The Seton Hall Pirates played the role of the Grinch for LIU Brooklyn fans who came out to the Barclays Center on Saturday night. They came in and easily took care of the Blackbirds in a 89-58 defeat for LIU. In what was suppose to be a competitive game by many people’s accounts, including my own as well as KenPom pregame prediction which was it would be a four-point game, the Pirates decided to shoot lights out instead and leave with all the holiday joy out the back entrance.
The game actually started great for LIU Brooklyn. Jamal Olasewere started the game red hot. By the 13:29 mark of the first half, Olasewere already had 12 points and 3 rebounds, going 4 for 4 from the field and 4 for 4 from the free throw line. LIU Brooklyn had a 19-11 lead on Seton Hall before Seton Hall completely took over the game. The Pirates went on a 16-0 run midway through the first half that sealed the deal for the Pirates. LIU after a great offensive start, couldn’t connect on anything and had a hard time getting to rebounds. Then Jamal Olasewere got his second foul of the half at the 5:29 mark and Seton Hall put the game out of reach with a 19-8 run to finish the half and led by 19 at the break. The second half wasn’t any prettier as Seton Hall grew the lead up to 30 in the first five minutes of the second half and went on cruise control to an easy 31-point win.
“Obviously, not real pretty.” said LIU Brooklyn head coach after LIU’s second consecutive loss. “Things turned pretty quickly. Got very little out of my bench, got very little out of a lot of guys.” Outside of Jamal Olasewere who finished with a game-high 27 points and 9 rebounds, no one else for LIU Brooklyn hit double-figures. Olasewere, once again had to do most of the heavy lifting himself. After his fast 4 for 4 start, the Pirates held him to 5 for 13 the rest of the way. No one else was really able to give Olasewere a hand. The rest of the starting five, Kenny Onyechi, Brandon Thompson, C.J. Garner and Jason Brickman combined for 4 for 17 for the game for 13 points and 5 rebounds. Against any competition, that is not going to get it done especially a team from the soon-to-be-defunct Big East. Their bad shooting (35.8 FG%) lead to their worst offensive production of the season scoring only 0.78 points per possession. The Blackbirds were also 4 for 18 from behind the three-point arc and were out-rebounded 37 to 26 in the game.
The LIU Brooklyn defense gave another poor performance. It is the second straight game they have given up more than 1.2 points per possession as Seton Hall scored 1.224 points per possession, the highest points per possession total they have scored this season. The Blackbirds allowed Seton Hall to shoot a Pirates’ season-best 58.3% from the floor including 10 for 21 on threes. In the three games vs BCS conference teams (Maryland, Kentucky and Seton Hall), LIU allowed 1.268 points per possession and 61% field goal shooting, not a recipe for success versus higher class opposition.”We talked about taking away their threes, we did a poor job of that in the first half. We talked about rebounding being important and we did a really poor job of that. We didn’t do a real good job of tail-backing (offensive rebounding).” said Jack Perri, describing some of the things that went wrong for LIU. “We got to be better defensively, I talk about that all the time with our guys and we’ve been very inconsistent with that and today was no different.”
Yet, I can’t knock LIU for taking on a few of the big boys especially the national champs this season since they were knocked last season for their relative weak non-conference schedule and given a 16-seed in the NCAA tournament for it. They did show fight in both the Maryland and Kentucky games before succumbing to the their superior talent and athleticism but it seemed like versus Seton Hall after the 16-0 run and LIU down only by six, they didn’t have the swagger that they had in the other two games. There was no feel like they could hang in there and make a game of it.
One other lone bright spot in this game was the play of freshman E.J. Reed. Going us against bigger and much stronger guys, he had a nice game. In 21 minutes off the bench, he scored 8 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. E.J. Reed was given praise by Jack Perri for his effort. “He played really hard in the second half….I just saw it in his eyes, he wanted to play, he didn’t care what the score was and that was kind of what I was looking for. He showed up more than the other guys and I’m hoping I can get more of that out of him. He did make plenty of mistakes but then it is a learning experience for him so hopefully he’ll continue to grow.”
Jack Perri preached the importance of having Reed and sophomore Khalil Murphy step-up now with Julian Boyd out of the lineup. “The last two games have been a little bit of searching, playing some younger guys that have never played (for LIU before this season), you talking about Khalil Murphy and E.J. Reed who need to grow up pretty quickly now and they are making some mistakes but hopefully we got one more game before we start conference and then obviously it starts.”
A bit of a growing concern is Jason Brickman not shooting the ball enough. Against Seton Hall, he was held scoreless but shot the ball just once. This is his second time in the last three games he has been held scoreless and he has only shot a combined four attempts in those two games. In fact, in the last seven games, Brickman is only averaging just above four shots a game. “He talked about that with him all the time.” said Perri regarding Brickman. “It can be frustrating but at the same time he’s not real tall and when you’re playing against longer and taller opponents, I think he’s feeling like they are closing out harder than maybe we’re looking at on the sidelines. He just needs to got his feet ready I think and just get ready and he’s got to shot it because he is one of our better options as far as scoring.” LIU desperately need him to start filling it up because they need to find some second options beyond Olasewere.
Now, LIU Brooklyn takes a week off for the Christmas holiday and I think it comes at a very good time. They need the week to get away, get refreshed, regroup themselves and come back to practice after Christmas with a little more sense of urgency and they got to find that swagger that has been missing the last couple of games. They are back in action on Saturday, December 29 to close out the non-conference season. They head back to Texas once more, this time to take on Lamar before the craziness of the NEC season begins after the New Year.
Merry Christmas Blackbird Nation.