Name: St. Francis University
Location: Loretto, Pennsylvania
Where? 80 miles east of Pittsburgh
Fun Fact: There’s a Federal Correctional Institution 2.5 miles away from campus. For Marquette purposes, it’d be like if there was a correctional institution where the Summerfest grounds are located.
Enrollment: 1,745 undergraduates, 619 graduate students
So, that would make SFU: Smaller than Marquette’s freshman class, yes.
Only the enrollment is small: The campus occupies 600 acres, which is about six times the size of the area you’d think of as MU’s campus, including the off campus housing areas. In fairness, though, this includes a 36 hole golf course and a Franciscan friary.
This is not St. Francis (NY): The NEC has two schools named St. Francis. This is the university in western Pennsylvania. The other one is St. Francis College, which is in Brooklyn in New York City. Based on their KenPom performances with the current head coaches, it’d probably be better if MU was playing the New York school.
Nickname: Red Flash
Why “Red Flash?” There is literally a link on SFU’s athletics website that has that exact question. They might be my new favorite team.
The answer dates back to 1927, when the school boasted one of the fastest football ground attacks in the east, headed by quarterback George Kunzler, captain and right halfback Ed McLister, fullback Alphonse Abels and left halfback Ralph Bruno. Because the team wore predominantly red uniforms, the fans and The Loretto (the student newspaper) dubbed the team “The Red Flashes.”
The nickname quickly spread, first to the football team and later that same season to the basketball team. Within 15 years, “The Red Flashes” evolved into the present form of “The Red Flash,” through the efforts of Sports Publicist Simon “Cy” Bender.
Notable Alumni: Paul Boyton, who swam the English Channel back in 1875; Fred Klenner, ground-breaking Vitamin C researcher; Charles M. Schwab, early 20th century president of U.S. Steel and then president of Bethlehem Steel, and not the Charles R. Schwab that founded the investment company that bears his name; and Basketball Hall of Famer Maurice Stokes.
Last Season: 13-17, although that includes a win against a non-Division 1 team. They went 9-9 in the NEC, although they lost their last five games to end up there.
This Season: 3-6, although they’re just 2-6 against Division 1 opponents.
Final 2015-16 KenPom Ranking: #299
Current KenPom Ranking: #323
Abu, this is no time to panic: Yes, that sub-300 KenPom number isn’t great to see. Remember when I mentioned that they lost their last five games of league play last season? Freshman Isaiah Blackmon blew out his ACL in early February. Blackmon was also the leading returning scorer to this team from last year, and he was named NEC Player of the Week last year before his injury. For what it’s worth, he’s played in every game so far for SFU.
Points: Jamaal King, 13.7 ppg
Rebounds: Keith Braxton, 9.3 rpg
Assists: Jamaal King, 3.9 apg
Big Man? Not really. Their biggest rotation guy is Josh Nebo, who is 6’8”, but only 215 pounds. He’s not a shooter, though, as he hasn’t attempted a three pointer all year. There is sophomore Ifeanyi Umezurike (6’10”, 240 lb.) and freshman Deivydas Kuzavas (6’10”, 210 lb.), but they play 10 and eight minutes per game respectively, and Kuzavas didn’t play at all in their most recent game.
Shooters? Jamaal King and Georgios Angelou are both averaging more than five long range attempts per game, and they both shoot just a bit north of 36%. Scott Meredith (37%), Isaiah Blackmon (44%), and Andre Wolford (47%) are all capable shooters, but they’re not shooting it all that much. “Not shooting it all that much” can describe the Red Flash as a team as well, as they rank #237 in the country in terms of how many of their shots come from behind the arc.
Head Coach: Rob Krimmel, in his fifth season at St. Francis and overall. He has a record of 47-84 and finds himself in a precarious position: He was promoted to head coach by his father in 2012, but his dad retired and was replaced in April.