Blackbird Gameday Report – Game 15 – (NEC Game 2) – Wagner Seahawks

liubkwagnerOpponent: Wagner Seahawks

Record: 7-7; 2-1 at home; Last game: Win at Central Connecticut State, 88-59

Current KenPom Ranking: 217 out of 351 (LIU Brooklyn: 281 – down from 273 before previous game)

Date and Time: Saturday, January 11. 4:00 PM

Location: Spiro Sports Center, Staten Island, NY

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

Meeting History: 96th all-time meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads series 55-40. Last meeting: @ Wagner, 94-82, W (2012-13, NEC Tournament Semifinals).

Game Notes Links: LIU Brooklyn – Wagner

Wagner Brooklyn Players to Watch:

1. Kenneth Ortiz #15 – 6’0″ Guard – Sr. – 13.4 ppg/4.1 rpg/3.9 apg/42.3 FG%/30.4 mpg
2. Latif Rivers #24 – 6’1″ Guard – Sr. – 14.4 ppg/2.7 rpg/47.0 FG%/41.3 3FG%/26.9 mpg
3. Jay Harris #1 – 6’1″ Guard – Jr. – 10.5 ppg/2.3 rpg/2.9 apg/42.3 FG%/42.9 3FG%/30.5 mpg

Matchup to Watch: LIU’s Jason Brickman vs Wagner’s Kenneth Ortiz

Scouting the Seahawks:

The Wagner Seahawks was this preseason’s NEC coaches’ pick to win the conference this season as well as most NEC insiders pick as well. They come into this battle 1-0 in the NEC after an easy 29-point road win at a depleted CCSU.

It has been a strange season thus far for the Seahawks. There are currently just a .500 team at 7-7 and have had guys in and out of the lineup with either injuries or suspensions. They’ve had a nice home win against Vermont but also had a couple of bad losses including Illinois-Chicago and Lafayette. Head coach Bashir Mason has had no problem suspending or benching some of his players this season and that list has included star Latif Rivers.

Rivers is the Seahawks’ leading scorer at 14.4 ppg. He has been dealing with injury once again but has just missed one game because of it (the other he was benched). He has scored in double-figures in all but one game he has played this season. He has scored 20 or more points twice this season (vs Chestnut Hill and vs Coppin State). His shooting this season is at an all-time high at 47% from the field and 41% from three. Rivers is a three-point threat and needs to be accounted for on the defensive end.

Kenneth Ortiz is the reigning two-time NEC Defensive Player of the Year as well as one of the best point guards in the NEC. He can do it all, defend, dish, rebound and get to the rim. One thing he won’t do a lot of is take a three. He has only shot 14 threes so far this season making just three. His game is more penetration and looking to dish to three-point shooters or power big men down low. He does have a tendency to get himself into foul trouble with his relentless defense. He is third on the team (40) in personal fouls behind forwards Naofall Folahan (48) and Mario Moody (42).

Jay Harris is in his first season at Wagner after transferring in from Valparaiso. Harris came to Staten Island with a reputation for being a three-point shooter and that exactly what he has been through the first half of the season. Seventy of his 104 shot attempts have come from behind the arc. He is shooting over 42% from deep. He has also been a good facilitator of the ball with 38 assists including 15 assists in the last three games.

The Seahawks are quite deep this season. They have plenty of athleticism on this squad with guys like Mario Moody, Orlando Parker and high-flyer Dwaun Anderson. They have the conference best shot blocker in Naofall Folahan and probably one of the best sixth-man in the NEC in Marcus Burton so to say this team is loaded is an understatement.

Wagner is currently sixth in the NEC in scoring offense with 70.5 ppg and are also sixth in offensive points per possession with 0.97. Their effective field goal percentage is 46.5% which is also sixth in the NEC. They are second in the NEC in rebound rate only behind St. Francis Brooklyn.

On defense, Wagner gives up 71.9 ppg and give up an effective field goal percentage of just 40.2% which is an NEC-best. Teams score 0.98 points per possessions against them, they are just one of two current NEC teams that hold teams to under 1.0 ppp. They also lead the NEC in fouls per game with nearly 26 fouls per contest.

Updating the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn enter this contest 0-1 in the NEC after a 78-64 loss to St. Francis Brooklyn Thursday night. The Blackbirds gave up a season-high 52 rebounds with 26 of those coming on the offensive end which was also a season-high. The Terriers has their season-high in offensive PPP with 1.19.

Landon Atterberry with his 19 points Thursday night is now LIU Brooklyn’s leading scorer with 13.1 ppg. E.J. Reed fell to second with 12.1 ppg. LIU currently has five players averaging over 11 ppg.

Jason Brickman has a three-game streak of getting 10 or more assists. Since his career-high scoring performance of 26 points vs Sam Houston State, Brickman has averaged just 6 ppg over the last two games. Brickman is now 141 assists away from 1000 career assists.

E.J. Reed has 14 fouls over the last three games. He is tied for second in the NEC in fouls with 53. In fact, Reed, Atterberry and Glenn Feidanga are all in the top ten in the NEC in fouls. Only one other LIU player is in the top 50 (Gerrell Martin – tied for 43rd).

Gerrell Martin has finished in double figures scoring in five of the last six games. According to LIU head coach Jack Perri, Martin has taken upon himself to taken on more of the leadership role on this team and it was pretty apparent of that on Thursday night against St. Francis Brooklyn as he was trying to fire up his teammate during the game.

Perri also revealed Thursday night that Troy Joseph is playing hurt with a bad shoulder. His scoring production has taken a hit over the last three games as he is averaging just 4.3 ppg and 3.3 rpg.

Gilbert Parga was shut down by St. Francis Brooklyn Thursday night and will look to rebound against Wagner.

Keys to Victory for LIU:

– Guard the three-point line: Wagner made 60% of their threes Thursday night against CCSU going 12 for 20. With all the shooters on the wings for the Seahawks, LIU may have to stick with the man-to-man defense more against Wagner and use the zone sparingly to avoid get killed from downtown.

– Grab the boards: LIU can’t repeat the offensive rebounding and overall rebounding nightmare they saw Thursday night. Giving up that many rebounds to your opponents is a recipe for a disaster as it was against the Terriers.

– Stay out of foul trouble: This is a constant key every game but LIU can’t afford to take bad fouls or get caught up in trash talk. The forwards have to limit their fouls and give LIU much needed scoring and rebounding production. They need to win the free throw battle in this game and get to the line a ton and keep Wagner away from the free throw line.

KenPom Score Projection: 80-72 St. Francis Brooklyn (LIU Win Probability: 21%)

Next up for the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn return back to the Steinberg Wellness Center for the first time since December 18 as the Blackbirds host the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00pm.

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