Blackbird Gameday Report – Game 14 – (NEC Game 1) – St. Francis Brooklyn

liusfbkOpponent: St. Francis Brooklyn

Record: 9-6; 4-1 at home; Last game: Loss at Columbia, 81-61

Current KenPom Ranking: 213 out of 351 (LIU Brooklyn: 274 – up from 282 before previous game)

Date & Time: Thursday, January 9 – 7:00 PM

Location: Pope Physical Education Center, Brooklyn Heights, NY

TV/Web/Radio Coverage: Web: NEC Front Row

Meeting History: 99th all-time meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads series 62-36. Last meeting: @ LIU Brooklyn, 83-75, W (2012-13). LIU Brooklyn has won ten out of the last eleven meetings.

Game Notes Links: LIU Brooklyn – St. Francis Brooklyn

St. Francis Brooklyn Players to Watch:

1. Jalen Cannon #5 – 6’6″ Forward – Jr. – 14.8 ppg/8.1 rpg/46.2% FG/21.7 3FG%/29.5 mpg
2. Ben Mockford #3 – 6’2″ Guard – Sr. – 9.8 ppg/1.5 rpg/37.6 FG%/26.7 mpg
3. Wayne Martin #45 – 6’6″ Forward – Fr. – 8.5 ppg/5.3 rpg/50.0 FG%/16.7 3FG%/18.4 mpg

Matchup to Watch: LIU’s E.J. Reed vs SFBK’s Jalen Cannon

Game Report:

This is the 99th meeting between the two Brooklyn rivals. LIU Brooklyn has gotten the better end of this rivalry over the past six years as the Blackbirds are 10-1 over the last eleven meetings with their only loss coming in a 3OT game at the Wellness Center back in 2010.

For the first time in a while, the Terriers come into this game as the favorites. St. Francis Brooklyn was the most surprising team in the NEC during non-conference play as they ended up with the best record at 9-6. They had upset wins on the road against Miami (FL) and Stony Brook and nearly had one of the biggest upsets of the season with a 56-50 loss at Syracuse.

The calling card for St. Francis Brooklyn this season has been their defense. They are the best defensive team in the NEC through non-conference play. The Terriers allow the fewest points per game at 64.2 ppg and they are the only NEC team allowing under 1.0 points per possession with 0.94 ppp. Teams shoot an effective shooting percentage just under 41%, second-best in the NEC and force an NEC-leading 13.8 turnovers per game.

The Terriers though have their struggles offensively. They are second-worst in the NEC in points scored (63.7 ppg) and are tied for worst in the NEC in offensive points per possession with 0.91 ppp. They have the worst effective shooting percentage in the NEC with 43.3% and turn the ball over the most of any team in the NEC with a NEC-worse turnover rate of 18.7% with 14.1 turnovers/game. They have just one player scoring above 10 points per game.

When you think of Glenn Braica’s team, the first player you immediately think of is junior forward Jalen Cannon. Cannon is the unrivaled leader of this Terriers team. He leads St. Francis Brooklyn in points, rebounds, and minutes played. He is a player who can go for a double-double every game even though he has just two so far this season. After a hot start to his season averaging 16.3 ppg through his first eight games, he cooled off for three games where he averaged just 7.3 ppg but has picked it back up over the last four games averaging 17.3 ppg. Cannon’s shooting percentages are slightly off his career percentages. He shooting more threes this season but with minimal success through non-conference (5-23). He is though getting to the free throw line a lot this season. He is third in the NEC in free throws attempted with 99. He will be a tough matchup for either Landon Atterberry or E.J. Reed.

Another familiar name on the Terriers roster is senior shooting guard Ben Mockford. Mockford has been hampered this season with a back issue. He has come off the bench since his return to the lineup on December 23rd. Mockford’s game is mostly shooting the three-point shot. He has taken 81 threes so far this season but just hit under 35% of them. Mockford’s production has started to pick up as he is averaging 16 ppg over the last two games. He loves shooting on the move and taking what looks like fall away shots. He is a hot or cold player. He is either one or the other. He can shot the Terriers into games and easily shoot them out of it. You never know game to game what he will give them.

A player LIU fans might not be familiar with is freshman Wayne Martin. Martin debuted his college career with a bang. He had 17 points and 8 rebounds in his college debut vs Miami (FL). He has five double-digit scoring games in his first eight games of his career including 13 points against Syracuse. Yet, since his great start, he has come back down to Earth averaging 5.6 ppg over his last seven games. His minutes has also taken a hit as his production has decreased although he did score 9 points in 20 minutes in the Terriers’ last game against Columbia. Martin has a nice inside game and can shoot the mid-range shot. He also gets to the glass with 5.3 rpg so LIU will need to have a body him when he is in the game. He is going to add more to Atterberry’s and Reed’s plate.

Another St. Francis Brooklyn player who could have an impact in this game is freshman Sheldon Hagigal. Hagigal has started the Terriers’ last ten games. He had a six-game tear between November 24 to December 14 where he was averaging 13 ppg including a career-high 23 points against Monmouth. Since then, he has cooled off averaging 5.8 ppg over the last four games.

The Terriers also have quality guys coming off the bench with former starting point guard Brent Jones, who has an assist rate of 38.3% although his turnover rate is 29.7%, forward Lowell Ulmer, guard Alek Isailovic and freshman Amdy Fall who has a 10.2% block rate and is second in the NEC with 29 blocks.

For the LIU Brooklyn, they ended their non-conference season on a high note with a win against Texas State on December 30th. The Blackbirds have had ten days to prepare for this NEC opener.

Head Coach Jack Perri got back a pair of players from injury in Joel Hernandez who made his collegiate debut against Texas State and Gilbert Parga who returned from a strained achilles. But also LIU Brooklyn announced some bad news in this time with the announcement that sixth-year forward Julian Boyd’s LIU Brooklyn career is over after re-tearing his ACL for the third time in a year in a non-contact drill the day after Christmas down in Texas. He likely would have made his debut back in this game if he hadn’t re-injured his knee.

So with no return of Boyd this season, Perri has to continue with his short front court rotation of Landon Atterberry, E.J. Reed and Glenn Feidanga. He will have to continue to use Gilbert Parga and Troy Joseph at times in the four position with a lack of depth up front.

Foul troubles have been the story for most of the season with Atterberry and Reed. Combined these two players have fouled out seven times with Reed being the main culprit with five disqualifications including twice in the last two games. In the five games he has fouled out, he has played just 17.2 minutes per game and averaging 8.8 ppg. Reed have to get his fouling under control and keep himself in games. He has to be smart when to take a foul and when to just contest shots. Reed needs to start making this his team and he needs to start showing maturity and leadership beginning right now.

Defense and rebounding has been major issues for LIU all season long as well. LIU is the worst defensive team in the NEC. Teams score 82.3 ppg against them, only St. Francis University is worse. They are also give up an NEC-worse 1.16 points per possessions to teams. They have only held two teams to under 1.0 ppp this season (Lehigh and Texas State). LIU are still allowing teams to shot nearly 50% from the field. LIU has a rebounding margin of -4.8 rpg through non-conference play.

The keys for LIU to gets off to a winning start in NEC play against St. Francis Brooklyn:

1. LIU needs to get off to a quick hot start. If LIU can get up double-digits early and stave off a hard-defensive charge by the Terriers, LIU should control this game throughout.

2. Can’t let Terriers dominate the glass. They are a good rebounding team in fact second-best in the NEC in rebounds. LIU has to keep up boards on the defensive glass and not allow the Terriers to score a ton on second-chance points.

3. Force the Terriers to turn the ball over. The Terriers are a high turnover team who plays at a moderate pace at 67.5 possessions/game. If LIU can win the turnover battle and score off turnovers, that would be a good sign for the Blackbirds.

4. Can’t let both Cannon and Martin have big games. Cannon will likely get his points so it is going to be important to not let Martin get his points as well. If both these guys are scoring, LIU will likely be in for a long night.

It should be as it usually is when these two teams meet up, another fun one to watch. FYI, St. Francis Brooklyn and LIU Brooklyn students will be still on winter break so it will be interesting to see what kind of crowd this game will draw especially during this string of cold days. Just like last season’s game at SFBK, it is a ‘red-out’ game for the Terriers. 

KenPom Score Projection: 76-68 St. Francis Brooklyn (LIU Win Probability: 23%)

Next up for the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn is back in action on Saturday, January 11th with a visit down to Grymes Hill on Staten Island to take on the Wagner Seahawks. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 pm.

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