The LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds have done it again. Jack Perri has gotten his team all the way to the NEC championship game through all the adversity of a complex and difficult season. All that stands in the way of LIU and NEC immortality is Mount St. Mary’s.
Tuesday night LIU gets to try to do something that no NEC has ever done, win three straight NEC championships. It’s an amazing feat and here are three reasons it can happen. (For Ryan’s take on why Mount St. Mary’s can win the championship, go here.)
1) The WRAC advantage – While Wagner came to Brooklyn and defeated the Blackbirds for their first home loss in forever, LIU has rebounded and reestablished its dominance on its home court, losing only a close game to Robert Morris.
The students won’t be there for the final – they’re on spring break – but it still should be rocking. Mount St. Mary’s has already won two road games during he NEC tournament – at Bryant and Robert Morris – but neither of those locations has the mystique of LIU’s home gym. Expect the Blackbirds to settle in quickly and use the home crowd to find the energy to make the important plays down the stretch.
It’s going to be important for LIU to control the foul game. Considering the Blackbirds are one of the best teams in the country at drawing fouls and the Mountaineers rank 237th nationally in defensive free throw rate, how the game is called could make a huge difference. The Blackbirds will benefit from playing in a comfortable home environment.
2) Jason Brickman’s virtuoso post-season performances – For all the talent on LIU, including the school’s all-time leading scorer and NEC Player of the Year Jamal Olasewere, it was Brickman that was the best player in the NEC tournament last season. The junior point guard will be leaned on heavily during the finals because of the attacking Mayhem defensive style that has become the trademark of Jamion Christian’s Mount. LIU looked uncomfortable against Wagner’s pressure after building a large lead last Saturday (and had a 32% turnover rate), but that could come as a blessing in disguise. Now the Blackbirds know their press break weaknesses and can target options in practice.
That’s important because the Mount forces a bunch of turnovers. LIU’s fourth worst turnover rate of the season came in LIU’s 83-71 loss in Maryland a few weeks ago. It was one of just two games during NEC play that LIU scored less than a point per possession. They’ll have to be ready to handle Mayhem.
There’s no way to simulate Mayhem, but you can work on finding the right player at the right time with pinpoint passes. That’s where Brickman excels. Expect him to never leave the floor in the championship.
3) Veteran Experience – It’s a cheesy explanation, but there is something to be said for having been there before. LIU has been there. It showed against Wagner when the Blackbirds jumped out to a 20-point lead by halftime. It will come into play as the team that settles down the fastest will be in control of this game. LIU ranks 37th nationally in experience, Mount St. Mary’s is 232nd. That difference permeates throughout the lineup. Brickman will be able to keep this team calm.
One potential hidden advantage for the Mount is that Christian has been through this before with VCU. How much he can impart upon his team and keep them focused in the biggest game of their careers is going to play a huge role. LIU has been there before. That experience will make all the difference under the bright lights in Brooklyn.
If LIU manages to take of these three things and play to its strengths then the Blackbirds can go where no NEC team has ever gone before, to the NCAA tournament three straight times.
5 thoughts on “NEC Championship Preview, Part 2: Three Reasons LIU Brooklyn Can Three-Peat”
“Mount St. Mary’s has already won two road games during he NEC tournament – at Bryant and Robert Morris – but neither of those locations has the mystique of LIU’s home gym. Expect the Blackbirds to settle in quickly and use the home crowd to find the energy to make the important plays down the stretch.”
I’m sorry but the atmosphere at bryant is 100x better than LIU. They are constantly one of the best teams in the NEC yet they have absolutely NO student support, their gym is tiny, and nobody ever goes to games. Saying that Mount will have a tougher time playing at LIU over bryant is insane. Did you watch the mount vs bryant game? If mount can win at bryant, they certainly will have no problem with the atmosphere at LIU, the place is a joke. their QF game vs quinnipiac had a worse atmosphere than a under 12 girls intown game. For such a talented team, their fans are pathetic and wont help them at all. bryant has the loudest and best student body in the conference by FAR, no other team even comes close. If mount loses it will be because LIU was a better team, but certainly not because they couldnt handle the LIU crowd.
Are u serious? Bryant a much better atmosphere than LIU? Hahahahahahahahaha….
A bunch of fans who have never hosted a playoff game is better than a 3 peat 31straight home crowd? You’re an idiot if you believe that….. To the naked eye yes they are louder, but If u think noise is a huge factor than you are dumber than I believed. Noise and mystiqe are two different things….. Mount had a great year and their tired legs showed, however there was also a huge difference in overall talent. If thatwasnt plain to see than not sure what to tell u. Spring break w no students and LIU had a great crowd, BK has waaaaaaaaaaaay more to offer on a Tuesday night than Smithfield RI has on XmAS eve, get real, u are stupid to think LIU is gonna have a boring campus nothing going on atmosphere, c’mon John, sounding crazy now.
And to call Bryant a consitantly good team? By consistent u mean this year only?
Are YOU serious??
First of all, when did I call bryant a consistently good team? I was talking about LIU, did you not notice when I said “They are constantly one of the best teams in the NEC yet they have absolutely NO student support” Why would I be talking about bryant if my whole comment was focused around LIU having a bad crowd? You clearly didnt read very carefully or have the intelligence to understand that very basic point.
Second of all, if you are seriously trying to say that LIU has a better crowd than bryant I hope you are joking, I honestly cant tell if you are serious. If you are, I suggest you watch the archives of even the bryant vs LIU game in january, that was a middle of the season regular season game and it was 100x crazier than the LIU championship game. Students being on spring break is not an excuse, they still could have gone. The crowd was terrible last night, there were empty seats and no LIU fans were even standing the whole game. I didnt see any wild students during the QF vs quinnipiac and they were not on break yet. Never hosting a playoff game has nothing to do with it, as if our fans dont have the experience necessary to cheer? We’ve hosted playoff games in D2, bryant went to the championship game of D2 a few years ago.
BK has more to offer on a tuesday than smithfield on xmas eve? What are you even talking about? If they have more to offer than why cant they fill their 2000 seat arena? LIU has a great team, yet pitiful fans. You clearly havent seen the bryant atmosphere, i suggest you watch a game before making this argument, you are the one who sounds crazy.
Please, please tell me how LIU is harder to play in than bryant, i beg you. LIU does so well at home because they are a better team than bryant, but they DO NOT have better fans. dont even think about making that argument because it is obvious that they do not.