A first look into next season for LIU Brooklyn

The 2014-15 LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball season brought about plenty of ups and downs as the Blackbirds finished the season 12-18 and 8-10 in the NEC. Youth was the theme of this season as LIU’s six freshmen and three sophomores accounted for 77% of the team’s total playing time. This valuable on-the-court experience as well as getting back into the NEC tournament after a one-year absence should help the returning group of Blackbirds as they head into the summer and the offseason and begin preparations for the 2015-16 season.

As we close the door on this season, I wanted to take a first early look at next season and take a peek of what is hopefully returning back for the Blackbirds.

Nura Zanna

Upside: The LIU big man in the middle started in all 30 games for the Blackbirds this season after missing all of last season with a wrist injury. Finished on the All-NEC Rookie Team with 8.5 ppg/6.3 rpg while shooting 47.4% from the field. Finished with 12 games of at least eight rebounds and recorded one double-double this season. At times showed dominance in the low post and ability to be a game-changer down in the blocks.

Downside: He led LIU in fouls by a wide margin. Committed 111 fouls this season, 28 more than the next player on the list. Played the fewest minutes of three freshmen starters this season due his foul woes. Also was terrible from the free throw line at 54.1%.

What Needs to Improve: Zanna has to work on his foot work and developing his low post moves this offseason. He didn’t get a chance to work much on his game last summer due to his injury so this offseason will be his first opportunity to really improve on his game. Also, needs to work on his poise and watch tape of himself making tons of silly, ill-advised fouls that would put him on the bench. If he works on that as well as his free throw shooting, sky is the limit for the big man.

Role next season: No change, he will be a starter at the 5 once again come next season.

Martin Hermannsson

Upside: Hermannsson was the second LIU freshman to be named to the All-NEC Rookie Team this season. He finished second on the team in scoring at 10.1 ppg and was second in assists with 3.8 apg. He led LIU in minutes played at over 31 minutes per game. Able to play both guard positions and did so very well this season. Surprised me how good of a ball handler he was and how good he was whenever he was asked to play the point. Outstanding free throw shooter at 86.4%. Also has a great ability to get to the basket on dribble penetration and did a good job most of the season finishing on those drives.

Downside: His outside shooting this season was disappointing and he is the first to admit it. Only shot 27.5% from three. It took him a while into the season to find the range on that outside shot of his. He also fouled a little too much, finished second on LIU in fouls with 83. Crazy to say this but sometimes I thought he wasn’t selfish enough, didn’t score a single 20-point game this season when he probably could have had a handful had he taken more shots and maybe gotten to the free throw line more instead of dished it off to teammates.

What Need to Improve: Obviously, he will need to do a better job with his outside shooting. I think his goal should be to become at least to become a 40% shooter from three. Also, will need to do a better job of playing without fouling as much. He can also work on his finishing at the rim. If he improves on all three of these, he will be an All-NEC player next season without a doubt.

Role next season: No change, day one starter at the off-guard position.

Elvar Friðriksson

Upside: Good point guard who proved this season he can score as well as dish the ball off to teammates. Finished third on the team in scoring with 8.9 ppg and first in assists and steals with 3.8 apg and 1.1 spg. Showed at times this season that he can carry the team offensively. He impressed with at times this season with his defense, moves his feet very well to stay in front of players and does well picking up charges against opposition.

Downside: After a splendid start to the season, was pretty much inconsistent the rest of the season. Had a great assist-to-turnover ratio early on and then started turning the ball over a little too frequently. Finished with a 1.5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Has a bit of tendency to hang his head and get frustrated with himself when things are not going his way. Although, he shot the ball better than his Icelandic teammate this season, still shot just 36% from the field and 32% from three.

What Needs to Improve: I think he needs to continue working on his ball handling to tighten up that dribble of his. Late in the season, teams were testing his ball handling and he was turning the ball over too much. Also, he needs to play more consistently and not as much up and down as he did this season. Can also continue working on his outside shooting and see if he be more of a 40% shooter from three. Also, needs to be more of a leader next season and be more confident in himself as well.

Role next season: No change, starting point guard next season.

Joel Hernandez

Upside: He started in 14 of the 29 games he played this season, all NEC games. Finished with 8.0 ppg and 4.0 rpg. Showed toughness and the ability to play multiple positions whether it was the 2, 3, or 4. Has a nice mid-range jumper and can get after it on the glass. Also was one of the better defenders on the team.

Downside: Had trouble hitting the three-point shot, finished with a 29.4% three-point shooting percentage. He was also terrible from the free throw line this season at 51.9%. You can’t have a guard shoot that poorly from the charity stripe.

What Needs to Improve: His three-point shooting and his free throw-shooting. Those need to get better he wants to continue getting increased minutes next season.

Role next season: Will be in competition for the open guard starting position that is going to be left behind by departing senior Gerrell Martin.

Iverson Fleming

Upside: He did a nice job all season mainly as the backup point guard behind Elvar Friðriksson. At times this season was the one point guard finishing games for LIU. One of the few players on the team with above average speed. Solid ball handler. Also shot the ball better than expected from the outside. Good defender. Good at driving to the basket.

Downside: Somewhat inconsistent. Tends to sometime disappear in games or not do too much while given the opportunity. Average free throw shooter at 65%. Made just 37.5% of his two-point shots. Only average 1.4 assists this season and had just a 1.3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

What Needs to Improve: Needs to continue working on his outside shot. Could use another solid summer in the weight room. Become a better distributor on the offensive end and reduce the turnovers. Also, continue working on his free throws.

Role next season: Likely will have the same role next season as he had this season, backup point guard and occasionally play some minutes at the two guard spot.

Trevin Woods

Upside: Good stretch wing that can hit the outside shot. Very good free throw shooter at 86.7%. Very good rebounder at 3.5 rpg coming off the bench. Decent shot blocker and defender thanks to long arms.

Downside: Streaky shooter. Below average ball handler, struggles with his dribble. Like most of the freshman was inconsistent.

What Needs to Improve: Needs to continue working on his shooting, 38% from the field and 32.8% from three. Also needs to spend time in the weight room this summer as well as work on his ball handling. Teams exposed his ball handling in a press.

Role next season: Should compete for a starting spot next season at either the 3 or the 4. Like to see him be the starter at the 4 next season with the departure of Landon Atterberry this season.

Glenn Feidanga

Upside: Played in only limited minutes as a reserve due to injury but showed an improvement to his game from his freshman year. Has added a nice looking short mid-range jumper to his game as well as continued to show his ability to rebound the ball. Also looked like he improved his free throw shooting albeit in a small sample size of just 34 attempts.

Downside: Did not play full season (missed 13 games) due to lingering ankle injury. Only shot 40% from the field in 55 shot attempts. Still commits too many fouls, led LIU in fouls committed per 40 minutes (7.2).

What Needs to Improve: It would be great to see if Feidanga can get his shooting percentage up to above 50% from the field and can keep his free throw percentage around 75% next season. Also, if he could reduce his fouls next season it would be a big help.

Role next season: I see Feidanga as continuing what he did this season when he was healthy which was as Zanna’s backup in the 5. I can easily see his playing time increase to around 20 minutes per game playing both 4 and 5 positions.

Trevon Woods

Upside: Like his brother, can shoot the three and rebound the ball. Although he only shot seven free throws all season, he made six so like his twin brother, he is also a very good free throw shooter.

Downside: Although in limited opportunities, he still shot 31% from the field and 26.7% from three.

What Needs to Improve: An offseason in the weight room can do him some good. He has to continue working on his shot and hopefully get his shooting percentages up next season.

Role next season: I believe he will likely continue his role as a reserve off the bench although I see his minutes taking a nice step up next season, playing minutes at either the 2, 3 and 4 positions.

Jamil Hood

Upside: Hood showed this season he is quick and is a good team player. Shot 34.6% in his limited playing time off the bench. Has the capacity to be a good scorer as he did in scoring 11 points in 9 minutes against Mount St. Mary’s late in the season. Great athleticism.

Downside: Didn’t get to see what he can really do this season due to injuries that he played through for most of the entire season which limited his great explosiveness. Didn’t make a three-pointer this season (0 for 8). Also committed 13 turnovers to 6 assists all season.

What Needs to Improve: Hood needs to get healthy and continue working on his outside shot. Showed some signs of what he is capable of doing if he is fully healthy. Need to cut down his turnovers and dish out more assists next season.

Role next season: Could very much seeing him getting increased minutes as the backup point guard and playing with Fleming or Friðriksson in two point guard lineups as he did this season.

Jerome Frink

Role next season: Expected to be inserted immediately into the starting lineup at the four next to Zanna in the front court. His strength will be as an inside-post player although he can make the three on occasion. Good rebounder who can be a great rebounder in the NEC. Frink along with Zanna could potentially be one of the best one-two punches in the front court in the NEC next season.

Jonathan Tshibuy

Role next season: Hurt his knee before the season. Not sure what his role or impact will be on this team next season. If he has any role, it will likely be as a deep reserve player.

LIU Brooklyn currently has two scholarships open for 2015-16 season. The Blackbirds did not sign any players during the early signing period back in November. The National Letter of Intent regular signing period begins on Wednesday, April 15th.

Editor’s Note: 3/26 – 4pm – I forgot to include freshman Jamil Hood in my original post. He has now been added. My apologizes for mistakenly leaving him off. 

Comments

  1. Thanks, Nelson, for all the work you do on this site. Us Blackbirds fans are lucky to have such a great resource.

    I think your player analyses are right on. A couple things I’m seeing: 1. Boy does LIU need some bodies down low. Did you see the thing over at NYCBuckets where they ranked the NEC teams by height, in terms of playing time, weighted towards interior players? The Mount was the tallest, and LIU was in last. Of course, it’s difficult for all teams in the NEC to attract those who stand tall and talented, but you definitely don’t want to be last in that category. Frink will definitely help–he’s not amazingly tall, but he’s definitely a solidly built guy. 2. Zanna definitely needs work on his post game, especially when doubled. (I think he’ll calm down with the fouling–he was definitely staying on the court more towards the end of the season.) One problem with his fundamentals is that when he gets the ball and is doubled, instead of bending at the knees he bends at the waist before going up. (You see this with a lot of big men–Willie Cauley-Stein does this, too.) It makes it hard to explode toward the basket, but it makes it even harder to see the open shooter when you get doubled. 3. Love Fridriksson’s attitude, even if he had some late-game meltdowns that cost us heavily. You’re right about his lateral movement–it’s great. One worrying thing about the turnovers is that they increased over the season. On the pick and roll, he likes to split the pick and drive down the middle. That’s a risky strategy, because you can easily end up stuck there, with two guys poking at the ball, and so very few point guards rely on that action, outside people like Derrick Rose. I fear that in the early games defenses were just surprised by it, and as the scouting reports came through, they started to wise up. You saw a lot of his turnovers were dribbling in the middle of the court. He’s going to have to use the pick more. 4. I love Iverson Fleming, but I worry about him, even on defense. I think that while he’s very fast end to end, and he looks great, he doesn’t actually have great lateral movement–Fridriksson’s is much better–and so he tends not to be a great man defender, especially on PnRs. I wish it weren’t so, and I could easily be wrong–until SportVu comes to the Wellness center, we won’t know! 5. The Woods twins should be great next year, but they’re definitely wings and stretch 4s–the guy on here saying they’re guards is unfortunately in error. Their ballhandling needs improvement, as you say, but they should be excellent shooters and guys who can really crash the glass from outside. 6. As for Hermansson, I have to think his outside shooting will improve next year. I think he and Marcquise Reed may be the two best guards in their year. He’s going to be great.

    Here’s hoping for one or two great recruits! See you next season!

  2. Dan From Staten Island says:

    You always seem to have a pretty good handle on all the NEC teams in addition to your up-close looks at the LIU program. Would be really interested in seeing you do a similar take on all of the other 9 teams in the league. If you don’t believe you’d like to be that extensive, you could cut it back a bit and attempt a review of only the NYC teams, Wagner and St. Francis. Really enjoy all of the articles you generate. Look forward to them. See where Stedman Allen is supposed to be leaving the Seahawk program. He only has one more year of eligibility left and he looked like he was being counted on to be a key contributor for 2015-16. Do you know what’s going on over at Grymes Hill? Also, understand that St. Francis may have recruited another student-athlete from Iceland. Do you have any information on that signing?

    • Dan, that for liking the latest post. Appreciate it as always. At the moment, I’m not planning on doing anything similar with the other NEC teams. Since we have already entered into transfer season, some of these rosters could get a shakeup i.e. as we have with Wagner with the Allen transfer. I don’t know what is going on over at Wagner. Bashir Mason has had trouble keeping important big men the last couple of seasons. I think he did a good job this season considering the young roster that he had but the Dan Hurley lovers think Mason’s successes came with Hurley’s players and has trouble bringing and keeping impact recruits. I don’t necessarily agree with that notion. Hurley did an amazing job bring Wagner back to relevance in two short years and Mason has had a tough time living up to that high standard.

      As far as St. Francis Brooklyn recruiting another Icelandic player, I haven’t heard anything about it yet. Obviously, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did considering Gunnar Olaffson could help recruits other players from there and kids there saw the impact he along with the LIU freshman pair had on their teams this season.

      • Dan From Staten Island says:

        Really sorry that you’re not planning on doing a review of the other NEC teams. Know that it would have been pretty insightful. Anyway, please keep up the excellent work on LIU.

  3. Michael Hernandez says:

    Hi Nelson,
    Great article as usual. Any idea on potential recruits for the LIU MBB next year?? Also, any early information on who they’re looking to coach the WBB program??

    • Thanks Michael for the compliment!

      I have no idea yet on any potential recruits. I know they made a ton of offers to a bunch of forwards (6’6″ or taller) but have yet to land any. Some of the guys they offered signed early elsewhere. There is a Texas guard coming in for unofficial visit in the coming weeks that I’m aware of. There is probably a few more visits in the works, just don’t know about them yet.

      As far as the WBB program goes, have not heard anything about what direction they are looking to head in terms of their new head coach. Not sure if they are looking for someone with previous experience or are looking to hire an upstart assistant coach and let him or her start from scratch.

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