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Red Flash picked eighth in NEC preseason poll

College basketball

LORETTO — The Saint Francis University men’s basketball team was tabbed to finish eighth according to the Northeast Conference Preseason Poll, announced by the league during its virtual media day on Tuesday.

Wagner received seven of the 10 first-place votes to be selected as the preseason favorite. Bryant University picked up two first place nods to finish second, while Mount St. Mary’s was fourth followed by Long Island, Merrimack, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, the Red Flash, Fairleigh Dickinson and Central Connecticut State.

Saint Francis returns 15 of its 16 players, including its Top-6 scorers and four starters from last season. Ramiir Dixon-Conover was named an All-NEC third-team selection after leading the team with 15.5 points per game and ranked second with 5.6 rebounds per game. Myles Thompson was second on the team with 10.1 points per game and third with 5.4 rebounds per game.

Maxwell Land (8.7 ppg.), Ronnell Giles Jr. (8.9 ppg.), Marlon Hargis (8.3 ppg.) and Mark Flagg (8.0 ppg.) also return in 2021-22.

“We want to be more physical than we’ve been in the past,” 10-year SFU coach Rob Krimmel said at Tuesday’s SFU media luncheon. “We’ve got some guys who can score around the basket.”

Dixon-Conover, Thompson and Bishop Guilfoyle graduate Luke Ruggery will serve as team captains in 2021-22. The Red Flash finished 6-16 overall and 5-13 in the NEC in 2021-22.

Saint Francis opens the season at George Washington University on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Flash women open Nov. 9

The Saint Francis women’s team opens its season on Nov. 9 when it travels to Philadelphia to play Temple.

The Flash were 14-9 overall and 12-4 in the NEC last year, and Keila Whittington is set to begin her third season as head coach.

“We always have the same expectations,” Whittington said Tuesday. “I don’t think any of us came to Saint Francis to not fight and compete to win championships. I think that’s always at our forefront.”

Bellwood-Antis product Karson Swogger graduated, but among the returnees are redshirt senior Lili Benzel (Bishop Guilfoyle grad), who averaged 10.4 points per game last year, and Everett sophomore Kaitlyn Maxwell, who started 22 games as a freshman last year.

“I think we know what to expect coming into the season,” Benzel said. “We continue to just keep working hard.”

Jada Dapaa, Diajha Allen, Sam Miller and Jenna Mastellone are four others players back who saw significant playing time last year.

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