This is the tenth and final installment of our NEC First Look series in which we take a early glance at all ten Northeast Conference men’s basketball teams for the 2015-16 college basketball season. Here are the other nine posts on CCSU, Bryant, St. Francis Brooklyn, Sacred Heart, Saint Francis U., Fairleigh Dickinson, Wagner, Robert Morris and Mount St. Mary’s.
Gerrell Martin (G) – 11.2 ppg, 39.3% 3pt FG%, 82.7% FT%, All-NEC third team. 29 starts in 30 games played.
Landon Atterberry (F) – 7.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 16 starts in 27 games played.
Elvar Friðriksson (G) – 8.9 ppg, 3.8 apg, 36.2% FG%. Started all 30 games last season. Transferred to Barry (Division II)
Chris Carter (F) – 0.9 ppg, 1.0 rpg in 10 games played.
Jamil Hood Jr. (G) – 1.3 ppg, 1.1 rpg in 24 games played. Transferred to Dodge City CC (JUCO).
Jonathon Tshibuy (G/F) – Missed entire season with a knee injury in his only season at LIU. Transferred.
Aakim Saintil (G) (Junior College Transfer)
Kwe Askew (F)
Julius van Sauers (F)
Raul Frias (G)
Ganlandou Cisse (F)
Mitchell McMullen (G) (walk-on)
Raiquan Clark (G) (walk-on)
LIU stayed relatively healthy last season when compared to the tough season health-wise they had the season before. Three players (all freshman) started all 30 games for LIU and seven players played in 29 of the 30 games. LIU has 60% of returning possession minutes back including two freshman starters. LIU doesn’t have a single senior on the roster this season so it can be said their window of opportunity to contend for an NEC championship once again begins in earnest this upcoming season.
One thing that improved last season was their overall defense which was one of the worst defenses in the nation the season prior. LIU actually led the NEC in defensively three-point field goal percentage allowed. Yet, there is still plenty of room for improvement on that end of the court.
LIU head coach Jack Perri with one of the youngest teams in the nation last season, gave his young guys the bulk of the playing time and that experience should helps translate into more cohesion amongst the returnees this season. Perri and his coaching staff also addressed the front court depth that was major issue two seasons ago and somewhat a problem early last season by adding three more forwards to go with emerging returnees Nura Zanna and Glenn Feidanga.
One major question mark once again going into 2015-16 will be at the point guard position. LIU thought they had their point guard of the future in Elvar Friðriksson who started every game for LIU last season as a freshman but after the season he surprisedly decided to transfer to a Division II school and left Perri once again searching for another point guard. Friðriksson averaged nearly nine points and nearly four assists a game a year ago.
LIU loses their last player who was their final link to their NEC championship three-peat in Gerrell Martin. He led the Blackbirds in scoring with 11.2 ppg and shot over 39% from three last season. Also, Landon Atterberry is gone who started in 17 of 27 games last season and averaged 7.6 points and 4.4 rebounds.
LIU will also need to do a better job at shooting the ball in general. LIU finished 330th in the nation on two-point field goals, making just 42.8% of those shots. Although they were 40th in the nation in tempo, they were just 305th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency. They will need to do a better job being more proficient on the offensive end.
Last season, LIU was just a .500 team (6-6) in games decided by five points or less. For such a young team last season, .500 actually isn’t terrible but if they are to take the next step up this upcoming season, they are going to have to be much better than .500 in close games.
Potential Starting 5:
Aakim Saintil (G) – Averaged 12.1 points and 5.3 assists last season in JUCO in starting 29 of 30 games for Williston State. Shot 48% from field and 39.2% from three last season. Averaged 6.3 points and 1.8 assists in 31 games in his freshman season at South Alabama.
Martin Hermansson (G) – Started all 30 games last season as a freshman. Finished second on the team in scoring (10.1 ppg) and assists (3.3 apg) and hit 86.4% of his free throws. Member of Iceland senior national team this summer.
Trevin Woods (G) – Came off the bench to play in 29 games last season. Averaged 4.2 points and 3.5 rebounds. Shot 32.8% from three. Played about 15 minutes per game.
Jerome Frink (F) – Sat out last season after transferring in from Florida International. Averaged 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in his two seasons at FIU. 46.2% career FG shooter. Started 56 games in 63 appearances at FIU including all 31 games as a sophomore.
Nura Zanna (F) – Also started all 30 games as redshirt freshman last season. Finished fourth on the team in scoring (8.5 ppg) and led LIU in rebounding (6.3 rpg). Shot 47.4% as a freshman.
LIU Brooklyn could be a team back on the rise after missing on the NEC tournament two seasons and earning an eight-seed last season. The Blackbirds used last season as a rebuild and plenty of ups and downs amongst their young unit. Now with most of their players having at least a year of experience under their belts, LIU could be ready to make a move this season if everything clicks right and they can remain healthy throughout the season.
LIU also added five new scholarship players to the roster this season and with a team with no seniors on it, LIU will once again be relatively young again. Yet, they will be a more experienced team as a whole then they were last season when they had just one player with more than one season in the LIU program. This season, they will have four. Also, with a couple of starting positions available, competition in the preseason should be at a high.
Several LIU players are primed to have themselves possible breakout seasons and they include sophomores Trevin and Trevon Woods as well as junior Joel Hernandez. Three LIU guys that will likely garner a lot of the early attention will be sophomores Martin Hermannsson and Nura Zanna and redshirt junior Jerome Frink who many feel could be among the most impactful transfers in the NEC in 2015-16.
If Perri can get this Blackbirds team back to running more and putting points on the board at rate fans had grown accustomed to seeing while continuing the improvement they made last season on the defensive end, LIU could be very much be a sleeper team in the NEC this upcoming season.
The Blackbirds have yet to officially release their schedule but we do know that LIU will take on Loyola (MD) on the road (Nov. 16) followed by a home game versus Maine (Nov. 19). LIU will also face Fordham at Rose Hill Gym (Date TBA) and Florida International (Date TBA) on the road. LIU also host Incarnated Word (Dec. 21). LIU will also host the annual Battle of Brooklyn against St. Francis Brooklyn (Jan. 23).