Blackbird Gameday Report – Game 20 – (NEC Game 7) – Wagner Seahawks

WagnerLIUBKOpponent: Wagner Seahawks

Record: 9-10; 3-3 NEC; 5-6 on road; Last game: Loss at Robert Morris, 74-70

Current KenPom Ranking: 227 out of 351 (LIU Brooklyn: 304 – unchanged from before previous game)

Date and Time: Thursday, January 30, 7:00 PM

Location: Steinberg Wellness Center, Brooklyn, NY

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

Meeting History: 97th all-time meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads series 55-41. Last meeting: @ Wagner, 84-70, loss back on January 11th.

Wagner’s Players to Watch:

1. Kenneth Ortiz #15 – 6’0″ Guard – Sr. – 12.3 ppg/4.1 rpg/4.3 apg/38.5 FG%/30.8 mpg
2. Latif Rivers #24 – 6’1″ Guard – Sr. – 14.4 ppg/2.9 rpg/47.7 FG%/38.1 3FG%/27.2 mpg
3. Mario Moody #3 – 6’7″ Forward – Jr. – 9.5 ppg/6.7 rpg/43.8 FG%/33.3 3FG%/23.9 mpg

Matchup to Watch: Wagner’s Mario Moody vs LIU’s front court

Scouting the Seahawks:

This is the second meeting of the season between LIU Brooklyn and the Wagner Seahawks. Wagner defeated the Blackbirds in their earlier meeting 84-70 at the Spiro Sports Center in Staten Island back on January 11th.

Wagner is currently 3-3 in the NEC after getting off to a 2-0 start. Last weekend, the Seahawks lost both games they played, first inexplicably losing at home to what was an 0-4 Central Connecticut team and then battling an eight-man Robert Morris team on the road before losing to them.

The Seahawks has been a inconsistent team all season long. Once you think this team is about to turn the corner and rattle off several wins in a row, they lose a game they probably should have won.

The Wagner offense in three of their last four games has failed to reach 1.0 points per possession while they have given up over a 1.0 ppp on the defensive end. The Seahawks are just below LIU in scoring offense in 5th place in the NEC at 71.6 ppg. On defense, they are still third in the NEC in points allowed at 72.4 ppg. Teams score exactly 1.0 ppp against them on the offensive end.

In the last meeting, it was junior forward Mario Moody who has a great game against LIU. He finished with a double-double, 19 points and 10 rebounds. With the expection of the St. Francis University game where he went scoreless, he is averaging 16 ppg and shooting 20 for 32 (62.5%) since LIU last saw him. Moody has come off the bench in the last two games in favor of Orlando Parker.

Latif Rivers is still the scoring leader of this team at 14.4 ppg. Since the eight-point in 14 minutes outing he had against LIU, he has averaged 15.7 ppg in the last four games. He is coming off a 19-point performance at Robert Morris last Saturday.

Senior point guard Kenneth Ortiz has seen his scoring go down in NEC play. He has scored in double figures just once in January. He is shooting just 27% in conference games this season. He is though averaging 6 apg in conference.

Junior guard Marcus Burton has emerged as Wagner’s third leading scorer behind Rivers and Ortiz. He just had a string of six straight games of scoring at least 13 points snapped at Robert Morris where he only scored six. Burton is a three-point threat as many of the Wagner players are. Last time out against LIU, he dropped in 17 points and grabbed 5 rebounds.

Jay Harris is expected to be back in the Wagner lineup after missing the RMU game with what sounded like an apparent concussion he suffered in the second half of the game against CCSU last week. Harris has also been coming off the bench of late in favor of high-flying sophomore Dwaun Anderson. Anderson is coming off a scoreless game in 32 minutes played against RMU. Anderson though did score 12 points against LIU last time these two teams meet including what ended up as SportsCenter number one play in their top ten plays with this ridiculous dunk off the backboard pass. Anderson though is averaging just 5.2 ppg over his last four games.

Wagner is in midst of an important three-game road trip for them with the visit to RMU last week, this game against LIU and their next game at St. Francis Brooklyn. After this trip, they play six of their next eight games at home including their last five games.

Updating the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn is coming off a win at home on Saturday against Mount St. Mary’s which pushed their NEC record to 2-4. LIU is the middle of playing four of five at home at the Steinberg Wellness Center.

Jason Brickman is now entering the final phase in his chase to 1000 career assists as he has passed 900 assists against Mount St. Mary’s and is currently at 905. If he stays at his current average, he will get to the magical 1000 mark in LIU’s final regular season game at home versus Bryant. He is now LIU’s second leading scorer behind Landon Atterberry at 11.9 ppg. He is averaging 14.3 ppg over his last four games and is currently on a two-game double-double streak and has eight double-double overall this season.

The LIU front court trio of Landon Atterberry, E.J. Reed and Glenn Feidanga has started to pick it up of late. It correlates with this trio staying out of foul trouble. Only Reed has reach four fouls in a game in the last four games and that has happened just once. LIU has pretty much now adapted a zone defense to combat the foul issues with their front court guys and keep them around in games. The zone defense is beginning to gel and things are slowing improving on the defensive end. This will need to continue over the next ten games if LIU wants a chance still to get a home game in the NEC tournament.

Feidanga this week was named NEC Rookie of the Week after a fantastic week where he averaged 11.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in the two games last week. He got his first collegiate double-double against Mount St. Mary’s with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

The status of Gilbert Parga is still up in the air. He has missed LIU’s last two games and really shouldn’t have played in the previous two games with his strained achilles injury that hampered him since he first injured back on December 12th against NJIT. Parga was seen wearing a walking boot last week. It is probably likely we won’t be playing in any games for at least a couple of more weeks. Chris Carter is about six weeks into his recovery of his broken foot. He probably won’t return to the court to at least mid-February.

Keys to Victory for LIU:

– Keep the momentum going: The zone defense needs to continue playing solidly. Wagner has a multitude of shooters who will look to exploit that zone for easy three-point looks. The Blackbirds will need to move their feet defensively and be active.

– Clean the glass: Last time out Wagner grabbed 17 offensive rebounds against LIU. They need to prevent Wagner for getting to many second opportunities.

– Use Wagner aggressiveness against them: Wagner like to put pressure defensively but are susceptible to fouling. LIU need to stay aggressive on the offensive end and get them in foul trouble and get to the free throw line.

KenPom Score Projection: 76-75 Wagner (LIU Win Probability: 47%)

Next up for the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn heads back on the road as they head to Emmitsburg, PA to once again face Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday, February 1 at 2:30pm.

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