Bryant looks to continue its winning ways as it travels to Staten Island to face NEC foe Wagner College live on CBS Sports Network at 12 p.m. After inclement weather postponed Bryant's matchup against Mount St. Mary's Thursday evening, the Bulldogs will have rested legs Sunday afternoon as they look for their fourth-consecutive win.
Bryant and Wagner split their two matchups in 2013 with each team defending its home court. The two squads have paired up seven times in their brief history, with Wagner coming out victorious on five occasions. This will be the only contest between the Bulldogs and Seahawks this season. The Bulldogs look to even their record at the Spiro Sports Center Sunday afternoon.
SCOUTING THE SEAHAWKS
Entering Sunday, Wagner sits tied for third and is two games behind Bryant for second place in the conference. The Seahawks have been one of the best defensive teams in the conference and will look to continue its defensive prowess against the Bulldogs. Currently the NEC's top-ranked team in field goal percentage defense (.399) and 3-point percentage defense (.316), the Seahawks are led by NEC-leading shot blocker, Naofall Folahan (2.65). On the offensive end, senior Latif Rivers leads the team in scoring at 14.1 ppg. Senior Kenneth Ortiz continues to play at a high level in all facets of the game, averaging 12.4 ppg, 1.78 steals and 4.48 assists.
BRYANT vs. THE NORTHEAST CONFERENCE
The Bulldogs are 8-2 against the Northeast Conference in 2013-14 with a 29-51 record (.363) against current NEC members since joining the Division I ranks. All-time against current conference institutions, the Bulldog basketball program is 43-68 (.387), having most frequently faced off against regional rival Sacred Heart (12-16). Bryant went 12-6 against league opponents last season, finishing tied for second in the regular-season standings to earn a No. 4 seed in the 2013 NEC Tournament.
FRANCIS SECURES BRYANT'S SIXTH PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONOR
Senior forward Alex Francis is doing everything in his power to finish his star-studded Bryant career on a high note. The senior forward has been unstoppable in NEC play, and last week was no different in leading the Bulldogs to a pair of key wins. Francis averaged 22.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and shot 61.3 percent from the field as Bryant maintained a firm hold on second place with an 8-2 league record. He posted his seventh double-double of the season (33rd of his career) with 20 points and 10 rebounds in a 79-68 win at CCSU on Thursday. Two days later, he finished with a game-high 25 points and pulled down nine boards as the Bulldogs held off Mount St. Mary's, 78-75, at the Chace Athletic Center. The senior forward has now scored 20 or more points in 10 of the last 11 games.
In NEC play, Francis leads the conference with 23.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg and 64.1 percent shooting from the field. Overall, he currently occupies spots in the NEC top-10 in scoring (19.9, second), rebounding (7.8, third) and field goal percentage (.591, 1st).
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
In what has already been a season filled with milestones, senior forward Alex Francis still isn't satisfied. The reigning NEC Player of the Week put himself in a class all this own last week and is within reach of yet another historic height. Now with 1,987 career points and 922 career rebounds, Francis enters the NEC all-time top-10 in both points (6th) and rebounds (10th), becoming the first player in NEC history to achieve a top-10 ranking in both career categories. He also has the potential to become the first player in NEC history to score 2,000 points and pull down 1,000 rebounds in a career and is the NEC's scoring and rebounding leader among all active players on the league circuit.
And his next milestone is right within reach. Francis needs just 13 points to reach 2,000 for his career. He would become just the sixth player in NEC history to reach the mark and just the third in program annals, joining only Tom Smile (2,390 from 1963-67) and Ernie DeWitt (2,239 from 1977-81). Currently, there are just five active DI players in the nation with 2,000 points — Creighton's Doug McDermott, Oakland's Travis Bader, Delaware's Devon Saddler, Loyola Marymount's Anthony Ireland and USC Upstate's Torrey Craig.
Bulldog standout Alex Francis has been on fire as of late. After a 25-point performance against Mount St. Mary's Saturday afternoon, the senior forward has now scored 20 or more points in 10 of the last 11 contests, including six straight from Dec. 30 through Jan. 23. He has five double-doubles in the last eight games with seven such performances on the year so far, totalling 33 on his Bulldog career. Francis also hit a pair of career milestones against the Mount, snagging his 100th steal and netting his 750th career field goal.
There have been some great one-two punches in NEC basketball in recent years, but over the last two years, senior forward Alex Francis and junior guard Dyami Starks take a back seat to no one. In fact, Starks (19.8) and Francis (19.9) are currently tied as the third-highest scoring duo in the country, combining for 39.7 points per game this season. Only pairs from Oral Roberts (40.7) and Texas Southern (40.4) average more in tandem. (VMI tied at 39.7.)
Starks and Francis could go down as the NEC's highest scoring duo since LIU Brooklyn Charles Jones (29.0) and Mike Campbell (19.7) combined for 48.7 points per game in 1997-98. The St. Francis Brooklyn duo of Steven Howard (20.2) and Richy Dominguez (19.1) totaled 39.5 points per outing and ranked one-two in the NEC in scoring in 2000-01. Francis currently ranks second in the league and Starks third in point production.
The Bulldogs enter Spiro Sports Center riding a three-game winning streak, their third such streak of the season. The longest of the year was four-consecutive victories from Nov. 24 through Dec. 4 and from Jan. 16 through Jan. 25.
Bryant is also 3-0 in the month of February and looks to stay perfect with its trip to Staten Island.
With six regular-season games to go, Bryant needs just four more victories to record the first 20-win season at the Division I level.
WELCOME TO THE CLUB
With a layup just 49 seconds into the second half Jan. 23 against LIU Brooklyn, junior guard Dyami Starks became the 34th player in program history to reach the 1,000 point threshold. He also becomes the third player in the last two seasons to accomplish the feat. Current senior Alex Francis (1,987 points) and Director of Operations Frankie Dobbs (1,232 points) each joined the club in 2012-13.
Senior point guard Corey Maynard is knocking on the door as well, needing just 41 more points for 1,000 in his career. Maynard, who is currently averaging 13.4 points per game, needs to average just 6.8 points each time out to reach the goal by the conclusion of the 2013-14 regular season. He is on pace to score his 1,000th point on the road against St. Francis Brooklyn on Feb. 27.
THEY'RE ON FIRE!
The Bulldogs currently rank 26th in the nation for team field goal percentage, converting at a 47.8 percent clip as a unit.
FRANCHISE FRANCIS: IN THE NCAA RANKINGS
In the latest NCAA rankings, Bryant senior forward Alex Francis currently sits among the top active NCAA Division I players in numerous categories. As of February 13, the senior is ranked second in career field goals (currently 754), sixth in total points (1,987), seventh in career double-doubles (33), seventh in total rebounds (922), 13th in free throws made (466), 15th in career scoring average (17.1 ppg) and 25th in rebounding average (7.9). He is one of just eight active players to have 1,500 points and 750 rebounds to his name. Francis also ranks 16th in field goal percentage this season (.591) and 28th in points per game (19.9).
FRANCHISE FRANCIS: IN THE NEC RANKINGS
Bryant senior forward Alex Francis reached yet another plateau on his march up the NEC career scoring chart, moving up to No. 6 all-time with 1,987 career points and passing his third NEC Hall of Famer (FDU's Desi Wilson, Marist's Rik Smits, RMU's Myron Walker). The senior forward will now need to cross over the 2,000-point threshold to make it into the top 5 and is 93 points shy of taking over fifth from 2013 Sacred Heart grad Shane Gibson. Francis also moves up to 10th on the league's all-time rebounding list (922).
More Francis/NEC Highlights...
» With last week's effort, Francis became the first player in conference history to rank in the top-10 in both points and boards.
» Francis is one of just four players in NEC history to rank in the top 20 in both scoring and rebounding in his career, joining the likes of CCSU's Ken Horton, LIU's Jamal Olasewere and Marist's Rik Smits.
» Francis is one of just 13 players in NEC history to reach 1,500 points and 750 rebounds in his career, and one of just five players in the league annals to reach 1,700 points and 800 boards.
» Francis currently occupies spots in the NEC top-3 in scoring (19.9, second), rebounding (7.8, third) and field goal percentage (.591, 1st).
FRANCHISE FRANCIS: IN THE BRYANT RANKINGS
With six regular-season games still to play, senior forward Alex Francis is already seated among the greatest scorers and rebounders the program has ever seen. His 24-point performance Jan. 23 against LIU Brooklyn vaulted him into third on the all-time scoring list, however Francis would need 252 more points to move up any farther in the rankings.
Francis enters Thursday's matchup ranked fourth on the rebounding charts with 922 in his career after passing Jason Noel with his 11 rebounds on Jan. 23. He needs 65 more to reach third all time. He also ranks in the program's top-10 in scoring average, field goals, field goal percentage, free throws made and rebounding average.
The dunk count is on once again in 2013-14. The reign of senior Alex Francis still holds strong, but rookie forward Dan Garvin has also gotten some hangtime this season, with the pair combining for 32 dunks. Reigning NEC Player of the Week Dyami Starks threw down his first dunk of his Bulldog career in a win over St. Francis Brooklyn Jan. 25 to bring the total to 33 on the year.
A CONCENTRATED EFFORT
The Bulldogs have certainly added depth in 2013-14, but the Bryant bench has yet to prove it on the scoreboard. Against Division I opponents this season, just three Bulldog starters — junior Dyami Starks and seniors Alex Francis and Corey Maynard — are responsible for nearly 71 percent of Bryant's total scoring (1286 of 1821 points). If you go outside the starting lineup, Bryant's bench has contributed just 229 points so far this season (12.6 percent).
Bryant comes back to Smithfield to take on Fairleigh Dickinson Thursday, February 20 at 7 p.m.