Blackbird Gameday Report – Game 6 – Norfolk State Spartans

Opponent (Conference Affiliation): Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC)

Record: 5-2; Last Game: Win at Stillman College 105-83

Current KenPom Ranking: 228 out of 351 (LIU Brooklyn: 271 – down from 260 before last game)

Time: 2:00 PM

Location: Steinberg Wellness Center, Brooklyn, NY

TV/Web/Radio Coverage: T: NECFrontRow.com/R: Red Zone Media

Meeting History: 4th meeting all-time. Last meeting: @ Norfolk State, 73-62, L (2011-12)

Game Notes Links: Norfolk State – LIU Brooklyn 

Norfolk State Players to Watch:

1. Malcolm Hawkins #25 – 6’5″ Guard – Sr. – 18.6 ppg/4.1 rpg/42.4 FG%/42.9 3FG%/29.0 mpg
2. Pendarvis Williams #11 – 6’6″ Guard – Sr. – 18.1 ppg/6.1 rpg/3.7 apg/53.8 FG%/35.1 3FG%/31.0 mpg
3. Brandon Goode #23 – 7’0″ Center – Sr. – 11.0 ppg/6.4 rpg/3.1 bpg/63.0 FG%/23.0 mpg

Matchup to Watch:  NSU’s Guards (Hawkins & Williams) vs LIU’s Guards (Martin, Joseph, & Parga)

Game Outlook: 

The Blackbirds open their home season at the newly-renamed Steinberg Wellness Center against the Norfolk State Spartans who are coming off back-to-back 20 wins seasons and are off to a 5-2 start to their season although three of their wins have come against non-Division I opponents.

NSU enter this season with an interim head coach in Robert Jones who took over for Anthony Evans who left NSU for Florida International back in April. It is Jones’ seventh season coaching at NSU.

The Spartans enter this game with LIU with four players averaging double-digits in scoring although one (Rashid Gaston) has missed the last four games. They are led by senior guard Malcolm Hawkins who is averaging 18.6 ppg while shooting 42% from the field. Hawkins has scored at least 10 points in every game so far this season including 32 pts vs Texas Southern. Their second-leading scorer is senior guard Pendarvis Williams who is averaging 18.1 ppg and grabbing 6.1 rpg. Williams is shooting 53% and has twice gone off for 30+ points including in their last game vs Stillman College where he scored 32. Another double-digit scorer is 7’0″ center Brandon Goode who is scoring 11 ppg and pulling down 6.4 rpg. Goode is currently on a scoring tear with three straight double-digit scoring games including 22 points in their previous game.

In what is becoming a sort of trend among LIU’s opponents this season, NSU is the highest scoring team among MEAC teams, scoring 88.4 ppg. Also potentially troubling is that NSU is the second-best rebounding team among MEAC teams, grabbing 38.9 rebounds a game. LIU has been out-rebounded in every game this season. The Blackbirds have been getting out-rebounded by an average of 10 rebounds a game while averaging just under 32 rebounds a game. NSU is out-rebounding teams this season by six boards a game. NSU is scoring MEAC-best 1.13 points per possession (averaging nearly 68 possessions).

Defensively, NSU is allowing 81.9 ppg to their opposition, second most in the MEAC. Teams are shooting just 43.9% from the field against this pretty long Spartans team although they are allowing teams to shoot nearly 36% from three, making close to 9 three-pointers a game so LIU can exploit the Spartans from deep. NSU is allowing teams 1.13 ppp which ranks eighth in the MEAC.

LIU is heading to their Steinberg Wellness Center home opener reeling on the heels of a four-game losing streak including losing three straight games out west in California last weekend.

The Blackbirds struggled on both ends of the floor in all three games, losing by at least 15 points in every contest. Last weekend’s struggles comes as a disappointment after the season opening win against Saint Peter’s and near-upset of Indiana in Bloomington. The Blackbirds faced three teams last week who had a distinct size advantage and it resulted in three big losses.

NSU also has a pretty big roster. They have just one player who is under 6’4″. It is also a veteran team which has just two redshirt sophomores and no freshman on their roster. The Blackbirds have shown to struggles mightily with size in the games versus UC Irvine and Eastern Washington after a great showing against a tall Indiana squad. LIU is still trying to figure their rotation. They have had to play all ten active scholarship players especially with the foul troubles and the lack of front court depth at the moment.

LIU has four players scoring in double figures with E.J. Reed leading the way at 12.0 ppg. Reed is coming off a season-high 21 points vs Boston University. Gilbert Parga has been struggling shooting over the last three games going 4 for 18 but he has been getting to the free throw line the most so far with 35 FTAs, getting a majority of his points from the FT line.

Gerrell Martin has been inconsistent to start the year. After the 24-point season opener, he cooled down to score 10 points combined in the next two games before scoring 17 against Eastern Washington but had just 5 points in 19 minutes versus Boston U.  Landon Atterberry has been LIU most consistent player thus far and has had to go up against much bigger guys in the paint and has held his own to a degree with 10.4 ppg and 51.2 % FG shooting.

Jason Brickman is suffering from shooting woes to start the season. The normally reliable shooter is shooting just 35% from the field and 15% from three. Look for these numbers to go up sooner rather than later. Troy Joseph got his first start of his LIU career in the last game vs Boston U. in place of Gilbert Parga but didn’t produce much with just five points and three rebounds.

This is game LIU must come into it thinking it is a “must-have”. They need to stop the bleeding and halt the losing streak at four before going back on the road for three more games especially with games coming up at Seton Hall and at Lehigh.

The LIU offense has yet to find consistency due to the opponents they’ve had to play early on but now guys got to find their shooting stroke and the LIU defense has to show up. They finally have to break the streak of allowing teams to score above 1.0 ppp this season and they have to try and see if they can outrebound the Spartans which would also be a first this season. If LIU gets all these things worked out at the friendly confines of the Steinberg Wellness Center which they have lost just four times in the last three seasons, they should come out of it with a victory but if they can’t stop the Spartans on the defensive end, it could be another long afternoon for Jack Perri and his team.

KenPom Score Projection: 78-76, LIU Brooklyn (Win Probability: 54%)

Next up for the Blackbirds:

The Blackbirds will once again hit the road for the start of a three-game road trip. First up, a meeting with the Seton Hall Pirates at Newark’s Prudential Center on Thursday, December 5th. Tip is scheduled for 7pm.

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