LIU-BROOKLYN BLACKBIRDS: That Was Quite a Lackadaisical Way to End a Second Title Bearing Regular Season Effort.
Regular Season Final Game:
LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds 78
Monmouth Hawks 106
In the end, it's best the defending Northeast Conference champs saved their worst for last. For had this been one road game earlier, Saturday would have provided the regular season with a far different finish. Was that the exhale factor LIU just suffered on the heels of winning their second consecutive regular season title? Because me? - I wouldn't be happy if I were Coach Ferry; not when Saturday's game versus Monmouth ended up as the worst loss of the season. Not when the Blackbirds gave up a season high 106 points to the NEC's seventh seeded team.
In light of all the good they've collectively and individually achieved so far together this season, they were all guilty; the starters and bench included; of what I like to call - apathy. Jamal Olasewere; Julian Boyd; Jason Brickman; C.J. Garner; Michael Culpo; and their three most prominent bench players - Brandon Thompson; Kenny Onyechi; and Arnold Mayorga; all played roles in a rather sloppy and unpolished finish. With the NEC tournament right around the corner, if I'm thinking like a coach, I'm not liking this one bit. And I'm sure Coach Ferry didn't as well. Saturday's effort is not the way I would have appreciated my team closing out such a successful regular season. I'm thinking Coach Ferry taught them better than that.
Was the game itself inconsequential? Yes, it was. LIU clinched the regular season title in their prior game against Fairleigh Dickinson. And Wagner lost Saturday to Central Connecticut State as well. I guess they too exhaled, satisfied that their two seed was secure. But no, as things went, either way the outcome of Saturday's game against Monmouth would have changed nothing.
But in this last game, particularly in the second half, LIU's indifference was not only glaring, but backed up by the numbers. Brooklyn had twenty-three turnovers; Monmouth fourteen. Monmouth scored thirty-three points off turnovers to Brooklyn's thirteen. Monmouth scored twenty-five fast break points to Brooklyn's six. Monmouth had forty-six points off the bench. Brooklyn had twenty three. In a game they spent most of the time trailing, the Blackbirds were within one point of Monmouth with 17:47 left in the second half. With 1:37 left in the game, LIU was down by thirty-three points. So no, when you fight back to overcome a fifteen point first half lead and get it down to six by the half, then close to within one point in the opening minutes of the second half, only to wind up getting blown out, I'm forced to question one night's motivation and potential haste to end the season.
But I won't make more this than it is. It's one night. It's just the sour taste that lingers because I believe in strong finishes. And this game, on the outside looking in, seems like one they let get away. That's all. But for the moment, as long as I'm thinking like a coach, this is a great time for a complete over-reaction, and to give these kids a figurative boot in the posterior while I reprogram their heads for tournament play. Can I at least get a buffet table please?
LIU-BROOKLYN BLACKBIRDS: NEC Regular Season Final Record
2nd Consecutive Regular Season Title.
Overall Record: 22-8 (Wagner finished 24-5 overall)
Conference Record: 16-2 1st
Home Record: 12-0 (24-0 last two regular seasons)*
Away Record: 8-8
Neutral Site: 2-0
* CORRECTION - See comment below.