2014-15 LIU Brooklyn Women’s Basketball Preview

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The LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball team enter the 2014-15 season in almost the same fashion they entered the 2013-14 season, a team that looks to be better than the previous season but still with a bunch of question marks.

No doubt last season ended better than the 2012-13 season did. LIU Brooklyn was able to improve their total win total from 7 to 9 and went from having 4 NEC wins to 7 NEC wins last season. They also qualified for the NEC tournament last season as an eight-seed which is something they failed to do two seasons ago.

Yet, plenty of question marks still surround this team. In fact, it is probably fair to say that there are even more question marks going into this season than they had going into last season. LIU loses NEC first-teamer Cleandra Roberts and her 18.2 ppg and 7.7 rpg averages and bring back just one starter from last season.

For the second season in a row, the women’s basketball team is going through significant roster turnover as similar to last season, LIU Brooklyn’s head coach Gail Striegler has eight returnees and seven newcomers on this season’s roster. LIU lost four seniors who graduated after the end of last season and lost another pair of players who transferred.

Let’s check what the 2014-15 LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball team has in store for this season.

The Returnees

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#4 Senior guard Letava Whippy is the lone returning starter for the LIU Brooklyn Women’s Basketball team. (Photo: Bob Dea)

As I mentioned, LIU Brooklyn has just one starter returning back this season in senior guard Letava Whippy (8.0 ppg/6.0 rpg). She started in all but one game for the Blackbirds last season and logged the most minutes of any returning LIU player from a year ago. She collected a pair of double-doubles and scored a season-high 18 points against Monmouth. Another key returnee, although she didn’t start in a single game last season, is junior guard Sophie Bhasin (10.6 ppg). She finished second on the team in scoring and scored a season-high 26 points against Northern Arizona. It would be hard to imagine Bhasin not cracking the starting lineup this season. After these two though, the amount of returning production tales off dramatically. Sophomore guard Shanovia Dove (1.5 ppg) played in 28 games but only averaged 6.8 minutes per game. She did score 11 points in 20 minutes in a win versus Wagner. Backup point guard Demi Tomlinson (1.4 ppg) played in only 19 games her freshman season although she might get a chance to be the starter this season with the departure of Kelly Robinson. Sophomore guard Brianna Farris (1.2 ppg) played in only 17 games and averaged just 3.7 mpg last season. Sophomore forward Mercedes Harris (0.6 ppg) played in 27 games but averaged just 7.4 minutes per game. She only took 18 shots all season long, making just four although she did have a ten-rebound game against Maine. Redshirt senior Ashley Brown returns after playing in just two games last season due to injury. Also returning is junior forward/center Jahmia Phillips who missed all of last season and has played in just five games in her college career thus far. At 6’3″, she is the tallest player on the LIU roster.

The Newcomers

The LIU Brooklyn 2014-15 freshmen class. (Photo - Top L: G Paris Jones/ Top R: F DeAngelique Waithe - www.floridaprospects.com/ Bot L: G/F Stylz Sanders - www.dallasnews.com/ Bot R: G Drew Winter - highschoolsports.nj.com)

The LIU Brooklyn 2014-15 freshmen class. (Photo – Top L: G Paris Jones – pe.com/ Top R: F DeAngelique Waithe – floridaprospects.com/ Bot L: G/F Stylz Sanders – dallasnews.com/ Bot R: G Drew Winter – highschoolsports.nj.com)

Four freshmen and three junior college transfers make their debuts for LIU Brooklyn this season. First off is point guard Paris Jones. Jones scored 13.4 points, dished out 2.9 assists and grabbed 2.3 steals per game last season for Santiago HS in Corona, CA. Jones could be in competition for the open starting point guard position. Forward DeAngelique Waithe played in 22 games for her high school East Lee County in Florida. She averaged 18.3 points and 2.3 rebounds per game last season. She could very likely see plenty of playing in front court this season if not have a chance to start. Guard/Forward Stylz Sanders played in 31 games last season for her high school Mansfield Summit HS in Texas. She averaged 11.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game her senior season. Guard Drew Winter is the only local in this freshman class. The Plainfield, NJ native averaged 18.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.9 steals per game her senior season.

Now on to the juco transfers and we start with junior forward Angelia Allen. She played in only eight games last season for Northeast Mississippi Community College. She missed her team’s last 15 games. She averaged 12.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per games while she was in the lineup. She shot under 30% from both the field and beyond the three-point line. Junior guard Shanice Vaughan played in 31 games last season for Paris Junior College. She averaged 9.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting 44.4% from the floor and 23.7% from three. She scored a season-high 18 points last season. Lastly, junior forward Jolanna Ford comes from New Mexico Junior College where she averaged 7.0 points and 4.9 rebounds in 30 games played last season. She went for 18 points twice last season. She shot 37.5% from the field but just 16.7% from three.

The Coaching Staff

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LIU Brooklyn Head Women’s Basketball Coach Gail Striegler enters her seventh season in Downtown Brooklyn. (Photo: Bob Dea- BHJ)

Head coach Gail Striegler returns for her seventh season at the helm of the LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball team. Her overall record at LIU is 87-94 (.481 win %). LIU has gone 16-43 the last two seasons after averaging nearly 18 wins per season her first four years.

Lisa Pace will begin her fifth season at LIU.This will be her fourth season as LIU’s associate head coach. Terrell Coburn begins his fourth season as an assistant coach at LIU. Former Columbia women’s head coach Paul Nixon joins Striegler’s staff this season as an assistant coach. Nixon was Columbia’s head coach from 2005 to 2012. His best season at Columbia was in 2009-10 where he took the Lions to an 18-10 record. Finally, Hillary Spears joins LIU Brooklyn for her first season as Director of Basketball Operations. Spears comes for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever where she was previously their Basketball Operations Intern for the 2013 season. She played her college ball at Division II University of South Carolina-Aiken. Both Nixon and Spears replace Erin Geary and Chelsea Wolf who were part of last season’s staff.

The Schedule

LIU Brooklyn start their season on Sunday, November 16th on the road at Maine. They open their home schedule on Thursday, November 20th against former NEC rival Monmouth at the Steinberg Wellness Center. They then host their annual LIU Turkey Classic on Thanksgiving weekend with La Salle, Rhode Island and Towson all participating. December starts with a home game versus Rider and then a pair of road games against Columbia and NJIT. LIU returns back home to face Howard and Buffalo before going out west to California to close out non-conference play against Long Beach State and Cal State Bakersfield.

The Blackbirds open NEC action in January with a pair of home games against Bryant and Fairleigh Dickinson. They then head to Staten Island to face Wagner and then return home once again for another pair of games versus Sacred Heart and Mount St. Mary’s. The Mount St. Mary’s game will be played at the Barclays Center. After four games out of five at home to start the NEC season, LIU hits the road for four straight games starting with Central Connecticut State before moving on to Fairleigh Dickinson, Bryant and then St. Francis Brooklyn. LIU returns back to the Steinberg Wellness Center for a three-game home stand which starts with Central Connecticut State and then move on to games against Saint Francis (PA) and last season’s NEC champions Robert Morris. LIU heads to Pennsylvania for a pair of road games against Saint Francis (PA) and Robert Morris before returning home to face Wagner. LIU closes out the road schedule with a pair of games against Mount St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart before closing out the 2014-15 schedule with the annual Battle of Brooklyn game against St. Francis Brooklyn at the Steinberg Wellness Center.

The NEC women’s basketball tournament begins on Saturday, March 7 and the final will held on Sunday, March 15.

Season Outlook

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#14 junior shooting guard Sophie Bhasin is LIU’s top returning scorer. (Photo: Bob Dea- BHJ)

With just one returning starter on a team that finished 9-21 last season and with another round of eight new players brought into this program, it might be hard to see where there is going to be tremendous improvement record-wise over last season. On paper, the recruiting class that Coach Striegler has brought into LIU this season seems to be a very good one which will help the overall program and continue the steady improvement this team had last season. Yet, there are question marks on who will carry the offense for the Blackbirds. Sophie Bashin is probably the likely candidate but she will have to have better shooting percentages from both the field (32.8 career FG%) and behind the three line (31.8 career 3FG%).

Also, who will run the offense for LIU? Kelly Robinson is gone so their is opening at the starting point guard spot. The competition in preseason for that spot should be fierce but there won’t be a lot of experience coming from that position this season. Also, who does Coach Striegler have to rely on in the front court? Will she go with the juco transfers she brought in or will she let her young and relative inexperienced sophomores and freshmen play and learn as they go along. It will be interesting to see what she does.

Last season, LIU Brooklyn finished last in the NEC in scoring offense (59.6 ppg), seventh in field goal percentage (38.9%), ninth in three-point field goal percentage (28.2%), and last in assist-to-turnover percentage. They scored 0.84 points per possession in just under 71 possessions per game. They have to get an improvement out of the offense and get points on the scoreboard to give themselves a chance in games.Their defense was second-best in the NEC in points allowed (64.0) and points allowed per possession (0.91). If they can continue playing tough defense and just get their offense up to par, then LIU should see an improvement in their overall record and in their final conference standing.

Prediction

If this team can find their offense early then I believe they can surprise this season and get back to double-digit wins for the season. If the offense once again struggles this season like it has in the last couple of seasons, then it is just going to be more of the same.

I believe we will see Sophie Bashin and Letava Whippy getting themselves on to one of the All-NEC teams at the end of the season and possibly see one of the freshmen make it on to the All-NEC rookie team.

I feel that they can get more wins from their non-conference schedule than they did a year ago where they only got two wins. I think they should at least equal the seven NEC wins they got a season ago and it would be considered a success if they finish as a .500 team in conference.

I’m going to say, the LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball team will finish with at least five non-conference wins and will go just fall short of .500 in conference at 8-10 and get either themselves probably either a seven or eight-seed in the NEC tournament. I predict a 13-16 final record which for them would be a four-game improvement over last season.

Comments

  1. Stu class of 68 says:

    Nelson–I know that you only cover basketball,but the women`s volleyball team is having an awesome season-I think they have a chance to win a NCAA game or two this year.

    • I am well aware Stu of the great season LIU women’s volleyball is having. This team went to the NCAAs two years in a row so it is not a surprise what they are doing this season. They got a several quality wins under their belt.

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