Five observations from LIU Brooklyn WBB season opening loss to Buffalo

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LIU Brooklyn WBB head coach Stephanie Oliver made her LIU debut in the season opener vs Buffalo on Saturday. (Photo: ESPN3)

On Saturday, the LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball team opened the Stephanie Oliver era with their 2015-16 season opener upstate at Buffalo. The Blackbirds dropped their opener, 55-38, to the Bulls to start 0-1 on the season. Here are five observations I gathered from watching their season opener on ESPN3.

1. The Blackbirds suited up just EIGHT players.

We knew entering this season that Stephanie Oliver was going into the season with a short deck in terms of players. With the rash of offseason transfers and players from last season leaving the team, Oliver was left with just ten available scholarship players entering the season. Well unfortunately, injuries has already taken a big toll before they even made it to the season opener. Senior Angelia Allen, sophomore Drew Winter and grad student Ashley Brown all were out with injuries. The first two are out indefinitely with knee injuries. That left just eight players (seven scholarship players) available for Oliver to use. Four of the five LIU starters logged over 30 minutes in this game with senior Jolanna Ford playing all but one minute. It’s hard to win when a team doesn’t have enough bodies to come off the bench to spell the starters for a while to rest as well as they can’t afford for anyone to get into major foul trouble at really any point in the game. The lack of player hamstrung Oliver and it looks like this is going to be the case for quite a while.

2. LIU’s front court is super-thin.

With the thin roster to begin with and the injury to 5’10” Angelia Allen, LIU really only has two players above 5’10” left on the team who is available in 6’0″ DeAngelique Waithe and 6’0″ Jolanna Ford, who both started in this game and will likely have to start almost every game this season. Waithe got her in foul trouble in the first half which left Oliver having no choice but to go most with a four-guard lineup although 5’9″ Stylz Sanders can be play in the front court as well as a guard/forward. Yet, this predicament leaves LIU with not much height on the court for big chunks of time in games especially in this opener.

3. The offense REALLY struggled and turnovers. Lots of turnovers.

This was a problem LIU had last season under Gail Streigler and in game one this season, with the same group of players that were all at LIU last season, the offense got to a very slow start in the first quarter shooting just 26% from the floor and finishing the game at just 31%. The Blackbirds missed on all fourteen of their three-point attempts including 0 from 6 for Shanvoia Dove which included a couple of airballs. If not for threes missed, Dove would have had a nice shooting game as she was 6 of 16 from the floor for the game. The lone bright spot on the offensive end came at the free throw line in which LIU was 12 of 16 including 8 of 10 from the line from Jolanna Ford. Also, LIU committed 31 turnovers which led to 23 of Buffalo’s 55 points. LIU has to protect the ball way better if they are to give themselves any chance and it is just impossible to win with 31 turnovers.

4. Defense will need to be their bread and butter this season. 

This is just one game but if points is going to continue to be hard to come by once again this season, LIU is going to have make defense their main priority if they want to win games. You have to take it as somewhat of a positive that a short-handed them like theirs were able to keep Buffalo to just 55 points for the game. LIU held Buffalo to under 39% from the floor and 24% from three which are not bad percentages. They finished even in rebounding margin which for a team with little size is pretty amazing. Ford grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds. This is something I feel is something that has to be their staple all season long if they’re going to win games.

5. LIU played all hard for all 40 minutes.

All in all, LIU fought for all 40 minutes under less than ideal circumstances. It looked early on that Buffalo would blow LIU away getting up by 11 at the end of the first quarter but to their credit, they fought back and got within one midway through the second quarter and stayed within somewhat striking distance until fatigue looked like it took over in the fourth quarter and LIU was only able to score just four points and let Buffalo pull away. Yet, it was nice to see LIU continuing to play hard even in the fourth quarter when the game was seemingly in hand. The amount of minutes most of the starters had to log today, they didn’t come close to playing last season so it is going to take some time to get used to the heavy workload but it is something, unfortunately, they are likely going to have to be accustomed to this season. But if they keep fighting for 40 minutes all year long, they will eventually steal a win no one thought they’ll get.

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