Top point guard Brent Jones among those suspended indefinitely for school matter
By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Junior Brent Jones, St. Francis’ starting point guard and leader, sophomore Anthony White, freshman Wayne Martin and junior P.J. Santavenere were all suspended indefinitely for a "school matter" on Saturday morning before their game against Robert Morris.
Those events marred the battle for first place in the Northeast Conference, which ended in a 72-50 blowout win for Robert Morris in Brooklyn Heights.
"It's a school matter and I can't comment on it," head coach Glenn Braica said. "I hope that they'll be back shortly. It's out of our hands, but we know the right thing will be done. "
After the game both Jalen Cannon and Ben Mockford insisted that the news of the suspension didn't bother them, but the team's best offensive weapons were limited to 10 points and six points respectively. Cannon did concede that he struggled because he was rushing himself, but wouldn't admit that it had anything to do with his suspended friends.
"We just came out prepared like usual," Cannon said. "They just punched us in the face and we couldn't do anything about it."
"I don't know what's going on so I can't really say," he added when asked if he was let down by his teammates' actions that led to the suspension. Mockford said even less on the subject.
With Jones out of the lineup, Braica elected to start freshman Yunus Hopkinson instead. In 21 minutes, Hopkinson struggled with his shot, 1-for-7 from the floor and failed to create much offense with just three assists. Braica said that he felt like the rookie did a decent job considering he probably wasn't even expecting to play a few hours before the game.
"He did fine given the circumstances," Braica said. "He was thrust into a different role and he'll be better for it because he gained some experience. He was plugged into a difficult situation and he's been through that before. In our first game against Miami, he was thrown in the second half cold in his first college game and played nine minutes and helped us win the game. It's a different game, a different style and he'll grow from it."
The Terriers struggled from the outset. Robert Morris quickly had a nine-point lead in the first half when Lucky Jones scored 11 points in the first three minutes and 14 of its first 18 points. St. Francis never cut the lead to less than six points after that.
"He's a problem in the four because he's really a three," Braica said of Robert Morris’ Jones. "That's where he's played his whole career and they'll give you spurts of him at the four. That gives them four perimeter guys and that's very difficult to match up against."
The second half wasn't competitive at all. The closest the Terriers got was within 13 points when Amdy Fall hit a pair of free throws to make it 57-44 with 6:45 to play. Robert Morris followed that up with a 10-0 run that put the game out of reach.
"I have to give Robert Morris credit," Braica said. "I thought they played great defensively and they made some tough shots. They really outfought us for some loose balls and rebounds which usually doesn't happen."
St. Francis looked like it was going to have little problem qualifying for the NEC tournament with a solid chance to win the entire thing. Without those four players that is going to be a big struggle though. The Terriers now have a 6-4 conference record with six games left to play before the conference tournament.