Flash win third game in a row
LORETTO – Judging a team’s progress can be in the eye of the beholder. Results, on the other hand, offer concrete proof.
This hasn’t been a great season for St. Francis, but there’s now no disputing that the program has made progress in coach Rob Krimmel’s second season. A third straight victory Saturday, 83-75 over Fairleigh Dickinson at DeGol Arena, gave the Red Flash six wins, topping their total of five last season.
Now, some would say it’s easy and should be expected of any team to improve on a five-win season. But in the Red Flash’s case, not only do the results indicate progress, it’s also apparent watching them that the team is better, more cohesive, more skilled and more dangerous than a year ago.
“I feel that the progress is tremendous,” SFU guard Steph Whyatt said. “We’ve put in the work. We’ve been here all summer, and we sacrificed for it.”
The team finally has been rewarded for all that work with three straight wins, just the third time in six seasons the Flash have had a winning streak of at least three games.
They dominated for most of the game Saturday against FDU, building a 34-16 cushion 13 minutes in, leading by 18 at the half and stretching it to 22 early in the second half.
The visitors made a big push and cut the deficit to 61-54 with 9:01 left, but St. Francis kept its composure, stretched the margin back to 17 and wasn’t really threatened in the final few minutes.
The Flash had a chance to build some confidence with a five-game homestand, and they did just that by winning the final three against Sacred Heart, Central Connecticut State and FDU.
“Pretty high,” Krimmel said of the team’s confidence level. “We talked about the feeling [of winning] and remembering this feeling.”
Ben Millaud-Meunier, who had 22 points, kept things in check on the confidence issue.
“It’s decently high, but we still have level heads,” he said.
The Flash are still just 6-15, but far more importantly they’re 4-4 in the Northeast Conference. That puts them in position to not only get into the eight-team postseason tournament, but also to perhaps secure a decent seed and not have to play the first- or second-place team on the road in the opening round.
“So much of what we do at our level is creating momentum because we’re a one-bid league [for the NCAA Tournament],” said Krimmel, noting it’s paramount to be peaking at the right time in late February and March.
St. Francis won easily Saturday despite a subpar game from Earl Brown, who was held to seven points and five rebounds. The Flash shooters lit it up, though, hitting 12-of-30 3-pointers, and the team got a whopping 45 points from its bench.
Millaud-Meunier hit six 3-pointers for most of his 22 points off the bench, and Whyatt had 14 off the bench. No starter scored in double figures for SFU.
Krimmel made a key adjustment coming into the game after watching his shooters struggle with their technique lately. He broke down every 3-point shot on film over the past week and a half and noticed the shooters were fading away instead of sticking their landings.
“The 3-point shot’s got to be a weapon for us,” said Krimmel, who knows a lot about that since the 3-pointer was his specialty during his playing days at SFU.
The coach challenged his shooters to work on their form, and it paid off early as SFU shot 70 percent from the field with five 3s in the first 12 minutes for the 34-16 lead.
“I took it personal,” Millaud-Meunier said of the jumpshooting form element. “I don’t know if I should have.”
Krimmel is fine that he did as Millaud-Meunier’s shooting helped build and keep the comfortable lead.
“I got away from one in the game, and that’s the first thing I heard, ‘stick your landing,'” Millaud-Meunier said.
Sidney Sanders Jr. poured in 30 points trying to help FDU (8-14, 4-4) battle back, but it wasn’t enough.
“They’re playing really well,” Knights coach Greg Herenda said of the Flash. “That’s their third [straight] win, and we just came out a step slow. I really give Rob a lot of credit. His team is playing really well.”
Now the Flash have to keep it up on the road as they head to Brooklyn for games against St. Francis and Long Island. St. Francis is just 2-9 away from home and has long struggled in that department.
“We just have to maintain this level of concentration,” Whyatt said. “Everyone’s focused in, and we’ve got to stay hungry. No one’s nervous about going on the road. We don’t think it’s a curse or anything.”