Opponent: Fairleigh Dickinson
Record: 6-6 (Last game: W at Central Connecticut State, 73-67)
KenPom Ranking: 281
Tip-Off Time: 7:30pm
Location: Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY
Media Game Coverage: Online: NEC Front Row — Audio: Red Zone Media
Meeting History: 97th all-time meeting. Series is tied at 48 wins a piece. Last season, LIU had their 11-game win streak in the series snapped in a 89-67 loss at the Steinberg Wellness Center.
Projected Starting Lineups:
LIU Brooklyn: Elvar Friðriksson (G), Gerrell Martin (G), Martin Hermannsson (G), Landon Atterberry (F), Nura Zanna (F)
FDU: Mustafaa Jones (G), Darian Anderson (G), Earl Potts Jr (G/F), Matt McDonald (F), Darius Stokes (F),
The FDU Knights are off to a 6-6 start to their season and were one of the five teams who won their NEC opener on Saturday when they defeated Central Connecticut on the road 73-67.
The Knights have a couple of nice wins on their resume this season including a road win at Saint Joseph’s in the season opener and a win at Princeton. Both teams are currently ranked in KenPom’s Top-200.
FDU is the third least-experienced team in the NEC according to KenPom (LIU is the least) this season yet head coach Greg Herenda once again is getting his young team to play hard and getting good results out of them.
FDU is currently third in the NEC in scoring offense at 67 points/game with a third-best field goal percentage of 40.1% and second-best three-point shooting percentage of 37.1%. They are tied for third in the NEC in offensive points per possession with 0.96 ppp. They also currently play at the slowest tempo of any team in the NEC with 63.7 possessions per 40 minutes. They are patient on offense, they don’t turn the ball over much and work their way to good shots and can hit the three-ball.
On defense, the Knights are a middle of the road defensive team. Opponents average 70.5 points/game and allow 1.08 points/possession which is tied for second-worst in the NEC. Teams this season are shooting 47% from the field. Teams have exploited the Knights inside as they have given up 53.6% on two-point shots but they have done a decent job guarding the three-point line, allowing just 35.1% from deep.
This season, FDU is led by senior guard Mustafaa Jones who is averaging 15.3 points/game. Jones have scored in double figures in all but one game this season. He has scored at least 16 points in six of the last seven games. He finished with 17 points in the win versus CCSU on Saturday. He also leads the teams in minutes played (32.4), three-point shooting percentage (42% – 5th in the NEC) and free throw percentage (92% – 2nd in the NEC). He also get 1.4 steals per game.
Freshman Darian Anderson is the Knights’ second leading scorer at 11.1 points/game. He leads them in assists with 2.6 apg and is shooting nearly 41% from three. Over the last four game, he is averaging 15 ppg and is hitting 44% of his shots including hitting ten threes.
Sophomore Matt McDonald is third FDU player averaging over 10 ppg with 10.8 points/game. He had a breakout 29-point game against Princeton but had just one double-digit scoring game in his last six games when he had 13 versus Delaware.
Junior forward Xavier Harris (7.7 ppg/6.0 rpg) is the Knights’ leading rebounder. They also have two more freshman who are in Herenda’s main rotation with Marques Townes (7.4 ppg) and Earl Potts Jr. (4.9 ppg) who has started the last two games for FDU.
The spotlight is on freshman Elvar Fridriksson who is LIU’s second leading scorer at 10.4 points/game and has had back-to-back poor performances after a good streak of high percentage shooting games. In the last two games, Fridriksson has scored just six total points and has made two of nineteen shots.
It could be that the word is out that Fridriksson can score the ball as well dish it off and defense are playing him a little tighter. But he has had good looks at the rim with some of his jump shots as well as getting to the hole but the shots right now are just not fallen. Jack Perri is confident his point guard will get his game back to form and LIU needs him to find his shooting touch.
Also the LIU bench needs to step up and play better. The second unit guys have been exposed of late as opponents have gotten back in games against some of the second unit guys forcing Perri to go back to the starters and having to play them heavy minutes.
LIU’s Keys to the Game:
– Get the offense going! – The Blackbirds have cracked 1.0 points/possession just once this season in their win versus Maine in which they scored a season-high 82 points. LIU has hit 70 points scored just four times this season and done just once at the Steinberg Wellness Center. Perri has started to grow frustrated with the offensive deficiencies and would like to see his team shoot the ball better and make better decisions in their shots.
– Get 40 minutes of defense – LIU had a solid first 20 minutes of defense in the first half against Bryant but that effort disappeared in the second half as Bryant torched them for 45 points. The defense is better than it was all of last season but they need to play it for a full game and not just a half.
– Balance scoring make for wins – Although it was great to see Gerell Martin break out for 28 against Bryant. LIU is at its best when they have four guys scoring between 12 and 20 points and spread out the scoring. That means LIU can’t rely on one or two guys getting it done scoring wise. They need contributions from both the starters and the bench.
LIU Injury Report:
– Glenn Feidanga has now missed LIU’s last four games due to his reoccurring ankle injury. At the moment, there is no definite timetable to his return.
– Jonathan Tshibuy is still out, recovering from knee surgery. No timetable yet for his return.
KenPom Game Prediction: LIU Brooklyn, 71-67. LIU win probability: 66%.
LIU Brooklyn wraps up their NEC season opening three-game home stand with a matchup against Sacred Heart on Thursday, January 8th at the Steinberg Wellness Center. The game is schedule for a 7:00 pm start.