Previewing Saint Francis

With the start of the ACC season right around the corner, the Tar Heels have one more non-conference game remaining - a struggling Saint Francis (Pa.) squad. Sunday's tipoff at the Smith Center is set for 3:30 p.m. on Fox Sports South and affiliates.

North Carolina (9-4) vs. Saint Francis (2-10)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
3:30 p.m. -- Fox Sports South/NESN/Sunshine


"We fought until the very end… My hat's off to Mick Cronin and his staff; they have a very good team over there. Our guys did a great job of battling, and I thought we did some good things. I know that we don't have much to show for in the win column, but we are executing our offense much better. Our kids are growing up, and we will be better during our conference season." – St. Francis head coach Don Friday after his team's 36-point loss to Cincinnati two weeks ago


Season to Date: St. Francis enters Sunday's contest with a 2-10 (0-2 NEC) overall record. The Red Flash defeated Colgate and Bucknell to split their first four games, but have since lost eight straight contests, including some embarrassing losses such as a 91-63 result against Youngstown State and an 87-58 shellacking by Ohio. Third-year coach Don Friday's squad lost to Cincinnati, 94-58, in its last outing on Dec. 23.

Sophomore Standout: Umar Shannon has built off a strong freshman season to lead the Red Flash with 13.2 points per outing in his second campaign at St. Francis. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound guard is connecting on 34.8 percent of his 3-point attempts (23-of-66), but he has struggled from inside the arc, knocking down just 36.0 percent (31-of-86) of his 2-pointers. Shannon has battled some inconsistency this season, scoring 15 points or more in six games while failing to crack double digits in four outings.

Wing Threat: Will Felder has already made 37 career starts in his young tenure at St. Francis, but his versatility makes it clear why the coaching staff needs him on the floor. The sophomore forward is averaging 10.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, while leading the Red Flash with 11 blocks on the season. The 6-foot-6, 200-pounder started the season cold from long range, but has heated up in his past three games in shooting 53.3 percent (8-of-15). Felder has also encountered similar issues with consistency that Shannon has faced, scoring 12 points or more in six games while posting six points or less in four other contests.

Painful Percentages: St. Francis ranks ninth in the NEC in field goal percentage (40.4) and 10th in 3-point field goal percentage (29.8), and that's the good news. The Red Flash are even lower in the standings on the defensive end of the floor, ranking 11th in both field goal percentage defense (46.7) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (38.8).

Statistical Struggles: The national rankings shine a harsh spotlight on the futility of St. Francis's '10-11 squad. The Red Flash stand 229th or worse in 16 of the 18 statistical categories that the NCAA lists on its team summary page, and those rankings have not been updated since the 36-point loss to Cincinnati. On the bright side, St. Francis's 13.2 assists per game (172nd) and 68.5 free throw percentage (158th) both crack the top-200. Ironically, the Red Flash will ultimately hurt UNC's NCAA Tournament resume, thanks to their current RPI ranking of 323.

Random Fact of the Day: There are two St. Francis programs in the Northeast Conference. The New York version leads the conference with a 7-5 (2-0) mark, while the Pennsylvania edition holds down the cellar spot.

Series History: Sunday's contest represents the first-ever meeting between these two programs.

Projected Starters:
20 Umar Shannon (5-11, 175, So.) - 13.2 ppg, 2.5 apg
3 Chris Johnson (6-0, 185, So.) - 7.0 ppg, 3.1 apg
22 Anthony Ervin (6-4, 175, Fr.) - 8.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg
33 Will Felder (6-6, 200, So.) - 10.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg
13 Mislav Jukic (6-7, 220, Sr.) - 10.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg

Top Reserves:
30 Tony Peters (6-8, 200, So.) - 3.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg
14 Sorena Orandi (6-0, 180, Sr.) - 2.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg
2 Kameron Ritter (6-3, 160, Fr.) - 2.0 ppg

Location: Loretto, Pa.
Enrollment: 2,300
Conference: Northeast
Nickname: Red Flash
Colors: Cardinal & White
Head Coach: Don Friday (3rd season)

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