Three Blackbirds take home 2014-15 NEC postseason honors

LIU Brooklyn's 2015 NEC postseason honorees (L to R) Gerrell Martin, Martin Hermannsson, and Nura Zanna. (Photos: Bob Dea)

LIU Brooklyn’s 2015 NEC postseason honorees (L to R) Gerrell Martin, Martin Hermannsson, and Nura Zanna. (Photos: Bob Dea)

The Northeast Conference announced on Tuesday morning their annual postseason awards and three LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds took home postseason honors.

Senior guard Gerrell Martin was named to the All-NEC Third team by the NEC head coaches while freshmen Martin Hermannsson and Nura Zanna were named to the NEC All-Rookie Team.

Martin, who was a bit of a surprise selection although worthy of the honor, was the only four-year senior of this season’s LIU team. He led the Blackbirds during the regular season with 11.4 ppg and was the team’s leading three-point shooter at 39.3% while shooting 82% from the free throw line. Martin finished 14th in conference scoring at 12.9 ppg. Eleven times this season he scored at least 15 points in a game on a team that very much had balanced scoring. He scored 20 or more points in a game four times including a season-high 27 points vs Bryant on January 3rd. He was the final holdover from LIU’s NEC championship era between 2011 and 2013.

Hermannsson was LIU’s most consistent freshman player this season. He averaged 10.2 ppg and led the team this season in minutes player at over 31 minutes per game in starting all 29 games for LIU. He is first on the team in free throw shooting at 86% and made 39% of his field goals this season although he did struggle with his three-point shot much of the season, making just 27.5% of his shots from behind the arc. He also finished the regular season fourth on the team in rebounding at 3.9 rpg and second in assists at 3.3 apg. He finished in double figures in 17 of his 29 games and scored a season-high 21 points vs FDU on January 24th.

Zanna was LIU’s best low post threat this season. After missing all of last season due to a wrist injury, the big man had a good freshman season for the Blackbirds. Zanna averaged 8.5 ppg and grabbed 6.2 rpg in starting every game for LIU this season. Although plague by foul issues for much of the season, Zanna showed he can be a beast on the boards and in the low post for LIU. He collected one double-double but missed out on four more by just one rebound and three more by two rebounds. He finished is double figures in 13 games this season and scored a season-high 17 points in a LIU loss at Wagner on January 10th. Zanna only played in 23 minutes per game this season due to his foul difficulties. He has a 14.5 points per 40 minutes scoring average.

Between Hermannsson and Zanna, combined they collected four NEC Rookie of the Week awards this season, two for each of them.

You can get more numbers on these three from LIU Brooklyn Athletics release on

Congratulations to Gerrell Martin, Martin Hermannsson and Nura Zanna for their well-deserved honors.

LIU Brooklyn will play St. Francis Brooklyn on Wednesday at St. Francis Brooklyn’s Pope Center in the quarterfinal round of the 2015 NEC tournament at 7pm. The game will be streamed live on

2015 BHJ’s NEC Postseason Awards

With another exciting Northeast Conference men’s basketball regular season now in the books, it is time to get ready to hand out some imaginary hardware.

Coming into this season, there were a handful of players who we knew would have outstanding seasons and lead their teams to great success. Yet, there was a lot of unknown with the large amount of turnover the NEC had after last season with many of their stars graduating and a lot of new faces entering the conference.

But the season once again showed it is good to have star players on your team and this season in particular showed that there is a lot of good talent that is going to be around for the next few years.

So let’s get started! Here are my picks for All-NEC teams, NEC Rookie of the Year, NEC Most Improved Player of the Year, NEC Defensive Player of the Year, NEC Coach of the Year and NEC Player of the Year.

BHJ’s All-NEC Third Team

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Graphic courtesy of Basketball State (

BHJ’s All-NEC Second Team

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Graphic courtesy of Basketball State (

BHJ’s All-NEC First Team

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Graphic courtesy of Basketball State (

Before I get to my All-NEC First Team, putting together the All-NEC Third team was by far the toughest task. I started out having seven players for five spots. After doing some comparables, I had to reluctantly eliminate Bryant’s Joe O’Shea and FDU’s Mustafaa Jones from the list. I was also reluctant to put two freshman on the All-NEC second team. RMU’s Marcquise Reed is deserving of not just second team but probably even first team but with five worthy upperclassmen on the first team, second team it is for Reed. Originally, I had Cane Broome on my All-NEC third team but his numbers were so good and his impact to Sacred Heart was so great, I had to move him up to second team. Now, to my All-NEC First Team:

Jalen Cannon (F) St. Francis Brooklyn – The best forward this season in all of the NEC by far. A double-double machine, Cannon collected 18 double-doubles this season. Even more impressive, he fouled out just once the entire season and didn’t get four fouls in any game this season with the exception of the game he fouled out in. That is truly remarkable especially in the NEC. He finished the regular season averaging a double-double 16.5 ppg and 10.2 rpg. You can go on and on about this guy. One of the best players in NEC history.

Brent Jones (G) St. Francis Brooklyn – I have to issue a personal apology to Brent Jones. Watching him play in his freshman and sophomore years, I thought his game was a determinant to his team. He was a turnover machine who couldn’t shoot and I thought the Terriers wouldn’t win with him. Well, I was wrong. He turned it around his junior year in a big way and was the best point guard in the NEC in his senior year. His game improved dramatically in his final two seasons and is one of the reasons why the Terriers were the best team in the NEC this season.

Earl Brown (F) Saint Francis U. – Brown has been a steadily improving force for the Red Flash throughout his career. Each year, he got better and better and this season will post career-highs in nearly all major categories. Without Brown to help lead the way for this veteran SFU team, this would probably be a team that struggle to even get into the NEC tournament. He posted eleven double-doubles this season. Well deserving of this spot.

Marcus Burton (G) Wagner – It is safe to say, if Wagner didn’t have Marcus Burton on their team this season, they wouldn’t be playing this week in the NEC tournament. There is no doubt in my mind. Burton is currently second in the NEC in scoring at 17.5 ppg. He had thirteen games this season in which he scored twenty or more points in a game and three times he went for over thirty points.

Dyami Starks (G) Bryant – It is no secret that Dyami Starks is a volume shooter and is part of the reason why he leads the NEC in scoring this season at 18.5 ppg. Yet, Starks has had an outstanding senior year to go with an outstanding three-year career at Bryant. He is Bryant’s go-to scorer and although he can be very streaky shooting the ball, there is no doubt he is one of the most feared shooters in the NEC. Ten times this season he scored over twenty points in a game. He also rarely comes out of the game, six times this season he played the full forty minutes. You have to give Starks his due.

BHJ’s All-NEC Rookie Team

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Graphic courtesy of Basketball State (

BHJ’s NEC Rookie of the Year

Marcquise Reed (G) Robert Morris – It is incredible how RMU’s head coach Andy Toole does it. He loses one of the best pure shooters in the NEC last season in Karvel Anderson and he goes out and finds another great shooter to replace him. Reed is as impressive a freshman I have seen come into the NEC since Kyle Vinales stormed into conference for Central Connecticut three seasons ago. Reed’s shooting numbers are insane for any class but for a freshman it is almost hard to comprehend. He is shooting 50% from the field, for a guard! He is shooting 42.4% from three this season, for a freshman! He is second in the NEC in steals, he is first in the NEC in points scored over 40 minutes at 21.7 points per 40 minutes. Nine times scored at least 20 points in a game. He has had just a remarkable freshman campaign and will likely be a preseason All-NEC team selection next season.

BHJ’s NEC Most Improved Player

Matt Mobley (G) Central Connecticut – No player is more worthy of this award than CCSU’s Matt Mobley. Mobley averaged a respectable 6.7 ppg in his freshman year last season. This season, he had to take over the scoring load with no Kyle Vinales (0 games) or Malcolm McMillian (2 games) available and he nearly tripled his scoring output to 17.1 ppg. He started his season by scoring 30 points vs Fairfield and went from there. Eleven times this season he went for at least 20 points in a game and four times he scored at least 30 points in a game. He shot 40% from the floor and nearly 36% from three while playing the second most minutes of any player in the NEC. Quite a remarkable season for the sophomore.

BHJ’s Defensive Player of the Year

Amdy Fall (F) St. Francis Brooklyn – Another reason for the amazing season the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers are having is due to play of junior forward Amdy Fall. Fall came into the NEC last season with a bit of reputation for being a strong interior defender and rebounder. He put that on display last season and this season, he took his defensive game to a new level. He is first in the NEC in blocks at 3.0 blocks per game. He almost doubles the next player on the list in blocks in the conference. It is not only that he blocks shots and play good interior defense, he gets timely blocks at crucial times and gets them in bunches. Eleven times this season he got at least four blocks in a game and twice got as high as six blocks in a game. No other player in the NEC has more than four games of at least four blocks this season. He is also a good rebounder and twice collected ten rebounds in a game. Hands down the best defensive player in the NEC this season.

BHJ’s NEC Coach of the Year

Glenn Braica – St. Francis Brooklyn – This was easily the hardest award to determine. There was several worthy candidates this season but in the end, St. Francis Brooklyn’s Glenn Braica deserves the honor. Braica coached a team that even though they were picked to win the NEC by the NEC coaches in the preseason, he did win unexpectedly dominating fashion in getting his team to a 15-3 mark in conference. He guided them to 21 wins in the regular season and that was after starting the season 0-5. It is never easy to finish on top when you have to the expectation to be the best but Braica did an outstanding job all season long of managing expectations and taking the pressure off his team even as the attention and notoriety kept building as they kept winning and winning.

BHJ’s NEC Player of the Year

Jalen Cannon (F) St. Francis Brooklyn – If there was really any doubt of who else it could really be. As I alluded to earlier, Cannon dominated through the NEC this season averaging a double-double for the season in points and rebounds. He led the NEC in double-doubles this season. He became the NEC’s all-time career rebounding leader and also became St. Francis Brooklyn’s all-time career scoring leader as well. He does all his damage without fouling much. He turned himself from just a dominating rebounder to an insider-outside scoring threat to go with his tremendous rebounding. He has had an amazing career at St. Francis Brooklyn for a player that was very likely recruited coming out of high school and will look to end it with getting his team into the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever in program history.

In Case You Missed It…Martin Hermannsson named NEC Rookie of the Week and more

LIU Brooklyn Martin Hermannsson named NEC Rookie of the Week for the second time this season. Photo: Justin Berl)

LIU Brooklyn Martin Hermannsson named NEC Rookie of the Week for the second time this season. (Photo: Justin Berl)

It was a long, busy week for yours truly. So like some of you, you might have missed some of the recent LIU Brooklyn news and notes from the past few days. Here is a quick update in case you missed it.

On Monday, freshman guard Martin Hermannsson was honored once again by the Northeast Conference in being named NEC Rookie of the Week for his play last week. This is his second honor of the season and fifth overall by an LIU freshman. He now has two NEC Rookie of the Week honors along with teammate Nura Zanna. Teammate Elvar Friðriksson also has an NEC Rookie of the Week honor this season.

Hermannsson in helping LIU Brooklyn get a pair of big road wins out in Western Pennsylvania, averaged 12.5 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game and 4.0 assists per game while shooting 53.8 percent from the floor and 83.2 percent from the free throw line.

Hermannsson scored 12 points, dished out five assists and grabbed five boards against Robert Morris in that huge come-from-behind win and then scored 13 points, handed out three assists and grabbed another five boards in a win at Saint Francis U.

Hermannsson is currently LIU Brooklyn’s second-leading scorer at 10.3 points per game for the season, and he is also second on the team in assists at 3.6 assists per game while also grabbing 3.8 rebounds per game. He is first on the team in minutes played this season at 31.8 minutes per game. He also lead the team in free throw shooting at 85%.

Congrats to Martin Hermansson on his second NEC Rookie of the Week honor.

Also, the two Iceland freshmen were featured in this week’s NEC Geico Google Hangout in which the pair got to be interviewed via Google Hangout by NEC Associate Commissoner Ron Ratner. In the interview, the pair talk about how they arrived at LIU, their lives back in Iceland before coming to the States to play college basketball, this season’s LIU team and their current hot streak, what they miss about home and what they like about playing basketball for LIU Brooklyn and living in New York City and more. According to Ron Ratner, the interview has already broken the NEC record for views for a NEC Geico Google Hangout in just over 36 hours with more than 1,000 views already and counting.

Check it out if you already haven’t already.

LIU Brooklyn takes on Mount St. Mary’s in a big game on the road TONIGHT at 7pm. The game is on NEC Front Row. Here is my LIU Gameday Preview for tonight.

Martin Hermannsson named NEC and ECAC Rookie of the Week


On Monday, the NEC announced that LIU Brooklyn freshman Martin Hermannsson was named this week’s NEC Rookie of the Week for his stellar play last week. He was also named ECAC men’s basketball Rookie of the Week.

Last week was Hermannsson best week in conference play this season as he averaged 17.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 3.5 steals, and was 8 for 16 from the floor (50%) as well as 17 for 20 (85%) from the free throw line.

Hermannsson had a career game on Saturday when he scored a career-high 21 points on 4 of 6 shooting and was 12 of 15 from the free throw line to help LIU Brooklyn get an important road win at Fairleigh Dickinson.

With this past week performances, Hermannsson is now up to second on the team in scoring at 10.2 points per game and second on the team in assists with 3.4 assists per game. He also currently leads the team in minutes played at 31.2 minutes per game.

Hermannson is 21st in the NEC in conference-scoring with 11.8 points per game in NEC games. He is ranked fourth among NEC freshman. He is also seventh in the NEC in assists during conference play with 3.9 assists per game which ranks him second among all NEC freshman.

He is also the third-best free throw shooter in the NEC at 85.5% and is second in the NEC in conference games at 88.6%.

Hermannsson becomes the third LIU Brooklyn freshman to be named NEC Rookie of the Week following fellow countryman Elvar Friðriksson and two-time honoree Nura Zanna.

LIU Brooklyn becomes the first NEC team since the 2009-2010 Robert Morris Colonials to have three different freshmen to be named NEC Rookie of the Week.

Congratulations to Martin Hermannsson on his honor. LIU Brooklyn is back at the Steinberg Wellness Center on Thursday, January 29 to take on Central Connecticut State for a 7pm tip.

Nura Zanna named NEC Rookie of the Week for second time

Congratulations are in order to redshirt freshman Nura Zanna who named by the Northeast Conference on Monday, NEC Rookie of the Week for this past week which consisted of the last two games on Thursday and Saturday.

Zanna in two starts, averaged 15 points per games and six boards while going eight for ten from the field and 14 for 19 from the free throw line.

Zanna played 35 minutes versus Sacred Heart in a double overtime win last Thursday and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Then on Saturday, Zanna likely played his best half of basketball this season in the second half against Wagner where he was a perfect 6 for 6 from the field and 5 for 6 from the free throw line in just 16 minutes played due to foul trouble for a career-high 17 points with four boards.

Zanna previously won NEC Rookie of the Week following the second week of the season. Zanna is currently averaging 8.9 points per game and leads LIU in rebounding with 6.1 rebounds per game. He also leads the team in field goal percentage at 50.6% shooting.

LIU Brooklyn returns to action on Thursday night when they travel to Central Connecticut to face the Blue Devils for a 7pm start.

BHJ’s Mid-Season Power Rankings and Early Season Awards

Welcome all to 2015. Another year is in the books and another exciting season of Northeast Conference basketball is about to tip-off. The NEC thankfully returns back to an eighteen-game schedule now with a true home-and-home schedule.

Before we get into all the excitement of what could be an action-packed and tightly competitive NEC men’s basketball season, I wanted to reevaluate all ten NEC teams and put out my mid-season NEC power rankings and see which I believe now will compete for an NEC title or which teams are going to struggle to make the NEC tournament.

BHJ’s Mid-Season Power Rankings

(10) Central Connecticut – I’m sorry to say this because this team was picked third in the NEC Consensus Poll and second in the NEC Coaches Poll but that was with Kyle Vinales playing and a healthy Malcolm McMillian. Vinales senior season never got started and McMillian has played just two games this season. Plus other guys have had to missed time. Things are just looking bleak up in New Britain. It is hard to see this team finish above the cellar this season.

(9) Wagner – This is a young team that had to play all of the non-conference without junior Dwaun Anderson. They will get Anderson back soon as he is now practicing but it may take him some time to get back in shape and be an impact player. They will be a better team I believe with a healthy Anderson back. Without him, Wagner hasn’t been very good. Their defense which used to be a strength of theirs in last couple of seasons has really taken a hit this season. I think they will get some wins in conference and fight for a bottom NEC tournament spot but I don’t think it is going to be easy.

(8) Fairleigh Dickinson – I like this FDU team and they are going to win some games in conference. They are going to play hard every game and they could end up being in every game. I think they could surprise and finish higher than eighth but at the moment I think this is the right spot for them. Darian Anderson has been a great get for Greg Herenda’s team.

(7) LIU Brooklyn – Right now, I think this is a good spot for LIU. They are starting to find cohesion and the freshmen have started to get more comfortable. Outside of Zanna and Atterberry, the lack of size could hurt them especially if Feidanga’s ankle injury continues to linger. The defense has been a surprise at how well it has been for most of non-conference. It is the offense that has been slowly getting up to speed and that isn’t a surprise due to the youth of this team. They are certainly capable of finishing higher, it all depends if they can play consistently.

(6) Mount St. Mary’s – I think the Mount is probably the hardest team to figure out after the non-conference season. They played so many guarantee games against much better competition, it is hard to get a gauge on how this team is going to perform once conference play starts. I think they will follow the script of the last two seasons under Jamion Christian. They will start off slow and then start picking it up midway through and could be a tough team to beat by the end of the season. So if they finish sixth, it is no big deal.

(5) Bryant – Bryant has looked less than stellar for the most part this non-conference season. They have just three wins but they are all decent wins. They have played just nine non-conference games as they will play two more in the middle of conference play. The big thing Bryant has going for them is that they still have Dyami Starks who is a 20-point a night scorer and when he is on will have them in most games. They also may have the best student crowd in the NEC. I think they will still compete for first round home court.

(4) Sacred Heart – The surprise team of the non-conference is easily the Sacred Heart Pioneers. Anthony Latina has the pieces now to implement the fast style of play he wants to play and they are having success. The players leading the turnaround are two young guys in De’von Barnett and freshman Cain Broome who led all freshman in scoring with over 14 ppg. Add assist-man Phil Gaetano, three-point bomber Steve Glowiak and the addition of Jordan Allen to the interior and the Pioneers now has a team that will compete for a top-four spot in the NEC and have put themselves on the contender list for an NEC championship.

(3) Robert Morris –  I’m not going to lie, I have been less than impressed by what I’ve seen for the most part from RMU in the non-conference. They did play a tough non-conference schedule but what has me cautious about RMU is that their defense is not as good as we have grown accustomed too and their offense has yet to hit their stride. Lucky Jones, if the season ended today would not be on the All-NEC first team. He has been outplayed by two first-year teammates in transfer Rodney Pryor and freshman Marcquise Reed. If Jones gets it together and the defense gets back in order than RMU should compete once again for an NEC title. If not, it is not a stretch they won’t even get a home game in the NEC tournament.

(2) Saint Francis U. – I liked this SFU team in the preseason so for me it was no surprise they played very well in non-conference including getting the NEC’s first win ever against a Big Ten team when they beat Rutgers a couple of weeks ago. Earl Brown is an NEC MVP candidate. Ronnie Drinnon is third in the NEC in rebounding. Malik Harmon is backing up his solid freshman season with a stellar sophomore season. They are a very good defensive team and are holding teams to 98.1 points per 100 possessions. I see them continuing to play solid during the conference season and fighting with RMU and St. Francis Brooklyn for the top seed.

(1) St. Francis Brooklyn – The Terriers started off slow like 0-5 slow. But since that start they have gotten things together and have won six of their last eight games including three in a row with impressive victories over Monmouth on the road and Columbia at home. Their play of late I think propelled them back as the team to beat in the NEC. Jalen Cannon is probably at the moment, the NEC MVP. Brent Jones is having a great senior season. Recently, it has been another freshman in Glenn Sanabria who has been the spark plug off the bench and has been a legit scoring option. Plus with the return of Amdy Fall and the eventual return of Kevin Douglas and this team should still be the team to beat.

Early season Awards if the season ended today….

Rookie of the Year: Cane Broome, Sacred Heart. Although I think LIU’s Elvar Friðriksson and Nura Zanna, RMU’s Marcquise Reed and FDU’s Darian Anderson will give him a run for his money.

Most Improved Player: Matt Mobley, CCSU. This will likely be a two-man race between Mobley and FDU’s Mustafaa Jones.

Defensive Player of the Year: Amdy Fall, St. Francis Brooklyn. I think he is the runaway choice at the midway point.

Coach of the Year: Anthony Latina, Sacred Heart. Right now, this is his to lose. Other candidates: SFBK’s Glenn Braica, SFU’s Rob Krimmel, LIU’s Jack Perri.

Most Valuable Player: Jalen Cannon, St. Francis Brooklyn. Presently, I believe it is going to be a three-man race between Cannon, SFU’s Earl Brown and Bryant’s Dyami Starks.

All-NEC First Team:

Jalen Cannon, St. Francis Brooklyn (F)
Earl Brown, Saint Francis U. (F)
Dyami Starks, Bryant (G)
Brent Jones, St. Francis Brooklyn (G)
Matt Mobley, Central Connecticut (G)

Nura Zanna named NEC Rookie of the Week

LIU"s Nura Zanna captures his first NEC Rookie of the Week honor. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LIU’s Nura Zanna captures his first NEC Rookie of the Week honor. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LIU Brooklyn has played just one game so far this season but that is all it took for 6’7” freshman forward Nura Zanna to get his first career NEC Rookie of the Week honor.

Zanna made his collegiate debut last Wednesday for the Blackbirds, getting his first career start against St. John’s. He finished his first game with ten points and six rebounds in 28 minutes. He shot 5 of 12 from the field versus St. John’s. Zanna returns back to action after missing last season with a wrist injury.

He helped hold St. John’s Chris Obekpa to five points on 1 of 7 shooting in the game.

Congrats to Nura Zanna on his first career honor, the likely first of several for him and the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds this season.

LIU returns back to action on Tuesday as they head to Philly to face Saint Joseph’s.