Record: 13-5, (6-1 NEC, 1st); Last game: Loss vs Sacred Heart, 87-76
KenPom Rank/RPI: 176/123
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: Chace Athletic Center, Smithfield, RI
TV/Web/Radio Coverage: Web: NEC Front Row
History between teams: 8th meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads all-time series 6-1. LIU has won the last five meetings.
Who to watch for on Bryant:
#12 Dyami Starks – 6’2″ – G – So. – 17.8 ppg/2.9 rpg/43.9 FG%/86.5 FT% – Scored career-high 29 pts vs Robert Morris, scored 28 pts vs Sacred Heart in last game.
#23 Alex Francis – 6’6″ – F – Jr. – 16.3 ppg/8.2 rpg/53.0FG%/62.9 FT% – Scored season-high 26 pts vs Central Connecticut State, scored 8 pts vs Sacred Heart in last game.
#5 Frankie Dobbs – 6’3″ – G – Sr. – 13.9 ppg/4.4 apg/43.6 FG%/77.6 FT % – Scored career-high 26 pts vs Robert Morris, scored 9 pts vs Sacred Heart in last game.
Matchups to watch:
Dyami Starks vs C.J. Garner. Both players can score in bunches. Both play a ton of minutes. Both have been playing extremely well of late. They will likely be matched up against one another defensively. This is definitely a key matchup to watch.
The Bryant Bulldogs have been the story in the NEC in the first half of this college basketball season. Bryant is currently in first place in the NEC with a 6-1 record. They had a six-game NEC win-streak and an eight-game overall win-streak snapped on Thursday by Sacred Heart on the road 87-76. Overall, Bryant is 13-5 and have a couple of nice wins under their belts including wins at Boston College of the ACC, at Lehigh who is currently undefeated in the Patriot League, at Robert Morris to open NEC play and one vs Wagner at home.
This game pits two of the best offensive teams in the NEC against one another. LIU Brooklyn is first in the NEC in points scored (77.0 ppg) and points per possession (1.07 ppp). Bryant is third in the NEC in points scored (72.8 ppg) and second in points per possession (1.04 ppp). Bryant is first in the NEC in field goal percentage (46.1%) and effective field goal percentage (52.7%), LIU Brooklyn is second in both (45.9 FG%, 52.5 eFG%).
The difference in the two teams lies in the defensive end. Bryant is fourth in the NEC in points allowed (70.3 ppg) while LIU Brooklyn is eleventh (77.3 ppg). Bryant is tied for fifth in points per possession allowed (1.02 ppp) while LIU is tied for ninth (1.08 ppp). Teams shoot an effective field goal percentage of 45% against Bryant (tied-5th) while LIU allows an effective field goal percentage of 49.5% (11th). Bryant will get stops on teams while LIU have let teams go on big runs against them.
Bryant is led by the big three: Dyami Starks, Alex Francis and Frankie Dobbs. Sophomore transfer Dyami Starks is Bryant’s leading scorer at 17.8 ppg which is fourth best in the NEC. The transfer from Columbia has come from seemingly nowhere to lead the Bulldogs. He shoots an effective field goal percentage of 54.5%. He has shot 137 three attempts so he isn’t shy to let ’em fly. Alex Francis is second on Bryant in scoring at 16.3 ppg. He has led Bryant is scoring the past two seasons. His offense comes from near the paint. He shoots 53% from the field. He is also the team’s leading rebounder at 8.2 rpg which is tied for fifth in the NEC. Francis as a freshman scored a career-high 43 points vs LIU. Last season, he scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Bulldogs loss to LIU. Frankie Dobbs is the senior point guard on this team. Dobbs is averaging 13.9 ppg and 4.4 apg. His effective field goal percentage is 54.5%. These three guys play a ton. All three are in the top 11 in the NEC in minutes per game. Head coach Tim O’Shea give these guys very little rest.
O’Shea really goes with mostly seven guys. There is very little depth on this team which is why the starters play so many minutes. Bryant isn’t big either with the only size coming from Francis (6’6″) and freshman reserve Vladyslav Kondratyev (6’8′). The rest of the major players are guards under 6’4″. The thing is they will shot plenty of threes and if they get hot which they have done a lot this season, they won’t be easy to beat.
LIU is coming off a big win in the Battle of Brooklyn vs St. Francis Brooklyn. The Blackbirds are on a four-game winning streak and have climb over .500 in the NEC at 4-3, tied for third place with Wagner and SFC.
LIU has been getting great play of late from Jamal Olasewere and Battle of Brooklyn MVP C.J. Garner. Both had 20 and 22 respectively vs SFC on Thursday. Olasewere is averaging 19.4 ppg and 10.5 rpg during this four-game winning streak. He is 27 for 48 from the field. He had three double-doubles in the last four games. Garner is averaging 20 ppg during this winning streak. He is 26 for 46 in field goal shooting including 8 for 11 from three in his last four games.
Jason Brickman is coming off his fifth 10 or more assist game after dishing out 11 assists vs St. Francis Brooklyn Thursday night. Brandon Thompson got his second-straight 14-point game and third in the last three games. E.J. Reed is coming off his 11th straight game where he has had at least three fouls. He has at least four fouls in six of the last seven games. After a hot stretch where he scored 14 or more points for five straight games, the freshman has cooled off averaging just 6.6 ppg in his last three games but he is playing hard. He just need to stay away from foul trouble.
The keys to this game will be can LIU do enough defensively to slow down the Bryant attack? They will need to have a defensive performance much like the one they had in the second half vs St. Francis Brooklyn. LIU can’t allow two of the Bryant’s big three to have big games. Sacred Heart in beating Bryant on Thursday did it by holding Dobbs and Francis to under ten points each. If either one has a big game along with Starks, it could get ugly for the Blackbirds. LIU will need for Olasewere to stay out of foul trouble and attack the rim and the glass. The magic number might be 40% as in the team who can shoot over over 40% from beyond the arc will likely win this game.
Ken Pomeroy’s Game Projection:
Ken Pomeroy on his website has Bryant beating LIU Brooklyn by a projected score of 87-78 with a 75% probability of a Bryant win.
The Blackbirds return back to the Wellness Center to face the St. Francis (PA) Red Flash on Thursday, January 31. Tip is scheduled for 7:00 pm.