Blackbird Gameday Report – Game 19 – (NEC Game 6) – Mount St. Mary’s

MSMLIUOpponent: Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers

Record: 7-11; 3-2 NEC; 2-9 on road; Last game: Win at Saint Francis U., 83-77

Current KenPom Ranking: 240 out of 351 (LIU Brooklyn: 304 – up from 306 before previous game)

Date and Time: Saturday, January 25, 4:30 PM

Location: Steinberg Wellness Center, Brooklyn, NY

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

Meeting History: 50th all-time meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads series 26-23 Last meeting: @ LIU Brooklyn, 91-70, Win, 2013 NEC Tournament Final. LIU Brooklyn has won seven of the last eight meetings. Last season, LIU’s streak of six straight wins in the series was snapped.

Mount St. Mary’s Players to Watch:

1. Julian Norfleet #23 – 6’2″ Guard – Sr. – 19.2 ppg/5.5 apg/3.0 rpg/48.2 FG%/36.5 3FG%/33.4 mpg
2. Rashad Whack #22 – 6’3″ Guard – Sr. – 16.4 ppg/4.1 rpg/40.5 FG%/33.6 3FG%/31.8 mpg
3. Sam Prescott #3 – 6’3″ Guard – Sr. – 10.6 ppg/4.7 rpg/40.0 FG%/34.3 3FG%/29.9 mpg

Matchup to Watch: MSM’s Julian Norfleet vs LIU’s Jason Brickman

Scouting the Mountaineers:

Mount St. Mary’s and second-year head coach Jamion Christian brings his senior-laden Mountaineers back to Downtown Brooklyn for the first time since LIU Brooklyn defeated them in the NEC Final back at the Wellness Center last March.

The Mount comes in with a 3-2 NEC record with wins over St. Francis Brooklyn (home), Wagner (home), and Saint Francis University (PA) (road) and losses to FDU (road) and Robert Morris (road). Their record overall is 7-11 after playing a rather tough non-conference schedule with games at West Virginia, Villanova, BYU, Michigan State, Penn State, and Texas Tech. Take those six games out of the equation and the Mount is 7-5.

Jamion Christian brings back all three of his top scorers from last season who are all seniors this season. This team revolves point guard Julian Norfleet who is having a NEC Player of the Year caliber season. Norfleet is averaging 19.2 ppg which is ranked third in the NEC. He had scored in double figures in every game this season until his last game against Saint Francis U. where he scored a season-low four points. Norfleet is also ranked in the top ten in the NEC in assists (5.5 – tied for 3rd), steals (1.8 – 2nd), FG% (48.2% – 9th), and minutes played (33.4 – 6th). Norfleet will typically take a lot of shots. He has taken 14 or more shots in a game in ten times this season.

Also back is last season’s leading scorer for the Mount in Rashad Whack. He is currently sixth in the NEC in scoring at 16.4 ppg. He just snapped a 16-game streak where he reached double figures scoring after scoring just 9 points his last time out against SFU. Whack leads the team in three-point shot attempts with 116. His three-point shooting percentage is slightly down at 33.6% but he has made at least one three in every game he’s played this season. He is also third in the NEC in steals at 1.6 spg and rebounds the ball well at 4.6 rpg for a 6’3″ guard.

The third returning senior is Sam Prescott who is starting to pick up his scoring in conference play. Prescott is averaging 10.6 which is right on his career average. Over the last two NEC games, he has scored 41 points including a season-high 25 to lead the Mount against SFU on Thursday. He is another three-point threat with 70 three-point attempts and hitting them at a 34% clip. He also rebounds the ball well for a guard at nearly 5 rebounds a game.

Other contributors to the Mount this season are 7’0″ sophomore center Taylor Danaher who has started the last 11 games for Mount St. Mary’s. He also is first on the team in rebounds with 4.8 rpg. Sophomore Gregory Graves has scored in double figures three times this season and is coming off a career-high 17 points in the win versus SFU on Saturday. Freshman Bryon Ashe is currently their top scoring coming off the bench at 7.4 ppg. He will also hoist up the threes with his 63 attempts. Freshman forward Will Miller doesn’t play a ton of minutes but two games this season where he has dropped 15 points so he can’t be taken lightly.

Mount St. Mary’s is currently second in the NEC in scoring offense at 75.4 ppg and are third in offensive points per possession at 1.04. They average 71.4 possessions per game. They shoot an NEC second-best effective field goal percentage of 51.4%. They are also the best in the NEC in turnovers at 10.1 per game. Defensively, the Mount allows the most points of any NEC team at 82.1 ppg. They also allow 1.13 points per possession, only LIU Brooklyn and FDU are worse. Teams shoot an effective field goal percentage of 51.4% against them, the worst in the NEC.

Updating the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn fell to 1-4 in the NEC after a 87-79 loss at Bryant Thursday night. LIU is now 1-4 for the first time in NEC play since the 2005-06 season where they started 1-5 and ended up 9-9 in the NEC.

LIU will play four of their next five games at the Steinberg Wellness Center. They are 2-1 at the SWC this season, losing their last game there to FDU on January 16th.

Senior point guard Jason Brickman needs just 7 more assists to hit the 900-assist club. He would become just the 14th player in NCAA Division I history to reach the milestone. With 10 more assists, he would pass San Francisco’s Orlando Smart (902 assists) to be 13th on the NCAA all-time career assists list. Brickman got his first double-double (15 points/13 assists) since December 28th at Sam Houston State in the loss at Bryant Thursday night. He now has seven double-doubles and is still a full two assists per game ahead as the nation’s leading assist leader at 9.7 apg. His scoring has picked up of late with a 14.5 ppg average in his last two games.

Landon Atterberry snapped out of scoring funk with 18 points against Bryant. It was his first double-digit game since scoring 19 at St. Francis Brooklyn January 16th. He was a perfect 7 for 7 on two-point shots Thursday night.

Gerrell Martin looks to be back on the track after being slowed by a sprained ankle a couple of weeks ago. He has 30 total points in his last two games and scored 17 at Bryant shooting just under 40% from the field.

E.J. Reed and Troy Joseph’s scoring slumps continues. Reed scored just 5 points in 21 minutes due to foul trouble once again. Reed shot 1 for 7 against Bryant and is just 11 for 38 in NEC play so far. He desperately needs to get going offensively. Joseph’s three-point shooting percentage is down to 32.1% after back-to-back 1 for 6 three-point shooting games.

Gilbert Parga didn’t dress Thursday night against Bryant. That is now six games missed this season due to multiple injuries. Add on the two games he played a combined four minutes plus the half of basketball he didn’t play when he got hurt at NJIT, he has really played 9.5 games this season. It will once again likely be another game-time decision if he plays this game.

D.J. Griggs and Glenn Feidanga played well off the bench against Bryant. Griggs is averaging 6.2 ppg in NEC play while Feidanga is coming off one of his best games of the season with 8 points and a career-high 10 rebounds against Bryant.

Keys to Victory for LIU:

– Contain the Mount’s Big 3: That is easier said then done. Bryant’s Big 3 scored 60 of their 87 points Thursday night. Two of them went for at least 23 points. LIU can’t allow this trio to do the same or else they are will see a similar result.

– Play a full 40 minutes: LIU played a great 25 minutes against Bryant but a not-so-good final 15 minutes. They need to put together a complete game from start to finish to win this game.

– Don’t settle for the three: LIU shot 34 threes at Bryant Thursday night, 20 of them in the second half. They settled for too many three in the second half and went cold which gave Bryant momentum in their comeback. LIU needs to try and get themselves to the free throw line more and drive to the rim and don’t rely on the three-ball so much.

– Home Support: The LIU student body is back so they need to start getting back a raucous home crowd as a sixth-man. During the last home game vs FDU, the lack of student noise was noticeable and LIU needs to regain that home swagger they have had over the last several seasons.

KenPom Score Projection: 87-86 Mount St. Mary’s (LIU Win Probability: 48%)

Next up for the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn plays the second game of this two-game homestand as they play the return game against the Wagner Seahawks at the Steinberg Wellness Center on Thursday, January 30. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00pm.

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