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Saint Francis

Red Flash break skid, remain in mix for NEC tourney with many factors still to be determined

Photo by Saint Francis Athletics (J.D. Cavrich): Mark Flagg

Update: 1:20 p.m.

We need to make this correction to the story below: Saint Francis is NOT mathematically eliminated from contention for the Northeast Conference Tournament, which will include just four of the league’s 10 teams.

First-place Merrimack is not eligible, because it’s still in a waiting period after joining Division I, so nine teams are left battling for the four spots.

There are a ton of factors that go into play here, including a lot of math and potential tiebreakers, an unforeseen number of postponed league games that could be made up, and possibly even COVID scenarios.

The NEC standings are a jumbled mess with a bunch of teams that have all played a different number of games because of COVID. As you can see, Saint Francis has played the most games, and even though it already has 10 losses, there is still hope for the tournament.

The NEC still wants to try and make up as many postponed games as it can. And depending on the results of those as yet unscheduled games, the Flash still could find a way to get into the tournament.

If Saint Francis wins its final three games to finish 8-10 in the NEC, the Flash still have a chance.

If some teams just cannot play enough games to qualify for the NEC minimum number of contests, the Flash still have a chance.

If the unfortunate situation unfolds that one or more teams might not be able to play in the tournament because of COVID, the Flash still have a chance.

We would like to be as specific as possible with what it would take for Saint Francis to get in, but that just is not possible at this point because so many things remain unsettled with number of games remaining for numerous teams, potential outcomes of unscheduled games and the coronavirus.

But, we’re telling you there’s a chance.

From the NEC:

These tiebreakers will be utilized if not every team plays 18 games…

Two-Way Tiebreaker

1.    Winning percentage of each team in head-to-head competition. If the teams did not compete or the teams split, go to tiebreaker No. 2.
2.    Win percentage against common conference opponents.
3.    Strength of wins. Example: Team A’s 10 victories came over teams with a combined winning percentage of .541. Team B’s 10 victories came over teams with a combined winning percentage of .484. Team A would be seeded higher.
4.    If a tie still exists after exhausting steps 1-3, the rankings by NCAA.com at the conclusion of the NEC regular season will be utilized to determine the higher seed.

Three-Way (or more) Tiebreaker

1.    The winning percentages of the teams involved in the tie vs. each other shall be compared. All of the tied teams must have played each other at least once. Example: Team A played Team B. Team B played Team C. Team A did not play Team C. This step will be skipped and comparisons between the tied teams begin with tiebreaker No. 2. If one team’s winning percentage is superior to the others, that team shall be removed from the tie and seeded highest of the teams involved in the tie. If two teams subsequently remain, that tie shall be broken utilizing the two-way tiebreaker procedure. If no single team has a superior winning percentage after the comparison described in No. 1, but multiple teams have the same superior percentage to the other teams involved in the tie, those teams with the superior percentage will be compared using either the two-way or three-way tiebreaker procedure. The team that has the advantage will be seeded highest of all teams involved in the original tie. The other team(s) (the loser(s) of the appropriate tiebreaker) will again be compared to the remaining teams in the tie, beginning with step No. 1 of the two-way or three-way tiebreaker.
2.    Win percentage against common conference opponents. If one team’s winning percentage is superior to the others, that team shall be removed from the tie and seeded highest of the teams involved in the tie. If two teams remain, that tie shall be broken utilizing the two-way tiebreaker procedure.
3.    Strength of wins. If one team’s winning percentage is superior to the others, that team shall be removed from the tie and seeded highest of the teams involved in the tie. If two teams remain, that tie shall be broken utilizing the two-way tiebreaker procedure.
4.    If a tie still exists after exhausting steps 1-3, the rankings by NCAA.com at the conclusion of the NEC regular season will be utilized to determine the higher seed.


ORIGINAL STORY

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There’s nothing left to play for this season for Saint Francis except pride, but there is a whole lot left to play for when it comes to preparing for the future.

The Red Flash bounced back from a slow start Friday to beat St. Francis Brooklyn, 80-66, at DeGol Arena in Loretto. That snapped a four-game losing streak that eliminated SFU from contention for the four-team Northeast Conference Tournament.

But instead of throwing in the towel, something very positive happened in the second half of Thursday’s 70-67 loss to the Terriers. The Flash (6-13, 5-10 NEC) trailed by 16 and were on the verge of getting blown out, but they rallied and nearly came all the way back, missing a 3-pointer that would have tied it with 6 seconds to go.

In the second game of the back-to-back Friday, Saint Francis fell behind early, only to storm back and rout the visitors.

The effort and fight shown the past two days give coach Rob Krimmel a lot to build on for the rest of this season — which consists of three games — and a chance to close strong for confidence going into next year.

Every member of the Red Flash rotation — all starters and bench guys — are expected to be back next season. That includes senior center Mark Flagg, whom Krimmel confirmed Friday will take advantage of the NCAA rule allowing all players an extra year of eligibility.

Senior point guard Ramiir Dixon-Conover, the team’s leading scorer, already had announced that he will return for another year.

Barring a transfer, which could happen, the Saint Francis team that is finishing this season will return next season, giving the program a chance to bounce back in a hurry from this dismal campaign.

“It’s important any year that you want to finish on a high note,” Krimmel said. “You want to finish playing your best basketball because that creates the momentum into the offseason workouts and then into the summer.

“The thing we have to be cautious of is just because everybody’s going to be back doesn’t mean that everything’s going to go in a certain direction. We have to make sure that we embrace each day, we continue to get better. If we keep worrying about what’s next, what’s next, we’re gonna miss out on some opportunities here in the next couple of weeks to grow as a basketball team and individually as basketball players.”

Krimmel has built a good culture at Saint Francis where players come in as freshmen, improve each year and stay their entire careers. There are good, young players on this team who could decide to transfer and seek immediate eligibility elsewhere, but as long as that doesn’t happen, this Flash team will have a chance at a quick rebound next season.

“That hasn’t even crossed my mind,” Krimmel said of potential transfers.

The coach talks to players in the recruiting process about wanting to bring in kids who are committed to Saint Francis for four years.

“(It’s about) making sure these kids feel a part, not just as basketball players, but as students,” Krimmel added. “I think the examples that kids that have come before in the program have set that, if you stay four years, you have a chance to do something special. And who wouldn’t want to do that? But each kid is different, each team is different, each situation is different. But we’ll worry about that when the season’s over.”

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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