Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dancing with the Stars: Long Island Blackbirds

Conference: NEC

Record: 27-5, 16-2

Rankings: 117 (Kenpom), 77 (RPI), 95 (Sagarin)

Potential Seed: 15/16

Best Players: Julian Boyd (12.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg), Jamal Olaseware (12.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Jason Brickman (6.3 ppg, 5.4 apg, 1.9 t/o's)

Big Wins, Bad Losses: Long Island doesn't have anything on their resume that would qualify as a big win. They played just three top 100 teams (St. Peter's, Iona, Northwestern) and lost to all three. Their best wins of the season came against Robert Morris. That said, they only have one loss outside the top 101 -- St. Francis PA.

Tendencies: Run, run, run. If you like uptempo, exciting, full court basketball, LIU is the team for you. They are the fourth fastest team in the country, and, amazingly enough, that is not the result of the Blackbirds forcing a lot of turnovers. They just like the fast break and shoot quickly, attacking the offensive glass as hard as any team in the country. While this opens them up for giving up offensive rebounds, Long Island makes up for it by keeping their opponents from getting to the foul line and defending the three point line. This truly is a team, as well. They've had 11 different players reach double figures this season, seven guys averages at least 20 mpg and an eighth averages 17.4 mpg while no one plays more than 25.1 mpg, and each of those eight players averages between 6.3 ppg and 12.9 ppg.

How They Got There: LIU went 27-5 on the season, so there really isn't much to say. They slipped up a couple times in the non-conference portion of their schedule when they took teams lightly, but their 27 wins and 16-2 record speaks for itself. In the NEC Tournament final, they were taken to overtime by Robert Morris but were able to hold on in front of a raucous crowd.

Outlook: It will be tough for LIU to win a game in the tournament simply because they are going to be playing one of the best teams in the country. I like this team, I like their weapons, and I like their style of play. I don't think they can beat a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, but they'll put a scare into someone.

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