LIU Brooklyn WBB completes coaching staff with hiring of Asia Williams

LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball now has a complete coaching staff.

The final member of LIU’s first-year head coach Stephanie Oliver’s coaching staff was announced today by LIU Athletics and it is former Wake Forest guard Asia Williams. [Read more…]

Stephanie Oliver announces her coaching staff for LIU Brooklyn WBB

New LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball head coach Stephanie Oliver today revealed two members of her coaching staff for her first season at the helm of the Blackbirds.

Oliver announced she has brought in Heather Zurich and Tim Gardner to join her on the bench next season. They will join the only returnee from former head coach Gail Streigler’s coaching staff last season in Director of Basketball Operations Hillary Spears. [Read more…]

LIU Brooklyn hoping they have a winner in new WBB head coach Stephanie Oliver

New LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball head coach Stephanie Oliver with three members of women’s basketball team in Ashley Brown (L), Jahmia Phillips (C), and Shanice Vaughan (R). (Photo: LIU Brooklyn Athletics)

A dawn of a new era has began at LIU Brooklyn. On Thursday, LIU Brooklyn Athletics officially introduced former Seton Hall assistant coach Stephanie Oliver as the school’s eleventh women’s basketball head coach at LIU’s Steinberg Wellness Center. It was on Monday in which the school announced her appointment.

Newly removed of his interim tag, LIU Brooklyn Director of Athletics Brad Cohen did the honors of introducing Oliver to the university and immediately showed great confidence in his new hire. [Read more…]

LIU Brooklyn hires Stephanie Oliver to become their 11th women’s head basketball coach

LIU Brooklyn's new women's head basketball coach is Stephanie Oliver, previously assistant coach at Seton Hall. (Photo: Seton Hall Athletics)

LIU Brooklyn’s new women’s head basketball coach is Stephanie Oliver, previously assistant coach at Seton Hall. (Photo: Seton Hall Athletics)

After a lengthy nationwide search (60 days to be exact from when the search began on March 20th), LIU Brooklyn officially announced their eleventh women’s head basketball coach in Seton Hall assistant coach Stephanie Oliver. Oliver will succeed former women’s head coach Gail Striegler who was let go by the school back on March 20th.

Oliver recently completed her second season as an assistant at Seton Hall under Pirates’ women’s basketball head coach Tony Bozzella who coached LIU Brooklyn from 2000-2002 and guided the Blackbirds to their only NCAA tournament appearance back in 2001. Seton Hall last season finished 28-6 and went to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995. The season before Seton Hall finished 20-14 and made it all the way to the third round of the WNIT. [Read more…]

Gail Striegler is out as LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball coach

LIU Brooklyn Women's Basketball Head Coach Gail Striegler will not return to coach the Blackbirds next season. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LIU Brooklyn Women’s Basketball Head Coach Gail Striegler will not return to coach the Blackbirds next season. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LIU Brooklyn Athletics this afternoon announced that seven-year women’s basketball head coach Gail Striegler has been relieved of her duties.

Striegler just completed a 9-21 season (6-12 in the NEC) at LIU Brooklyn and finished in the eight-seed in the 2015 NEC women’s basketball tournament. LIU Brooklyn lost to top-seeded Central Connecticut State 72-51.

Striegler had just completed her seventh season in Downtown Brooklyn as women’s basketball head coach. She guided her teams to a 96-115 record (.455 win percentage) in her seven seasons.

She came to LIU before the 2008-09 season in replacing current Fordham women’s basketball head coach Stephanie Gaitley who had left LIU to become women’s head basketball coach at Monmouth. Striegler inherited a team that went 24-8 and 13-5 in the NEC the season before. In Striegler’s first season at LIU, her team went 9-20 and 4-14 in the NEC.

The next three seasons was Striegler’s best at LIU. Her teams went a combined 62-31 overall and 33-19 in the NEC. Her best season at LIU was in her second season in which LIU finished 22-10 and 12-4 in the NEC before losing to Saint Francis U. in the NEC championship game. She got her only two NEC tournament wins that season.

In the last three seasons, things went sour for Striegler and her program. She went a combined 25-64 overall and 17-37 in the NEC in that span. She guided her teams to an eight-seed in the NEC tournament in the last two seasons.

Striegler guided her teams to five NEC tournaments in her seven seasons. She went 2-5 in LIU’s five NEC tournament trips.

Striegler got her 200th career win back on February 7th in a home win against Saint Francis U.

In the last couple of seasons, LIU has struggled on the offensive end. This season, they finished sixth in the NEC in scoring offense at 64 points per game but were dead last in the NEC last season at 60 points per game.

Her entire coaching staff is also being let go along with her. LIU Brooklyn has announced they will begin a national search for their next head women’s basketball coach.

**UPDATE** (8/2/15): Gail Striegler has been hired by Minnesota as their new assistant coach on the women’s basketball team.

LIU Women’s Basketball Conversation w/ Gail Striegler and Letava Whippy


LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball head coach Gail Striegler and senior Letava Whippy appeared at NEC Basketball Social Media Day at Barclays Center last week. (Photo Credit: Bob Dea -BHJ)

Last week at the NEC Basketball Social Media Day inside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, all ten NEC women’s basketball coaches came out to meet with the media to discuss their team’s upcoming season. That included seventh-year LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball head coach Gail Striegler, who is coming off a 9-21 season and an appearance in the NEC tournament as an eight-seed after a disappointing 2012-13 season where they went 7-22 and missed the NEC tournament all together.

Joining her this year at NEC Media Day was fourth-year senior guard/forward Letava Whippy. Whippy is the only four-year player on this season’s LIU roster and is one of two seniors on the team. Last season, she was third on LIU in both scoring (8.0 ppg) and rebounding (6.0 rpg), second in assists (2.3 apg) and lead the team in steals (2.0 spg) as well as recorded two double-doubles.

Last season showed a slight improvement over the previous season for the Blackbirds but this season will once again bring in more change as for the second season in a row, seven newcomers enter the program. The Blackbirds were once again challenged offensively with an NEC-worse scoring offense of just under 60 points per game and a shooting percentage under 39 percent. Their defense played well, holding teams to 64 points per game. Now, they need to bring the offense up to par with the defense. That, along with other challenges, face this LIU women’s basketball squad.

I spoke with both Coach Striegler and Letava Whippy about last season and what should we look forward to from LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball in 2014-15.

Blackbirds Hoops Journal: This is the second year in a row where there is a lot of newcomers on the squad, what necessitated the turnover again this year?

Gail Striegler: Well, we had a lot of junior college kids that were only here for two years, so basically when you recruit those you have to replace them. I think we had three kids that were junior college kids that came in. So when you don’t sign freshmens, you have turnover pretty quickly off of that. We had one transfer and we had kids graduate. Our graduation class was a good graduating class. We graduated five kids so it wasn’t like we didn’t graduate people. Cleandra (Roberts) was basically the only one who was here for four years, so the other ones were only there for one or two years.

BHJ: You have a pretty young squad again this year, what are your concerns going into this year with this group?

Head coach Gail Strigler enters her seventh season at the helm at LIU Brooklyn. Photo: Bob Dea)

Head coach Gail Strigler enters her seventh season at the helm at LIU Brooklyn. Photo: Bob Dea)

GS: I think it is the same as it’s always is. You have to work on your chemistry. You have a lot of stuff you have to teach them. We’ve made some changes in a few of the things we’re running to. Even the upperclassmen are having to learn a few new things, which makes it exciting for us, it’s not the same thing over and over again. Whenever you have new kids, the chemistry is got to get consistent and then players have to buy in to what you’re doing. You got to make sure that they’re really getting the fundamentals. A lot of times you get the high school kids or the juco kids to come in, they don’t have the same fundamentals that you want to teach in your program.

BHJ: Your team loses a lot of scoring in Cleandra Roberts graduating, how do you go about replacing that kind of production?

GS: I think it will be the same of last year. Nobody expected Cleandra to average (close to) 20 ppg. We’ll have somebody step up and fill it. I think it is going to be more by committee though then it was last year. I’m not sure we have anybody that is coming in that is going to average 20 a game. I think we have more kids that is going to average 10 to 12 a game. We are going to be a different style of play. I think we are going to be a lot higher scoring team this year because we are going to press pretty much non-stop. We’re excited for the way we’re going to be playing. The kids are really buying into it and enjoying it.

BHJ: Are you happy with the progress the team made last season over the year before?

GS: I’m happy with the progress we made after Christmas. I think it took us a while to find ourselves. I think we starting playing well after Christmas and it continued to get better throughout the whole season. Every game was a fairly close game. We won almost half our games after Christmas. I was proud of our kids. I don’t think I ever had a team that really fought through like they did. We started off 0-9 and to end up with the record that we had, I think that is pretty good. It’s saying that your kids had some mental toughness and really bought in.

BHJ: Letava, what is your opinion of the team this season? What are you looking forward to coming into this year?

Letava Whippy: We’re very young which means that there is a whole new dynamic of play that has the potential to come up but I’m so excited because I never had to blend in with the new players as much being the only senior and playing in a system that I guess isn’t the same anymore, it is kind of different. I’m just excited I guess. All the girls who have come in are very talented and extremely excited about the season I guess so its makes my job as a senior easier when they are willing to do the work that needs to be done and makes coach’s job a lot more fun, not having to make people do stuff. We all love playing and we all love the work we have to do to get there.

BHJ: As a four-year senior, do you feel like a lot of the younger players come up to you asking you for advice?

Letava Whippy is the only four-year senior and returning starters on this years team. Photo: Bob Dea)

Letava Whippy is the only four-year senior and returning starter on this year’s team. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LW: Definitely. All of the time. It’s funny, they ask how I dealt with things that they are going through now. I kind of had to laugh because it is the exact same things that I went to my seniors when I was a freshman to ask. I think they kind of just told me that you just have to take it in stride and keep going. As much as I would love to say that to them sometimes, the younger girls I’ve learned to take them under my wing and to be with them more instead of saying suck it up, this is what you have to do. Not many people respond to that well. You find a way to communicate with everyone and everyone is different. It’s been a learning experience for me too. I’m just grateful to be able to lead these group of girls.

BHJ: Is it fair to say last year, the defense once again was ahead of the offense?

GS: Yeah, it was without a doubt and it is going to be that way again this year. We are putting in a new offense so we are even further behind offensively than we were. We’re working putting stuff in pressing-wise (on defense) that going to be different too so I feel like we are further behind on everything this year than last year. Hopefully, we are taking a little bit more time. I felt like last year, it had been a while since I had that many new kids and I think last year instead of taking time and putting stuff in and making sure it was right, I wouldn’t always get it all the way right and I would more on to the next thing. Before Christmas we had to go back and fix a bunch of things that the kids had not mastered. We moved on before they had really fix the problem so this year we are trying to move a little bit slower. That makes me feel like we are further behind but hopefully the stuff we are putting in, the kids will understand better.

BHJ: Letava is the only returning starter from last season, I’m guessing there will a lot of competition for minutes this season?

GS: This may be the most competitive group of girls that I have ever coached. They want to win if it’s Monopoly, they don’t really care what it is. They want to compete in everything that they do. They are competitive about who gets to the gym first, who leaves the gym last. They are competitive in everything that I can think of. I think that’s a good thing. A little bit of will die out when we start having to shift teams and kind of end up with our top eight, nine, ten. That is what you hope is going to happen, that the role players really buy in, if they don’t buy in then your team is not really all that successful.

BHJ: Who will be running the point guard position for your team this season?

GS: That’s a good question. It is still up in the air. We got Ashley (Brown) back, she had a concussion all of last year. We have a freshman, Paris Jones, who is from California and we have Shanice Vaughn, she is our only New York kid, she is from Brooklyn. She transferred in, she went to junior college in Texas and then came back. We have some kids that can do it. I think the only one you can say is a true point guard is Paris. The style of play we are going to be playing we are going to have a true point guard playing all of the time. To be honest with you, Letava was great helping. Kelly (Robinson) was the point guard (last season) but Letava helped bring the ball up a lot and she will be asked to do that again this year.

BHJ: Letava, is being a point-forward of sort, something you are comfortable doing? You like having the ball in your hands?

LW: Yup. I do what I need to basically. Whatever I’m asked to do, I’ll do it.

BHJ: Moving on to the front court, Fanny Cavallo and Cleandra Roberts are gone, what are the changes you need to make up front?

GS: Well, we have Jolanna Ford, she is junior college kid that has been doing a good job. Angel (DeAngelique Waithe), a freshman kid from Florida is extremely athletic. She is got a lot of stuff to learn. We have two returners in Jahmia Phillips and Mercedes Harris. It will be interesting because we are doing a four out/one in. Letava is actually going to be our four player. We moved a lot of three players to fours because we had an abundance of twos and threes. We don’t have a lot of point guards, we don’t have a lot of five players but we have a bunch of twos and threes so Letava and another young lady is going to play the four. It will be interesting to see how that works. I think it is going to be an advantage for us offensively, it could be a disadvantage defensively. If we take advantage of it, it could be really good for us.

BHJ: Is it fair to say the depth of this team is improved?

GS: There is a lot more depth. I think our five position is not real deep. I think our point guards, we have people who can play it but aren’t a lot of true point guards. But the two and threes and fours, I mean that is why they are competing so hard because there are a lot of people that can play those positions and play them well.

BHJ: How has Sophie Bhasin progressed from his freshman year up to now?

GSSophie has matured a lot. She has become a better basketball player, a better well-rounded player. She has always been a scorer, kind of hot and cold but she has put herself in a situation this year where she is going to be consistent. Her defense is still lacking but it is much, much better than it used to be. She can guard somebody, she can guard the ball a little better. She is rotating, when she gets beat, she rotates off. She knocked two balls down the other day in practice. She is playing a lot harder, a lot faster. Offensively, she has always been skilled. Hopefully she’ll be more consistent. She has been in practices so far.

BHJ: What do you think about the NEC this year?

GS: I think it is going to be extremely competitive. I would say the top three in the conference are Robert Morris, Sacred Heart and St. Francis Brooklyn. They got experienced players. They should be in their own little group. I think the rest of the league, throw the names in a hat and pick. Wagner also has some real good upper classmen. I would put them in the top four. All the other six of us, almost everybody lost seniors that were really, really good. It is going to be who gets the best chemistry, who shows up every night to play, who progresses from now until conference play start because I think everybody has got talented kids but none of us are very good right now because there are so many new kids. Where we’re at when conference play start will be most important. We are going to have some bumps in the road. We are going to have some close games. We are going to lose some games. This group is so competitive and we have more depth that I think it will be a little bit more different. I don’t foresee us going through the struggles we went through last year. We still are going to have ups and downs. I think this team will progress a little bit faster.

2014-15 LIU Brooklyn Women’s Basketball Preview

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The LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball team enter the 2014-15 season in almost the same fashion they entered the 2013-14 season, a team that looks to be better than the previous season but still with a bunch of question marks.

No doubt last season ended better than the 2012-13 season did. LIU Brooklyn was able to improve their total win total from 7 to 9 and went from having 4 NEC wins to 7 NEC wins last season. They also qualified for the NEC tournament last season as an eight-seed which is something they failed to do two seasons ago.

Yet, plenty of question marks still surround this team. In fact, it is probably fair to say that there are even more question marks going into this season than they had going into last season. LIU loses NEC first-teamer Cleandra Roberts and her 18.2 ppg and 7.7 rpg averages and bring back just one starter from last season.

For the second season in a row, the women’s basketball team is going through significant roster turnover as similar to last season, LIU Brooklyn’s head coach Gail Striegler has eight returnees and seven newcomers on this season’s roster. LIU lost four seniors who graduated after the end of last season and lost another pair of players who transferred.

Let’s check what the 2014-15 LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball team has in store for this season.

The Returnees

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#4 Senior guard Letava Whippy is the lone returning starter for the LIU Brooklyn Women’s Basketball team. (Photo: Bob Dea)

As I mentioned, LIU Brooklyn has just one starter returning back this season in senior guard Letava Whippy (8.0 ppg/6.0 rpg). She started in all but one game for the Blackbirds last season and logged the most minutes of any returning LIU player from a year ago. She collected a pair of double-doubles and scored a season-high 18 points against Monmouth. Another key returnee, although she didn’t start in a single game last season, is junior guard Sophie Bhasin (10.6 ppg). She finished second on the team in scoring and scored a season-high 26 points against Northern Arizona. It would be hard to imagine Bhasin not cracking the starting lineup this season. After these two though, the amount of returning production tales off dramatically. Sophomore guard Shanovia Dove (1.5 ppg) played in 28 games but only averaged 6.8 minutes per game. She did score 11 points in 20 minutes in a win versus Wagner. Backup point guard Demi Tomlinson (1.4 ppg) played in only 19 games her freshman season although she might get a chance to be the starter this season with the departure of Kelly Robinson. Sophomore guard Brianna Farris (1.2 ppg) played in only 17 games and averaged just 3.7 mpg last season. Sophomore forward Mercedes Harris (0.6 ppg) played in 27 games but averaged just 7.4 minutes per game. She only took 18 shots all season long, making just four although she did have a ten-rebound game against Maine. Redshirt senior Ashley Brown returns after playing in just two games last season due to injury. Also returning is junior forward/center Jahmia Phillips who missed all of last season and has played in just five games in her college career thus far. At 6’3″, she is the tallest player on the LIU roster.

The Newcomers

The LIU Brooklyn 2014-15 freshmen class. (Photo - Top L: G Paris Jones/ Top R: F DeAngelique Waithe - Bot L: G/F Stylz Sanders - Bot R: G Drew Winter -

The LIU Brooklyn 2014-15 freshmen class. (Photo – Top L: G Paris Jones – Top R: F DeAngelique Waithe – Bot L: G/F Stylz Sanders – Bot R: G Drew Winter –

Four freshmen and three junior college transfers make their debuts for LIU Brooklyn this season. First off is point guard Paris Jones. Jones scored 13.4 points, dished out 2.9 assists and grabbed 2.3 steals per game last season for Santiago HS in Corona, CA. Jones could be in competition for the open starting point guard position. Forward DeAngelique Waithe played in 22 games for her high school East Lee County in Florida. She averaged 18.3 points and 2.3 rebounds per game last season. She could very likely see plenty of playing in front court this season if not have a chance to start. Guard/Forward Stylz Sanders played in 31 games last season for her high school Mansfield Summit HS in Texas. She averaged 11.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game her senior season. Guard Drew Winter is the only local in this freshman class. The Plainfield, NJ native averaged 18.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.9 steals per game her senior season.

Now on to the juco transfers and we start with junior forward Angelia Allen. She played in only eight games last season for Northeast Mississippi Community College. She missed her team’s last 15 games. She averaged 12.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per games while she was in the lineup. She shot under 30% from both the field and beyond the three-point line. Junior guard Shanice Vaughan played in 31 games last season for Paris Junior College. She averaged 9.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting 44.4% from the floor and 23.7% from three. She scored a season-high 18 points last season. Lastly, junior forward Jolanna Ford comes from New Mexico Junior College where she averaged 7.0 points and 4.9 rebounds in 30 games played last season. She went for 18 points twice last season. She shot 37.5% from the field but just 16.7% from three.

The Coaching Staff

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LIU Brooklyn Head Women’s Basketball Coach Gail Striegler enters her seventh season in Downtown Brooklyn. (Photo: Bob Dea- BHJ)

Head coach Gail Striegler returns for her seventh season at the helm of the LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball team. Her overall record at LIU is 87-94 (.481 win %). LIU has gone 16-43 the last two seasons after averaging nearly 18 wins per season her first four years.

Lisa Pace will begin her fifth season at LIU.This will be her fourth season as LIU’s associate head coach. Terrell Coburn begins his fourth season as an assistant coach at LIU. Former Columbia women’s head coach Paul Nixon joins Striegler’s staff this season as an assistant coach. Nixon was Columbia’s head coach from 2005 to 2012. His best season at Columbia was in 2009-10 where he took the Lions to an 18-10 record. Finally, Hillary Spears joins LIU Brooklyn for her first season as Director of Basketball Operations. Spears comes for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever where she was previously their Basketball Operations Intern for the 2013 season. She played her college ball at Division II University of South Carolina-Aiken. Both Nixon and Spears replace Erin Geary and Chelsea Wolf who were part of last season’s staff.

The Schedule

LIU Brooklyn start their season on Sunday, November 16th on the road at Maine. They open their home schedule on Thursday, November 20th against former NEC rival Monmouth at the Steinberg Wellness Center. They then host their annual LIU Turkey Classic on Thanksgiving weekend with La Salle, Rhode Island and Towson all participating. December starts with a home game versus Rider and then a pair of road games against Columbia and NJIT. LIU returns back home to face Howard and Buffalo before going out west to California to close out non-conference play against Long Beach State and Cal State Bakersfield.

The Blackbirds open NEC action in January with a pair of home games against Bryant and Fairleigh Dickinson. They then head to Staten Island to face Wagner and then return home once again for another pair of games versus Sacred Heart and Mount St. Mary’s. The Mount St. Mary’s game will be played at the Barclays Center. After four games out of five at home to start the NEC season, LIU hits the road for four straight games starting with Central Connecticut State before moving on to Fairleigh Dickinson, Bryant and then St. Francis Brooklyn. LIU returns back to the Steinberg Wellness Center for a three-game home stand which starts with Central Connecticut State and then move on to games against Saint Francis (PA) and last season’s NEC champions Robert Morris. LIU heads to Pennsylvania for a pair of road games against Saint Francis (PA) and Robert Morris before returning home to face Wagner. LIU closes out the road schedule with a pair of games against Mount St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart before closing out the 2014-15 schedule with the annual Battle of Brooklyn game against St. Francis Brooklyn at the Steinberg Wellness Center.

The NEC women’s basketball tournament begins on Saturday, March 7 and the final will held on Sunday, March 15.

Season Outlook

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#14 junior shooting guard Sophie Bhasin is LIU’s top returning scorer. (Photo: Bob Dea- BHJ)

With just one returning starter on a team that finished 9-21 last season and with another round of eight new players brought into this program, it might be hard to see where there is going to be tremendous improvement record-wise over last season. On paper, the recruiting class that Coach Striegler has brought into LIU this season seems to be a very good one which will help the overall program and continue the steady improvement this team had last season. Yet, there are question marks on who will carry the offense for the Blackbirds. Sophie Bashin is probably the likely candidate but she will have to have better shooting percentages from both the field (32.8 career FG%) and behind the three line (31.8 career 3FG%).

Also, who will run the offense for LIU? Kelly Robinson is gone so their is opening at the starting point guard spot. The competition in preseason for that spot should be fierce but there won’t be a lot of experience coming from that position this season. Also, who does Coach Striegler have to rely on in the front court? Will she go with the juco transfers she brought in or will she let her young and relative inexperienced sophomores and freshmen play and learn as they go along. It will be interesting to see what she does.

Last season, LIU Brooklyn finished last in the NEC in scoring offense (59.6 ppg), seventh in field goal percentage (38.9%), ninth in three-point field goal percentage (28.2%), and last in assist-to-turnover percentage. They scored 0.84 points per possession in just under 71 possessions per game. They have to get an improvement out of the offense and get points on the scoreboard to give themselves a chance in games.Their defense was second-best in the NEC in points allowed (64.0) and points allowed per possession (0.91). If they can continue playing tough defense and just get their offense up to par, then LIU should see an improvement in their overall record and in their final conference standing.


If this team can find their offense early then I believe they can surprise this season and get back to double-digit wins for the season. If the offense once again struggles this season like it has in the last couple of seasons, then it is just going to be more of the same.

I believe we will see Sophie Bashin and Letava Whippy getting themselves on to one of the All-NEC teams at the end of the season and possibly see one of the freshmen make it on to the All-NEC rookie team.

I feel that they can get more wins from their non-conference schedule than they did a year ago where they only got two wins. I think they should at least equal the seven NEC wins they got a season ago and it would be considered a success if they finish as a .500 team in conference.

I’m going to say, the LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball team will finish with at least five non-conference wins and will go just fall short of .500 in conference at 8-10 and get either themselves probably either a seven or eight-seed in the NEC tournament. I predict a 13-16 final record which for them would be a four-game improvement over last season.