Red Flash release non-conference gauntlet

Loretto, Cambria County, Pa. - Coming off its best finish since 1991 and with four starters returning, the Saint Francis men's basketball team will test itself with a daunting 2017-18 non-conference schedule, featuring games at perennial powers Louisville and Duke, two of the last five programs to win a national championship.

Five of Saint Francis's nine Division I opponents on its non-conference schedule finished the 2017-18 season with RPIs inside the top 100. Three of those teams, Saint Mary's (17), Louisville (11) and Duke (10) finished with RPI's inside the top 20.

"I am excited about the non-conference schedule that we were able to put together," said head coach Rob Krimmel. "A trip to California to play St. Mary's and San Francisco followed by trips to Louisville and Duke will challenge our guys early.  We will face a variety of playing styles that will prepare us for the Northeast Conference portion of our schedule so that we are playing our best basketball in late February and early March."

The Red Flash should be well-prepared to handle arguably its toughest non-conference schedule in decades as six of its top eight scorers from 2016-17 return, as well as three-year starter Malik Harmon (Queens, N.Y./Christ the King), who missed all of last season with an injury.

Saint Francis's 17 wins last season, its most since 1997-98, culminated with a postseason victory at Jacksonville in the first round of the CIT.

The Red Flash opens its season in the Golden State at Saint Mary's and the University of San Francisco.

The season opener at Saint Mary's on Nov. 11 slates the Red Flash against arguably the top mid-major program in the country. The Gaels are fresh off a 29-5 season which saw them defeat VCU in the NCAA Tournament before losing to Arizona in the following round.

Saint Mary's finished the 2016-17 season ranked #22 in the AP Coaches' Poll and returns AP Honorable Mention All-American and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar Award finalist (awarded to nation's top center), Jock Landale. The Gaels have won 20 or more games in 10 consecutive seasons.

Saint Francis concludes its West Coast trip at San Francisco on Nov. 13. The Dons will provide another formidable test as they return West Coast Conference All-Freshman Team selections Charles Minlend and Jordan Ratinho from a team that won 20 games. Like the Red Flash, the Dons were awarded with a bid in the postseason with a spot in the CBI. They finished with an RPI of 100.

Saint Francis will play at Longwood on Nov. 18. The Red Flash defeated the Lancers 87-72 at DeGol Arena last season behind 17 points and 12 rebounds from Keith Braxton (Glassboro, N.J./The Lawrenceville School).

The first glimpse of the 2017-18 team for home fans will be on Nov. 21 when Saint Francis hosts NCAA DIII opponent Franciscan.

Mark your calendars for Nov. 24 as Saint Francis travels to Louisville to take on the Cardinals at the KFC Yum Center!

Led by Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino, Louisville has won at least 20 games in 16 straight seasons, five of which have resulted in 30 or more wins.  The Cardinals claimed the National Championship in 2012-13. Louisvlle went 25-9 in 2016-17, finishing with a No. 10 ranking in the AP Coaches' Poll and a No. 11 ranking in the RPI. Pitino and company return All-ACC performer Deng Adel who withdrew his name from the NBA draft and will return for the 2017-18 season.

Saint Francis returns to Loretto for a showdown with American on Nov. 29. The Eagles have notoriously been one of the top programs in the Patriot League, earning a trip to the NCAA Tournament as recently as 2013-14. The Red Flash defeated the Eagles 69-62 last season behind 20 points from Jamaal King (Salisbury, Md./Bishop O'Connell (Va.)).

The Red Flash opens its December at Stony Brook of the America East Conference on Dec. 2. The Seawolves have averaged 24.5 wins over its last six seasons, including an NCAA Tournament Appearance in 2015-16. They defeated Saint Francis 75-63 at DeGol Arena last season.

Saint Francis will invade Cameron Indoor for a nationally-televised game at Duke on Dec. 5. The 2014-15 national champion Blue Devils are the fourth winningest program in NCAA basketball history and are led by the winningest coach in NCAA history in Mike Krzyzewski. Duke went 28-9 in 2016-17, ranked No. 7 in the final AP Coaches' Poll and No. 10 in the RPI. The Blue Devils have won at least 20 games in 21 consecutive seasons playing in the difficult ACC.

An away game at Niagara on Dec. 10 and home games vs. Division III Bethany on Dec. 18 and Lehigh on Dec. 21 wrap-up the 11 game non-conference schedule.

Lehigh will be a difficult lead-in to conference season as the Mountain Hawks won 20 games, including a win over Saint Francis, in 2016-17. Lehigh fell to Bucknell in the Patriot League Championship, finishing the season with an RPI of 97.

A 16-game conference season will proceed the non-conference slate. Saint Francis will play the eight remaining conference teams twice in a "home and away", in hopes of improving off of last season's 11-7 conference record and third place finish in the regular season.

By The Matchup

Nov. 11 at Saint Mary's

Conference Affiliate: West Coast Conference
2016-17 Record: 29-5
Starters Returning: 4 (Jock Landale – 16.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg, Calvin Hermanson – 13.1 ppg, Emmett Naar – 9.4 ppg, 5.6 apg, Evan Fitzner – 5.5 ppg)
Starters lost: 1 (Joe Rahon – 8.3 ppg, 5.6 apg)
Head coach – Randy Bennett (16 seasons, 362-156)
Arena (Capacity) – McKeon Pavilion (3,500)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2016-17
All-Time Record vs. SFU:  0-1
Last Meeting vs. SFU: Saint Francis 74 St. Mary's 59 (Dec. 22, 1969) – Loretto, Pa.

Nov. 13 at San Francisco

Conference Affiliate: West Coast Conference
2016-17 Record: 20-13
Starters Returning: 5 (Charles Minlend – 10.0 ppg, Jordan Ratinho – 8.2 ppg, Matt McCarthy – 6.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, Nate Renfro – 5.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, Mladen Djordjevic – 3.6 ppg)
Starters lost: 0
Head coach – Kyle Smith (2nd season, 20-13)
Arena (Capacity) – War Memorial Gym (5,300)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 1997-98
All-Time Record vs. SFU: First Meeting
Last Meeting vs. SFU: N/A

Nov. 18 at Longwood

Conference Affiliate: Big South
2016-17 Record: 6-24
Starters Returning: 3 (Isaiah Walton – 13.9 ppg, 3.2 apg, JaShaun Smith– 7.0 ppg, Chris Shields– 5.8 ppg)
Starters lost: 2 (Khris Lane– 17.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, Darrion Allen – 14.4 ppg)
Head coach – Jason Gee (6th season, 35-94)
Arena (Capacity) – Willett Hall (1,800)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2001 (NCAA Division II)
All-Time Record vs. SFU:  0-1
Last Meeting vs. SFU: Saint Francis 87 Longwood 72 (Nov. 16, 2016) - Loretto, Pa.

Nov. 21 vs. Franciscan

Conference Affiliate: Allegheny Mountain Conference – NCAA Division III
2016-17 Record: 4-20
Starters Returning: 4 (Keoni Sablan– 13.8 ppg, Juwan Perkins– 10.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, Joe Schriner – 7.2 ppg, Garrison Holmes – 5.6 ppg)
Starters lost: 1 (Derrick David – 3.1 ppg)
Head coach – Joe Wallace (2nd season, 4-20)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: N/A
All-Time Record vs. SFU: 9-25
Last Meeting vs. SFU: Saint Francis 94 Steubenville 70 (Feb. 8, 1975) – Loretto, Pa.

Nov. 24 at Louisville

Conference Affiliate: Atlantic Coast Conference
2016-17 Record: 25-9
Starters Returning: 2 (Quentin Snider–12.4 ppg, 4.1 apg, Deng Adel 12.1 ppg)
Starters lost: 3 (Donovan Mitchell – 15.6 ppg, Jaylen Johnson – 8.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, Mangok Mathiang – 7.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
Head coach – Rick Pittino (17th season, 416-141)
Arena – KFC Yum! Center (22,090)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2016-17
All-Time Record vs. SFU: 2-0
Last Meeting vs. SFU: Saint Francis 63 Louisville 76 (Dec. 8, 1984) – Louisville, Ky.

Nov. 29 vs. American

Conference Affiliate: Patriot League
2016-17 Record: 8-22
Starters Returning: 2 (Sa'eed Nelson – 14.9 ppg, Mark Gasperini – 11.7 ppg)
Starters lost: 3 (Delante Jones – 11.5 ppg, Charlie Jones – 6.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, Leon Tolksdorf – 2.9 ppg)
Head coach – Mike Brennan (5th season, 57-70)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2013-14
All-Time Record vs. SFU: 12-7
Last Meeting vs. SFU: Saint Francis 69 American 62 (Nov. 26, 2016) – Washington D.C.

Dec. 2 at Stony Brook

Conference Affiliate: America East Conference
2016-17 Record: 18-14
Starters Returning: 2 (Tyrell Sturdivant – 10.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, Junior Saintel – 4.6 ppg)
Starters lost: 3 (Lucas Woodhouse – 15.1 ppg, 5.1 apg, Roland Nyama – 10.3 ppg, Kameron Mitchell – 3.0 ppg)
Head coach – Jeff Boals (2nd season, 18-14)
Arena – Island Federal Credit Union Arena (4,000)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2015-16
All-Time Record vs. SFU: 1-0
Last Meeting vs. SFU: Saint Francis 63 Stony Brook 75 (Dec. 17, 2016) – Loretto, Pa.

Dec. 5 at Duke

Conference Affiliate: Atlantic Coast Conference
2016-17 Record: 28-9
Starters Returning: 1 (Grayson Allen – 14.5 ppg, 3.5 apg)
Starters lost: 4 (Luke Kennard – 19.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, Jayson Tatum – 16.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg, Amile Jefferson – 10.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, Matt Jones – 7.0 ppg)
Head coach – Mike Krzyzewski (38th season, 998-271)
Arena – Cameron Indoor Stadium (9,314)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2016-17
All-Time Record vs. SFU: First Meeting
Last Meeting vs. SFU: N/A

Dec. 10 at Niagara

Conference Affiliate: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
2016-17 Record: 10-23
Starters Returning: 5 (Matt Scott – 17.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, Kahlil Dukes – 15.5 ppg, 4.1 apg, Marvin Prochet – 9.4 ppg, 5.5 apg, Dominic Robb – 8.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, Chris Barton – 7.2 ppg)
Starters lost: 0
Head coach – Chris Casey (5th season, 32-96)
Arena – Gallagher Center (2,400)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2006-07
All-Time Record vs. SFU: 13-11
Last Meeting vs. SFU: Saint Francis 69 Niagara 86 (Nov. 13, 2012) – Niagara, N.Y.

Dec. 18 vs. Bethany

Conference Affiliate: Presidents' Athletic Conference (NCAA Division III)
2016-17 Record: 17-13
Starters Returning: 3 (Calique Jones – 14.8 ppg, Andrew Williams – 12.8 ppg, Liam Davis – 7.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
Starters lost: 2 (Antonio Rudolph (12.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, Javonte' Trujillo – 7.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg
Head coach – Nick Hager (4th season, 51-36)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2011-12 (Div. III)
All-Time Record vs. SFU: 1-0
Last Meeting vs. SFU: Saint Francis 35 Bethany 36 (1926-27)

Dec. 21 vs. Lehigh

Conference Affiliate: Patriot League
2016-17 Record: 20-12
Starters Returning: 2 (Kyle Leufroy – 11.4 ppg, Kahron Ross – 9.8 ppg, 5.3 apg)
Starters lost: 3 (Tim Kempton – 20.4 ppg, 10.4 rpg, Austin Price – 13.3 ppg, Matt Holba – 3.7 ppg)
Head coach – Brett Reed (10th season, 165-116)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2011-12
All-Time Record vs. SFU: 10-4
Last Meeting vs. SFU: Saint Francis 67 Lehigh 100 (Dec. 12, 2016) – Bethlehem, Pa.

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