St. Francis is having a disastrous men's basketball season in large part because of a disgraceful schedule that both school and Northeast Conference officials should be ashamed of.
The Red Flash have lost 11 in a row and lug a 2-13 record and 0-4 league mark into tonight's NEC game against Monmouth. It will be just their second home game in 54 days.
This is a decent team by SFU standards, but the kids never had a chance in the early going this season because the adults running the show let them down.
Athletic Director Bob Krimmel and coach Don Friday signed off on a ludicrous schedule that had the team playing 10 of its past 11 games on the road and 12 of the first 15 overall. The Flash have never been good on the road, so it was easy to predict this awful record.
The problem was compounded by NEC officials, who added the crushing blow of having the Flash play their first four league games on the road. That's a blatant disregard for fairness.
The NEC, however, not only doesn't apologize for SFU's schedule, it claims nothing can be done to prevent it from occurring on occasion.
"With some of the logistics that go into making a schedule, it happens sometimes," NEC Associate Commissioner Ron Ratner said.
The NEC has a bizarre format where its teams play two conference games in early December, then resume full league play in early January. The Flash played at St. Francis, N.Y., and Long Island in December, then at Mount St. Mary's and Wagner this month.
"It's not ideal. Absolutely not," Ratner said of starting league play with four road games. "Would we prefer that not to happen? Sure."
Well then, prevent it from happening instead of sticking behind some ridiculous logistical excuse.
Krimmel and the SFU administration assumed at least one of the initial two-game league stretches would be at home, so they worked the non-conference schedule around that assumption. And it blew up in their faces.
"That was a mistake," Krimmel said of the assumption.
The AD complained about the schedule to the league, but for academic rather than competitive purposes. He was concerned about the players having to miss classes Thursday and Friday for their first two league games and returning to campus at 3 a.m. Sunday morning the day before their finals were to begin Dec. 6.
The NEC says everything evens out because if a team plays four consecutive road games, it will get four in a row at home. The Flash have the luxury of that stretch starting tonight, and they still have time to salvage the season with nine home games.
Timing does matter, though, and since the first four games set the tone, it can be a big difference when a team gets buried right off the bat in league play with four road losses.
There are other factors at play that led to the poor schedule, such as this season the Flash had a bunch of return games from one-and-one series. Plus, the NEC doesn't allow its teams to schedule Division II or III opponents, which would assure home games.
Those are merely excuses, though, and no matter how complex scheduling can be, there's no excuse for playing 10 out of 11 games on the road.
Krimmel acknowledged he feels "badly" that the players were put in this situation. And he should.
The young men on the team deserve better, and hopefully they can show during the upcoming homestand that they haven't let the scheduling debacle crush their confidence.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.