KenPom Rank/RPI: 270/240
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Wellness Center, Brooklyn, NY
History between teams: 26th meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads the all-time series, 16-9. Sacred Heart snapped an LIU five-game winning streak in the series with a win in the last meeting back on January 3rd.
Who to watch for on Sacred Heart:
#25 Shane Gibson – 6’2″ – G – Sr. – 21.2 ppg/4.2 rpg/43.7 FG%/87.8 FT% – Scored season 36 pts vs Quinnipiac, scored 30 pts vs Bryant in last game.
#12 Louis Montes – 6’4″ – G – Jr. – 14.2 ppg/6.5 rpg/47.2 FG%/69.4 FT% – Scored season and career-high 35 pts vs LIU Brooklyn, scored 16 pts vs Bryant in last game.
#4 Phil Gaetano – 5’10” – G – So. – 4.9 ppg/7.8 apg/34.5 FG%/83.3 FT% – Scored season and career-high 12 pts vs Wagner, scored 8 pts vs Bryant in last game.
Matchups to watch:
Shane Gibson vs Brandon Thompson/C.J. Garner: This is going to be a very challenging defensive assignment for both Thompson and Garner. Even though, his team has been struggling, Gibson has been on a major scoring tear. He is scoring an NEC-best 24.6 points per game in NEC games this season and is averaging 24.6 ppg over the last five games. As we have seen in the past, Gibson has the capability of single-handedly keeping the Pioneers in the game. With SHU in desperation mode, he might try to.
The Sacred Heart Scouting Report:
Here is a fact. The Sacred Heart Pioneers were once 6-2 in the NEC this season.
They were one of the surprises of the NEC season. They had a couple of guys out for the season with injuries and a couple of others in and out of the lineup with more injuries. Yet, they were still doing incredible well in conference. Then all of a sudden the roof caved in on their season. They have dropped five straight and have gone 1-7 since that 6-2 start. They went from a lock to become a top four seed to now fighting just to get into the NEC tournament next week.
The Pioneers are sitting tied for eighth place but are technically on the outside looking in on the NEC tournament in the nine seed. They are fighting with St. Francis Brooklyn for the 8th and final NEC playoff spot. They are coming into the Wellness Center desperately looking for a win to keep their fading playoff hopes alive.
Sacred Heart still have one of the best player in the NEC in senior shooting guard Shane Gibson. He is the top scorer in NEC play this season with his 24.6 ppg average and he is second among all NEC player in overall scoring at 21.2 ppg. Gibson has had 16 games this season where he has scored at least 2o points and in three of those, he dropped at least 30 points in a game. Although his shooting percentage isn’t as great as it was last season, he is still one of the best shooters in the NEC. He is still one of the best three point and free throw shooters in the NEC and if gets going, he becomes deadly as any college basketball player in the country. He should once again finish as an All-NEC first teamer at season’s end.
Gibson will need help from his supporting cast. Starting with junior guard Louis Montes who had a career game against a short-handed LIU team back in their first meeting in January. He scored 35 points on 13 of 17 shooting. If he has another monster game like that again, LIU will be in trouble. After Gibson, Steve Glowiak is the Pioneers’ next best three point shooter. He is shooting threes at a 37% clip this season. SHU’s point guard Phil Gaetano is second in the NEC and third in the nation in assists per game with 7.8 assists per game.
Sacred Heart is seventh in the NEC in scoring offense (69.9 ppg) and eighth in offensive points per possession (0.98 ppp). They are fifth in effective field goal percentage (49.5%), three point shooting (35.2%) and rebounding (31.4 rpg). Defensively, they are ninth in scoring defense (75.9 ppg) and tenth in points per possession allowed (1.07 ppp).
LIU Brooklyn Report:
LIU looks to get past the 0-2 week they had on the road last week which took them from being in a tie for second place to a three-way tie for third and currently sitting in the four seed. In both games, LIU’s second half defense let the Blackbirds down as they gave up halftime leads in both games. LIU had their second worst points per possession allowed game of the season vs Wagner on Sunday.
Jamal Olasewere rebounded from his nine point game vs Mount St. Mary’s to score 21 vs Wagner. C.J. Garner continued his stellar play with 22 points against Wagner. Jason Brickman had a great game offensively with 19 points and 7 assists but he committed a career-high ten turnovers against last season’s defensive player of the year Kenneth Ortiz of Wagner. Brandon Thompson has not scored in double digits in his last five games averaging just 4.4 ppg. LIU didn’t have a single player off the bench in either game last week score in double figures.
In case you missed it earlier this week, I went through what is at the stake for LIU in these last two home games as far as NEC tournament seeding goes.
LIU’s keys to the game:
– LIU is got to find a way to play a full 40 minutes of defense. The reason why they are in the predicament they are in is because of poor second half defense in their last two games. They can no longer afford to take any halves off from here on out on the defensive end.
– Cut down the turnovers. If LIU takes care of the ball and eliminate a lot of the sloppy turnovers they have been committing lately, they should be in decent shape.
– They need more production out of the bench. The bench has been quiet the last two games. They need to help out the starters in all facets. Scoring, rebounding and defense.
– Don’t let Shane Gibson go wild. This can’t be emphasized enough. If Gibson decides his want to do his Kobe or Jordan impression, LIU could be in deep trouble.
Ken Pomeroy’s Game Projection:
Ken Pomeroy on his website has LIU Brooklyn beating Sacred Heart by a projected score of 87-76 with a 80% probability of a LIU Brooklyn win.
The Blackbirds play their final game of the regular season at the Wellness Center against the Quinnipiac Bobcats. This is Senior Day and LIU Brooklyn will acknowledge the five departing seniors (Kenny Onyechi, Booker Hucks, Brandon Thompson, C.J. Garner and Jamal Olasewere). This is LIU’s winningest four-year class since LIU joined the Northeast Conference in 1981.