It has been a rocky non-conference season for the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds in 2013. It had many more downs than ups but things might finally be looking up for Jack Perri’s squad as they close out non-conference play and 2013 portion of their schedule with just their second road win of the season with a 73-64 win at Texas State to finish off 2013 at 5-9.
To the delight of LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri, he got two more bodies back from LIU sweatsuits and into LIU uniforms, both of them a bit of a surprise. One is freshman Joel Hernandez who briefly made his LIU Brooklyn debut in the first half playing in just one minute after missing the first 13 games with a hip injury. The other and more importantly, the return of Gilbert Parga, who was thought to not return until NEC play on January 9th with a strained achilles, was back in the LIU lineup against Texas State and he was surely missed.
Parga showed no ill-effects of his injury as he drove through the lane numerous times in this game and got banged around, drawing fouls and also drained a couple of long deep threes. He was a perfect 2-2 from deep and was 4 of 5 from the field and finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds in 32 minutes in his first game back. It was definitely a welcome sight to see Parga back in the lineup.
The true star of this game for LIU was junior Landon Atterberry. He completed a stellar non-conference season with a new career high 22 points. He had 17 of those points at the half but he played well at both ends of the court. He hit threes, he hit long two-point jumpers, he hit from in close, he did it all. He had 6 rebounds, 2 steals and a block plus he had a couple of pass deflections and was a disruption on the defensive end, getting his arms up and making some Texas State guys miss from close. At this moment, Atterberry had to be in consideration for an All-NEC selection with his consistent and impressive play through the first two months of the season.
E.J. Reed once again got hit with the foul bug as he drew two quick fouls in the first 94 seconds of the game and had to sit out the rest of the first half. He came out of the second half on fire, getting six quick points on a pair of three-point plays. He attacked the basket and was able to get the whistle to go in his favor part of the time as he was able to get to the free throw line 9 times and was perfect from the line. He did foul out with 5:33 remaining and LIU up just one at the time. He played just ten minutes but ended up with 15 points, all in the second half.
Reed has now fouled out of back-to-back games and has also fouled out of five games this season already. Reed still has to learn how to play under control and not keep drawing cheap early fouls which takes him out of games for stretches at a time. If he doesn’t get his fouling under control, he could end up losing his starting spot and be forced to come off the bench when Julian Boyd returns and is fit enough to start once again. The move would be as protection from himself and for Perri to get the most out of his minutes on the court if he is just going to continue playing the way he has and getting himself into foul trouble.
Jason Brickman had an off-shooting night after his career-high 26 points against Sam Houston State on Saturday. Brickman was 1 of 6 from the field and finished with just 6 points. He did match his season average with 10 assists and had just one turnover after 9 turnovers against Sam Houston State. He also matched a season-high four steals.
The Blackbirds protected the ball much better against Texas State with just 11 turnovers after coming off their season-worst 28 turnovers against Sam Houston State. They were a still a -11 in rebounding margin. LIU did have 7 steals.
Texas State were led by Brooklyn’s own Joel Wright in his return from a two-game team suspension with 18 points. A pair of freshman had impressive games for the Bobcats. Kavin Gilder-Tilbury finished with 12 points and had a pair of thunderous dunks. Emani Gant finished with 11 and had a couple of nice finishes of his own.
LIU held Texas State to 38% shooting for the game and 4 of 14 from three. The Blackbirds was finally able to hold an opponent to under 1.0 ppp as Texas State had just 0.947 ppp (68 possessions). LIU scored 1.06 ppp (69 possessions) on 45% shooting.
LIU was able to score 23 points off the bench mostly in part from Parga and Troy Joseph’s 5 points. LIU did give up 18 second chance points while only having 7 of their own.
The Blackbirds can now use this win as a stepping stone into the NEC season as they take the next ten days off to rest and prepare for what will likely be another wild year in the NEC. Also, there is could be a possibility that LIU Brooklyn could have 2012 NEC Player of the Year Julian Boyd back in their lineup for the NEC opener at St. Francis Brooklyn on January 9th. Boyd as we all know by now is attempting to return to the court after two ACL surgeries in under a year. It would be almost a medical miracle if we get to see Boyd back in the next few weeks.
LIU could be getting healthy at the right time and they are going to need all the healthy bodies they can get as they will start the NEC season in tough fashion with a pair of tough road games against a upcoming and right now, the best team in the NEC with 10 wins heading into conference play, St. Francis Brooklyn and the team that was the preseason pick to win the NEC, in Wagner. It would be great to see LIU in near full strength as they enter the conference season. This game was a nice step in that direction and it can hopefully springboard the Blackbirds to a much-needed fast start to this newly reduced 16-game NEC season.