Tuesday, April 17, 2012

St. Peter's Men's Report: Some Improvement Likely

After a brief break that included a week-long trip to California, it's time to get back to basketball and to the team-by-team post-season reports.

Up now ...


2011-12 RECORD: 4-14 in MAAC play, 5-26 overall.

2011-12 RECAP: There's got to be a morning after, so to speak, and this past season was it for the Peacocks. On the heels of capturing the 2010-11 conference tournament and a bid to the NCAA's, the program lost four significant starters and, then, head coach John Dunne dismissed another key role player for disciplinary issues prior to the season. If that wasn't bad enough, two key front-court players were lost for the year to injury by the mid-way point. Yes, indeed, the bottom dropped out. For the entire season all Saint Peter's got was a non-league win over a moribund Binghamton squad, two wins over the conference's last-place Canisius team and, inexplicably, two victories over Siena, the MAAC's sixth-place team. The season included two eight-game losing streak, including an active one with a season-ending setback to Marist in the play-in round of this season's conference tournament.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Very little, but there were a couple of bright spots, most notably the two conference victories over Siena that kept the Saints from finishing over .500 in both league play and overall. The second  of those, on Siena's home court, included a stalwart defensive effort led by 6-7 junior center Darius Conley that held his Saints' counterpart O.D. Anosike to nine points and ended Anosike's string of 17 consecutive double-doubles. Conley, after being a role player for the past two years, had a nice break-out season averaging 11.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game as a third-team all-MAAC selection. Freshman guard Lamin Fulton had a solid first year (8.9 points per game). Otherwise, not much else went the Peacocks' way, which was somewhat expected considering all the personnel losses from a year ago.

WHAT WENT WRONG: This could be lengthy. Four key players graduating was tough enough. Then, senior forward Jack Hill (4.7 points, 2.8 rebounds), who was playing relatively well, went down for the season after nine games. And, then, junior college transfer Karee Ferguson (4.1, 3.3), who was expected to provide some front-court offense, tore an achilles in the team's 16th game and was lost for the rest of the season and his status for the coming season is up in the air. Fulton, despite some solid statistics, was wildly inconsistent. And, then, he recently informed the coaching staff that he would be transferring out of the program. Chris Prescott, a transfer from St. Joseph's, didn't come close to living up to expectations (10.1 points per game, but 33.9% shooting), and looks like little more than a role player for the coming year.  Another big man, 6-10 freshman Gaetano Spera from Italy who was an intriguing project, lasted six games and opted to leave school. The team's hallmark of recent years, its defense (second nationally in field-goal defense in 2010-11) was non-existent and ranked 296 of 337 Division I teams nationally in that statistically this past season.

WHAT'S AHEAD: More rebuilding. Fulton and Ferguson could have been nice pieces for next season, but Fulton is gone and there's a great deal of uncertainty over whether Ferguson will be able to recover from his injury to play in 2012-13. Prescott doesn't look like much of a factor. It leaves Conley and 6-3 junior guard Yves Raymond (7.5, 3.9), who had a solid season coming off the bench, as the primary building blocks. Head coach John Dunne, though, knows how to build a program. He'll need to continue to develop current sophomore perimeter players Chris Burke (6.2, 4.0) and Blaise Ffrench (4.4, 2.6), both of which came in to fairly high expectations, to be able to be competitive. He'll also need to find a big man, maybe in 6-9 incoming freshman Lawrence Fejokwu, who attended Sunrise Christian Academy, a Kansas Prep school, for the past two years.

PREDICTION FOR 2012-13: They'll probably be picked to finish last when the coaches' preseason poll comes out in October, the the potential is there for a little better if the team stays healthy, if players like Burke and Ffrench step up and another adequate front-court player is found. It's more than a little to ask, but if it happens Saint Peter's is capable of much better than this past season.

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