would come together by tournament time. To date, though, there has been much inconsistency ... Karee Ferguson, a 6-7 junior college transfer who was expected to provide some much-needed offense, is only averaging 5.6 points ... Chris Prescott, a touted transfer from St. Joseph's, is averaging 11.7 points, but probably was expected to do more scoring ... Markese Tucker, a 6-5, 240-pounder, has been a pleasant surprise, averaging 9.0 points ... Jack Hill, a 6-9 senior forward who hardly played in past year, has been effective but missed the team's last game with a shoulder issue and is day-to-day ... Lamin Fulton, the likely point guard of the future, is playing like a freshman and junior Yvon Ramond (8.9 points, 5.1 rebounds), is the current starter at the point ... Right now there isn't a lot of date and things haven't yet come together as Dunne had hoped ... The non-league schedule, too, has been difficult and losses have come against Minnesota, Seton Hall, Utah State and Buffalo.

HOW SAINT PETER'S CAN SUCCEED: By getting healthy, by getting experience playing together and by getting better. There's some talent here. Conley is emerging as one of the MAAC's better inside forces. Prescott can be an offensive force, as can Ferguson. Fulton will eventually emerge as a strong point guard. But, it hasn't happened yet. But, no one expected a program that graduated four senior starters to make a seamless transition. There's enough talent in place to at least be respectable eventually this season. And, for the program to hope for better days. None of the top six scorers are seniors.

PREDICTION: Hard to see Saint Peter's repeating as the post-season tournament champion, and maybe even fulfilling the preseason prediction for fifth. But, your Hoopscribe perceives Dunne to be one of the MAAC's best coaches, and he'll eventually get things going in the right direction. A .500 finish in the MAAC would be a reasonable goal, with much better ahead next season.

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