by Ray Floriani
TEANECK, NJ - The Thanksgiving left overs are finally gone and the Northeast Conference is in league play. Actually, the NEC is one of a few conferences, which features two league games early December then takes a break (from Conference play) before resuming after the new year. FDU got out to a good start defeating Bryant 78-68 at Rothman Center.
Entering the game Bryant and FDU were extremely close in pace. The visiting Bulldogs averaged 70 possessions while FDU checked in at 69.
Last year Bryant finished 1-29. Their efficiency margin (offensive minus defensive efficiency) was a horrid -27. The Bulldogs posted an OE of 80 and DE of 117. Currently they have a slightly better margin at -20. You take improvements as they come. And at 1-5 they have matched last year's win total. That one being a noteworthy victory over Iona in November's World Vision Classic.
The Four Factors:
If you are a perfectionist you can rant about FDU not caring for the ball. But that was about it. The Knight inside game was dominant as FDU enjoyed an incredible 46-18 points in the paint edge. The Knights were 25 of 42, good for 61% on two point shooting. Granted not every two point field goal attempt is in the paint. But tonight virtually everyone for the Knights was.
Bryant relies a great deal on the three pointer. Coming into the game 38% of their offense came from beyond the arc. Tonight over half, 53%, was produced by the three. It's a double edge sword. If you are hitting as they were 12 of 27, you can get back in the game. Twice the Bulldogs whittled double digit deficits to a two possession game. The flip side is, an icy percentage from three will just bury you deeper. Senior forward Cecil Gresham had "a breakout game," per coach Tim O'Shea scoring a game high 28 points that included 6 treys.
Another positive was a low TO rate for Bryant. On the season the Bulldogs have a 23% rate so the showing at FDU was a nice improvement in that category.
A lot of the damage inside was inflicted by 6-8 FDU junior Kamil Svrdlik. Last year the native of he Czech Republic was more perimeter oriented. To date, Svrdlik has provided the low post game coach Greg Vetrone needed. He scored a career high 24 points while adding 5 rebounds. Svrdlik runs the floor very well, finishing a few breaks with dunks , and has something virtually extinct today, an effective hook shot inside.
Long time PA announcer Bert Shoobs (over 700 consecutive FDU men's and women's games and counting) pointed out something interesting at the half. Bryant had 11 field goals, 8 assisted while FDU scored 15 with 11 assisted. For the game Bryant had 24 field goals (18 assisted) while FDU handed out 18 assists on their 27 field goals. Something to look at closer as the season progresses.
Bryant fell to 1-6 while FDU improves to 2-3 and has won two straight. Despite the record Bryant is much improved and took Army and Harvard to the wire before losing. "We are going to beat some teams in conference," O'Shea predicted. Bryant's leading scorer coming into the game was Frank Dobbs (15.3) PPG. The 6-3 sophomore guard netted 14 for the Bulldogs. If the name rings a bell among Villanova devotees, yes you are right. Frankie is the son of former Wildcat 'Happy' Dobbs