KenPom Rank/RPI: 194/150
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: Spiro Sports Center, Staten Island, NY
TV/Web/Radio Coverage: TV: ESPNU
History between teams: 94th meeting. Wagner leads the all-time series 55-38. Wagner snapped a four-game series winning streak for LIU in last meeting.
Who to watch for on Wagner:
#23 Jonathon Williams – 6’6″ – F – Sr. – 14.5 ppg/6.6 rpg/50.9 FG%/79.2 FT% – Scored season and career-high 33 pts vs Coppin State, scored 16 pts vs St. Francis Brooklyn in last game.
#24 Latif Rivers – 6’1″ – G – Jr. – 13.2 ppg/2.5 rpg/43.6 FG%/76.5 FT% – Scored season-high 29 pts vs Quinnipiac, scored 10 pts vs St. Francis Brooklyn in last game.
#15 Kenneth Ortiz – 6’0″ – G – Jr. – 12.0 ppg/5.1 apg/43.6 FG%/70.1 FT% – Scored season-high 29 pts vs Quinnipiac, scored 10 pts vs St. Francis Brooklyn in last game.
Matchups to watch:
Kenneth Ortiz vs Jason Brickman: Round one at the Wellness Center went decisively to Kenneth Ortiz. Ortiz went off for 19 points and 11 assists against Jason Brickman who finished with 7 points and 7 assists. Round two should another duel between the two point guards. Both teams need their guys to have big games. Both are coming off of rather subpar games so both should be up big time for this game.
The Wagner Scouting Report:
Wagner has been a strange team this season. Much like LIU Brooklyn, they had big expectations this season. Unfortunate for them, they were hit with the injury bug pretty much from the start of the season. Until just recently, they haven’t had their full squad together, all healthy. Two of their start scorers, Latif Rivers and Jonathon Williams and one of their reserve players, Marcus Burton, all missed several games due to injury.
Now all three are back and healthy and Wagner looks to make a late charge to get at least one home game for the NEC Tournament. Wagner currently sits in fifth place, a game behind LIU Brooklyn for third and 1/2 game back of Quinnipiac for fourth.
The Seahawks started the season having an extremely had time scoring points. Over their last eight games they have turned their offense around as their team has come together. Wagner is scoring 81.5 points per game over that span including a 101-point game vs CCSU.
Their scoring attack is led by senior Jonathon Williams (14.5 ppg) and Latif Rivers (13.2 ppg). Williams is a great wing player while Rivers can shoot it from anywhere on the floor. Williams missed the first meeting due to injury but in two games vs LIU last season, he averaged 15 ppg. Rivers torched LIU in the first meeting for 20 points including 4 for 4 from three.
Wagner may have the most underrated player in the NEC in point guard Kenneth Ortiz. The junior guard had a tremendous game versus LIU in January. He had an amazing all-around game. He finished with 23 points, 11 assists, 4 steals and did a good job locking up his counterpart Jason Brickman in that game. Ortiz has triple-double potential. For a player 6’0″ tall, he is third on the team in rebounds at 4.3/game. He loves to grab rebound and rush upcourt on the break.
Wagner is a pretty deep team with a lot of athletic players. Marcus Burton is probably their top player off the bench. He can score in bunches and like to gets his teammates involved. Mario Moody is a always a highlight waiting to happen. He tore up LIU for 19 points in their last meeting including a few power dunks. Freshman Eric Fanning played in the first meeting might miss this game as he is currently on indefinite suspension by Wagner’s head coach Bashir Mason. Stepping up in his place has been freshman Dwaun Anderson. Anderson has shown some flashes as his appearances on ESPN’s SportCenter and the NEC 9 have shown. His problem is he is only a 33% and just a 16% shooter from three.
Wagner is currently ninth in the NEC in scoring offense (66.8 ppg) and point per possession scored (0.95 ppp) but they are first in the NEC in scoring defense (66.2 ppg) and first in points per possession allowed (0.94). They scored 1.184 ppp against LIU in the first meeting while giving up 1.058 ppp. LIU’s defense couldn’t contain the Seahawks hot shooting as they shot 59% against the Blackbirds as they were 9 of 10 from three setting a NEC record for 3-point field goal percentage (90%).
Wagner holds their opponents to an effective field goal percentage of just 40.5%, easily the best in the NEC. They’re also first in the NEC in blocks at 5.1 blocks per game. They’re fourth in steals and turnovers forced. They’re also tied for the most fouls committed per game at 20.3/game.
LIU Brooklyn Report:
HOT: LIU Brooklyn is coming off a tough 12-point loss at Mount St. Mary’s Thursday night. The star of that game was freshman E.J. Reed who had himself a career night. He scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. He was 10 of 12 from the field including 2 of 3 from three. C.J. Garner also got his 2nd 20-point game out of his last three games.
NOT: Jamal Olasewere. He is coming off a 9-point game where he played a foul-plagued 20 minutes. He turned the ball over four times and just had a hard time getting going. Will need to come out with a much better effort and go back to controlling himself against foolish fouls. For LIU to have a chance in this game, he has to play major minutes. Jason Brickman also had a subpar game. Six turnovers to six assists for the nation’s leading assist man against MSM. He also had issues converting layups and ended up 4 of 11 from the floor vs MSM. LIU needs him to get back on track in this big game vs Wagner.
LIU’s keys to the game:
– Win the battle of the point guards: Jason Brickman needs to have a much better game than he had against Mount St. Mary’s and in the first meeting against Wagner. He has to stay on Kenneth Ortiz and give him a hard time on the offensive end. If Ortiz gets going, it is going to be a long night for LIU.
– Protect the three-point line. The Mount torched LIU and Wagner destroyed LIU from three. LIU is got to contest on threes and close out on shooters. If LIU decides to leave Wagner shooters open, with the expected crowd they are going to have at home, it could get ugly quick.
– Defense! LIU needs to try and match Wagner’s defensive intensity. They are not going to make it easy for LIU so LIU can’t make it easy for them. Make them use the shot clock. Wagner has been less effective, the longer they take on a possession so LIU has to make them work.
– Keep the crowd out of it. It is important for LIU to get off to a good start. They started off a little slow vs the Mount but they recovered rather quickly to get a lead. Wagner is much better defensively than the Mount. So getting ahead early and staying ahead late is going to be imperative.
Ken Pomeroy’s Game Projection:
Ken Pomeroy on his website has Wagner beating LIU Brooklyn by a projected score of 74-69 with a 67% probability of a Wagner win.
The Blackbirds return back to the Wellness Center for their final homestand of the season as they take on the Sacred Heart Pioneers on Thursday, February 28. Tip is scheduled for 7:00pm.