Blackbird Gameday Report – Game 9 – NJIT Highlanders

Opponent (Conference Affiliation): NJIT Highlanders (Independent)

Record: 6-5; 3-2 at home; Last game: Loss at Seton Hall, 71-55

Current KenPom Ranking: 280 out of 351 (LIU Brooklyn: 270 – no change from last game)

Time: 7:00 PM

Location: Fleisher Athletic Center, Newark, NJ

TV/Web/Radio Coverage: Web: Highlanders All Access

Meeting History: 3rd all-time meeting. LIU leads series 2-0. Last meeting: @ LIU Brooklyn, 84-74, W (2011-12)

Game Notes Links: LIU Brooklyn

NJIT Players to Watch:

1. Damon Lynn #5 – 5’11” Guard – Fr. – 18.9 ppg/3.1 rpg/40.1 FG%/37.6 3FG%/35.1 mpg
2. Terrence Smith #15 – 6’6″ C/F – So. – 13.6 ppg/6.0 rpg/54.7 FG%/28.9 mpg
3. Ky Howard #0 – 6’3″ Guard – So. – 9.2 ppg/4.1 rpg/4.2 apg/53.3 FG%/50.0 3FG%/26.0 mpg

Matchup to Watch:  NJIT’s Damon Lynn vs LIU’s Jason Brickman

Game Report: 

NJIT is playing this season as the only NCAA Division I independent in the nation after their conference, the Great West, disbanded after last season. NJIT is pretty much using this season as almost an audition to try to get an invite into one of the Northeast low mid-majors in either the American East Conference or the Northeast Conference. They will play eleven games against teams from these two conferences this season.

NJIT is currently an impressive 6-5, playing all Division I teams thus far. Earlier this season, they went on a four-game winning streak with three of those wins coming on the road. They were on a two-game winning streak before it was snapped in their previous game to Seton Hall. This game is a start of a two-game homestand for NJIT.

The Highlanders currently score 71.4 ppg and give up 71.9 ppg. They shoot 48.2% from the field and 42.7% from three. They averaged over 30 rebounds a game so far this season and get over 5 steals and 3 blocks a game.

NJIT like to play at a pretty moderate pace. They get around 68 possessions a game. They average 1.043 points per possession on offense and give up 1.049 ppp on defense. Teams shot just over 40% against them while making just 33% of their three-pointers. They force 10.5 turnovers per game.

NJIT is one of the youngest teams in the nation. They had just one senior on their roster and he is out with an injury. The majority of their roster consists of sophomores and freshmens.

NJIT’s leading scorer is 5’11” freshman guard Damon Lynn. He has posted double figures scoring in all but one game this season. He has gone for 20+ points five times already this season including 27 points at Army. Lynn is not shy shooting the ball. He has already taken over 100 threes this season and is shooting 38% from deep. He will have the ball in his hands a lot as his usage percentage leads NJIT with 49.3%.

NJIT’s next best offensive threat is Terrence Smith. Smith, who is NJIT’s leading rebounder (5.5 rpg), started his season off with a bang with six-straight double digit scoring games including 24 points in a win against Lafayette. Since his hot start, he has just posted just one double digit scoring game when he put up 22 against Maine. He has averaged four points in his last two games. Which Smith will show up for this game is anyone’s guess?

Guard Ky Howard is NJIT’s leading assist man at 4.0 apg while scoring 8.7 ppg. He scored a season-high 17 points against NEC rival Central Connecticut State. Forward Winfield Willis is averaging 9.0 ppg but has fouled out of two games thus far and came close to fouling out on two more occasions.

LIU Brooklyn, who at 2-6, is off to their worst start to begin a season since 2001-02 season in which they started the season 0-16 before finishing 5-22 and then hiring former head coach Jim Ferry following the season. They are in midst of a two-game losing streak and are winless this season away from Brooklyn with their wins coming either at the Barclays Center or the Steinberg Wellness Center.

LIU Brooklyn’s Jason Brickman with his 802 career assists is just two assists shy of the NEC career assist record of Marist’s Drafton Davis with 804. He should get the NEC record in the first half of this game. Brickman is currently nearly 3 assists better than the current second-best assist player in the country, UMass’ Chaz Williams (7.5 apg). Brickman (9.9 ppg/10.3 apg) is currently on pace to possibly become just the second player EVER to average a double-double through points and assists. The only other player to do it was Southern’s (and former Brooklyn Nets head coach) Avery Johnson (11.4 ppg/13.3 apg).

E.J. Reed will need to bounce back after his poor, foul-plagued performance at Lehigh Monday night. The 6’6″ sophomore played only 10 minutes and scored just 3 points before fouling out for the second-straight game and third time overall this season. He leads LIU in fouls this season with 30 and he needs to do a much better job on defense and keep himself in games for LIU to get back to winning.

Landon Atterberry has been LIU’s most consistent player through the team’s first eight games. He had a team-high 15 points against Lehigh and has LIU’s best FG percentage with 55.1%. He has done this while defending the opposition’s biggest player most of the time and he has yet to foul out of a game this season.

Gilbert Parga is back from injury and is now LIU’s leading scorer at 11.8 ppg. He scored 13 points in his return. He had a good night with the exception of his free throw shooting where he was just 4 of 8 at the line.

LIU needs to see more consistency from their shooters Gerrell Martin and Troy Joseph. Martin is coming off back-to-back 3 for 10 shooting games and Joseph, although he grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds in the loss at Lehigh, needs to shot the ball a little more. Joseph had taken just 43 shots in eight games.

Chris Carter and Glenn Feidanga has stepped it up at different times off the bench when they have been called upon in recent games but they need the combination of Reed-Atterberry-Joseph to give them more than what they have been giving so far this season.

This will likely be another close battle for LIU, one that LIU really needs to get to break their road woes. It going to come down to defense and rebounding, something LIU has struggled with mightily this season. LIU did out-rebound Lehigh on Monday but gave up ten offensive rebounds to Lehigh which led to ten second chance points in a seven-point game. The Blackbirds also need to shoot the ball a lot better than they did against Lehigh. Shooting under 40% from the field and 27% from three isn’t going to win them a lot of games. They also can’t allow their opponent to win the free throw battle. Lehigh shot 35 free throws against them and were -10 in free throw differential. These will be the keys for LIU to get back in the win column before playing a coming back to Brooklyn for a brief homestand.

KenPom Score Projection: 75-72 NJIT (LIU Win Probability: 38%)

Next up for the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn returns back home to the Steinberg Wellness Center for the first of two straight games in Brooklyn as the Blackbirds takes on the Lamar Cardinals on Wednesday, December 18. Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm.

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