Tuesday, March 19, 2013

LIU Blackbirds: The Madness Begins Against James Madison

From the desk of:   THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH


James Madison Dukes
Dayton, Ohio
LIU/BROOKLYN BLACKBIRDS - Flatbush Faces James Madison Dukes In First Bout Of March Madness.

Somehow, the lords of basketball and TV money changers found yet another brilliant method to increase the size of their sanctimonious revenue pie.  Call Wednesday's contest what you will.  We're being sold on the notion this is a first round game.  In opposition to my biased home town fervor, I know better.  But I'll call this the opening game of this year's tournament just to play along.

Playing in the East Region, the Blackbirds must first play through James Madison before truly earning the distinction of being the sixteenth seed.  Should LIU win, they will have the pleasure of competing against number one seed Indiana on Friday.

In his first season as Blackbirds coach, Jack Perri helped his veteran team play through the loss of 2012 NEC Player of the Year, Julian Boyd.  The Blackbirds finished as the three seed in the Northeast Conference with a 20-13 overall record.  However, LIU defeated Mount St. Mary's to earn this year's NEC title, and a berth in this year's tournament.  This will be the fifth NCAA tournament appearance for the men's program, and their third in a row; coinciding with their three consecutive Northeast Conference titles.  In the university's last two bouts with March Madness under Coach Ferry, they fell to North Carolina and Michigan State.

The Blackbirds are a much more experienced club than the James Madison Dukes.  Their top two scorers this season were 2013 NEC Player of the Year, Jamal Olasewere, who averaged 18.9 points, and 8.5 rebounds per game.  Guard, C.J. Garner, this year's NEC Tourney MVP, was the Blackbirds second leading scorer, averaging 16.1 points per game.  Guard Jason Brickman was the nation's leader in assists.  He averaged 8.5 this season.  All three players participated in last season's Madness.  The Blackbirds have six players overall who've participated in a tournament game.  Meanwhile, the James Madison Dukes, who finished with a 20-14 record this season and placed fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association, are making their first tournament appearance since the 1994 season.

These two teams only met twice before, with James Madison winning both.  The last time came in 2000.  Entering Wednesday's game, James Madison is the favorite, considered the more talented on offense. They might face a more daunting time defeating LIU this time around.  This report says James Madison coach Matt Brady is suspending his top scorer and rebounder, Rayshawn Goins, as per James Madison policy, for the first half of Wednesday's game against the Blackbirds.  He was arrested for minor offenses stemming from a party.  LIU meanwhile, has averaged over ninety points per game over their last four contests, and have topped ninety points in five of their last six games.  Their season long 79.9 points per game average ranked fifth in all the nation.


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