This promises to be a very good game. LIU won the NEC championship on its home court in Brooklyn in March. Then the Blackbirds proceeded to give North Carolina fits for a good fifteen minutes in their first round NCAA Tournament game (game was tied at 33 with five minutes left in the first half) before losing by only fifteen 102-87.
LIU is picked to finish first again in the NEC. Meanwhile, Hofstra has been picked to finish somewhere in the middle of the CAA. Then again, the Pride were picked around the same spot a season ago, and we all know what happened.
So now that I hopefully have drawn you all in for tonight's action, here are some things to look for in the game.
- Contrast of Styles? - LIU was fourth in the nation last season in points per game at 82. They were also fifth in the country last season in possessions per game, 70.6. The Blackbirds averaged 1.07 points per possession. It's high octane basketball at its finest. The Pride need to slow the pace down somewhat and keep the game in the 60s - low 70s. If they try to run with LIU, it could be a long night for Hofstra.
- Old Dominion, Drexel, LIU. What do they have in common? Rebounding. Amazingly, the Blackbirds were third in the nation in rebounds, 41.8. Julian Boyd averaged 8.9 rebounds per game last season, while Jamal Olasewere averaged 6.8. Rebounding was a weakness of Hofstra's last season. With the additions of Moussa Kone and Bryant Crowder, along with the returning David Imes, the Pride will need to keep the Blackbirds off the glass.
- Ball Possession - Very few teams were better at it than the Pride last season. Hofstra was first in the CAA in assists to turnover ratio and third in the CAA in turnover margin. It will be critical for the Pride to maintain ball possession against one of the best teams in the country in points per possession in the Blackbirds.
- Free Throw Shooting - It could come down to the little things. Hofstra was first in the CAA in free throw shooting last season while LIU was 10th in the NEC. Advantage Pride.
- Experience - LIU returns six of its eight top players from last season. Hofstra only returns two starters, Moore and Imes. However Lester was a starter/sixth man for the Pride over his first three seasons, while point guard Steve Mejia has two years experience playing for Rhode Island. As Nick Bakay would say, "Push".
- Are you a Joey Rodriguez fan? Do you miss him? Well, Hofstra fans don't do a double take when you see Jason Brickman tonight. He looks a lot like Rodriguez and he plays like Rodriguez. Brickman averaged 5.5 assists per game last season. Brickman vs. Mejia, who had one of the best assists to turnover ratio in the A-10 in the 2009-10 season, should be an entertaining matchup
This promises to be an entertaining game tonight. It's also Fanfest, so bring the kiddies early and let them romp around. Pack the Mack and celebrate 11-11-11!