St. Francis Brooklyn at Minnesota Basketball Preview and Prediction

St. Francis Brooklyn at Minnesota Basketball Preview and Prediction

(Photo: University of Minnesota)

Tonight is game two of the 2022-23 basketball season for your Minnesota Golden Gophers. Ben Johnson’s team welcomes St. Francis-Brooklyn to Williams Arena for a 6pm tip off. Everything you need to know about tonight’s game is here at Gopher Illustrated!

Game Information

Tip-Off: 6:00pm central time (tonight)

TV: Big Ten More

Streaming Link: Watch

Audio: Listen

Radio: KFAN 100.3 FM

Where: Williams Arena

The Storyline

The number one thing we will be watching for is the health of Jamison Battle and Braeden Carrington. Battle, who was in a walking boot in Williams Arena on Monday, has been labeled as week to week and we do not expect to see him. Carrington on the other hand has been labeled as day to day so that will be something to watch for. Carrington has not played since he scored nine points in the secret exhibition against Colorado State. If Carrington is a game time decision we will have to see how or what he is doing in warm-ups. If Braeden is out for the game they will likely announce it prior to the game.

Tonight will be a wild time for athletics on campus with four different sporting events going. Prepare for a lot of cars and bodies on campus so get there early. Here is the list of events:

  • Women’s swimming hosts Iowa at 5:00 pm
  • Men’s basketball will face St. Francis Brooklyn at 6:00 pm
  • Volleyball takes on Maryland at 6:30 pm
  • Men’s hockey drops the puck against Penn State at 7:00 pm

As for St. Francis Brooklyn, in looking at the Lindy’s College Basketball preview they are picked to finish 3rd out of nine in the Northeast Conference (considered one of the four worst leagues in division one college basketball talent wise). 6’1 senior guard Rob Higgins is a preseason first team all Northeast Selection. coach Glenn Braica is in his 12th year coaching the program. The Terriers were 10-20 last season and 7-11 in their conference shockingly winning only three home games last year. St. Francis is replacing two starters who averaged between 14 and 12 points a game. The Terriers won their opener Monday night against Mount St. Mary’s College (a D3 school) 94-56.

The Numbers

The one number that anybody wants to talk about is the Gopher foul shooting from last Monday. The Gophers likely outplayed WMU by a five or six basket score in live action but the Minnesota foul shooting (and some deep late heaves made from a team that had been 6 of 32 at the arc) allowed for a much scarier final score (61- 60). Minnesota was slowly chugging along at 7 of 14 at the foul line before it got even worse when they missed seven of nine free throws down the stretch. Pharrel Payne and Taurus Samuels both shot 1 of 4 at the line (Samuels missed his three all on the same possession) while Dawson Garcia shot 4 of 7 and Ta’lon Cooper shot 2 of 5 at the line. The Gophers obviously need to improve this number, and they will. The question simply becomes, how much will it improve? We expect Garcia and Samuels to shoot it significantly better at the foul line going forward and remember, Jamison Battle will be back soon.

Back to that 6 of 32 three point shooting from Western Michigan that became 8 of 34. Coach Ben Johnson credited Taurus Samuels and Will Ramberg for their 40 minutes of hard chasing defense to limit WMU standout Lamar Norman Jr to 15 points on 6 of 20 shooting in 40 minutes of action. The Gophers were so good on defense as a unit that WMU shot 27.8 percent in the first half and four of those ten makes were after the Gophers either dropped the d-board out of bounds, into the hands of a WMU player at the rim, or gave the ball up because two Gophers had it at once. Only six WMU baskets in the first half were on their initial shot clock.

It’s hard to take much from the St. Francis Brooklyn vs Mount St. Mary’s College (who was 7-17 as a D3 team last year) game but there are few things to pull from. First of all, Terrier standout Rob Higgins had 13 points (5 of 10 shooting, 2 of 7 at the arc) and 10 assists in 23 minutes of play. Fellow backcourt starter Larry Moreno (a 5-foot-11 senior guard) had 12 points in 22 minutes shooting 4 of 11 from the field (2 of 9 at the arc). The Terriers starting line-up rounds out at 6-foot-4 (Di’Andre Howell-South, a sophomore), 6-foot-7 (Syrus Grigsby, a junior), and 6-foot-8 (Josiah Harris, also a junior). Long Island shot 50 percent from the field for the game but they were 11 of 34 at the arc. reserve guard Zion Bethea came off the bench and shot 4 of 7 at the arc.

St. Francis Brooklyn forced their D3 opponent into 23 turnovers and 34 percent shooting for the game.

The Match-Ups

The Terriers went very small for much of their game on Monday. In fact, they had four players on the floor 6-foot-4 or smaller for all but 7-8 minutes of the game and at times they played without bigs. That right there is a giant red flag versus a Big Ten team as St. Francis somehow has to defend 6-foot-11, 235 pound Dawson Garcia who is coming off of a 23 point game in the season opener. I’m sure Harris, Grigsby, and 6-foot-10 reserve Nuha Sagnia will play more on Friday but it’s not a good sign that the three bigs combined for 15 points taking only ten shots. That said, Sagnia did grab 14 boards off the bench. Either way, the Terriers have to find a way to defend Garcia for at least 32 quality minutes. You can bet that they will double Garcia and send extra attention to him whenever he has the ball and that will be bothersome, but as the game moves on and legs get tired, Garcia will find the space against a small team.

Minnesota did a nice job of switching and chasing Lamar Norman on Monday and they will have to do the same against Rob Higgins who is 6-foot-1, 174 pounds. Minnesota will likely send a lot of bodies at Higgins including Jaden HenleyWill Ramberg, and Ta’lon Cooper, followed by Taurus Samuels off the bench. And to counter, Higgins and Moreno have to defend Ta’lon Cooper who will be 3-4 inches taller and had 17 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds in the opener. And the other guard (remember Moreno is 5-foot-11) has to defend 6’7 Henley. Their only backcourt size break will come when Samuels steps on the floor.

Will another Gopher emerge for a big game? I say yes. And I am looking at Joshua Ola-Joseph. His aggressive drive mixed with a 6-foot-7 quick twitch frame will be defended by players smaller and not as agile. I could see him having a good game. There is also Pharrel Payne. Payne’s three offensive fouls and 1 of 4 foul shooting was a tough debut but remember he went for double figures against Colorado State and St. Olaf. This might be the perfect match-up to get him going, especially if he can bang with Nuha Sangia who looks to be a wide shouldered 230 pound center off the bench. Treyton Thompson should also have an edge considering the man on him will be four inches shorter so watch for Thompson to pick up some deep bench hustle buckets. It would also be good for Thompson to hit another open three establishing some consistency there.


This is an interesting situation because St. Francis is somewhat on a Minnesota four day vacation. They have Minnesota tonight and St. Thomas at 3pm on Sunday. This is a road swing for them and I am guessing they are looking to pull one game out of the weekend. Playing a high major will be a big motivation for St. Francis as it’s only one of two high majors they will play this year (Miami is the other, unless you consider USF high major which I do not). And by the way, I am guessing the kids that live in Brooklyn are looking forward to their Miami-Tampa vacation a lot more than their Twin Cities hoops vacation.

Anyway, there was some anger in the voice of Dawson Garcia after Monday’s game. You could tell he was frustrated with how the game went. There was certainly some anger in Pharrel Payne as I think he is just looking to explode with a good game. I think Minnesota bounces back strong tonight. They have guys on the floor willing to defend and I just don’t believe that the size of St. Francis will compete well with Minnesota especially when most of the Gophers are as agile. I say Gophers by 18.

Minnesota 78 St. Francis 60.

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