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November 24, 2012

Preview: St. Francis (Pa.) @ Notre Dame

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Head coach: Rob Krimmel (1st year) - 0-4 in his first year as head coach of the Red Flash. He served as a 12-year assistant coach at his alma mater before landing the job in place of Don Friday, who was fired after a four-year record of 32-86, including 6-23 (5-13) last year. Krimmel was a three-year starter and two-time captain of the Red Flash.

You should know: That St. Francis head coach Rob Krimmel is the son of St. Francis Athletics Director Bob Krimmel and the brother of John Krimmel, who serves as Assistant Director of Athletics for Academic Services at St. Francis…The Red Flash is playing its fourth road game in five tilts. They lost at Penn State (65-58), at Niagara (86-69), at Youngstown State (75-60), and at home against Colgate (85-76)…Notre Dame is 11-0 all-time vs. St. Francis and 26-0 against the Northeast Conference. The Irish defeated NEC member Monmouth, 84-57, just 12 days ago. The last time the Irish played St. Francis was on Nov. 16, 2009, when they claimed a 95-72 victory…Notre Dame is 43-0 at Purcell Pavilion in November under Mike Brey. The Irish have won 46 in a row at home in November. The last November loss at home was on Nov. 13, 1998 when Miami (Ohio) defeated Notre Dame, 76-65.

Top losses: Scott Eatherton (14.0 ppg., 7.0 rpg.)

Top players: The Red Flash has four players averaging double-digit scoring early in the season. Stephon Whyatt, a 6-foot-1, 155-pound sophomore, is scoring at a 14.0 clip while shooting .537 from the field and .545 (6-of-11) from three-point range. Whyatt tossed in 23 points at Niagara and 18 at Youngstown State.

Ollie Jackson, a 6-foot-3, 163-pound sophomore, is averaging 12.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. He scored 19 points at Penn State. Jackson leads St. Francis in three-pointers made with eight.

Umar Shannon, a 5-foot-11 junior, averaged 15.8 points per game in 2010-11, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 2011-12 opener, causing him to miss the rest of the season. Shannon is averaging 11.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. He scored 24 points against Colgate.

Stephon Mosley, a 6-foot-6 freshman, is the fourth St. Francis player to average double-figure scoring at 10.3. He's also rebounding at a 5.3 clip with a team-leading nine offensive caroms.

Ronnie Drinnon, a 6-foot-7, 225-pound freshman, and Kam Ritter, a 6-foot-3, 164-pound junior, help out on the undersized Red Storm frontline. Drinnon is averaging 7.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game while Ritter has contributed 4.3 points per game.

Dominique Major, a 5-foot-9, 167-pound sophomore, averages 4.3 points per game. He's made 5-of-14 three-point attempts. Anthony Ervin, a 6-foot-3 senior who averaged 11.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in 2011-12, has played sparingly this season.

Inside the Irish: Notre Dame has held its first five opponents to .373 shooting from the field and .254 (18-of-71) from three-point range…By scoring 18 points Wednesday night against George Washington, Notre Dame's Garrick Sherman now has one more double-digit scoring game than he had in his first two seasons at Michigan State. Sherman also scored 22 points against Monmouth on Nov. 12. His previous high came with the Spartans when he tossed in 10 points against Washington. Sherman's nine rebounds against Monmouth also was a career high. He's shooting .656 (21-of-32) from the field…Jack Cooley paces the Irish in scoring (15.2) and rebounding (11.0). He has recorded three double-doubles in five games…Eric Atkins leads the Irish in assists with 30 (6.0 per game). He recorded a career-high 10 assists against St. Joseph's last Friday, and put up his first career double-double with 12 points. Atkins is shooting .462 (6-of-13) from three-point range.

Prister's take: St. Francis is a shockingly small, thin and inexperienced basketball team that's coming off a 10th-place finish in the 12-team Northeast Conference. No one over 6-foot-7 has made a significant contribution early in the season while most of the productivity is coming from the freshman and sophomore classes.

Head coach Rob Krimmel is playing young with the hopes of building up in a couple of years. In the meantime, the growing pains are going to be pretty severe in a conference that boasts some decent mid-major teams like LIU Brooklyn, Robert Morris and Wagner, who were a combined 76-26 last season.

But the Red Flash has competed. They were down by just six at halftime of the Penn State game, and went on an 11-4 run to take the lead in the second half. Despite trailing by 21 at halftime vs. Niagara, they out-scored the Purple Eagles in the second half, 45-41. They trailed by just five at halftime against Youngstown State, and led by a point at the intermission against Colgate.

That being said, this is a huge step up for the Red Flash, and their youth/lack of bulk will show itself early and often against the Irish.

Pointspread: NL
Prister's Prediction: Notre Dame 88, St. Francis 61
Prister's record: 4-1 straight up; 4-0 vs. points


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