The LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball team is over a third of the way through their 2014-15 schedule. The non-conference portion is now done and up comes the 18-game journey through the Northeast Conference schedule.
Since we are in between the end of non-conference play and just a day away from the start of NEC play, it is a good time to hand out some mid-season grades and see which Blackbirds are making the grade, needs some improvement or are just lagging behind. Let’s start out by looking at the starting seniors.
Landon Atterberry – Mid-Season Grade: B
Atterberry’s play during non-conference was for the most part very good. With the exception of probably three games, he played well overall. His rebounding numbers are up from last season even though his scoring is slightly lower than last season. He already has two double-doubles which he didn’t have any a season ago. Has done a better job overall staying out of foul trouble most of this season. Will need to be more consistent in NEC play and be a genuine second or third scoring option every single game.
Gerrell Martin – Mid-Season Grade: C
Martin’s performance so far has been quite streaky. After a good start against St. John’s, he had rough outing in three of his next four games. Then he had four good games in a row and it looked like he was going to start to get his season going. Then he an odd zero points/one rebound game against UNH before he hurt himself diving for a loose ball against Hofstra. He is shooting 40% from three although his overall shooting numbers are down from his career numbers. Defensive, he has played well. Right now, he is fourth on the team in scoring when he should be either first or second. His numbers should improve going into NEC play and get scoring numbers similar to what he had last season.
Nura Zanna – Mid-Season Grade: B-
Zanna has had his ups and downs as your would expect for a first-year player especially one who didn’t play at all last season. Has shown a great knack for rebounding the ball very well and he is getting nearly six boards a game. He has flirted with double-doubles a few times already and it is only a matter of time before he starts getting them regularly. I see Zanna’s numbers improving as LIU gets into conference play. The one big issue Zanna has is fouling. He leads LIU in fouls and has fouled out four times already. He is somewhat prone for making the silly, needless foul due to immaturity and inexperience. Yet, I believe he is developing into an inside force for LIU and will be heavily counted on during conference play.
Martin Hermannsson – Mid-Season Grade: B-
Hermannsson before the season looked like one of the best players on the team. Then he got off to a cold shooting start. Since the fourth game of the season, Hermannsson shooting has picked up and so did his scoring. He has shown a great overall game. He fearlessly drives to the basket, he can hit shoot from outside, he can handle the basketball, he can run the offense, he can create his own shot, he has a lot of skills which makes him dangerous. He really needs to shot the ball better and get himself more to the foul line where he is a good free throw shooter. He also has to be a better job staying out of foul trouble.
Elvar Friðriksson – Mid-Season Grade: A
Has been LIU’s best player through the non-conference portion of their schedule. Has been already played a lot of minutes and has quickly gained the trust of the LIU coaching staff. Has really been the most consistent player for the Blackbirds this season. He has a very good assist-to-turnover ratio especially for a freshman. He has made some big time shots in the early going and has carried the offense on several occasion leading to LIU victories. Has shown the ability to get into the paint and get some baskets. He is also not hesitant to take an open shot and always looking to get his teammate a good look.
Joel Hernandez – Mid-Season Grade: B+
Hernandez came into this season fully healthy and has been given a bigger role by head coach Jack Perri. He has play nearly all of his minutes at the 3 and 4 positions. Has been the primary backup at the 4 spot behind Atterberry due to the injury woes of sophomore Glenn Feidanga. Has has some big games coming off the bench and even recorded a double-double this season. He has struggled somewhat shooting the ball in particularly from three where he is just 22% but has really played well when called upon most of this season.
Iverson Fleming – Mid-Season Grade: B
Fleming has been the primary backup point guard and has also seen minutes at the two guard position. Has played well for the most part when called upon. He has had two or three really good scoring games and has played well defensively. His quickness has been a major plus for LIU. Has shot the ball pretty well so far especially from three. Has shown a lot of confidence in his shooting.
Trevin Woods – Mid-Season Grade: C+
Woods is averaging just 11 minutes per game and getting less than three shots a game. He like to shoot the three although he has only made 25% of his attempts. He been inconsistent early on in his freshman season. He has great rebounding games and has had good impact and then he has also had some quiet games. Needs to continue to be more aggressive on the boards and look to get inside a little more and draw some fouls.
Glenn Feidanga – Mid-Season Grade : Incomplete
Feidanga has only played in four of LIU’s eleven games so far due to an ankle injury he suffered in preseason. He missed LIU’s first four games and now has missed LIU’s last three games. Without Feidanga, LIU has had to go with a small lineup basically with four guards most of the time. Feidanga brings a presence in the middle of the bench LIU really desperately needs. Feidanga is a good rebounder and decent inside scorer. LIU will need him back and healthy if they are to make any serious waves in the NEC this season.
Trevon Woods/Jamil Hood/Chris Carter/Jonathan Tshibuy – Combined Mid-Season Grade: C-
Jonathan Tshibuy has yet to play this season after having a knee procedure before the start of the season. He is expected to return sometime in the next couple of weeks. Chris Carter missed the first few games due to the foot injury which caused him to miss most of last season. Carter has appeared in four games for a combined 12 minutes. Hood started the season as the backup point guard, has seen his playing time cut down as more minutes have gone to Iverson Fleming. Hood has been bothered this season by a leg injury that has affected some of his speed and explosiveness.
Coaching – Mid-Season Grade: B
Jack Perri and his coaching staff has done a good job so far bringing this young and fairly inexperienced team along this season. Even after the rough 0-6 start, this team showed great competitiveness to be in most of the first few games before finally breaking through. Perri has done a really nice job of getting this team to play much better defense than they have in the past. The offense has been up and down but has gotten better in recent games. Perri has recognized who are the guys he can go to and can trust and has shortened his rotation appropriately. Perri has made it work somehow in the front court playing a small lineup due to injuries to Feidanga, Tshibuy and Carter. Overall, it has been a solid coaching job and there is a real opportunity for the coaching staff to turn this team into a true dark horse in the NEC this season which was a little hard to imagine coming in.