LIU Gameday Preview – Game 15 (NEC Game 4) – Wagner

Wagner’s Spiro Sports Center on Staten Island is the battleground for the latest installment between the Blackbirds and the Seahawks.

Opponent: Wagner

Record: 3-11 (Last game: L vs Robert Morris, 77-73
KenPom Ranking: 315
Tip-Off Time: 4:00pm
Location: Spiro Sports Center – Staten Island, NY
Media Game Coverage: Online: ESPN3/WatchESPN
Meeting History: 98th all-time meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads the series 55-42. Wagner has won the last two games in the series and four out of the last five games. LIU Brooklyn is 26-21 all-time versus Wagner on the road.

Projected Starting Lineups:

Wagner: Marcus Burton (G), Jo Jo Cooper (G), Romone Saunders (G), Stedman Allen (F), Greg Senat (C)

LIU Brooklyn: Elvar Friðriksson (G), Gerrell Martin (G), Martin Hermannsson (G), Landon Atterberry (F), Nura Zanna (F)

Opponent Preview:

Wagner has enjoyed great regular season successes in the last three seasons. They won at least 19 games in those years and finished in second-place in the NEC standings in each of those seasons. Yet, each time in ended in the same way, with a NEC semifinal loss at home.

Those teams had players like Kenneth Ortiz, Latif Rivers, Tyler Murray, Naofall Folahan, Jonathan Williams, Mario Moody, Orlando Parker and others. All those guys are now gone and Wagner has entered into a rebuilding stage much like several NEC teams including LIU Brooklyn.

Third-year head coach Bashir Mason is trying to mold the second-least experienced team in the NEC into what those teams were but it has been a challenge for the Seahawks this season. They enter this game at 3-11 and 1-2 in the NEC. Similar to LIU, their only NEC win came in double-overtime at home against Mount St. Mary’s last Monday.

There is still one hold over from their winning teams of the last three seasons and he is Marcus Burton. The 6’0″ senior point guard is averaging 16.2 points per game and he is third in the NEC in scoring. Burton has had five games of over 20 or more points scoring including dropping 59 points over the last two games. He scored a career-high 38 points in the double OT win versus Mount St. Mary’s. Even though, Burton has shot nearly 50% from the floor in the last two games, he is shooting nearly 40% from the field this season. He has made 33% of this threes.

After Burton, Wagner doesn’t have another player averaging double figures. The next top three scorers are all freshmen.

Shooting guard Corey Henson is second on team in scoring with 9.1 points per game. He has gone for a season-high 16 points twice this season including in his last game against Robert Morris. Henson is a 42% shooter who connects on 35% of his threes. Romone Saunders is averaging just under nine points per game and is shooting just under 40%. His season-high is 20 points against Rider. Point guard Jo Jo Cooper is averaging 8.2 points per game and 4.4 assists per game. He is a 38% shooter and has made just 29% of his threes. He scored in double-figures in four of his fourteen games this season.

Junior Dwaun Anderson has return to the Wagner lineup after missing the first 12 games of the season due to a foot injury. He did not play in the loss to Robert Morris on Thursday after experiencing pain in the foot. It is believed he will be available to play against LIU.

Mike Aaman, the Rhode Island transfer, has missed the last four games after taking a shot to the head in the December 23rd game against Cincinnati. Aaman has a vast history of concussions and Wagner is being very cautious with him. It is believed he will once again not be able to go.

Wagner is fourth in the NEC in scoring at 67.5 points per game. They score 0.93 points per possession. As a team, they shoot the ball under 40% and make 32% of their threes. Defensively, Wagner is dead last in the NEC in scoring defense at 75.9 points per game. They allow 1.11 points per possession. Opponents hit on 50% of their shots and 41% of their threes.

LIU Spotlight:

The spotlight will be on freshman big man Nura Zanna. Zanna is coming off one of his best games of the season where he scored 13 points and eight rebounds in a season-high 35 minutes. Zanna is averaging 9.3 points and eight rebounds in NEC play so far.

Zanna was able to use his size against a slightly smaller Sacred Heart and was able to get to the free line thirteen times. The problem Zanna has had this season is staying out of foul trouble. He has fouled out of six games this season including the last two games. He leads LIU with 55 fouls committed and has had no fewer than three fouls in every games except one.

Zanna needs to work on passing out of the post when he feels the defense collapsing on him. That is something he needs to work on as he goes along. He has just two assists for the entire season.

LIU’s Keys to the Game:

– Cool down Burton: Burton has been on fire of late and LIU will need stay on top of him defensively. Burton can get very streaky if he gets going so LIU can’t allow him to get to many open looks.

– Cut the turnovers: LIU committed 21 turnovers in their win against Sacred Heart. LIU will need to do a much better job protecting the basketball.

– Better guards wins: Both teams features a ton of guards so the team that has the run of play in the backcourt will likely end up on top.

LIU Injury Report:

– Jonathan Tshibuy was available to play in Thursday’s game against Wagner. He did not play.

– Glenn Feidanga has now missed LIU’s last six games due to his reoccurring ankle injury. At the moment, there is no definite timetable to his return.

KenPom Game Prediction: Wagner, 71-70. LIU win probability: 44%.

Next Up: 

The Blackbirds continue on this mini two-game road trip as they head to New Britain, Connecticut to take on Central Connecticut State on Thursday, January 15th. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00pm.

%d bloggers like this: