Blackbird Gameday Report – Game 27 – (NEC Game 14) – Sacred Heart Pioneers

LIUSHUOpponent: Sacred Heart Pioneers

Record: 4-24; 1-12 NEC; 1-8 at home; Last game: Loss at Fairleigh Dickinson, 73-66

Current KenPom Ranking: 301 out of 351 (LIU Brooklyn: 319 – down from 306 before previous game)

Date and Time: Tuesday, February 25, 7:00 PM

Location: William H. Pitt Center, Fairfield, CT

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

Meeting History: 27th all-time meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads series at 17-9. Last meeting: @ LIU Brooklyn, 70-68 LIU Win, 2012-13.

Sacred Heart’s Players to Watch:

1. Louis Montes #12 – 6’5″ Forward – Sr. – 13.6 ppg/4.7 rpg/43.5 FG%/35.4 3FG%/25.6 mpg
2. Evan Kelley #2 – 6’4″ Guard – Jr. – 12.7 ppg/3.5 rpg/42.6 FG%/20.0 3FG%/29.7 mpg
3. Steve Glowiak #31 – 6’3″ Guard – Jr. – 11.4 ppg/2.7 rpg/38.9 FG%/38.7 3FG%/26.9 mpg

Matchup to Watch: LIU’s E.J. Reed vs SHU’s Louis Montes

Scouting the Pioneers:

Sacred Heart is the final team to not have played LIU Brooklyn this season. This is their only regular season meeting. Their previously scheduled game was postponed back on February 13th due to the snow storm that day.

Sacred Heart is having a miserable season in year one of the Anthony Latina era. The Pioneers have won just four games this season and only one home game when they defeated FDU back on January 11th.

The Pioneers are one of the worst defensive teams in the NEC along with LIU Brooklyn. In fact, these two teams are last and second-to-last in defensive efficiency this season in the conference. Sacred Heart allows 112.1 points per 100 possessions while LIU allows 115.9. This should be a high-scoring game with neither team playing much defense.

Yet, the offenses for both teams are pretty bad as well. Sacred Heart has the worst offensive efficiency of any team in the NEC with a 100 points per 100 possessions. LIU is not better in eighth. Sacred Heart has the worst effective field goal percentage and they shoot the poorest two-point and three-point percentages in the conference.

The Pioneers this season are lead by senior forward Louis Montes who is averaging 13.6 ppg. He is not having as good of a season as he had last season but they aren’t that far off in many categories. Montes missed a pair of games two weeks ago due to concussion-like symptoms. He returned this weekend to score 27 against Wagner and 19 against Fairleigh Dickinson. He has scored in double digits in his last six games. He is also a double-double threat with three this season.

Junior Evan Kelley has played in 22 of Sacred Heart’s 28 games this season, a year after playing in just two games last season due to injury. He missed six straight games including the first four NEC games of the season. Kelley is the Pioneers’ second leading scorer at just under 13 ppg. He has scored 20 points twice in conference this season against St. Francis Brooklyn and Wagner. He has hit the 20+ scoring mark four times this year including a career-high 32 points at Holy Cross. Kelley has come off the bench the last two games for the Pioneers.

Junior sharpshooter Steve Glowiak is Sacred Heart’s best three-point shooter. He shoots it at just under 39% from deep. Glowiak has started the last three games for the Pioneers and three games ago scored 27 points against Central Connecticut, hitting 7 of 13 threes.

Junior point guard Phil Gaetano leads the Pioneers in assists although his assist totals are as pronounced as they were a year ago. Last season, Gaetano was right behind Jason Brickman nationally in assists per game but this season even he is still second in the NEC in assists per game, he is averaging 6.1 apg down from the 7.9 he had last year. Yet, he can dish off double digits assists on any given game. He is the best free throw shooter in the NEC at 92%.

Junior guard Chris Evans is currently serving a month-long suspension for the dreaded “violation of school policy”. The suspension will likely end Evans’ season. Evans was averaging 11.4 ppg this season.

Updating the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn comes off a forgettable weekend in Western Pennsylvania dropping a pair of games to Robert Morris and Saint Francis (PA). Now at 3-10 in the NEC, LIU needs to win all three of their final three games to come from behind and overtake 8th-place Central Connecticut State for the final NEC tournament spot.

Point guard Jason Brickman is coming off a great scoring game in which he scored 23 points on 8 of 14 shooting including five three-pointers made. He also dished off five more assists to get his career total up to 975 and now sits in fifth-place all-time in the NCAA career assist list. He is now nine assists away from passing East Tennessee State’s Keith Jennings who has 983 career assists. Brickman is 25 assists away from the 1,000 career mark and he would need to average 8.3 apg to reach the mark in the final three regular season games.

Sophomore E.J. Reed scored 15 points in the loss at SFU but his playing time has been greatly reduced thanks to the stretch of foul woes he has had over the last three games. He has 14 fouls in the last three games and leads not only LIU in fouls but is one foul ahead for the most fouls in the NEC with 92 fouls this season. He has not played over 25 minutes in any of his last three games with his foul troubles.

Landon Atterberry has come of the bench the last three games. After a 20-point performance against St. Francis Brooklyn in the Battle of Brooklyn, he has scored a combined 8 points in the last two games and shooting just 40%.

Troy Joseph hasn’t played well the last four games. He has scored a combined 11 points in those four games and is shooting 3 for his last 19 and has not made a single three in that stretch.

Keys to Victory for LIU:

– Control the paint: LIU needs to try and win the battle inside. Montes last season scored a career-high 35 points in a win at SHU vs LIU. Reed and Atterberry need to get it going inside.

– Watch out for Glowiak: Although the Pioneers are a poor three-point shooting team but Steve Glowiak is one of the better three-point shooters in the NEC. LIU will need to try and contain his looks.

– Show some fire: This year’s LIU team with some many new faces has lacked that fire in the belly the championship teams of the last three seasons had. Grant it, they don’t have all the star players they had in the past but now the season is on the line. Time to play with heart, grit and emotion. They need to play to win and not play not to lose.

KenPom Score Projection: 80-74 Sacred Heart (LIU Win Probability: 31%)

Next up for the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn return back to the Steinberg Wellness Center for the final two home games of the season. First off, it is a MUST-WIN game versus Central Connecticut State who LIU is fighting with for the final spot in the NEC Tournament. The game is on Thursday, February 27 and tip off is scheduled for 7:00 pm. Come out to the SWC to support LIU in this HUGE must-win game!

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