Blackbird Gameday Report – Game 18 – (NEC Game 5) – Bryant Bulldogs

Opponent: Bryant Bulldogsliubkbryant

Record: 11-8; 3-1 NEC;7-2 at home; Last game: Win at Fairleigh Dickinson, 95-68

Current KenPom Ranking: 149 out of 351 (LIU Brooklyn: 306 – down from 299 before previous game)

Date and Time: Thursday, January 23, 7:00 PM

Location: Chace Athletic Center, Smithfield, RI

TV/Web/Radio Coverage: TV: MSG+, FOX College Sports

Meeting History: 9th all-time meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads series 7-1 Last meeting: @ Bryant, 79-78, Win, 2012-13. LIU Brooklyn has won the last 6 straight meetings.

Bryant Players to Watch:

1. Dyami Starks #12 – 6’2″ Guard – R-Jr. – 19.7 ppg/53.5 rpg/40.5 FG%/38.1 3FG%/35.2 mpg
2. Alex Francis #23 – 6’6″ Forward – Sr. – 18.9 ppg/7.1 rpg/58.7 FG%/35.9 mpg
3. Corey Maynard #1 – 6’3″ Guard – Sr. – 12.6 ppg/4.8 rpg/5.0 apg/47.9 FG%/29.6 3FG%/33.7 mpg

Matchup to Watch: LIU’s entire front court vs Bryant’s Alex Francis

Scouting the Bulldogs:

The Bryant Bulldogs, as you have expected after being picked to finish tied for second in the NEC preseason coaches poll, are off to a fast start at 3-1 in NEC play coming into this game, in a three-way tie for second place behind 4-0 Robert Morris. Bryant starts their NEC season with five of their first six conference games at home. Their only NEC loss so far comes against Robert Morris at home opening weekend.

Bryant is one of the highest scoring teams in the NEC. Their are currently tied with Mount St. Mary’s in scoring offense at 74.9 ppg. They’re second in the NEC in offensive points per possession just behind RMU at 1.04 ppp. Bryant is the best shooting team in the NEC with an effective field goal percentage of 53.1%.

The Bulldogs have three of the top 12 NEC scorers in their starting lineup in Dyami Starks, Alex Francis and Corey Maynard. Starks is currently second in the NEC in scoring at 19.7 ppg. He has had seven games this season of 20 or more points scored in a game including scoring a season-high 35 points of three different occasions. He hasn’t yet gone off in conference play. His NEC average through the first four games in just 14.5 ppg which puts him their on his team in conference scoring. Starks is a dangerous three-point shooting, one of the best in the NEC. He has shot the most three-pointers of any player in the NEC so far this season with 155 attempts.

Alex Francis is one of the premiere forwards in the NEC. A virtual lock for All-NEC first team, Francis leads the NEC in field goal percentage (58.7%) and is third in the conference in rebounding (7.1 rpg). He is tied with LIU’s Jason Brickman in minutes played this season so he doesn’t take too many breaks in games. Beside all that, he is second in conference scoring at 25.3 ppg through Bryant’s first four games. Francis has nine 20+ scoring outings this season as well as three double-doubles. Francis has also yet to foul out of a game this season. In fact, he has just fouled out of a game three times his entire career at Bryant. He is going to be a matchup nightmare for LIU Brooklyn.

Senior Corey Maynard is Bryant’s point guard this season, moving over from the second shooting guard spot he played mostly last season. Maynard has done a great job at the point. Maynard is averaging 12.6 ppg and that averaging has done up during NEC play with 17.3 ppg through the first four conference games. Maynard is also sixth in the NEC in assist at 5.0 apg and is third in the NEC in steals with 1.7 spg. Maynard is coming a career-high 30 points in a win at FDU last Saturday. Since December, Maynard has scored in single-digits just one time.

Other contributors to Bryant’s success this season is head coach’s Tim O’Shea’s nephew, Joe O’Shea (8.6 ppg/4.4 rpg) who has started in all but one game this season. Dan Garvin (6.3 ppg/5.6 rpg) was starting recently until he missed both games last week. Curtis Oakley, the nephew of former NY Knicks great Charles Oakley, is coming off a 13-point performance in Bryant’s last game versus FDU. Shane McLaughlin is the backup point guard who does a solid job of getting the ball to teammates. He doesn’t normally shoot the ball although he did score ten points versus FDU last week.

One player LIU fans might be wondering about is freshman Justin Brickman, the brother of LIU’s Jason Brickman. Well, Justin has appeared in just five games this season with two upperclassmen ahead of him in the point guard depth chart. He finally appeared in Bryant’s last game versus FDU (played two minutes) after seven straight games without playing. He has played twenty total minutes this season and scored nine points total.

Defensively, Bryant is fourth in the NEC in scoring defense at 73.1 points allowed. Opponents are shooting an effective field goal percentage of 43.9% and are scoring 1.04 points per possession. The Bulldogs are second in the NEC in steals so far.

Updating the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn is coming off their win of the NEC season with a one-point win at Central Connecticut State last Saturday. The win pulled LIU out of the NEC basement and currently has them in a three-way tie for seventh-place with Sacred Heart and Saint Francis U. The Blackbirds are playing their fourth road game out of their first five NEC games to begin conference play.

LIU is coming off their best defensive game of the season, holding CCSU to just 61 points and 0.85 ppp for the game.

Junior Gerrell Martin is coming off a strong game with a team-high 13 points including LIU’s final four points of the game which gave them the win. He played in 31 minutes against CCSU so the sprained ankle injury he was battling looks to now be in the rear-view mirror.

Senior Jason Brickman has recently seen his scoring average tick upward while his assist average tick downward as LIU lends on him to do a little more scoring without the recent service of Gilbert Parga and lack of scoring lately from the starting front court. Brickman’s assist average is down to 9.5 apg. He is 140 assists away from 1000. He would need to average exactly 10 assists per game over the next 14 games to make the magic mark. Over the last three games, he has been held to just 6.6 apg as he faces familiar opponents in the NEC.

Two guys who need to start stepping it up are front court guys, Landon Atterberry and E.J. Reed. Atterberry is averaging just 8.3 ppg over his last three games as he is shooting just 36% over the that time span. Reed is averaging 7.6 ppg over the last three games including just four points against CCSU. He is just 8 for 31 from the floor in the NEC play through LIU’s first four games. He is got to pick up his game.

Gilbert Parga tried to give it a go in both games last week but only played in a combined four minutes in both games as he is battling the achilles injury he has been able to shake off since he injured it back on December 12th against NJIT. His availability will once again be a game-time decision.

If Parga still can’t play major minutes or go at all, look for minutes to continue to go to freshman Iverson Fleming and Joel Hernandez as well as sophomore D.J Griggs who has seen his playing time increase over the last three games to 21 mpg.

Keys to Victory for LIU:

– Protect the Perimeter: LIU may no choice but to choose their poison. They have to decide if they are man-to-man and likely get crushed by Alex Francis in the paint or play zone and take their chances that Starks doesn’t get hot shooting through the zone. I think if Starks gets going and he is hitting the three much like when Ben Mockford got hot against them a couple of weeks ago, it could be a long night for LIU. Jack Perri might just have to live with Francis getting his points in the man-to-man and keep his guys on perimeter shooters if LIU wants to be in this game. It could also put LIU in a bad front court foul situation early on.

– Don’t turn the ball over: Simple. If LIU turns the ball over against this team, they are going to end up playing. Jason Brickman needs to have a strong assist/turnover performance if LIU is to pull off the upset on the road.

– Keep the Bryant crowd quiet: Bryant is trying to get a big crowd for the NEC-TV game and their student body is back. They are calling it Zero Dark Thursday where they want everyone to wear black in the first half and then white in the second half. Last season, when the Chase was full, it was loud. LIU faced it last season in their blackout game and will likely be a similar atmosphere for this game. LIU has to start off strong and keep themselves in the game. The longer they can stay in it or even stay in front, the better their chances become.

– Reed and Atterberry need to play big: The magic combined total for these two guys has to be 35. If they combine for 35, LIU should be in this game most of the way.

KenPom Score Projection: 89-74 Bryant (LIU Win Probability: 10%)

Next up for the Blackbirds:

The Blackbirds return back to the Steinberg Wellness Center to start a four of their next five games at home stretch and it begins with a rematch of last season’s NEC Championship game as LIU Brooklyn takes on Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday, January 25 at 4:30pm.

%d bloggers like this: