Blackbird Gameday Report – Game 17 – (NEC Game 4) – Central Connecticut State Blue Devils

liubkccsuOpponent: Central Connecticut State Blue Devils

Record: 4-12; 3-5 at home; Last game: Loss to St. Francis Brooklyn, 76-66

Current KenPom Ranking: 332 out of 351 (LIU Brooklyn: 299 – down from 279 before previous game)

Date and Time: Saturday, January 18, 3:30 PM

Location: William H. Detrick Gymnasium, New Britain, CT

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

Meeting History: 35th all-time meeting. CCSU leads series 18-16. Last meeting: @ CCSU, 81-75, Win. LIU Brooklyn has won the last 5 meetings and 8 of 9 in the series.

CCSU Players to Watch:

1. Faronte Drakeford #22 – 6’7″ Forward – Jr. – 13.0 ppg/5.6 rpg/49.5 FG%/33.3 3FG%/26.8 mpg
2. Malcolm McMillan #11 – 6’0″ Guard – Jr. – 9.9 ppg/3.4 rpg/41.5 FG%/30.0 3FG%/30.0 mpg

Matchup to Watch: LIU’s Landon Atterberry vs CCSU’s Faronte Drakeford

Scouting the Blue Devils:

If there is one team that knows what LIU Brooklyn is going through this season, it’s the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils. CCSU is down their two best players in Matt Hunter (academically ineligible) and Kyle Vinales (broken finger). Hunter is done for the rest of the season and Vinales is currently out 5 to 6 weeks.

With or without these two guys, CCSU has grossly underachieved this season. They are currently 4-12 and are tied with LIU Brooklyn at the bottom of the NEC standings at 0-3. CCSU was picked to finish fifth this season in the NEC preseason coaches poll (LIU was picked fourth). Both teams are desperate seeking their first NEC win of the season and are hoping to avoid being dead and buried in the NEC with a 0-4 record to start. CCSU’s wins have come against sub-.500 Division I teams and a Division III team which they only beat by three points at home.

CCSU is currently scoring 68.4 ppg on offense (7th in NEC) but are dead last in the NEC in points per possession at 0.91 ppp while being the fast-paced team in the NEC at 73.7 poss/game. The Blue Devils shoot 40.7% from the field (6th) and 29.8% from three (8th). On the defensive end, they give up 78.1 ppg to the opposition and teams shoot 46.5% from the field against them and 38.9% from three. Teams score 1.09 ppp on the Blue Devils this season.

With no Hunter or Vinales, Faronte Drakeford is currently CCSU’s leading scorer at 13.0 ppg. He is also now the team’s leading rebounder with 5.6 rpg. In his first season with CCSU, Drakeford has scored in double figures in 11 games of his 16 games. He has a season-high of 23 points and have hit the 20-point mark four times this season. He also has a pair of double-doubles as well.

Point-guard Malcolm McMillan is averaging just under 10 ppg. He is coming off a 14-point outing against St. Francis Brooklyn.  He has a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio. The next best scorer is Khalen Cumberlander with his 6.6 ppg. He does have the ability to put up points. He scored a season-high 20 points against Northeastern. Matt Mobley (5.1 ppg) over the first three NEC contest is scoring 13 ppg including 19 against St. Francis (PA).

Updating the Blackbirds:

This is the second straight season LIU Brooklyn has started the NEC season at 0-3. LIU has not started the NEC at 0-4 since the 2003-04 season. They went on to have a 4-14 NEC season that year and miss the NEC tournament.

LIU suffered their worst loss at the Steinberg Wellness Center against FDU on Thursday, when they lost by 22, since they lost to Central Connecticut State by 21 in the 2006-07 season. It was the worst NEC loss since they lost at Monmouth in the 2011-12 regular season finale by 28.

Gilbert Parga’s status is questionable after playing just three minutes in the loss on Thursday after re-aggravating his achilles injury in his foot. Gerrell Martin gutted out 20 minutes on Thursday coming back from his strained ankle but he didn’t appear close to 100 percent but he will likely give it another go in this game with all the injuries and LIU’s season on the ropes.

According to kenpom.com, LIU is 348th (or fourth-worst) in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) with 120.2. Kenpom has also dropped their NEC projection for LIU from 7-9 to 5-11.

Keys to Victory for LIU:

– Need to play defense: LIU can’t keep allowing teams to freely take threes and comfortable get in the lane for kick-out or drives to the rim. LIU has got to take a stand defensively and it has to start in this game.

– Stop turning the ball over: LIU has to keep the turnover count under 10. Anything above that could means trouble for them.

– Gotta to show hunger: Both teams are in desperation mode. The hungrier team is going to win this one.

KenPom Score Projection: 82-81 CCSU (LIU Win Probability: 49%)

Next up for the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn continues on the road as their head to Smithfield, RI to take on the Bryant Bulldogs in a televised-game on Thursday, January 23 at 7:00 pm. The game will be televised on MSG+ and FOX College Sports.

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