They’ll be home for Christmas.St. Francis (NY) did the unthinkable: it went nearly two months of its season without a home game — and started its year that way. The Terriers are 3-9 and will host Albany tonight, the first of a well-deserved three-game home stand. It’s not often a team begins its campaign with nine consecutive road tilts, but the calendar and mandatory “guarantee” games aligned that way for Glenn Braica’s team.
“We couldn’t get anyone to come any earlier!” Brainca said by phone Monday, the enthusiasm in his voice at a palpable tone. “Honestly, with the dates we had, we couldn’t get anyone to come to our place sooner than this.”
The ironic factor to this: The Terriers have played just two BCS conference teams. Normally a big stretch of road games indicates the big boys are dictating you play in their house. But only Seton Hall and St. John’s were on the docket for St. Francis. The rest include Hofstra, Mount Saint Mary’s, Howard, New Jersey Institute of Technology, among others.
These kind of road woes to start seasons aren't common, but they are precedented. I put the feeler out on Twitter to see who else recently had nine or more road games to start a season.
-- David Harten says Arkansas-Pine Bluff had 13 last year, and starts with 16 road/neutral games this season.
-- NBCSports.com's Mike Miller pointed out to me how Pine Bluff actually rallied from this kind of scheduling and made The Dance.
-- Kyle Muncy, outgoing sports information director at UConn (one of the best; sad to see him advance his career like this) brought up Coppin State, which has made a habit of getting paid by so many when it sacrifices home game.
The best part of it is — the silver lining to the Terriers' 3-6 start— the team hasn’t had to hop on a plane yet. Everything’s been by bus, as Howard and The Mount were the furthest foes away.
“It’s tough to play nine on the road, though, I’m not going to lie to you,” Brainca, 47, said. “Coming back home, you’re worried … you wonder how they’re going to react in front of their own fans. I do think all those road games has to help them, make them tougher, though”.
St. Francis, which plays in the Northeast Conference, isn’t likely to run into such a scenario again, as the league doesn’t schedule home games in December. Because of that, it’s able to have flexibility with its scheduling and get a few games around Christmas, usually its members getting home game or close road tilts.
The team’s likely in for a long year, though, as it’s one of the shortest teams in the country (there is nobody playing significant minutes above 6-6). It’s also got eight freshmen or sophomores on the roster, and just lost starting point guard Dre Calloway for the season due to a shoulder injury.
Despite this, Jalen Cannon, one of the 6-6 guys, leads the country in offensive rebound rate. Pretty remarkable, but I’d suspect his 21.3 percentage of offensive snares will fall in the next month.Photo via St. Francis athletics