Terriers tabbed to repeat as champs
SFC Brooklyn ranks first in NEC preseason coaches' poll
After putting together one of the greatest runs in the rich history of St. Francis Brooklyn men’s soccer last spring, the Terriers were a clear choice as preseason favorites in the Northeast Conference preseason coaches’ poll for the upcoming fall campaign.
And that’s exactly how the league’s coaches saw it.
“We appreciate being recognized as the Preseason Poll favorite by our peers throughout the conference,” said SFC Brooklyn head coach Tom Giovatto, who has guided the Terriers to five of the last eight NEC titles.
“We are coming off a historic spring season and we look to build on that success this fall,” he added.
That will be quite a task after the Terriers went 6-1-3 overall last year, including 5-1-1 in NEC play.
They captured their record ninth NEC crown before stunning Milwaukee in the first round of the NCAA College Cup, marking the first time since 1978 that the Terriers won a tournament game.
SFC also became the first NEC squad to win a game in the NEC championships since Fairleigh Dickinson in 2012.
Though they were ultimately eliminated by eventual NCAA championship runner-up Indiana in the second round, the Terriers gave the Hoosiers fits before falling just short of reaching the Sweet 16 on penalty kicks.
Ranked first headed into the fall for the first time since 2018, SFC will be seeking its sixth title under Giovatto since 2013.
But neighborhood rival Long Island University, which ranks second behind the Terriers in the preseason poll, will be anxious to avenge last season’s loss to SFC in the NEC title game after the teams batted to a scoreless draw with Giovatto’s unit emerging victorious at Brooklyn Bridge Park on penalties.
“We have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks, but we are looking forward to another season kicking off shortly,” Giovatto noted.
In Summer League NBA action from Las Vegas, the Nets bounced back from Monday’s loss to Memphis by beating the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, 97-91, on Wednesday.
First-round picks Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe continued to make progress at the round-robin tournament, which will continue for Brooklyn this weekend at Cox Pavillion.
Thomas scored 22 points and fellow rookie Sharpe added 11 points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocked shots for the Nets (1-1), who lost to Milwaukee in seven scintillating games during this year’s Eastern Conference playoffs.
Sharpe, a hulking 6-foot-11 center out of North Carolina, went 5-of-7 from the floor and grabbed six of his boards off the offensive glass, impressing Brooklyn Summer League head coach Jordan Ott.
“You could feel him from the bench,” Ott said. “I’m sure you could feel him on the court on both ends of the ball.”
Nets fans will feel Sharpe’s end-to-end intensity when the 2021-22 season kicks off in Brooklyn. The 295-pound pivotman believes its his job to attack the boards with great ferocity.
That should come in handy when the Big Three of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or James Harden misfires on a shot next year.
“I’ve always been taught if you want to score, go get an offensive rebound,” said Sharpe.
“So if the ball’s not coming my way, you’ve gotta find some type of way to get points on the board — rebounds. I feel like rebounds are one of the most valuable things that a team always needs. You can never go wrong with offensive rebounding because every team wants extra possessions.”
Grabbing extra possessions for a team that finished with the highest offensive efficiency rate in the history of the NBA last season could spell doom for opponents.
Especially if Sharpe and Thomas, who has led the Nets in scoring in each of the first two summer league contests, continue to develop on their way to Downtown’s Barclays Center.
“I just try to go all the time,” said Sharpe. “I don’t get all of them, but sooner or later, they’re gonna start coming to you because the other guys are gonna get tired of boxing you out sooner or later.
“So if I keep going hard 24/7, sooner or later somebody’s gonna slip up, and I’m gonna start getting offensive rebounds.”
The Nets were scheduled to meet Washington on Thursday before wrapping up their four-game slate in Vegas on Sunday vs. San Antonio.