LIU Brooklyn MBB NEC Gameday Opponent Breakdown – Game 14 – Fairleigh Dickinson Knights

Opponent: Fairleigh Dickinson Knights

Record: 7-19 (2-11 NEC, last); Last game: Loss vs St. Francis Brooklyn, 85-61

KenPom Rank/RPI: 329/292

Time: 4:30 PM

Location: Wellness Center, Brooklyn, NY

TV/Web/Radio Coverage: Web: NECFrontRow.com / Radio: Red Zone Media (LIU)

History between teams: 95th meeting. All-time series is tied at 47 each. LIU Brooklyn has won the last ten meetings.

Game Notes: Fairleigh Dickinson / LIU Brooklyn

Who to watch for on Monmouth:

#44 Kinu Rochford – 6’6″ – F – Sr. – 14.8 ppg/9.2 rpg/57.8 FG%/68.6 FT% – Scored season and career-high 32 pts vs Longwood, scored 20 pts vs St. Francis Brooklyn in last game.
#5 Melquan Bolding – 6’0″ – G – Sr. – 14.2 ppg/4.6 rpg/41.3 FG%/67.8 FT% – Scored season-high 22 pts twice, last time vs LIU Brooklyn, scored 5 pts vs St. Francis Brooklyn in last game.

Matchups to watch: 

Kinu Rochford & Melquan Bolding vs Jamal Olasewere & C.J. Garner: In the first meeting back at FDU, Rochford & Bolding combined for 36 points and 10 rebounds while Olasewere & Garner combined for 53 points and 20 rebounds with Olasewere getting 30 & 16 himself. Rochford has 7 for 9 in their last meeting, the most efficient out of the four. Rochford is a lot to handle as is Olasewere. Garner has been hot while Bolding has been more up and down of late. The duo with the bigger game will more than likely be victorious.

Outlook:

This game features two teams going in opposite directions. While LIU Brooklyn has won 9 of their last ten and are just .5 game back of first-place Bryant, FDU now sits at the bottom of the NEC as they are mired in a ten-game losing streak. It is crazy to think FDU was once .500 in the NEC at 2-2 before this ten-game slide.

Yet, this is the same FDU team that would have beaten LIU if not for a couple of missed FDU free throws late and a clutch three-pointer by Brandon Thompson to send the game into overtime and eventually getting a 79-75 win. The fortunes of both teams’ seasons went in reverse after that game. FDU has still yet to win while LIU started rolling after that game and have gone on to win eight of the next nine.

This could be FDU’s head coach Greg Vetrone last season at the school. In now his fourth season since replacing NEC Hall of Fame coach Tom Green, Vetrone is a combined 26-90 including a 19-50 in NEC play. His best season was his first year at FDU in which his team went 11-21 and 10-8 in conference, his only winning year in NEC play. His team made the NEC Tournament that season finishing with a 5-seed and losing to LIU in the NEC quarterfinals by two. But since then, his teams hasn’t won more than three games in conference.

The Knights fared pretty well out of conference this season going 5-7 and they were once 7-9 before this losing streak derailed their season. One player who has had a really good season despite the record of the team is senior forward Kinu Rochford. Rochford leads the team in scoring, rebounds and blocks and is second in field goal percentage. He is tied with SFC’s Jalen Cannon and Quinnipiac’s Ike Azotam for the NEC-lead in double-doubles with ten.  The biggest problem with Rochford is he is very foul prone. In fact, his 84 fouls account for 17.95% of his teams’ fouls which is fourth in the NEC. Ironically, LIU has two players in E.J. Reed (1st) and Jamal Olasewere (3rd) in the top three. Fouls have limit Rochford’s playing time to just under 30 minutes a game and he has fouled out of five games this season. Similar to LIU and Jamal Olasewere, FDU has to play a somewhat differently without their main guy on the floor.

Melquan Bolding is FDU’s number two guy. He is just behind Rochford in scoring and is also second on the team in rebounding. He was having a very good and consistent season until the last six games where he has had three games with seven or less points including a two-point game versus CCSU. Lonnie Robinson is averaging just under ten points per game but lately has been coming off the bench and is in the middle of a tough stretch where his production has decreased. On Thursday versus SFC, he only played two minutes and didn’t score. He scored 16 points in the last meeting between FDU and LIU so he is capable of doing damage.

FDU is currently ninth in the NEC in scoring offense at 65.8 points per game. They score 0.93 points per possession which is tied for ninth with Wagner. They shoot the ball rather well for a team in last place with an effective field goal percentage of 50% which is good for fifth in the NEC. They are fourth in the NEC in shooting threes at 36.5% just under LIU’s 36.9%. Where they get hurt is in rebounding, they are eleventh in the NEC with 26.7 rebounds per game. They also commit the second-most turnovers of any NEC team. They are last in the NEC in scoring defense (77.3 ppg allowed) and points per possession allowed (1.1 ppp).

The Blackbirds have been getting get great play from their two biggest scorers, Jamal Olasewere and C.J. Garner. Olasewere has not scored fewer than 17 points in the last seven games. He has also grabbed at least seven rebounds in six of those seven games. He has been shooting at a 63% clip over that span and has made 73% of his free throws. Garner has scored 54 points over the last three games, making 53% of his shots.

Freshman E.J. Reed had a wonderful game versus Monmouth with 11 points and 8 rebounds in 23 minutes before fouling out with just over a minute left. He continues to do solid work off the bench. Troy Joseph has seen his playing time increase to nearly 20 minutes a game over his last six games. In his last two games, he has averaged seven points and 5.5 rebounds. Jason Brickman with nine assists versus Monmouth remains first in the NCAA in assists with 8.4 assists per game, .2 ahead of Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams.

If LIU can keep Kinu Rochford from dominating the glass and getting easy points and force the Knights to take tough outside shots, this game should be a little easier than what they had to face back in Teaneck in January. The Blackbirds need to take care of business against the Knights. After FDU, the schedule ramps up greatly for the final four games of the regular season. There are so close now to erasing that 0-3 start from January, they can’t afford to overlook the Knights and play another sloppy game like they did against Monmouth on Thursday with their 25 turnovers. FDU can shot it so LIU needs to limit the Knights’ possessions and not give them extra opportunities. If LIU takes care of the ball and does what they need to do defensively and on the glass, then with some good results yet again, they could be sitting in first-place by the end of the night. First things first, beat the Knights!

Ken Pomeroy’s Game Projection:

Ken Pomeroy on his website has LIU Brooklyn beating FDU by a projected score of 87-69 with a 91% probability of a LIU Brooklyn win.

Up Next:

The Blackbirds begin a difficult four-game end of regular-season stretch with a road trip to Emmitsburg, MD to take on a on-charging Mount St. Mary’s team where they have been hard to beat at home on Thursday, February 21st. Tip is scheduled for 7:00 pm. 

%d bloggers like this: