Right off of the two train in Brooklyn is a one building college, or as it is known to students, "The Small College of Big Dreams." The school is St. Francis New York, and for the first time in a long while for the men's basketball team, those big dreams have a shot at coming true.
The St. Francis NY Terriers are one of a small handful schools who have played at the division-one level and have not made the big dance. However, this year, their chances are getting a little better.
They play in the Northeast Conference. One of the smallest collections of schools in the country, most of these teams get very little publicity, and play in gym's that are meant to be in high schools.
For St. Francis, their gym and school are all in one building, and the gym has a very humid and close feel to it. They have seats are on the floor, and bleachers line up on either side of the court. It holds no more than two thousand people, way less than ever have showed up to a game.
St. Francis has known only failure in their program, but this year, they have won games. They have a 7-5 Northeast Conference record, tied with rival Long Island for third, and two slots behind both Robert Morris and Quinnipiac.
Tonight, St. Francis will travel to Hamden, CT to take on the Quinnipiac, and a win would solidify that they have a chance in the upcoming NEC tournament despite the fact that Robert Morris has been such a dominant power throughout the league.
The NEC tournament is held in the gyms of the highest seed playing in the game, so if they were to start today, St. Francis would host their first round game.
The way that they have gotten so good is not by pure talent, it has been by hard work, getting rebounds and making clutch shots.
In their most recent win against Long Island, they battled for three overtimes before pulling away in the third. In order for coach Brian Nash and his Terriers to get the win, they needed a late comeback in regulation, a three pointer to end the first, and a three to end the second overtime.
St. Francis has looked for talent overseas, as they have recruited two Serbian players to come and join their roster. One of those players Stefan Perunicic, who is a three point specialist has been a huge contribution to their roster.
Other good players include Ricky Cadell, Herman Wrice, and Akeem Bennett, all of whom are able to get rebounds and make shots.
So don't count this small school out just yet. I know come March all focus is on the Big East, Big 12, and the other power conferences, but don't forget about the little guy, because these small schools are really what makes March Madness so great.