Blackbird Gameday Report – Game 26 – (NEC Game 13) – Saint Francis University Red Flash

sfuliubkOpponent: Saint Francis University Red Flash

Record: 8-18; 6-7 NEC; 4-8 at home; Last game: Loss vs St. Francis Brooklyn, 73-44

Current KenPom Ranking: 321 out of 351 (LIU Brooklyn: 306 – up from 316 before previous game)

Date and Time: Saturday, February 22, 2:00 PM

Location: DeGol Arena, Loretto, PA

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

Meeting History: 67th all-time meeting. Series tied at 33. Last meeting: @ LIU Brooklyn, 74-58 SFU Win, February 8th.

Saint Francis University’s Players to Watch:

1. Earl Brown #15 – 6’6″ Forward – Jr. – 15.4 ppg/8.5 rpg/56.0 FG%/33.3 3FG%/33.5 mpg
2. Malik Harmon #2 – 5’11” Guard – Fr. – 8.8 ppg/3.1 apg/32.3 FG%/32.1 3FG%/30.3 mpg
3. Ben Millaud-Meunier #11 – 6’1″ Guard – So. – 8.3 ppg/35.8 FG%/35.8 3FG%/19.8 mpg

Matchup to Watch: LIU’s E.J. Reed vs SFU’s Earl Brown

Scouting the Red Flash:

Since LIU last saw Saint Francis University on February 8th, the Red Flash has gone 1-2 including a blowout loss at home to St. Francis Brooklyn on Thursday by a 73-44 score. SFU is currently sixth in the NEC standings at 6-7 and are in good shape of reaching the NEC Tournament for the first time since the 2010-11 season.

SFU defeated the Blackbirds in their first meeting at the Steinberg Wellness Center 74-58. Four Red Flash players finished with at least 14 points in that game.

Junior forward Earl Brown still leads the way for SFU with his 15.4 ppg and his NEC-leading 8.5 rpg. In his last four games, Brown is averaging 16.4 ppg while shooting 58% from the floor. Brown’s numbers has improved in every category this season and you should except to see his name when the All-NEC teams are announced at the end of the season.

Queens native Malik Harmon had a great game versus LIU in his first game ever against the Blackbirds. Harmon scored 16 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and had 5 assists. Harmon’s trouble as you would expect as a freshman is finding consistency. Since the LIU game, he has had a three-point game and a six-point game. He will likely find himself on the NEC All-Rookie team and he is a candidate for the NEC Rookie of the Year.

Stephon Whyatt scored a season-high 17 points against LIU in their last meeting and torched LIU from deep where he was 4 of 5. Coming into that game, he had made only three three-pointers all season. Whyatt has picked up his scoring although he is coming off a two-point game against St. Francis Brooklyn.

Sophomore Ben Millaud-Meunier drained 3 of 7 threes in route to scoring 14 points in their last meeting. Millaud-Meunier is second on the team in three-point shooting percentage just behind teammate Dominique Major who is shooting 40.2% from beyond the arc.

The Red Flash has lost their last two home games after winning their previous three home contests. The Red Flash has not lost a game this season to team in the bottom half of the NEC standings. They are 6-0 against those teams so far this season.

Updating the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn is coming one of the toughest losses of the season with a 73-64 setback at Robert Morris. LIU blew a 16-point second half lead to the NEC-leading Colonials. The loss put LIU in a situation where they are going to pretty much need to win out the rest of the schedule if they want to give themselves a chance of making the NEC Tournament to defend their three consecutive NEC championships.

If they are going to make a run they are going to have to count on sophomore E.J. Reed and junior Landon Atterberry to give a lot more than they did on Thursday against Robert Morris. Both forwards were mired once again in foul trouble with Reed fouling out for the eighth time this season. Both finished with six points and neither played more than 15 minutes. These two have to help carry this team to the finish. Both are capable scorers but it does LIU no good with them sitting on the bench constantly. It is time for them to step up and play smart and help their teammates out.

Troy Joseph also needs to get things going. He has scored just 3 ppg over his last three games. He needs to get his offense back going again. Gilbert Parga needs to take better shots, at times I feel like he settles for bad, deep shots. He needs to continue to drive and get to the foul line and make his free throws and take the jumper when it is open.

Gerrell Martin is averaging 12 ppg in his two games since his return to the lineup from his shoulder injury and shooting 52% from the field. He may need to even be more aggressive getting his shot and getting his points. LIU needs his scoring production.

Jason Brickman had a good game versus RMU with 11 points and 9 assists. He is now just three assists away (970) from moving into fifth-place on the NCAA all-time assist list and passing Maryland’s Steve Blake (972) and is 14 assists away from passing ETSU’s Keith Jennings (983). Brickman would need to average at least 7.5 apg over the last four games to reach 1,000 career assists.

LIU played both the man-to-man and zone defense against RMU Thursday. The zone worked for a while until Karvel Anderson got hot then they went back to man defense but by that point there was no cooling off the RMU comeback. Look for LIU to go back to man-to-man defense and drop in the zone from time to time to switch things up.

Keys to Victory for LIU:

– Protect the three-point line: SFU made 10 threes in the first meeting and was 48% from three. LIU needs to doing a better job defending the three.

– Play a complete 40 minutes: It feels like forever in which LIU put together two good halves. LIU can ill-afford to get off to bad first half and they can’t allow teams to take over the game in the second half and negate all the good work they did in the first.

– Which Reed plays? If good Reed plays like in the first meeting between the teams in which he had a double-double, LIU has a good chance to win. If bad, foul-prone Reed plays, LIU will need someone else to step up and they could done for this season. Time for Reed to show some leadership.

KenPom Score Projection: 72-68 SFU (LIU Win Probability: 37%)

Next up for the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn plays their final road game of the regular season as they visit Sacred Heart for their only meeting of the season in a makeup game for the snowed out scheduled game back on February 13th. Game is on Tuesday, February 25 and tip is scheduled for 7:00 pm and can be seen on NEC Front Row.

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