As we get ready to open the curtain up on LIU Brooklyn’s 2014-15 season tomorrow, I’ve asked friend of Blackbirds Hoops Journal, a play-by-play and blogger extraordinaire as well a St. John’s alum, Jaden Daly of Daly Dose of Hoops, to help preview the upcoming LIU Brooklyn season opener against St. John’s with a Q&A on his alma mater. You can also find Jaden on Twitter @ or at nearly any college game in area near you.
I also did a Q&A with Jaden for his site on LIU, you can read it here.
(Editor’s Note: This Q&A was conducted before St. John’s game against Franklin Pierce on Monday night. Obviously, neither one of us figured St. John’s would struggle in the first half against the Division II school before winning comfortably in the second half.)
BHJ: Do you think LIU will be able to do anything inside the paint with Chris Obekpa protecting the rim?
JD: LIU will have a hard time getting past Chris Obekpa, just because of his massive wingspan that can alter just about any shot that comes within his reach. That’s not to say the Blackbirds won’t be able to manufacture any offense at all inside the paint, but their guard play will be critical here. If LIU’s backcourt can make precise entry passes and feed Nura Zanna, Landon Atterberry or Glenn Feidanga under the rim, Obekpa might have to work for whatever stats he puts up on the defensive end.
BHJ: St. John’s has one of the better backcourts in the country with D’Angelo Harrison, Rysheed Jordan and Phil Greene in their starting lineup, why are they consider so good?
JD: The reigning Haggerty Award winner, D’Angelo Harrison is a senior who still has not gotten the credit he should have received for fine-tuning his game to be more than just the shooter he was as a freshman. He was ridiculously slighted on the Big East’s preseason Player of the Year voting, and with St. John’s failures in the past two years, his contributions tend to get lost in the shuffle. Fellow senior Phil Greene is more often than not an enigma. Some nights, he will be the hot hand on the floor, some others, he will go into a prolonged cold spell, yet Steve Lavin’s trust in him may be the most among any Red Storm player. Finally, Jordan, the sophomore point guard from Philadelphia, might have the most potential of the three, projected as a potential NBA draft pick as early as this season should he declare early. Jordan is more a scorer than a passer though, but has been an integral part of almost every St. John’s win.
BHJ: What do you see as an apparent strength and weaknesses of this St. John’s team?
JD: St. John’s biggest strength is also its weakness, that being its three-guard lineup with Chris Obekpa at the five. The smaller lineup allows the Red Storm to get out in transition and dictate the tempo of the game, characteristics that Steve Lavin prides his teams on. On the contrary, the lack of a true second interior presence enables opponents to focus on Obekpa specifically and establish themselves in the lane. Therefore, I expect LIU to have their share of chances at the basket. Whether or not they capitalize is a different story.
BHJ: Who would you consider to be an X-factor on St. John’s?
JD: If there is an X-factor on this St. John’s team, I would say it’s Jamal Branch. Branch has carved out his own niche since arriving from Texas A&M, finding a spot as the sixth man, and a bench scorer unlike most others. Don’t be surprised to see him early, especially if one of the Red Storm bigs lands in foul trouble, and if he’s not burying mid-range jumpers, he’ll be facilitating offense for the likes of D’Angelo Harrison and Rysheed Jordan.
BHJ: What must LIU need to do to pull the big upset at Carnesecca? (KenPom is only giving LIU a 4% chance to win)
LIU’s biggest key to victory will be to stay out of foul trouble. After last season’s thin front line had difficulty staying in games, the last thing Jack Perri will want to see is his forwards being worn down by the quickness and athleticism of St. John’s. The Blackbirds have their share of shooters and scorers to hang with the Red Storm well into the second half, especially at Carnesecca Arena, where St. John’s seemingly never has a flawless game for some reason or another, but if they can stay disciplined on the defensive end, their hopes could become an upset.
Many thanks again to Jaden Daly. Tomorrow, I will have the season debut of the LIU Gameday Preview as I take an in-depth at this season opening game for LIU Brooklyn.