Author: Daniel Martin

LIU Brooklyn

NCAA Tournament Cheat Sheet: Getting to know LIU Brooklyn

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Read through the rest of the Cheat Sheets here.

Conference: NEC

Coach: Jack Perri

Record: 20-13, 13-6

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 192
– RPI: 180
– AP/USA Today: N/A

Seeding?: Our Dave Ommen had the Blackbirds as a one of the First Four in Dayton in Monday’s bracket projection.

Names you need to know: Jamal Olasewere (19.0 points, 8.5 rebounds), C.J. Garner (15,6 points, 4.2 rebounds), Jason Brickman (9.7 points, 8.5 assists per game)

Stats you need to know: Offense, offense, offense. LIU Brooklyn ranks sixth in the country in scoring at 79.1 points per game, 30th in assists with 15.2, and sixth in the country with 47.9 percent shooting from the floor.

Tendencies: LIU Brooklyn is one of the most high-octane offenses in the country at the mid-major level. Even having lost star Julian Boyd in December with the torn ACL, the Blackbirds have kept running and scoring. The problem, though, will be defense.

Big wins, bad losses: The biggest non-conference win for LIU was against Lafayette, who is now in the Patriot League championship against Bucknell. Other notable non-conference wins include Rice and Manhattan. They lost by double digits to high-majors including Maryland, Kentucky, and Seton Hall. In the NEC, LIU has beaten Wagner and Bryant.

How’d they get here?: The Blackbirds won the NEC tournament championship over Mount St. Mary’s, 91-70, after beating Quinnipiac in the quarterfinals and Wagner in the semifinals.

Outlook: For as well as they work offensively, defense will be the problem in the NCAA tournament. They rank 342nd out of 347 Division I teams in points allowed per game. If they can make it into the First Four and push the pace with a team, perhaps they can get a win and advance to the Round of 64. Outside of that, their defensive weaknesses will be hard to overcome against high-major opponents.

How Do I know you? This is the third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance for the Blackbirds. They lost to Michigan State in 2012 and to North Carolina in 2011.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Conferences giving out awesome free stuff to players during league tournaments

Anthony Bennett

There are thrills of March that happen on the court. The barrage of buzzer beaters we’ve seen in conference tournaments adds to the drama of upsets and underdogs snagging automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. But what we don’t always see is the fun that goes on off the court, when players receive gifts for participating in league tournaments.

Sports Business Journal broke down some of the best gear, gadgets, and accessories that will be handed out by conferences this tournament season as part of its annual “Christmas in March”-like tradition. The price of the gifts can vary by conference and the Big Dance gets in on the action, too. This year’s NCAA tournament will be giving out items that together are valued at $320,000, the report says. Among those are watches, rings, and electronics, but the best stuff is at the conference level.

Take, for example, what the SEC is offering. According to SBJ, players get an online gift suite, which allows them to choose one item from what seems like a catalog of things, including high-end headphones, sunglasses, luggage, Blu-ray players, speaker systems, and tablet computers. The Pac-12 is providing iPads with a branded conference cover. The Mountain West has gone high-major with an online suite that rivals the SEC.

The mid-majors tend to be focused more on gear, with the Horizon League handing out performance zip pullovers, the MAAC going with the classic backpack, and the Southland providing a branded duffle bag.

But that brings us to the Big Ten. For as exciting a conference as the league was this season, its gift package is, well, underwhelming. The league will provide a “blanket, ear buds and a tumbler,” according to SBJ, perhaps leaving some players wishing they had committed to a school further south.

It’s all in good fun, of course, joking around about the gifts certain conferences will be giving. All I know is this: no Pac-12 player will have a problem streaming March Madness games on the go, considering that new iPad they’ll have to carry around.

To check out the entire listing, click here.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

JT III is great, but Buzz Williams should be Big East Coach of the Year

Buzz Williams

John Thompson III has done a magnificent job with the Georgetown team he has this season. His Hoyas were picked to finish fifth in the conference to begin the year, overcame the loss of second-leading scorer Greg Whittington mid-season, and still pulled together to finish with a share of the Big East title. For that, he was awarded the conference’s Coach of the Year award Tuesday, the league announced.

Not to discredit what Thompson III has done, but there is someone that the Big East overlooked this year, a 40-year-old Texan who roams the sidelines in Wisconsin, Marquette coach Buzz Williams.

It was a close race, but chose Williams and thinks he deserved the award, if by only a hair, in 2012-13.

Consider what Williams and Marquette lost from last season to this one. Gone is the dynamic duo of Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, who accounted for nearly 50 percent of the team’s offensive output last season. On the staff are three new assistants, Brad Autry, Isaac Chew, and Jerry Wainwright. The team’s leading returning scorer was big man Davante Gardner, who averaged 9.5 points in 19.1 minutes per game last season.

Williams himself had to serve a one game suspension and sit out the Big East opener as part of a self-imposed response to an NCAA violation.

Through all of that, the team picked to finish seventh in the Big East in the preseason snagged a share of the conference title with a buzzer-beating layup in overtime in the season finale, and now moves on in hopes of winning a Big East tournament title.

That was done without a true superstar, like one on the level of Georgetown’s Otto Porter, and based more on steady upward growth from players like Gardner, Junior Cadougan, and Jamil Wilson, as well as the willingness of Vander Blue to take on a leading role. Adding in Arizona State transfer Trent Lockett didn’t hurt, either.

We said it before. It was a close race for Big East Coach of the Year. Both ought to be in the conversation for National Coach of the Year. But if everything works out, perhaps we could settle it on the court if Thompson III and Williams face off in the conference championship game Saturday.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_