We are nearly a month into into the college basketball offseason and unlike like last year for LIU Brooklyn, it has been a lot more drama free. By this time last year, LIU had a couple of players decide to transfer and had to deal with a head coaching change from Jim Ferry to Jack Perri. For the defending three-time Northeast Conference men’s basketball champions, other than recently landing two new commits for the upcoming year in guards Iverson Fleming and Joel Hernandez, getting word of Julian Boyd getting his sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA to play next season, and the recent name change of the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center to the Steinberg Wellness Center, it has been relatively smooth transition in preparation for the 2013-14 season.
As always during this time of the offseason, coaches are working on getting their non-conference schedule for the following season completed and finalized. This offseason present a bit more of a challenge for coaches in the NEC in terms of non-conference scheduling as coaches now have to schedule two more non-conference games as the NEC conference season is shorten from an 18-game schedule to a 16-game schedule for the upcoming season. Some NEC schools will probably have very little trouble getting two more non-conference games scheduled as they’ll likely an extra guarantee road game or two, get some guaranteed money for the university and the program in exchange for a blowout loss against a power conference school. For teams who finished at the bottom of the NEC last season, this is likely the route they will take but for good NEC teams going into next season like LIU, Robert Morris, Wagner, Mount St. Mary and Bryant, finding quality opponents will be a much more exhausting task.
With that being said, I thought I would have some fun and once again try my hand at playing schedule maker for LIU Brooklyn. Some of the games could be realistic, others will very likely have no chance of ever happening but it is all in good fun and who knows, a game or two might actually happen next season. Let’s take a hypothetical look at some non-conference games it would be awesome to see LIU Brooklyn play next season.
Power Conferences matchups
– UConn (AAC) – The Huskies weren’t allowed to play in their final Big East tournament or go to the NCAAs this past season. They return most of their roster that went 20-10 in ’12-’13 including Ryan Boatwright and Shabazz Napier. They will be amongst the favorites to be picked to win in the inaugural season of the new American Athletic Conference along with defending national champs Louisville. It is a drivable road trip for LIU fans and alums to make to get to either Storrs or Hartford for the game.
– St. John’s (Big East) – I called for this game last season but it didn’t happen. The Johnnies are going to be a much better team in ’13-’14 as they are going to have a loaded roster with players like D’Angelo Harrison, Chris Obekpa, JaKarr Sampson and a highly regarded recruiting class coming in, they will be considered a team to watch out for in the Big East next season. A game versus St. John’s at the Barclays Center would be awesome for LIU. It would be a really difficult game for the Blackbirds but it would do wonders for their strength of schedule.
– Indiana (Big Ten) – If LIU had gotten by James Madison in the NCAAs, the Hoosiers would have been the Blackbirds next opponent. Unfortunately, that game never happened. These two programs have still never faced one another. Even with the losses of Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo to the 2013 NBA Draft, Indiana is still going to be very solid next season. Indiana’s Assembly Hall is one of college basketball’s iconic gyms. Bloomington is only an hour drive from Indianapolis which makes it a manageable trip to take.
– Duke (ACC) – It is the team everyone loves to hate. I know I do. I think it would be awesome to play at Duke. You got the Cameron Crazies, the mystique of Cameron Indoor Stadium, Coach K patrolling the Duke sidelines. Duke as usual, will likely be a Top 5 starting next season. Playing Duke would only help LIU’s RPI and Strength of Schedule which took a dip this past season from the two seasons prior.
As much fun as it would be for any one of these matchup to happen, I wouldn’t got out and make travel plans for most of these destinations. The likelihood of seeing anyone of these game on the schedule for next season is very remote at best.
High Mid-Majors (Multiple bid mid-major conferences)
– Fordham (Atlantic 10) – Normally I wouldn’t put Fordham on this kind of a list because honestly there was no real reason to put them on it. But now that they have added a couple of big recruits including Jon Severe from Christ the King High School in Queens, it is probably is a good time to see LIU play Fordham once again. For being two NYC schools, they haven’t played each other much, just 13 times in their history dating back to 1937-38. I would think Fordham would only play this game at their gym at Rose Hill in the Bronx. It would be nice to see a two year home-and-home series between the two schools, at LIU in year one and then at Fordham in year two.
– Gonzaga/St. Mary’s/BYU/Santa Clara (WCC) – I would love to see LIU play anyone of these four teams from the West Coast Conference. I don’t really see this happening since it would mean a west coast trip for the Blackbirds but I would love to see it. LIU has not play out west since LIU played in a tournament out at Arizona State since the 2004-05 season. The WCC conference RPI was 10 in 2012-13.
– Rhode Island (Atlantic 10) – LIU would become reacquinted with former Wagner head coach Dan Hurley as he enters year two at URI. A little bit of the luster is taken away with brother Bobby Hurley leaving URI to become head coach at Buffalo. Rhody will be looking to break into the upper half of the Atlantic 10 next season in year two of the Hurley rebuilding. I think it would be a quality opponent for LIU against a coach the LIU staff and some of the players are familiar with.
Last year, I included Duquesne of the Atlantic 10 on this list after the news of Jim Ferry becoming the new head coach there. I thought it would have been a fun game to watch from a fan prospective. I didn’t add the Dukes this season because I don’t think the game and the matchup would have the same amount of appeal that it would have had it had been played this past season. Only four players remain on the LIU roster going into next season that he actually coached. I also think neither coaching staffs want to play this game which I understand. Hence Duquesne is officially off my board, although I wouldn’t have mind a possible Pittsburgh road trip. Could this game happen, of course but I don’t expect it.
Low Mid-Majors (One and done conferences)
– Stony Brook (America East) – The one local team LIU has not played in the last few years has been Stony Brook. In fact, LIU and Stony Brook have never played one another in their history. It is time to finally break this streak. Stony Brook has been the best team in the America East the last two years only to fall in their conference tourney and having to settle for two NIT appearances. Stony Brook will likely be among the favorites to win their conference once again next season.
– Harvard (Ivy) – Harvard has become the premier team of the Ivy League after winning the conference title back to back seasons. The Crimson won a NCAA tourney game this year and they will definitely be the favorite to win a third straight Ivy League title next season. This would be definitely be a challenging game for LIU, one that I wouldn’t mind see the Blackbirds take.
– Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun) – FGCU better known as Dunk City during their incredible run to the Sweet Sixteen in this year’s NCAA tournament is probably a team no power team wants to play but probably every mid-major team would like to take a crack at. You can’t tell me a game between high flying FGCU and run and gun LIU wouldn’t be a fun game to watch. I would pay good money to see this! Unlikely to happen though because I think FGCU is going to cash in on their popularity right now and play as many Top 125 RPI teams as they can. Can’t blame them.
Which schools would you like to see LIU Brooklyn play in the non-conference next season? Fell free to let me know in the comments!
(Editor’s Note: I originally started writing this post last week before the Kentucky and Kansas non-conference schedules were released. I originally had Kansas on the list but removed them once I found out that LIU wasn’t on their schedule. They ruined the fun. LIU played Kentucky last season which is why I didn’t include them again this season. They are though playing Robert Morris in a rematch of the RMU’s 2013 first round NIT win against Kentucky at RMU. Their rematch will be at Kentucky with a high powered Kentucky team with ton of returning and incoming talent. Kentucky will be #1 going into ’13-’14.)