LIU Gameday Preview – Game 4 – Temple

Temple’s Liacouras Center is the site of LIU Brooklyn’s third road game of the season as LIU faces off against Temple. (Photo: eportfolios.sthm.temple.edu)

Opponent: Temple (American Athletic Conference)

Record: 3-2 (Last game: W vs Penn, 76-67
KenPom Ranking: 124
Tip-Off Time: 4:00pm
Location: Liacouras Center – Philadelphia, PA
Media Game Coverage: Online: ESPN3/Audio: 1210 AM WPHT
Meeting History: Fifth all-time meeting. Temple is 4-0 vs LIU Brooklyn. Won last season’s meeting 101-65 at the Barclays Center.

[Read more…]

LIU Brooklyn 54 Stony Brook 73

The Garden scoreboard says it all as LIU suffer worst loss of early season to Stony Brook. (Photo: Bob Dea)

The Garden scoreboard says it all as LIU suffered their worst loss of the early season to Stony Brook. (Photo: Bob Dea)

It took three games but LIU Brooklyn for the first time this season looked like a team that most of us expected to see. A young team that features six freshmen and two sophomores and would be inconsistent as they learn to play together.

That is exactly what we saw for parts of the first half and all of the second half as the Blackbirds was throughly handled by a good and likely NCAA-tournament bound team in Stony Brook, 73-54 at Madison Square Garden in the third and final game of the 2014 NIT Season Tip-Off.

If you’re a Blackbirds fan trying to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner and ignoring NFL football while watching this one, you saw a pretty ugly game especially from LIU.

The first half didn’t display pretty basketball. After a 7-7 tie early, Stony Brook started to take control of the game with a 16-2 run and were up 23-9 to take their largest lead of the first half.

Sophomore was one bright spot for LIU vs Stony Brook. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Sophomore was one bright spot for LIU vs Stony Brook. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Yet, what has been an early theme for LIU through their first couple of games, the Blackbirds came storming back and got all the way to within five after a Joel Hernandez jumper at the horn made it 36-31 at the break.

The start of the second half is one LIU would love to forget. Stony Brook started the half on a 12-0 run before an Iverson Fleming running layup on the fast break finally got LIU on the board after 6:30 into the second half. LIU didn’t getting any closer than eleven points down from that point on and Stony Brook would increase their lead and win going away. Stony Brook never trailed in the game.

Stony Brook got a game-high 18 points from their big man in the middle, Jameel Warney, who scored his 1,000th career point in this one. He was one rebound shy of a double-double with nine boards. Point guard Carson Puriefoy who was hampered by foul trouble most of the game but started off on fire, finished with ten points. Roland Nyama scored 16 for the Seawolves who are now 4-2 on the season and it was easy to see why they were picked to win the America East conference this season.

LIU Brooklyn just didn’t have the shooting touch tonight. The Blackbirds shot a season-low 9.5% from three as they could hit two of twenty-one three point attempts.

One bright spot tonight was the play of the LIU bench in particularly from Joel Hernandez who led LIU Brooklyn in scoring in this one with 15 points with three rebounds. Hernandez was six of fourteen from the field and gave some life to the Blackbirds especially when they made their run late in the first half. Iverson Fleming also played well especially late in the first half as well, he finished with four points on two of three from the field.

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Trevin (L) and Trevon Woods (R) helped outscored the LIU starting five against Stony Brook. Trevon scored his first two points as a Blackbird. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Also, freshman Jamil Hood (5 points) looked good in his fifteen minutes of playing time and finished as team’s leading rebounder in the game with five and fellow freshman Trevon Woods got his first two points of his LIU career from the free throw line.

The rest of the team struggled in particularly the starting five. LIU starters were outscored by the LIU bench, 25 to 29.

LIU only had six turnovers after the first half but started the second half committing five turnovers within the first five minutes of the half when Stony Brook broke the game open. They finished with fourteen turnovers for the game.

Freshman Nura Zanna (2 points) was neutralized by Jameel Warney and was held to one of five shooting from the field. Landon Atterberry (8 points) had an off-night shooting especially from deep and really didn’t have a good game. He finished with eight points and just two rebounds.

The Icelandic starting duo of Friðriksson and Hermannsson, combined for just ten points on two field goals, five assists and five turnovers. For the second game in a row, Gerrell Martin didn’t have a strong game. He played just 16 minutes and scored only five points.

The smaller Blackbirds couldn’t do much in stopping a bigger Stony Brook team who dominated the glass 40 to 22 and help LIU to many one and done possessions. Stony Brook was +16 on the defensive glass alone.

All ten available LIU scholarship players scored for the first time this season. For the third consecutive game, LIU played without Glenn Feidanga, Jonathan Tshibuy and Chris Carter, all still out with injuries.

It is back to the drawing board for LIU Brooklyn as they head to Philly once again on Sunday to play Temple in their fourth and final game of their season opening road trip before finally getting to open their home schedule. Temple last season destroyed LIU Brooklyn at the Barclays Center, 101-65, in their biggest loss of the season.

LIU Gameday Preview – Game 3 – Stony Brook

The World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden, plays host to LIU Brooklyn’s first-ever meeting with Stony Brook. (Photo: nbcnews.com)

Opponent: Stony Brook (America East Conference)

Record: 3-2 (Last game: W vs Western Kentucky, 71-61
KenPom Ranking: 129
Tip-Off Time: 4:00pm
Location: Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
Media Game Coverage: TV: ESPNU/Audio: StonyBrookAthletics.com
Meeting History: First-ever meeting. [Read more…]

LIU Brooklyn 70 Saint Joseph’s 74 (Overtime)

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LIU Brooklyn was so close but couldn’t pull off upset at Hagan Arena versus Saint Joseph’s on Tuesday evening. (Photo: Bob Dea)

 

3.1 seconds. That was all the time that was left to tick down before LIU Brooklyn would take a huge early season upset win out of the City of Brotherly Love. But Saint Joseph’s would spoil the fun.

The Hawks’ James Bembry would hit his first career three point basket with those precious 3.1 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime and eventually eked out a 74-70 win at the Hagan Arena on Tuesday night.

Nura Zanna with another strong performance with 14 points and 8 rebounds. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Nura Zanna with another strong performance with 14 points and 8 rebounds. (Photo: Bob Dea)

The loss sent LIU Brooklyn to 0-2 to start the season. Yet, for the second game in a row, the Blackbirds showed real grit in hanging with and eventually taking the lead late on the Hawks before falling in the extra period.

LIU had a chance to be the heroes after two straight Martin Hermannsson driving layups gave them a one-point lead with 47 seconds left in regulation. Then it looked like fellow Iceland freshman Elvar Friðriksson put this one in the upset column for LIU with a pair of free throws with ten seconds remaining. But Bembry had something else to say about it.

“We talk about these situations.” said LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri of their last defensive possession of regulation. “We talked about (playing) straight man to man if it’s only two points or only one point. (Friðriksson) makes both and we’re up three, I’m switching and staying out and guarding the three point line. Unfortunately, (James) Demery drove and Joel (Hernandez) helped and he makes the first three of his career. But you can’t help in that situation. It’s lack of experience and that is all it was. I think, next time he will be better at it. I couldn’t foul in that situation because Nura (fouled) out, we were too small, I didn’t trust it.”

SJU's James Demery with the game-tying three in regulation (Photo: Bob Dea)

SJU’s James Demery with the game-tying three in regulation (Photo: Bob Dea)

Unfortunately for Perri and LIU, they didn’t have Nura Zanna to turn to in overtime because he fouled out with 1:06 to go on a very questionable foul underneath Saint Joseph’s basket in which Zanna was battling with a Hawk for a loose ball rebound and then got hit with the foul.

Even then, LIU had a chance to win it in overtime when Gerrell Martin got a look at a long three with LIU down two at 72-70 but he couldn’t connect and Saint Joseph’s, who had a 91% KenPom win probability going into the game, survived.

Nura Zanna had another strong game with 14 points and eight rebounds on 6 of 9 shooting before fouling out. The sophomores, Iverson Fleming and Joel Hernandez, both had great games off the bench for LIU. Fleming finished with 14 points on 4 of 7 shooting and Hernandez scored ten with five boards.

Elvar Friðriksson once again looked strong at the point, taking charge of the offense for most of the game for LIU. He scored 12 but made a couple of huge threes late to keep LIU in striking distance.

Martin Hermannsson turned it on late in the second half in nearly getting LIU the upset win. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Martin Hermannsson turned it on late in the second half in nearly getting LIU the upset win. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Martin Hermannsson scored only eight but late in the game he started to look dynamic, fearlessly driving to the basket and connecting on those huge late game layups.

“He had some shots (early) that he makes. He was getting to the rim and he was coming up a little bit short on them.” said Perri of Hermannsson’s performance. “He is getting experience. He is a really talented kid. He is a really good player. He is just going to continue to get better and you saw that down the stretch, making some really big plays. He is really crafty and has an ability to get into the lane.”

LIU was down ten early in the second half and it looked like Saint Joseph would pull away but similar to the St. John’s game last week, LIU fought back and immediately answered with a 8-0 run to get back within two.

So far, that has been good early theme for LIU Brooklyn. They are showing great tenacity and toughness and not letting cold spells get into their heads and effect their play. They have made strong comebacks in both early season games so far.

“We are trying to get better each day and we are really trying to do that.” said Perri of his team’s early season performances. “From each of our scrimmages we have gotten better. It has been tough. We have had a lot of practices and not a lot of games. Saint Joseph’s played their fifth game and this is only our second. I think our guys have done a really good job. I can’t ask for much more.”

You can see on the faces of his players, that LIU were really trying to steal this game away. The bench was into it, the players on the floor had determined looks on their faces and they nearly pulled it off.

“I hope they don’t think about this loss in a negative light. It is going to be hard. They’re young. They are all devastated in (the locker room). They wanted to win this game so badly.”

Sophomores Iverson Fleming (L) and Joel Hernandez each with strong games off the bench. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Sophomores Iverson Fleming (L) and Joel Hernandez each with strong games off the bench. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LIU got great play from their bench with 32 bench points. They were slightly out-rebounded by just three to a taller, more athletic Hawks team and shot the ball better at 43%.

Interesting though, Perri went with the hot hands of Hernandez and Fleming especially in the second half and only played senior Gerrell Martin twenty minutes. He finished with just two points on 1 of 5 shooting. He only saw four minutes in the second half before playing down the stretch in overtime.

LIU’s tough start to their non-conference schedule only continues when in under 48 hours, they will face a tough Stony Brook team at Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving. The long breaks in between games are pretty much over for the rest of non-conference play.

“This is a tough stretch right now.” said Perri. “We don’t have time to think about it because tomorrow it is preparation on Stony Brook and then we got to play. The rest of the semester, we don’t have a lot of practice time and it becomes all about preparation.”

LIU Gameday Preview – Game 2 – Saint Joseph’s

Saint Joseph’s Hagan Arena is the site of LIU Brooklyn’s second game of the season as they face the Hawks in Philadelphia. (Photo: bbpassport.com)

 

Opponent: Saint Joseph’s Hawks (Atlantic 10 Conference)

Record: 2-2 (Last game: W vs Vermont, 68-60
KenPom Ranking: 108
Tip-Off Time: 7:00pm
Location: Hagan Arena – Philadelphia, PA
Media Game Coverage: Online: Atlantic 10 Network (pay service-$5 for 24-hr access)/Radio: Sports Radio 610 (WIP-AM)
Meeting History: Fourth meeting. Saint Joseph’s leads series 2-1. [Read more…]

Nura Zanna named NEC Rookie of the Week

LIU"s Nura Zanna captures his first NEC Rookie of the Week honor. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LIU’s Nura Zanna captures his first NEC Rookie of the Week honor. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LIU Brooklyn has played just one game so far this season but that is all it took for 6’7” freshman forward Nura Zanna to get his first career NEC Rookie of the Week honor.

Zanna made his collegiate debut last Wednesday for the Blackbirds, getting his first career start against St. John’s. He finished his first game with ten points and six rebounds in 28 minutes. He shot 5 of 12 from the field versus St. John’s. Zanna returns back to action after missing last season with a wrist injury.

He helped hold St. John’s Chris Obekpa to five points on 1 of 7 shooting in the game.

Congrats to Nura Zanna on his first career honor, the likely first of several for him and the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds this season.

LIU returns back to action on Tuesday as they head to Philly to face Saint Joseph’s.

LIU Brooklyn 53 St. John’s 66

Landon Atterberry got his first double-double season in loss to St. John's (Photo: Bob Dea)

Landon Atterberry got his first career double-double in loss to St. John’s (Photo: Bob Dea)

It was hard to know what to expect coming into Wednesday night’s LIU Brooklyn season opener at St. John’s. Head coach Jack Perri enters this season with nine players who have never played for LIU before so this was going to be the first time we all got to see what this new group of Blackbirds was capable of.

The final score was not indicative of how well the Blackbirds really played at times with this rather young team, as they lost 66-53 to a more experienced, more talented St. John’s team at Carnesecca Arena.

Right off the bat, there were improvements in two phases from last season’s team, at least in this game. Their rebounding was very good. LIU out-rebounded St. John’s by five and were able to get 21 offensive rebounds against a more athletic and bigger St. John’s team. Their inexperience and size disadvantage showed in that they were only able to get ten points off their second chance opportunities.

Senior Gerrell Martin scored 14 points and help guard SJU’s D’Angelo Harrison. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Also, their defense which was a major point of emphasis in the preseason after going through a disastrous season defensive last season, really showed up to play for the most part tonight, holding St. John’s to 66 points and allowing just 18% three-point shooting.

“We talked about transition defense and not allowing them to get out and go.” said Perri after the loss. “We wanted to make it more of a half-court game and keep the scoring down.”

“LIU came in with purpose.” said St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin after the game. “I was impressed with their cohesive approach.”

Landon Atterberry started out his season strong with his first career double-double. He scored 12 points and grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds including seven offensive boards. One of the goals Perri had for Atterberry before this season was to be more assertive on the glass for LIU and he did that tonight.

LIU’s biggest issue was stopping St. John’s forward Sir’Dominic Pointer. The 6’6” senior set career-highs in scoring (18 points) and blocks (6) to help lead the Red Storm to victory. Also, big man Chris Obekpa finished with 8 blocks even while battling an ankle injury that seemed to hamper him more of the offensive end where he was held to 5 points on 1 of 7 shooting.

Overall, LIU held their own. They had a five-point lead early on in the first half and lead again with under eight minutes left in the first before St. John’s grabbed the lead again. Each time, St. John’s would go on a run and it looked like they would begin to pull away, LIU would respond. A trait you didn’t see too much from LIU last season.

LIU trailed by six at half and then started the second half on a 7-0 run to regain the lead once more. LIU had a resiliency to them in this game which you like seeing from a young squad. There was no giving in and quite frankly, showed a toughness that sorely lacked last season. LIU got within four with about seven minutes left but just couldn’t get any closer as St. John’s, mostly on the defensive end was able to stymie the Blackbirds and keep them at bay.

“In the second half, unfortunately they got some run outs. Maybe fatigue played a little bit of a factor in that. That certainly hurt us.” said Perri.

Nura Zanna with a nice LIU debut going up against SJUs Chris Obekpa. Photo: Bob Dea)

Nura Zanna with a nice LIU debut going up against SJU’s Chris Obekpa. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LIU was only able to shoot just under 30% from the field as St. John’s length and athleticism caused them to alter some shots and shoot some open jumpers a little quicker than they would have liked. LIU tried to battle Obekpa and Pointer in the paint. They were able to get 24 points in the paint. Freshman Nura Zanna had a nice debut with 10 points and 6 rebounds going up against the trees inside. He shot just 5 of 12 but he had some nice inside moves and worked hard inside to get some shots.

The Iceland duo of Elvar Friðriksson and Martin Hermannsson had so-so debuts. Each had five assists although Hermannsson also had four turnovers as well. Both looked impressive at times. Friðriksson showed great poise running the offense and I hate to say it but resembled former Blackbird Jason Brickman out on the court, at least in this game. Neither shot the ball well as they combined to go 3 for 13 and 1 for 7 from three to score a combined ten points. Hermannsson at times looked a little tentative in taking shots possible due to St. John’s length. Yet, you could see the potential in these two guys and see why the coaching staff are love with them both. As they get more comfortable with things and their teammates, they are going to be quite a duo.

“I wish Martin (Hermannsson) would have been more aggressive for himself. I though he had shots that he passed up.” said Perri. “He has been our best player everyday. He is a tough-minded kid. I think he isn’t used to playing against Big East athletic guards like that. I think they are both going to be really good. They have a certain presence to them. They have a certain innate toughness to them. They don’t let things necessarily bother them, they just play through stuff. So I was really happy with both of them.”

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Elvar Friðriksson (L) and Martin Hermannsson (R) made their LIU debuts in loss to St. John’s (Photo: Bob Dea)

Also, at one time in this game, Perri went with five freshmen on the court at once given further evidence of the youth movement happening this season at LIU.

“There was a point with twelve minutes to go in the game, I had five freshmen on the court and they were getting stops. They played with some grit. They played with some toughness.”

LIU also played this game without three forwards as neither Glenn Feidanga (ankle), Jonathan Tshibuy (knee) and Chris Carter (foot/mono) were available to go, making the effort they gave against a bigger St. John’s team even more impressive.

“Overall, I was kind of happy with our effort. Not happy with the outcome but at the same time, I think we can make some progress with that.” said Perri.

Senior Gerrell Martin finished with 14 points but he shot just 5 of 16 although he hit 4 of 8 from three. LIU’s bench scored just seven points. Freshmen Trevin Woods (3 points) and Jamil Hood (0 points) also both made their LIU debuts in this one.

Besides Pointer’s 18 points, St. John’s got 15 points from Rysheed Jordan and 14 points from D’Angelo Harrison as they go to 3-0 on the young season.

The early games don’t get an easier for LIU Brooklyn as they next face Saint Joseph’s of the Atlantic 10 on the road on Tuesday in Philadelphia. Yet, this is a game and an effort that they can hopefully build on and gain confidence from. They didn’t look overmatched which was the fear heading in. They accounted themselves well but need to learn from this loss and get better. No opponent is going to give them wins because of how young they are.