Opponent: St. Francis Brooklyn
Record: 20-9, 7-2 NEC (Last game: W vs Fairleigh Dickinson, 66-54)
KenPom Ranking: 140
Tip-Off Time: 7:00pm
Location: Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY
Media Game Coverage: TV: MSG and FOX College Sports; Audio: Red Zone Media
Meeting History: 102th all-time meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads the series, 63-38. St. Francis Brooklyn won the first meeting of the season 81-64 at the Pope Center in the 40th annual Battle of Brooklyn on January 31st.
Projected Starting Lineups:
St. Francis Brooklyn: Brent Jones (G), Tyreek Jewell (G), Chris Hooper (F), Lowell Ulmer (F), Jalen Cannon (F)
LIU Brooklyn: Elvar Friðriksson (G), Gerrell Martin (G), Martin Hermannsson (G), Joel Hernandez (F), Nura Zanna (F)
The St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers are in the midst of one of the best season’s in program history and it could end up being a historic season as the Terriers tried to get into the NCAA tournament for the first time ever in program history. St. Francis Brooklyn is one of five original Division I teams who have never been to the NCAA tournament.
The Terriers with their win last Saturday against Saint Francis U. on senior day, clinch their first outright NEC regular season championship since the 2000-01 season. The NEC tournament will have to go through Brooklyn Heights as long as the Terriers are involved.
St. Francis Brooklyn has won their last eight games in a row and since their 0-5 start to the season has lost just a total of four games.
When you talk about this season’s St. Francis Brooklyn team, the two players that immediately come to mind are seniors Jalen Cannon and Brent Jones.
Jones will likely be named on this season’s All-NEC first team next week. Jones is averaging a career-high 13.9 points per game and 5.4 assists per game. He has scored in double-digits in 26 of 29 games this season. Four times, he has scored 20-plus points. He scored a season-high 25 points against Mount Saint Vincent. He has a 1.7-to-1 assists to turnover ratio. He is indeed the engine that runs the Terriers offense attack.
Cannon will go down as one of the best players in NEC history. He has surpassed 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds and is just the second NEC player in conference history to accomplish the feat. He is a five-time NEC Player of the Week and will likely be the runaway winner of the NEC Player of the Year award when it is named next week. Nine times this season he has scored over 20 points in a game. Seventeen times, he has recorded a double-double. He has seven double-doubles over his team’s last nine games.Over his last ten games, Cannon is averaging 22 points per game and 11.9 rebounds per game. He is averaging a double-double for the entire season with his 16.7 points per game average along with his 10.3 rebounds per game average. Actually, he did NOT have a double-double against LIU in their first meeting, just missing it by one rebound.
The third Terrier player who will likely win a postseason award is junior Amdy Fall and he doesn’t even start for them. He is front-runner for NEC Defensive Player of the Year. He is averaging 2.9 blocks per game. The next guy on the list is averaging 1.7 blocks per game. He is also grabbed over 5 rebounds per game to go with his 6.9 points per game average. He is shooting 51.6% from the field this season.
Along with Fall and Cannon, the Terriers have plenty of bodies in the front court with guys like 6’5″ Kevin Douglas, 6’6″ Chris Hooper, 6’7″ Antonio Jenifer and 6’5″ Lowell Ulmer.
After Jones, two key guys in the backcourt for the Terriers are shooting guard Tyreek Jewell and freshman backup point guard Glenn Sanabria. Jewell is third on the Terriers in scoring at 9.6 points per game. He is definitely a volume shooter. He has taken 292 shots this season and is only a 35.6% shooter. He has had a rough season shooting the three making only 19.7% of his threes. Sanabria may land himself on the All-NEC Rookie team. He is scoring 5.9 points per game off the bench and has made 44.1% of his threes this season. He has played a lot in crunch time along with Jones and has already made some key baskets for them this season.
The Terriers defense is still top notch. They are second in the NEC in defensive efficiency in conference games at 97.5 points per 100 possessions. In terms of points per possession, St. Francis Brooklyn have the stingiest defense in the NEC. They allow an NEC-best 0.96 points per possession. They are just one of two teams in the NEC allowing under 1.0 points per possession along with Mount St. Mary’s. They give up 64.3 points per game which is a fraction behind NEC leaders St. Francis (PA) in that department. They are one the best blocking team in the NEC in which their block percentage is far and away the best in the NEC at 13%. They get over five blocks per game. They are also the best rebounding team in the NEC at 35.6 boards per game and nearly 39% of their rebounds are on the offensive end which is tenth-best in the nation.
St. Francis Brooklyn is the second-best shooting team in the NEC from inside the three-point arc at nearly 51.2% during conference games and they get to the free throw line a ton. Their free throw rate is second-best in the NEC as well at 41.5%. If there is a couple of weaknesses the Terriers has it’s mostly on the offensive end. The Terriers are an average three-point shooting team at 33% and they have improved their free throw shooting in the past month and are up to sixth in NEC in free throw shooting at 68.6%.
The Blackbirds after winning four straight and six out of seven games to put themselves in position of getting a top four spot in next week’s NEC Tournament, came out flat last week and it resulted in two blowout losses to Mount St. Mary’s and Wagner. Those losses could likely ruin that great opportunity they had to possible host a NEC quarterfinal game at the Steinberg Wellness Center.
Last week, their offense was a major let down. LIU averaged 56 points in their two losses and scored 0.89 and 0.69 points per possession in the their two losses respectively. In the loss to Wagner, not a single LIU player finished in double figures. That hadn’t happened since 2004 (348 games).
With just two regular season games remaining (plus at least one postseason game), this is time when seniors start coming to the forefront. On this young LIU team, it is time for Gerrell Martin to carry his team through the end.
Martin has not had a great last five games from LIU. He is averaging just 5.4 points per game in that span and has reached double figures just once. He is shooting 31% and has made only 5 of 16 three-pointers over the last five games.
Prior to this rough stretch, Martin was one of the top scorers in conference play. In the first 11 NEC games, Martin was averaging 16.5 points per game and making near 47% of his shots.
The Blackbirds have seen what senior leadership can do for a team in the final week heading into the NEC tournament. Who could forget the run that started on this exact same week two years ago by then-senior C.J. Garner who went on a binge of 30-point plus performances. LIU may not need for Martin to go for 30-plus but they need him to get back to being the shooter he was at the outset and got out finishing strong which he is very much capable of.
It is senior night at the Steinberg Wellness Center as LIU will have a brief pregame ceremony to celebrate the three Blackbirds senior on this year’s team in Gerrell Martin, Landon Atterberry and Chris Carter.
Also, it is Blackout night and all LIU fans are encouraged to wear black for the TV game. The first 400 students will receive a free t-shirt.
LIU’s Keys to the Game:
– Play with urgency: LIU hasn’t played with much urgency in the last three halves of basketball. They is still some hope they could finish with a four-seed and get a home game next week but they’ll have no shot if they don’t win this game and give themselves a chance.
– Run, Run, Run: We will probably learn early on if St. Francis Brooklyn will have their heads in this game since it is rather meaningless to them. The last thing the Terriers will probably want to do is play in a up-and-down affair. The Terriers want to stay healthy and be rested heading into the NEC Tournament. LIU should try and run them out and see what happens.
– Pays to be poised: The Blackbirds are likely in for a battle even if the St. Francis Brooklyn starters don’t play as many minutes as they normally would. LIU need to be poised and look to play smart against the mostly veteran Terriers.
KenPom Game Prediction: St. Francis Brooklyn, 69-65. LIU win probability: 35%.
It is the regular season finale and it will likely have tremendous NEC tournament seeding ramifications as the Blackbirds travel to Sacred Heart for a 3:30pm game on Saturday, February 28.