Monday, August 5, 2013

Team Report: Peacock Men Poised For Turnaround

Here's another in the series looking  back and ahead at conference teams.

Up now ...


2012-13 RECORD: 3-15 in MAAC play (10th), 9-21 overall. Lost in play-in round of MAAC tournament, 54-47, to Fairfield.

2012-13 RECAP: A 3-0 start to the season, that included an opening-night victory over Rutgers, followed by wins over Central Connecticut and Cornell. And, then, 6-21 after that. Actually, the Peacocks were still solid, at 6-6 overall, through December and that record included one of the MAAC's biggest upsets, a 64-62 victory over Iona, the conference's eventual representative to the NCAA's. After that, though, 3-15 with the only wins against Marist, Siena and a non-leaguer over Hampton.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: The victories over Rutgers and Iona were definite high points, showing what the Peacocks could do on a given night. Against Iona, post man Darius Conley had 17 points and 9 rebounds. Desi Washington, a transfer sophomore guard (Delaware State) had a very good first season in the program, averaging a team-high 14.8 points (11th best in the MAAC). He also finished 41st in total three-pointers made (2.7 per outing). Swingman Yvon Raymond and point guard Blaise Ffrench also had solid years, Raymond averaging 10.4 ppg., and Ffrench averaging 7.2 and 4.5 assists (3rd in the MAAC). Markese Tucker, an undersized 6-5 power player, has developed into a good role player. The Peacocks displayed their usual grittiness, making opponents play hard to get victories, and 10 of the team's losses were by nine points or less.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Washington was very good, Raymond was solid and, then, there really wasn't anyone else who could deliver offense consistently. Offensively, only 15 Division I teams nationally scored fewer points. And, most of what the team had came from the perimeter. There might not have been another team in the league with less in the post, and it showed up in the rebounding stats where Saint Peter's ranked 282nd of 343 Division I teams nationally. Patrick Jackson, a rugged transfer forward from Rutgers who was expected to help in the post, was dismissed from the program after 13 games. Saint Peter's was 6-7 with Jackson on the team and 3-14 thereafter. Conley, a rugged inside presence, didn't have the year most expected and only averaged 4.6 rebounds per game. And, there wasn't much else up front. Elias Desport, a 6-7 freshman, flashed some signs, but he wasn't fully ready. Karee Ferguson, a touted junior college transfer, might have helped up front, but he battled injuries and only averaged 2.9 points this past season. Guard Chris Prescott, who transferred in from La Salle, rarely helped, averaging 2.8 points per game and fell out of favor this past season. Still, there were a lot of close games, but the Peacocks showed they weren't quite good enough to win them.

WHAT'S AHEAD: Just about a total rebuild, and the results will be evident over the next two years. Chris Burke (5.5 ppg.), a part-time starter this past season, is the only senior on the roster. But, there is a lot of experience ... it's just that a good deal of it has been gained elsewhere. Two key players have transferred in from other D-I programs and will be eligible for the coming season, while three others are coming in from junior colleges. Head coach John Dunne hasn't had an abundance of talent to work with, since his senior-laden group of 2010-11 went to the NCAA tournament. But, the program clearly now has as many good players as it has in recent memory. There are a lot of divergent pieces, but Dunne has a knack for getting players to buy into what he's trying to do. Overall the roster looks a little small ... there's no player taller than 6-7. But, Dunne claims that 6-7 junior Marvin Dominique, a transfer from Fordham, will be one of the MAAC's better forwards. And, 6-5 Kris Rolle, coming in from Colby Community College, was one of the top rebounders nationally at the JC level (11.9 per game) and will also help in the post. Desport will likely make some strides, and true freshman Quadir Welton, another 6-7 forward, averaged 9.9 rebounds per game at the high school level last season. The backcourt is well-stocked with Washington, Burke, incoming transfer Jamel Fields, a junior who was in the playing rotation at Fairfield before leaving that program, and sophomore Chazz Patterson. The key to the backcourt, though, will be finding a point guard replacement for Ffrench. That might be 6-foot-0 Trevis Wyche, another true freshman, who has point-guard directing skills, yet is also a standout perimeter shooter. His adjustment to the college level will play a key role in the team's progress for the coming season.

PREDICTION FOR 2013-14: There seems to be enough talent in place to start turning this around, although one wonders if it might take a season for chemistry to develop. But, it could happen quicker than expected, particularly if Wyche can take over and be a productive point guard, or if someone else can handle the position if Wyche isn't quite ready. It's hard to envision the Peacocks challenging the likely top three finishers (Manhattan, Iona, Canisius), but finishing in the top five is a reasonable goal with things looking even better the following season.

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