LIU Brooklyn battled but couldn’t find a win at UMass in non-conference finale

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LIU Brooklyn’s Jerome Frink turned it on in the second half on his way to his third double-double of the season in LIU’s loss to UMass Tuesday night. (Photo: Bob Dea)

It will be looked back as a successful and winning non-conference season for the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds but you can also look back and feel like they could have gotten even more wins out of this season before the true season which is conference play coming up on Saturday.

Add one more game to that column as LIU let a ten-point second half lead slip away and later a five-point lead with 5:50 to go disappear to fall to UMass at the Mullins Center Tuesday night 83-79 in mostly back and forth affair.

This was in some ways very much like the Fordham game in which LIU could have pulled it out but just couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch when they needed it to get the big upset win.

The Blackbirds after falling behind by nine at 30-21 in the first half, went on a 8-0 run to get back in it and close to within three at the half at 39-36.

LIU started the second half off fast with a 14-2 run to take a nine-point lead at the first media timeout. They later got up ten and seemingly looked like they might start pulling away.

Martin Hermannsson finished with his second straight 18-point game vs UMass. Photo: Bob Dea

Martin Hermannsson finished with his second straight 18-point game vs UMass. (Photo: Bob Dea)

But once again, LIU just couldn’t find the killer instinct which LIU head coach Jack Perri was hoping this team would develop through the non-conference season and eventually find it but yet again LIU saw a double-digit second half lead dwindle away and eventually disappear. UMass went on a 14-3 extended run to regain the lead at 57-56 with eight minutes remaining.

LIU then went on a 6-0 run to take a five-point lead only to see UMass go on a back-breaking 15-4 run which gave them a 72-66 lead with 3:12 remaining and pretty much finish off LIU although in the closing minutes they were doing everything they could to let LIU hang around and possible make it interesting at the end but LIU couldn’t make enough plays and missed some crucial free throws, none bigger than Jerome Frink two misses from the charity stripe with 1:13 left with LIU down six.

It is hard to put any fault on Jerome Frink who was a complete monster for the Blackbirds, especially in the second half. Frink, at one point scored ten of LIU’s twelve points in a just over a five minutes span including two big-time one-hand slams. Frink finished with a team-high 21 points and 13 rebounds along with two blocks. It was Frink’s third double-double of the season.

UMass needed all of the top-notch performances to avoid the upset. Guard Trey Davis finished with a game-high 25 points but a lot of his damage came from the free throw where he was ten of twelve. Donte Clark finished with 21 and Jabarie Hinds who scored 17 for a UMass team who heads into A10 play at 7-5.

LIU will look at their three point shooting (6 for 25) and their rebounding (-7 rebounding differential) as well as their defense in the second half as to why this game got away from them.

Martin Hermannsson had another solid game for LIU. He scored 18 points for the second game in a row on 12 shots and played a team-high 35 minutes. Joel Hernandez played a good game with 13 points and 8 rebounds in 24 minutes.

Aakim Saintil finished with 8 points and 6 assists but didn’t have a good shooting night going 2 for 12 from the field including 1 of 7 from three.

Joel Hernandez had a solid night for LIU with 13 points and six rebounds. Photo: Bob Dea

Joel Hernandez had a solid night for LIU with 13 points and six rebounds. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Jack Perri didn’t get a whole lot from his bench as they shot 6 for 19 from the field. The Woods twins had a difficult night from three going a combined 1 for 6 from deep including a couple of ugly airballs. Their shots seem so rushed at times, they are much better shooters when they have their feet set and get a get a good glance at the rim but more times they just catch and shoot with their balance off and it hasn’t resulted well for either one so far. Glenn Feidanga gave LIU five solid minutes off the bench in the first half and scored a couple of baskets.

LIU scored 0.983 points per possession (79 points/80 possessions) and gave up 0.978 points per possession (84 pts/85 poss). It was the third consecutive game in which they scored as well as held their opponent to under one point per possession.

All in all though as LIU heads into NEC play this coming Saturday, you have to say this non-conference season was a good step in the right direction at 6-5 after going 4-7 in non-conference play last season. LIU showed they are a legit contender for an NEC title this season after two seasons of rebuilding this team following their back-to-back-to-back NEC championships.

Positives for LIU going into NEC play: 1. They are a scrappy team who show more toughness then the teams of the last couple of seasons. 2. They have a nice three-headed attack right now with Frink, Hermannsson and Saintil. If all three play well, LIU will win nearly every time out. 3. They should be among the top rebounding teams during NEC play and should get their opportunities on second chance points.

Negatives: 1. As I mentioned earlier, the lack of killer instinct and putting teams away. 2. Their three-point shooting still need to get better if they plan on going far this season. 3. Their defense has to a better job especially in second half of games.

Come Saturday, when LIU visits the Mount to begin NEC play and a stretch of four NEC games in eight days, the big time games begins and the run to March starts in earnest. The winning non-conference season was nice but if LIU want to win an NEC regular season title which I think 14 wins will be the number to get it done this season, they will need to start off strong and show the league that this non-conference season wasn’t a fluke. If they want to show they are players for this thing, they are going to need to get off to strong start and show the NEC they are ready to regain the throne. It all starts on Saturday and the team everyone picked to win it all, the Mount will be waiting. Let the fun begin.

LIU Gameday Preview – Game 11 – UMass

The Mullins Center, the home of the UMass Minutemen, will host LIU Brooklyn’s final non-conference game of the season. (Photo: umass.edu)

Game Info

Opponent: Massachusetts

Conference: Atlantic 10
Current Record: 6-5
Tip: 7:00 PM
Where: Mullins Center – Amherst, MA

Broadcast: Atlantic 10 Network – Pay subscription required ($4.95 for 24-hr access)
Live Stats: UMass Gametracker [Read more…]

Blackbirds beat Incarnate Word at Barclays, ensure winning non-conference season

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LIU Brooklyn completes a perfect 2-0 stint at the Barclays Center this season with a 66-59 win over Incarnate Word on Tuesday night. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ_

It will be a Merry Christmas after all for the LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball team this year. The Blackbirds were able to stave off a late run by the University of Incarnate Word and defeat the Cardinals, 66-59, at the Barclays Center Tuesday night.

Incarnate Word came to Brooklyn fresh off a 22-point win at St. John’s last Friday night and that seemed to have gotten the attention of the Blackbirds, who came out to a good start early on and with the exception of a brief one-point deficit in the first half, led wire-to-wire although as per usual of LIU this season, they let the game get interesting near the end.

Martin Hermannsson going into the teeth of the UIW defense. Lead LIU with 17 points. Photo: Bob Dea - BHJ

Martin Hermannsson going into the teeth of the UIW defense. Lead LIU with 17 points. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

Sophomore Martin Hermannsson had a nice bounce-back game after just a five-point showing last time out versus Sam Houston State. Hermannsson finished with a game-high 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds. He went to the free throw line a team-high ten times and made nine.

Hermannsson played more like himself after completing his last final exam the previous day. He admitted after the game that the stresses of final exams had weighed him down some and was happy to be finally done with them.

“I didn’t do too good last game.” said Hermannsson. “I have been staying up late for finals, it just a part of it dealing with finals I guess. I was ready to go today, finished my last final yesterday and I felt good. I just felt before the (Sam Houston) game that my energy level wasn’t right so I decided to show up today.”

“Martin was doing a paper literally at 5 o’clock today before we came over (to the Barclays Center). “You can see the glazed look at guys in practice and stuff like that. It is just a tough time. (Finals) have gone later this year, it is usually done by now. To fight through it, I thought our guys did a good job.”

LIU was able to hold down Incarnate Word defensively. LIU allowed a season-low 59 points to the Cardinals, and gave up a season-low 0.746 points per possession (59 points in 79 possessions). LIU forced UIW into committing 21 turnovers.

LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri knows that if they are to make waves during the soon-approaching NEC season, they are going to need to do a better job holding teams down defensively and they got a much better effort out of that end of the court against UIW.

“On defense, we have to be smarter.” said Hermannsson.”We have to be solid on the defensive end especially late in the game. We can’t be giving up free throws and easy baskets.”

“I thought for the most part, our game plan to take away their threes was very good until the very end when we lost a little bit of focus and gave us a few (Kyle) Hittle threes and the kid (Shawn) Johnson hit a three also.” said Perri. “They hit 12 threes against St. John’s, they have that ability to make threes. They have several guys who are talented three-point shooters. I think it helped that the kid (Jontrell) Walker struggled a little bit and got into foul trouble, kind of like Aakim did. I thought our guys effort was pretty good (defensively) and to get twelve steals and be that active, I was happy.”

Jerome Frink slamming down two crucial points, helping ensure LIUs victory late. Photo: Bob Dea - BHJ

Jerome Frink slamming down two crucial points, helping ensure LIUs victory late. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

The Blackbirds though didn’t make things easy for themselves. They had a ten-point lead with 3:47 left to play, cut down to just three after a 7-0 run that took 1:38. Jack Perri began calling for a timeout on the sidelines and due to the new timeout rules this season, only the players on the floor can call a timeout and none of his players saw him to do so and they played on. Martin Hermannsson finished on a reverse layup and then after a Jerome Frink steal, he went down on the other end and made a huge slam that put LIU back up by seven with 1:32 to go and that quick 5-0 non-timeout spurt helped seal the win for LIU.

“My team likes to give me agita with some of the things down the stretch.” said Perri. “A little bit lack of focus otherwise it ends up being an 18-point game to 20-point game instead of having to go all way down to the stretch.”

LIU held UIW’s leading scorer Jontrell Walker, who came in averaging nearly 17 points per game, to just seven points. He struggled from the floor by going 3 of 10 shooting and fouled out in just 18 minutes. Derail Green scored 16 to lead UIW.

LIU junior forward Jerome Frink had a good night shooting the ball. He shot 6 of 9 from the floor including a three and finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Joel Hernandez slamming down two of his nine points vs Incarnate Word. Photo: Bob Dea - BHJ

Joel Hernandez slamming down two of his nine points vs Incarnate Word. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

LIU’s bench was put to the test in this game as Perri used twelve players in the first half due to their foul woes. LIU committed 12 first half fouls and saw starting point guard Aakim Saintil play only the first two minutes of the first half after getting hit with two quick personal fouls. Perri credits his bench guys for stepping up and giving important minutes when the Blackbirds needed it.

“I said before the game I was going to play a lot of guys regardless.” said Perri. “Now Aakim (Saintil) ended up getting two really quick fouls so that helped make sure that I got everybody in. I thought some guys did a really good job. I thought Raul Frias gave us, even though he didn’t score, some good minutes defensively and he was very active. Glenn Feidanga, I thought did a good job in his limited minutes in the first half. Trevon Woods did some really good things also.”

Eight LIU players got themselves on the score sheet. Joel Hernandez finished with 9 points and 7 rebounds. Nura Zanna finished with seven points and six rebounds. Saintil finished with seven points in 18 minutes. LIU scored their lowest points per possession of the season at 0.798 (66 points in 83 possessions).

With the win, LIU are now 6-4 and they now secured their first winning non-conference season since 2010-11 (8-3) with one more non-conference game remaining. The win versus Incarnate Word was their highest Kenpom-rated victory (174) so far this season. They also finish a perfect 2-0 at the Barclays Center this season, a LIU first.

LIU next face UMass next Tuesday to finish off their non-conference campaign and start a three-game road swing. LIU will look to make get consecutive wins since starting off the season winning their first three games.

LIU Gameday Preview – Game 10 – Incarnate Word

LIU Brooklyn returns to the Barclays Center for the second time this season as they host Incarnate Word. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LIU Brooklyn returns to the Barclays Center for the second time this season as they host Incarnate Word. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Game Info

Opponent: Incarnate Word

Conference: Southland
Current Record: 4-5
Tip: 7:00 PM
Where: Barclays Center – Brooklyn, NY

LIU Brooklyn hurts themselves in an ugly loss to Sam Houston State

A dreadful second half in which LIU committed 18 fouls sunk LIU at home vs Sam Houston State Friday night. (Photo: Bob Dea - BHJ)

A dreadful second half in which LIU committed 18 fouls sunk LIU at home vs Sam Houston State Friday night. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

The Blackbirds just can’t seem to get any momentum going. Six days after winning in an overtime thriller at Niagara, LIU Brooklyn returned home to begin a brief two-game home stand against Sam Houston State Friday night and put up an overall lousy effort as the Bearkats leave Brooklyn with a 75-69 win at the Steinberg Wellness Center.

The Blackbirds started off very sluggish, turning the ball over time after time. A lot of turnovers coming unforced. Sam Houston took advantage of the LIU turnovers and got out in front to take an early six-point lead before LIU started to get it going thanks to an 8-0 run that gave LIU the lead. [Read more…]

LIU Gameday Preview – Game 9 – Sam Houston State

The Blackbirds return to their home nest for the final time in non-conference play as Sam Houston State pays a visit to Downtown Brooklyn. (Photo; Bob Dea - BHJ)

The Blackbirds return to their home nest for the final time in non-conference play as Sam Houston State pays a visit to Downtown Brooklyn. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

Game Info

Opponent: Sam Houston State Bearkats

Conference: Southland
Current Record: 4-5
Tip: 7:00 PM
Where: Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY

Jerome Frink named NEC Player of the Week for the second time this season

(Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

Junior forward Jerome Frink on Monday afternoon was named Northeast Conference Player of the Week after helping guide LIU Brooklyn to a 1-1 record in their two games last week. This is Frink’s second NEC Player of the Week honor of the season.

Frink scored a career-high 30 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a 89-84 overtime loss at Fordham last Tuesday. He followed up that game with his second double-double of the season at Niagara. He finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds in LIU’s 80-79 overtime victory against the Purple Eagles Saturday afternoon.

Frink averaged a double-double for the week with 21 points and 10 rebounds and made 53.3 percent of his shots from the field while hitting on 5 of 10 three-point attempts and making 5 of 6 from the charity stripe. He also averaged 2.0 steals per game.

Through eight games this season, Frink is LIU’s leading scorer at 16.9 points per game which places him third in the NEC. His 9.0 rebounds per game average is tops in the NEC and he is eighth in the NEC is field goal percentage (.525), tenth in three-point percentage (.375), and third in block shots (1.5).

Frink is the first LIU Brooklyn player since Jason Brickman back in the 2013-14 season to be named NEC Player of the Week twice in the same season.

He has helped LIU to get off to a nice 5-3 start to the season. The Blackbirds will return back to the court on Friday night when they host Sam Houston State at the Steinberg Wellness Center at 7pm.

Congrats to Jerome on once again winning the honor.