Saturday, December 30, 2017

December 29th, 2017: Fairleigh Dickinson at LIU

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Balanced offense helped Fairleigh Dickinson pull away in the second half of their 82-71 win at LIU Brooklyn. Mike Holloway Jr. had 27 points to lead the Knights' charge. Joel Hernandez had 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead LIU.

For weird beards, an enthusiastic fan, autographs in the seats, dubious leggings, biting cold, and impressive foot-stomping, join your intrepid and wayward blogger after the jump.

And now for something very slightly different: as I type these words, the LIU and Fairleigh Dickinson men are warming up and stretching, which gives me a good forty minutes to finish up the women's notes.

I am really not feeling this unadorned navy that FDU is wearing. Nike let them down. That being said, the shorts fit very nicely and I am shamelessly ogling some cute college behinds, because this is a thing one does before actually seeing what basketball skills there are to appreciate.

(I don't necessarily object to appreciating an athlete's physical beauty. I do object to it being the only thing one values about them.)

Not gonna lie, ally-oops actually look cooler when they don't end in dunks.

The ladies have started dressing and trying to escape. Daisha, Seneca, and Ella seem to have gotten out unnoticed. Denisha, not so much.

And I stand corrected. There is a blonde in LIU basketball gear and the most hideous pink and purple leggings in the next section, and as a matter of fact I am judging her so hard right now. I think that's Seneca.

Meanwhile, everyone has found Jeydah and she has ridiculously neat handwriting.

FDU better be careful with those practice dunks. One of them shook the shot clock slightly out of position. Seriously, y'all are going to bring that shot clock down on your heads and I'm going to laugh SO HARD before worrying for your well-being.

Why is Tia in a boot? WHY IS TIA IN A BOOT? I am not okay with this!

I'm surprised one of the St. Francis players stayed. I can't see her bookbag, so I can't tell you who.

At halftime, FDU is up 39-36, behind 12 points each from Mike Holloway Jr. on the inside and Darnell Edge on the outside. Fast game, physical game, and sloppy game. I think there have been more deflections than there have been clean rebounds.

Shoutout to the loud dude in the upper deck. I hear you, man. Keep it coming, all positivity and all supportive.

FDU's warmups are plain, but the blue gradient on the shorts works.

That was certainly an energetic and enthusiastic game. Tempers seemed to be flaring and I'm surprised there weren't even more technical fouls than were already called. I don't know if I can say I honestly enjoyed the chaos.

FDU went deeper in the first half than in the second, as so many teams do. I thought they actually got good minutes from Nadi Beciri in his brief time. Tyler Jones was so forgettable I only happened to notice he was in because I didn't recognize his jersey number. Pretty much ditto for Pat McNamara. Be more memorable if you want me to write about you, deep reserves. Kaleb Bishop mixed it up a fair amount in the paint, and I'm not sure it was as ineffective as the box score might lead you to believe. He had a big block on Raul Frias in the first half. Elyjah Williams also gave them good inside play, though if I recall correctly, one of his baskets was actually granted either on a goaltend or an own goal by LIU. Neither would surprise me.

Jahlil Jenkins is very energetic and very quick. I'm not sure if calling a player a waterbug is a thing anymore, but that's the comparison that comes to mind, the one that people used to use for Betty Lennox. He had a few very nice steals off LIU's sloppy passing and sloppy ballhandling. Darian Anderson got handsy, which was a problem for him late in the game. Pretty three-point stroke, though. Darnell Edge, while he drove a bit, was mostly FDU's outside threat, and he got off to a hot start with a couple of early threes to spread the defense and make room inside for their big center.

Mike Holloway Jr. is a big dude, and a powerful one at that. He went in for buckets, and no one was going to successfully stop him on a regular basis. I was really surprised when he stepped outside for a pretty sweet-looking three-pointer late in the game. He was huge for them, both literally and figuratively. Noah Morgan played with a lot of emotion, which wasn't always to his advantage, given the double technical with Batts after he hit a big shot. He was also arguing with the ref a fair bit, even after the technical.

I actually sort of like the balance FDU brought to the floor- it's good to have both solid outside shooters and an inside threat who can clean up the mess inside.

The less said about Raul Frias's shooting, the better. I think it's best for everyone's dignity. Jamall Robinson came on and hit a couple of threes late to keep it close and keep LIU in the game. I'm trying to remember if he was part of the stretch of three or four offensive rebounds that ended with a turnover and no points. You could hear the crowd groan when the Knights came away with the ball. Eral Penn was ridiculously athletic down low, going up for monster dunks and big blocks. There's something to be said for the high-flying game in moderation. I don't know the context for the double tech with him and Holloway. I suspect someone may have said something about someone's mother, or something along those lines. I can understand why he switched to the bench- it's nice to have a change of pace off the bench.

(I don't understand why LIU carries so many players and plays so few of them. Is this coach handing out redshirts like a Starfleet security recruiter, or is there something more here that I don't understand?)

Julius van Sauers has one big problem that's not going to be tenable in the long term if he's going to start, and that's his tendency to get into foul trouble. You can't do that if you're going to start, especially if that's going to leave your team very thin up front. I don't think LIU wanted to go to Eral Penn as long as they did. He did have one play that I thought was really nice, a hesitation move where he timed it perfectly to force the FDU defender to foul him. I just don't know if he's a sustainable starter. Raiquan Clark took over the game in the second half for LIU, and I don't know if that was entirely a good thing. It seemed to get to the point where everyone was expecting him to make things happen and forcing the ball inside to him, instead of looking for the best shot. I do understand the concept of feeding the hot hand, but this looked a lot more forced than feeding the hot hand. I enjoyed watching him kick ass, and I think he might be my favorite of these gentleman Blackbirds. But I do also believe in offensive balance, and I'm starting to wonder if they do.

I still think that Julian Batts shot should have counted. I thought he got it off in time. Fight me. I don't care. Really quiet game for him, and that's a problem. This team's not good enough that a starter can go 0-fer from the field. Jashaun Agosto ran a good point guard game, choosing his moments to shoot well and making good passes. Joel Hernandez didn't force things for himself as much as he did the first time I saw this team this year, though he was the man with the ball in his hands at the end of the game when LIU was desperately chucking up threes to try and stay in the game. I think he might grow on me after a while.

Can I admit something? Something weird that most basketball fans might not get? Of all the differences between men's and women's basketball, the one that threw me off most, at least in this game, was the beards. There were a lot of beards and attempted beards in this game. Is Harden making that a trend? It's not a good trend.

The other sharp contrast between the second game and the first game was the number of deflected and contested rebounds. I would have to watch the film closely, but I think there were more contested boards than clean ones.

Let me tell you, if the women's officials had been calling the men's game, it would have been twice as long and both teams would have had twice as many turnovers. The footwork was abominable, and I think I actually did let fly a Bronx cheer when they called one of the few travels in the game. Most of the turnovers were off sloppy ballhandling, sloppy passing, and charges.

I wish more of the people behind the LIU bench had been at the women's game- they missed one heck of a game, and I mean, it's a rivalry, what's not to love? We could have used the noise. But I'll take the support for the school anyway. It's nice to see people at low mid-major games.

I'm genuinely surprised neither coach got a tech. LIU's coach was screaming at anyone who seemed to be vaguely near where he was yelling, and FDU's coach was stomping the floor so hard I swear Stephanie Del Preore was taking notes from the bleachers on how he got those acoustics. Given how double-tech happy this crew was, I expected someone to be leaving early at some point.

You're going to be hearing a lot about this team in 2018, but only because all of LIU's weekend games are doubleheaders, not because they're, like, super good or anything.

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