The optimism is gone. The now what-could-have-been is creeping in.
LIU Brooklyn followed a disappointing loss on Thursday with another disappointing loss on Saturday afternoon in middle of a blizzard known as Jonas falling upon New York City and fall to cross-Brooklyn rival St. Francis Brooklyn 64-49 in the 41st edition of the Battle of Brooklyn to fall under .500 on the season at 9-10 and 3-5 in NEC play.
This game was ugly from the start. Neither team could shoot the ball well. LIU shot 28 percent in the first half but thanks to 12 first half turnovers and 1 for 14 shooting from three by St. Francis Brooklyn, LIU went into the half up five.
LIU expanded their lead to ten after scoring the first four points of the second half but that would be as good as it got for Blackbirds the rest of the day.
The Terriers would answer with an 11-0 run to take their first lead of the second half, 36-35. They would trade the lead back and forth until a pair of Glenn Feidanga free throws would give LIU their last lead of the day, 43-41. From there on, in the final 7:37 of the game, St. Francis Brooklyn outscored LIU 23-6 and won going away.
LIU Brooklyn lost by 15 points to a team that was 2 for 20 from deep, committed 19 turnovers and had three of their top players in early second half trouble.
The Blackbirds couldn’t keep the Terriers from scoring in the paint as they outscored LIU 34-14 inside. They also couldn’t keep St. Francis Brooklyn from going to the foul line in the second half as LIU fouled thirteen times and as a result, the Terriers were plus-fifteen in second half free throw attempts and plus-nine for the game.
LIU finished the game shooting a horrible 21 percent to one of the best defensive teams in the NEC. They were under 20 percent from three and missed 25 of 31 three-point shots. St. Francis Brooklyn held LIU to a lowly 19 second half points. They put 49 points one game after scoring 95 points in a loss to FDU on Thursday.
LIU in the final ten minutes of the game, showed no fire or desire as Knicks color analyst Walt “Clyde” Frazier would say. This team has had a propensity most of this season for giving up double digit leads especially in the second half and it was the case one again Saturday.
St. Francis Brooklyn got a balanced effort with four players in double figures led by Chris Hooper, who has been terrific of late, who finished with 15 points. Amdy Fall and Antonio Jenifer both finished with double-doubles. Fall finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds as well as four block shots and Jenifer finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Tyreek Jewell also scored 13 points as the Terriers 8-13 overall and 4-4 in the NEC.
No LIU player shot the ball well in this game. Jerome Frink was the high-man for the Blackbirds with 16 points and seven boards but was 4 for 18 from the floor. Joel Hernandez finished with his second straight double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds but was 4 of 11 from the floor.
Martin Hermannsson scored 11 points but was 4 for 14 shooting and committed four turnovers to go with his four assists and played a little too unselfish in the second half, passing instead taking the shot himself and the passes resulting in costly turnovers.
Nura Zanna was a complete non-factor with just two points in ten minutes of play thanks again to foul trouble. It is clear to see Zanna has regressed this season as a redshirt sophomore. He is averaging 5.6 points per game and playing less than 20 minutes per game largely due to his foul troubles and his propensity to turn the ball over.
The LIU Brooklyn bench literally gave them nothing as Trevin Woods, Raul Frias and Glenn Feidanga were a combined 0 for 12 shooting. Woods, who came into the game on fire, making 11 of his last 17 three attempts, reverted back to the 3 for 25 shooting Woods with an 0 for 8 shooting game, missing all seven of his shots from deep.
Four of LIU starters with the exception of Zanna played at least 35 minutes as LIU head coach Jack Perri continued with his eight-man rotation for the four straight game. After going 2-0 last week with it, LIU dropped both games this week with it, so it could be back to the drawing board on this idea.
LIU has now lost four of their last five games at home including their last four straight at the Steinberg Wellness Center. LIU is now 2-4 at the Steinberg Wellness Center this season and dating back to last season have lost six of their last eight games on campus. It is obvious, the Steinberg Wellness Center is no longer a place opposing teams fear to play.
At 3-5, LIU are now in second-to-last place in the NEC standings meaning if the season ended today, the Blackbirds would not be playing in the NEC tournament. Let that sink in for a second. This team which was picked to finish fourth in the NEC preseason men’s basketball coaches poll is currently on the outside looking in on March. That is almost hard to fathom especially after the good non-conference season they had this season.
The Blackbirds are now 0-3 at home in conference play. That just can’t happen. This current four-game home stand was suppose to help propel LIU into one of those top-four seeds. Instead, it might be what actually bury LIU this season with games against Sacred Heart and conference leaders Fairleigh Dickinson and Mount St. Mary’s coming up.
LIU now, in my opinion, has left themselves with little to no more room for error if they plan on making any sort of noise come March or even getting to March. This entire team, from the top on down, need to take a look in the mirror and ask themselves if they want to go down as an underachieving, disappointing team this season with all the talent and ability they have on this team or will they finally realize that is not a team that should be 3-5 in conference and winless at home in conference play and play up to their potential instead of under it.
They will have one less day to figure it out as their next game is on Wednesday against Sacred Heart instead of the usual Thursday night affair.
There is no doubt now, there is something missing from this team that is causing them to underachieve. Some believe this team just isn’t that good. I don’t think that is the case. I think they have enough players on this team where they shouldn’t be where they’re at right now. Some believe it is the coaching and mostly think Jack Perri is not doing a good job with this team this season. They might be right in parts but then again, he is looking for answers as well. Some guys on this team has not played up to expectations. Some have been given ample opportunities and continue to be inconsistent. There is too much of one step forward and then two steps back for certain players. Some say, with no seniors, lacks real leadership or a true leader. That might be accurate, I don’t know.
There are now just ten games left in the regular season, 6 at home, 4 on the road. It is make or break time. No more excuses. Now it is time to start putting up some wins or become one of the bigger disappointments in the NEC this season, it is that simple. We’ll see how they respond come Wednesday. Hopefully, some of this snow will melt away by then.