Blackbird Gameday Report – Game 16 – (NEC Game 3) – Fairleigh Dickinson Knights

fduliubkOpponent: Fairleigh Dickinson Knights

Record: 5-11; 2-8 on road; Last game: Loss at Sacred Heart, 71-67

Current KenPom Ranking: 282 out of 351 (LIU Brooklyn: 279 – up from 281 before previous game)

Date and Time: Thursday, January 16, 7:00 PM

Location: Steinberg Wellness Center, Brooklyn, NY

TV/Web/Radio Coverage: Web: NEC Front Row / Radio: Red Zone Media

Meeting History: 96th all-time meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads series 48-47. Last meeting: @ LIU Brooklyn, 92-67, Win. LIU Brooklyn has won the last 11 meetings dating back to the 2006-07 season.

Game Notes Links:  LIU Brooklyn

FDU Players to Watch:

1. Sidney Sanders Jr. #12 – 5’11” Guard – Sr. – 20.4 ppg/3.5 rpg/4.9 apg/44.1 FG%/36.4 3FG%/34.0 mpg
2. Matt MacDonald #3 – 6’5″ Guard – Fr. – 9.0 ppg/3.1 rpg/36.0 FG%/32.6 3FG%/31.2 mpg
3. Mustafaa Jones #24 – 6’3″ Guard – Jr. – 8.8 ppg/2.8 rpg/34.7 FG%/40.9 3FG%/29.7 mpg

Matchup to Watch: LIU’s Jason Brickman vs FDU’s Sidney Sanders Jr.

Scouting the Knights:

The FDU Knights is probably the NEC’s feel good story of the season so far. The Knights was unanimously picked to finished last in the NEC before the season began. After a 1-6 to start the season (their only win came in their opener against Division II Caldwell College), it looked new head coach Greg Herenda was in for a long season as he begins year one of his rebuilding process.

Their outlook for the season seemingly turned around after back-to-back road wins against in-state schools Rutgers and Seton Hall. Since then they have won two more home games including a win in their NEC opener against Mount St. Mary’s.

The player that has aided their surprise success is senior point guard Sidney Sanders Jr. Last season, Sanders Jr. averaged just 4.6 ppg but this season he has exploded on to the scene with his 20.4 ppg average which is tied with Bryant’s Dyami Starks for first in the NEC in scoring. Sanders Jr. has scored in double figures in every game this season. He has eight 20+ scoring games and just recently had two straight games scoring 30+ points. His game is mostly attacking the rim. He has taken just 44 three-pointers this season in 254 field goal attempts. His attacking style gets him to the free throw line a lot. He is second in the NEC in free throw attempts with 118 attempts. He also leads FDU in assists at 4.9 apg which is fifth in the NEC. Sanders Jr. can also rebound the ball at 5’11”. He has games of 7, 8, and 9 rebounds this season. He is also one of the best ball thefts in the NEC with 1.6 steals a game, tied for first in the NEC.

Before the season began, it was senior forward Mathias Seilund who was looked liked FDU’s best scoring threat. Seilund though is just fourth on the team in scoring at 8.1 ppg. He is playing 28.5 minutes per game but is FDU’s leading rebounder at 4.4 rpg. Seilund is prone to foul trouble. He has fouled out of two games this season and has nearly fouled out of another nine games. He has shot 41 three-pointers this season but has hit only 15 of them. He has taken his game more inside this season with Kinu Rochford now gone.

Freshman guard Matt MacDonald has taken over as the FDU’s second-leading scorer with his recent play of late. MacDonald is averaging 15.6 ppg over the last three games and is averaging 9 ppg this season. MacDonald takes a lot of threes (89 3FGAs) and make 32.6% of them. He also averages over a steal per game with 1.1 spg which is top ten in the NEC.

Junior guard Mustafaa Jones has slowed down his scoring production after a pretty good first nine games. In those first nine games, Jones averaged 11.5 ppg but over his last seven games, he is scoring just 5.2 ppg. He has scored in double figures just once in his last eight games. Jones has a better three-point percentage (40.9%) than field goal percentage (34.7%) and he has missed just one free throw this season (19/20 FTAs).

FDU is eighth in the NEC in scoring at 66.4 ppg and fourth in the NEC in field goal percentage at 41%. The Knights have the second-best three-point shooting percentage in the NEC at 34.3%. They score 0.96 points per possession and get about 66.5 possessions per game.

The Knights are second from the bottom in defensive points per possessions, allowing 1.15 ppp. Only LIU Brooklyn is worst at 1.16 ppp. Teams shoot 44% against them from the field and 37% from three. They also give up 22.5 fouls per game and turns the ball just 11.4 times a game which is third in the NEC.

Updating the Blackbirds:

The Blackbirds had a rough weekend last weekend as they dropped their first two NEC games of the season. They along with CCSU are the only winless teams in the NEC entering the second weekend of conference play.

The up and down injury situation from LIU once again turned towards the down side as head coach Jack Perri lost a pair of players due to injuries sustained in each of the two games last week. First, junior guard Gerrell Martin strained his ankle in the loss at St. Francis Brooklyn last Thursday and then LIU lost sophomore forward E.J. Reed late in the first half at Wagner with a concussion. At the present time, there is no update on the conditions of either player. Martin will likely be out for a couple of weeks with his ankle injury. Reed will likely be a game-time decision if he plays. He will likely need to pass several concussion tests before he can play.

LIU lost to two of the NEC’s main title contenders on the road last week. The Blackbirds return home to the Steinberg Wellness Center for the first time in thirty days and their first home since they lost to Temple at Barclays Center back on December 21st. LIU has won seven straight games at the Steinberg Wellness Center dating back to last season.

Point guard Jason Brickman with his six assists against Wagner saw his season assist average drop below 10 to 9.8 apg for the first time since before the Sam Houston State game. Brickman’s shooting has gone cold over the last three games going 7 for 26 from the field. His turnovers have as creeped up over the last four game with twenty turnovers in that span. He is currently 20th on the NCAA all-time assist list with 866. He needs 12 more assists to move up to 19th place.

Backup point guard D.J. Griggs had one his best games of the season against Wagner with 12 points off the bench on 4 of 6 shooting including a perfect of 2 of 2 from three.

Landon Atterberry is coming off his worst game since the Temple game. He failed to reach double digits against Wagner (9 pts) which snapped a three-game double figures scoring streak. He has either fouled out or was one foul short of fouling out in eight of his last nine games.

LIU Brooklyn has been out-rebounded in six straight games. The last time LIU won the rebounding battle was against NJIT. In the first two NEC games, LIU has lost the battle on the offensive glass, 43-19.

Gilbert Parga is coming off his worst shooting game of the season after going 1 for 10 vs Wagner last Saturday. He went 2 for 21 shooting last week.

If E.J. Reed can not go due to his concussion, look for Troy Joseph to play a lot more at the 4 position.

Keys to Victory for LIU:

– Slow down Sidney Sanders Jr.: The Mount didn’t go a great job at it but Sacred Heart has somewhat success even though Sanders Jr. still put up 19 points against them. Sanders Jr. will put up a lot of shots. Don’t be surprised if he see different looks through out the game as well as different defenders guarding him.

– Limit the offensive rebounds: Last week, LIU was destroyed on the offensive glass. They need to have a much better effort on their defensive boards and out-rebound the Knights.

– Brickman needs to find his game: A lot of responsibility is put on his shoulders. He has to play A LOT! But he also has to protect the ball and limit the turnovers. He also has to find his shot. Hopefully, shooting at friendly rims will help get his outside shooting back on track.

KenPom Score Projection: 79-74 LIU Brooklyn (LIU Win Probability: 66%)

Next up for the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn heads back on the road as they go to New Britain, Connecticut to face the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils on Saturday, January 18. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30pm.

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