Sunday, December 17, 2017

Uptempo attack helping LIU Brooklyn take flight as NEC play approaches

Derek Kellogg has installed uptempo offense in first season at LIU Brooklyn, and despite 4-8 record, Blackbirds are showing encouraging signs going into conference play. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

BROOKLYN -- The record lies when reflecting LIU Brooklyn’s performance.

The stats show the Blackbirds to be a 4-8 team, but that is in sheer numbers only. The fact is, they are a much better team than the record indicates. To expound on that point, head coach Derek Kellogg remains upbeat and positive over what he has witnessed.

Following the Blackbirds’ 71-56 setback to Saint Peter’s Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center, the first thing Kellogg could discuss was the free throw line. LIU Brooklyn shot 15-of-28 from the charity stripe while going just 5-of-29 on three-point field goals.

“We are a team of good shooters,” Kellogg stated. “Last week (a loss to Fairfield), we shot poor from the line. So all week, we went over free throw mechanics and spent time shooting. This week, we have to do more of the same.”

If there was something to be encouraged with, it was the resiliency of Kellogg’s team. They trailed by nine midway through the first half before fighting back to trail by just one at the intermission. Through the second half, Saint Peter’s threatened to pull away, but each time, could not put the Blackbirds away.
“I watched them on tape against Stony Brook,” Saint Peter’s coach John Dunne said of LIU. “Stony Brook got out to an early lead, but LIU fought back. This is a team that turns you over blocks shots and gets out in transition. They are talented, and I knew they never quit."

In the stretch today, Saint Peter’s was able to make their move late before pulling away, benefitting from a casualty to one of LIU’s mainstays.

“Julian Batts got involved in a loose ball scrum and had to come out,” Kellogg said. “That hurts  because we need him on the floor.”

While shooting was a primary concern, Kellogg; digging deeper, noted a few other factors. “Getting 50-50 balls and rebounds,” he said. Saint Peter’s led 46-40 in the battle of the boards, but it was the type of rebounds lost that concerned Kellogg.

“We gave up too many loose ball rebounds,” he lamented. “That is something we can’t allow. You want to win you have to make your plays.”

Joel Hernandez of LIU Brooklyn led all scorers with 20 points. “He’s a man,” gushed Dunne of the fifth-year senior.

“Hernandez is a dynamic offensive player,” Kellogg added. “He can score in the paint and from three. What we would like from him is a bit better play on the defensive end.”

Conference play commences in twelve days with a visit from FDU, and while Kellogg feels encouraged with the team's direction, he admits there are a few things that must be addressed.

"We have to tighten up defensively," he said. "We want to play uptempo and force turnovers, but we need guys to commit for the full 40 minutes." 

At NEC media day in October, Kellogg; who arrived by way of UMass, was asked of his familiarity with the conference, noting that during his nine years in Amherst, he frequently went up against NEC opposition. He knows the style of the league and knows its teams are well-coached. For LIU Brooklyn to succeed, everyone; as noted, must be engaged.

"We are a small team size-wise," he said. "The uptempo game is beneficial and can help us against bigger opposition."

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