Poor second half takes down LIU Brooklyn to fall to 3-2


LIU dropped their second straight in loss to Dartmouth on Sunday. LIU’s Martin Hermannsson led them in scoring and rebounding. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Well, I have to imagine the LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball team is looking forward to getting on a plane and returning back to campus tonight because they probably wished this Thanksgiving weekend two-game road trip never happened.

The Blackbirds saw Dartmouth sophomore guard/forward Miles Wright carve them up for a career-high 39 points and set a new Dartmouth home arena record in a second-half beatdown which led to a 79-56 loss for LIU and drop them to 3-2 overall. Wright previously career-high before Sunday’s game was 21 points he scored last season against Brown. [Read more…]

LIU Brooklyn second half comeback falls short in loss to FIU

Well, this game had a little bit of everything. It had a little bit of good, a little bit of bad and certainly a little bit of ugly. It was like two totally different games were played but in the end, LIU’s furious comeback from a 25-point second half deficit came up short as the Blackbirds dropped their first game of the season 80-72 at the FIU Arena in Miami Wednesday night.  [Read more…]

LIU Brooklyn goes to 3-0 with strong second half comeback and another defensive stand


LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri diagramming a play during their win against NCCU at Barclays Center. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

It definitely wasn’t pretty. Far from. But LIU Brooklyn once again used their defense to get a win, this time preserving a one-point victory at the Barclays Center on Sunday afternoon against North Carolina Central by a score of 78-77.

Junior forward Jerome Frink once again got a key block for the Blackbirds as he did last Monday against Loyola (Md.). This time, with LIU up one, Frink blocked NCCU’s Jeremiah Ingram shot with eight seconds left and then block him again with three seconds left and was able to corralled the rebound and launched it into LIU’s front court to run out the final ticks of the clock to get the win. [Read more…]

LIU Brooklyn defeats Maine, starts season 2-0

LIU Brooklyn start their season 2-0 after five-point win in the home opener Thursday night. (Photo: Bob Dea - BHJ)

LIU Brooklyn start their season 2-0 after five-point win in the home opener Thursday night. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

Last season, LIU Brooklyn got off to a slow start to their season. A really slow start. An 0-6 start to be more specific.

This season, in a season in which there is a little more seasoning to a still relatively young Blackbirds team, LIU wanted to get this season off to a much better start than they did a year ago. So far, they are doing just that.

Thanks to the one-two scoring punch of junior Jerome Frink and sophomore Martin Hermannsson, LIU defeated Maine at the Steinberg Wellness Center in their home opener on Thursday night, 84-79. It was LIU’s second straight season with a win over the Black Bears from the America East conference.

Jerome Frink (left) & Martin Hermannsson (right) combined for 48 of LIU's 84 points against Maine. (Photos: Bob Dea -BHj)

Jerome Frink (left) & Martin Hermannsson (right) combined for 48 of LIU’s 84 points against Maine. (Photos: Bob Dea -BHj)

Frink, who admittedly had jitters and a little bit of rust in his first game with his new team after sitting out last season after transferring to LIU from Florida International, looked a lot like the player that many people including myself have been touting as one of the top NEC transfers to come into the conference this season. Frink put together a strong game for his new home fans with a game-high 25-point performance to go along with nine rebounds while shooting 9 of 11 from the field.

“My first game (against Loyola), it was my first time back after a year so I had jitters going through the whole game.” said Frink after the game. “I rushed my game a little bit. I didn’t take my time. So in this game, I decided to just take my time and see what was open for me and look for my teammates.”

LIU head coach Jack Perri also noticed the difference in his forward’s game from game one to game two.

“He finished much better.” said Perri of Frink. “Obviously, he was comfortable. He made his first shot, he hit a three to start. He got some offensive rebounds and some easy put-backs, that helped. We knew that, he is a big physical kid, (Maine) doesn’t have as much physicality. They have some athleticism but they have some youth and we thought he would be able to hurt them which he did.”

Not to be outdone, Martin Hermannsson also showed why he can make the jump this season to an All-NEC performer with a new career-high 23 points on 50% shooting from the floor. Hermannsson was able to get inside and finish on several layups in the paint. Hermannsson wanted to make sure this team got off to a fast start this season.

“Last season, we started 0-6. The difference between this year and last year is tremendous.” said Hermannsson.

LIU played eleven players for the first time so far this season, using the depth Jack Perri has which really hasn’t been the case for the most part during his first three seasons at the helm.

LIU was whistled for twelve first half fouls including two fouls on four different LIU players forcing him to use a pair of freshmen in Raul Frias and Ganlandou Cisse for the first time in their college careers.

Zanna with a bandage above his eye after slamming against the floor in the second half. (Photo: Bob Dea - BHJ)

Zanna with a bandage above his eye after slamming against the floor in the second half. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

Nura Zanna was plagued by first half foul trouble and only played three minutes but had a nice second half until a freak injury which resulted in a bad cut above his left eye after losing his balance on while attempting for a defensive rebound and falling on his face, caused him to leave the game. Zanna will likely get his cut stitched up according to Perri but should be fine. Zanna finished with eight points and team-high eleven rebounds.

“(Zanna) did a good job in the second half coming in, getting offensive rebounds. That was what we needed.” said Hermannsson.

Aakim Saintil in his second game, did not play as well as he did in his first on Monday versus Loyola (Md.). The junior point guard was a little out of control at times and coughed up the ball seven times. Yet, Perri liked the energy he played with.

“(Saintil) causes havoc on the defensive end with his on the ball defense.” said Perri. “With his turnovers, he was just trying to do a little bit too much. I think he was excited playing at home. He is back home after being at South Alabama and then he was up in North Dakota so now he is back home. I think his friends and family (were) here. He still made some big plays and made some big shots for us.”

Saintil finished with twelve points and four assists.

Maine, who looked like a much improved team from the one that won just three games last season, had four players finished in double figures led by Aaron Calixte and his 18 points coming off the bench. Maine shot the ball particularly well against LIU, making 46% of their shots (31-67) and going 7 of 17 from three. They missed half of their 20 free throws in which if they had made a few more, could have been a big issue for LIU at the end of this game.

Aakim Saintil finished with 12 points but also had a team-high seven turnover in the victory over Maine. (Photo: bob Dea- BHJ)

Aakim Saintil finished with 12 points but also had a team-high seven turnover in the victory over Maine. (Photo: bob Dea- BHJ)

A concern of the LIU coaching staff coming into this season was their perimeter shooting and in this game, they had their struggles from behind the three-point line. LIU shot just 3 of 20 from three versus Maine. It is a concern the Blackbirds got away with on this night but they will need to do a much better job as they continue on with their season.

“I think there has been good and bad in both our wins.” said Perri after the win. “I think we are getting there and as you can see, I think we have some pieces. We have some talent. We have some depth. We have some size and that kind of play out that in we wore (Maine) out a little bit.”

With the win, LIU moves to 2-0 on the young season and they start a season 2-0 for the first time since 2010-11 in which they started that season 4-0 on their way to a 27-win season and an NCAA tournament appearance.

Sunday afternoon, the home venue shifts up Flatbush Avenue to the Barclays Center for a matinee against North Carolina Central, a MEAC team which went perfect in their league in the regular season and won 25 games last season. LIU looks to make it a 3-0 start to their season and continue on a fast start to an early-season that has already has had some surprises to it.

The bank is open late. LIU Brooklyn beats Loyola on a buzzer-beater bank shot to begin the season

Talk about a dramatic start to your season.

Junior guard Joel Hernandez completes a wild last five seconds sequence with a three-point banker at the buzzer to give LIU Brooklyn an exhilarating 71-68 win against Loyola (Md.) in Baltimore Monday night.

Here is how the final five seconds went: [Read more…]

LIU Brooklyn 70 St. Francis Brooklyn 79

LIU Brooklyn's season comes to an end in the NEC tournament quarterfinals in a 79-70 loss to St. Francis Brooklyn Wednesday night. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LIU Brooklyn’s season comes to an end in the NEC tournament quarterfinals in a 79-70 loss to St. Francis Brooklyn Wednesday night. (Photo: Bob Dea)

It was a rare round three of the Battle of Brooklyn and it was going to be an uphill battle for LIU Brooklyn who came into the NEC tournament limping on a four-game losing streak. LIU as the number eight-seed had already lost twice to their top-seeded rivals from St. Francis Brooklyn and needed a near-flawless effort to get the upset inside the standing-room only, sold-out, raucous Pope Center crowd. The Blackbirds were game but the Terriers with their talent and their experience was just the better team and defeated LIU 79-70 to end the Blackbirds’ 2014-15 season.

After a terrific start by LIU to get off to a 10-2 lead, the Terriers put it into overdrive on both ends of the court and went on a 33-12 run in the final 16 minutes of the first half to take a commanding 35-22 lead into the locker room.

The Blackbirds though would try to save their season with a 20-9 run in the first nine minutes of the second half to get within two of the Terriers and put the pressure on the top seed. But the regular season champs would respond with a critical 9-2 run to kill LIU’s momentum and regain theirs and for all intents and purposes put away the Blackbirds for the season.

St. Francis Brooklyn point guard Brent Jones led all scorers with a career-high 31 points. (Photo: Bob Dea)

St. Francis Brooklyn point guard Brent Jones led all scorers with a career-high 31 points. (Photo: Bob Dea)

It was no surprise that St. Francis Brooklyn’s All-NEC first team seniors led the way for the Terriers. Brent Jones was the star of the game as he led all scorers with a career-high 31 points to go along with five assists. He showed tremendous leadership and ball handling against the youthful Blackbirds. NEC Player of the Year Jalen Cannon finished with his 19th double-double of the season with 15 points and 15 rebounds. It was a relatively quiet night for Cannon offensively but he made a pair of key baskets in that pivotal 9-2 run that put the game away for them.

The Terriers continue their march in trying to win their first-ever NEC championship and get to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. Congratulations to St. Francis Brooklyn.

For LIU to have a chance against the Terriers, they needed to protect the basketball, not allow St. Francis Brooklyn to dominant the offensive glass and made their threes. They struggled again with the turnovers which hurt them especially when the Terriers made their run. They committed 15 turnovers, which is actually an improvement from the way they had been turning the ball over down the stretch of the season, but those turnovers led to 21 Terrier points. The Terriers were +3 in offensive rebounds although they were just +1 in overall rebounds for the game. LIU made 6 of 14 threes which was actually pretty good but just not enough.

Once again, it was the turnovers when the Terriers went to a press in the backcourt that help do LIU in. They turned the ball over three times in that pivotal Terriers second half run and it went from a two-point deficit to a nine-point deficit in 81 seconds.

LIU did shoot the ball fairly well at 46% from the floor but in latter part of the second half, they just couldn’t get a big stop when they needed it. Credit the Terriers for making big shots and making most of the free throws in the final two minutes.

Landon Atterberry had his best game of the season in his final LIU game. Photo: Bob Dea)

Landon Atterberry had his best game of the season in his final LIU game. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Two LIU players who deserves a ton of credit for the way they played were Landon Atterberry and Glenn Feidanga. Atterberry in his final game for LIU, saved his best for last, with a season-high 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting with two three-pointers to lead LIU. Feidanga also played great on both ends, drawing a couple of key charges and playing good man-to-man defense on Amdy Fall who had a very quiet night. Feidanga finished with six points.

Gerrell Martin in his final LIU game had a rough one. He ends his LIU career with just five points on 1 of 6 shooting and he did not attempt a three all night. It was not the way he wanted to end his college career.

The Iceland freshmen pair of Elvar Friðriksson and Martin Hermannsson each finished their first LIU season with eight points apiece. Friðriksson had 7 assists and 5 rebounds as well. Nura Zanna also scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds. Iverson Fleming had himself a good night with nine points and a couple of steals. Joel Hernandez did not play for LIU. No reason is known for his absence.

The loss ends LIU’s season at 12-17 with a 8-10 NEC record. LIU finished the season on a five-game losing streak which put a cap on a wildly up and down season for a LIU team that had the tenth youngest team in the country this season.

Iverson Fleming had a nice game off the bench for LIU to close out season. Photo: Bob Dea)

Iverson Fleming had a nice game off the bench for LIU to close out season. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Even though this LIU team was young and inconsistent, they did help improve LIU’s record by three wins and four wins in the NEC over last season and got them back into the NEC tournament after missing out a year ago. This is a good stepping stone season for them and something to build on as they team now heads into the long offseason. I’ll have more on LIU’s future next week.

The future at LIU is bright although it didn’t end the way they probably would have like with this losing streak but there were many positives to take away from it and there are things and individuals who will need to improve if LIU is to get back into contender status next season.

For now, the long wait for next season begins. As always, we’ll see what transpires in the coming weeks after the season. Hopefully, it all stays quiet and LIU will return everyone next season with a couple of key additions.

Since I’m a Brooklyn boy, born and raised, I wish the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers all the luck the rest of the NEC tournament and hope they get make it through and the represent the NEC in the NCAA tournament in a couple of weeks. Congratulations to them. Hopefully next season, LIU will be realistically back in the hunt for a conference title and take this season as a growing year.

LIU Brooklyn 73 Sacred Heart 84

LIU Brooklyn limps into the NEC tournament with their fourth consecutive loss, losing to Sacred Heart Saturday afternoon. (Photo: Bob Dea)

There was not much to it for LIU Brooklyn entering Saturday’s game against Sacred Heart at the William H. Pitt Center. An LIU win and they would avoid being the eight-seed. An LIU loss and they would have to face the cross-Fulton Street rival St. Francis Brooklyn for a third time. It was a neck and neck battle for 33 minutes but the last seven was owned by the home team Pioneers and it resulted in LIU’s fourth straight loss with a 84-73 defeat to Sacred Heart.

With the loss, LIU Brooklyn will stay in Brooklyn and won’t have to take any long bus trips to their NEC quarterfinal game but they will have to face the Terriers who finished the NEC regular season 15-3 and with the number one seed.

Martin Hermannsson led LIU with a team-high 16 points but it wasn't enough. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Martin Hermannsson led LIU with a team-high 16 points but it wasn’t enough. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Both teams came at each other from the outset and the game went back and forth. The lead changed hands nine times before a 17-7 Sacred Heart run with under seven minutes remaining gave the Pioneers the lead they would not relinquish. SHU senior Phil Gaetano buried the Blackbirds with two straight threes in the run that help put them away.

“We had good energy to start the second half.” said LIU head coach Jack Perri after the game. “But immediately Martin (Hermannsson) got his third foul and that played a part, he was rolling a little bit. That happens and we started changing the way we play offense. We got back to where we were trying to do too much individually.”

Once again, LIU turned the ball over way too much. They committed 21 turnovers, 13 of those in the second half. The 21 turnovers were converted into 24 Sacred Heart points. LIU have now averaged more than 20 turnovers per game in their current four game losing streak. It is one of several major problems the Blackbirds have as they enter the NEC tournament.

LIU also committed 22 personal fouls and sent the Pioneers to the free throw line 26 times while LIU went to the line just 17 times. The Pioneers also grabbed 14 steals.

“That is now back-to-back we’ve given up fourteen steals.” said Perri. “That is something that is one, unheard of and two, you are not going to win many games if you allow that to happen.”

Elvar Friðriksson scored 14 points for LIU Brooklyn in the loss. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Elvar Friðriksson scored 14 points for LIU Brooklyn in the loss. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LIU shot the ball much better than they have over the last few games. They finished with a 41% field goal percentage and made ten three-pointers. The defense though overall struggled as the 84 points allowed will attest. Sacred Heart shot 44% from the field and scored 1.1 points per possession.

LIU finish the regular season without scoring over 1.0 points per possession in their last four games. In the last ten games, LIU scored above 1.0 ppp just twice. “Our defense has been ahead of our offense this year.” said Perri. “We have had that in quite a while (here).”

Sacred Heart with the win finish the regular season at .500 in the NEC and earn the six-seed in next week’s NEC tournament. They will face three-seeded Robert Morris on Wednesday. SHU freshman Cane Broome came off the bench to score a game-high 21 points on 7 of 13 shooting. He should be All-NEC Rookie team which will be named this coming week.

Along with Broome, five SHU players in total finished in double figures. Tevin Falzon, who played great, finished with 16 points. Senior Phil Gaetano on senior day finished with a double-double 15 points and 10 assists. Sophomore De’Von Barnett also finished with a double-double 11 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Evan Kelley scored 10 points.

Four LIU players finished in double figures led by Martin Hermannsson 16 points on 5 of 7 shooting before he fouled out for just the second time this season. Elvar Friðriksson finished with 14 points. It was the first loss LIU suffered this season when he scores at least 14 points. LIU had been a perfect 6-0 before this game when that happened. Senior Gerrell Martin scored 12 points but was just 4 of 12 shooting and 0 of 6 from three. Trevin Woods finished with 10 points, all in the first half.

Sacred Heart's Cane Broome scored a game-high 21 points to help led the Pioneers to victory. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Sacred Heart’s Cane Broome scored a game-high 21 points to help led the Pioneers to victory. (Photo: Bob Dea)

If there is another concern going into the NEC tournament, it is the play of freshman Nura Zanna. The big man really struggled in this game, going 0 for 6 and finished the game scoreless. He committed four turnovers and only grabbed four rebounds. He has not looked good in this four-game losing streak with the exception of the St. Francis Brooklyn game Thursday night. LIU needs for Zanna to find his offensive game if they want any chance of winning at St. Francis Brooklyn on Wednesday.

The streaky regular season for LIU has come to an end. It is crazy what a roller coaster of a season they have played. They started off the season losing six straight, then won four straight, then lost three straight, won two of three, lost a pair in a row, won six of seven and then lost the final four straight. We expected LIU to be inconsistent with a young team but even this kind of up and down play was been hard to fathom.

LIU now prepares themselves for the third installment of the Battle of Brooklyn for the 2014-15 season. LIU and St. Francis Brooklyn will meet for the sixth time in the NEC tournament but for the first time since 1996 NEC tournament. LIU is 4-1 all-time against St. Francis Brooklyn in the NEC tournament with their one loss coming in their only game played at the Pope Center back in 1990-91. LIU is 0-2 versus the top-seeded Terriers this season.

LIU head coach Jack Perri will need to figure out how to get things turned back around as his team enters the postseason.

LIU head coach Jack Perri will need to figure out how to get things turned back around as his team enters the postseason. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Even though the Blackbirds are limping into the NEC tournament, they did accomplish what was a major team goal for this young team which was to just get into the NEC tournament and get a taste for it. There isn’t much bigger games than playing your neighborhood rival for the third time in the pressure of postseason college basketball so they going to get first-hand what NEC tournament basketball is all about as the learning process of this season continues.

“This was one of our goals, to get into the playoffs.” said Perri. “Now, we can’t be satisfied with that. We now play St. Francis (Brooklyn) who we just played so you know exactly what you’re preparing for. We don’t have to travel. Ok, we get to sleep in our own beds and walk to the game, that is certainly a positive. I think our guys should have confidence going into this game that they can beat this team. They got to play with unbelievable focus and sense of urgency like we did (on Thursday). We got to eliminate turnovers, we got to be smarter with our fouls. After regrouping, we got to get back at it. There is not going to be any pressure on us, nobody thinks we can do it. We should be playing loose and should be playing aggressive that way.”

Good thing for LIU is they won’t have to travel very far as they prepare for Wednesday and see if they muster up enough will and determination to make some NEC tournament history and become the first eight-seed to ever knocked off a one-seed in the current playoff format. It is going to an extremely difficult task but not an impossible one. The postseason is a different animal and strange things always seem to happen in the NEC tournament. It should be a fun, loud time at the Pope Center Wednesday night and I’ll be there to witness it.