Things you should know about LIU-Brooklyn and James Madison

Long Island-Brooklyn and James Madison play at 6:40 p.m. on Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio for the right to play Indiana on Friday at 4:10 p.m. They are 16 seeds, and IU will be a prohibitive favorite against whoever wins, but both have taken interesting roads back to the NCAA Tournament, and I just so happen to have some expertise on one of them, having covered James Madison for five years. So here are some things you should know about Indiana’s potential second-round opponents.

TEAM: Long Island-Brooklyn

RECORD: 20-13

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Despite being the No. 3 seed in the Northeast Conference Tournament, the Blackbirds rolled to their third straight tournament title, becoming the first school in the history of the conference to claim the championship three straight times, beating Mount St. Mary’s 91-70 in the final.

WHERE YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD OF THEM: LIU-Brooklyn has a history of being one of the highest scoring teams in college basketball, and former star guard Charles Jones is one of just nine players since an official record of scoring leaders were first kept in the 1947-48 season to lead Division I in scoring twice. He scored 30.1 points per game in 1996-97 and 29.0 in 1997-98.

Also, former LIU-Brooklyn player Richie Parker was the subject of this story, one of the best stories written by one of the best sports writers in history, Sports Illustrated’s Gary Smith.

THEIR COACH: Jack Perri is 36 and in his first year as a Division I head coach. He was an assistant for former coach Jim Ferry for seven years before Ferry left in April to become the head coach at Duquesne. He also played under Ferry at Bentley College, a Division II school in Waltham, Massachusetts. He was an assistant coach there for seven years after his graduation in 1998, then spent a year as the head coach at Rhode Island College before joining Ferry’s staff at LIU-Brooklyn.

TOP PLAYER: Senior forward Jamal Olasewere is the school’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,804 points heading into the tournament and is just 26 shy of taking the all-time record (which, surprisingly, isn’t held by Jones). He was named NEC Player of the Year this season after earning first team all-conference honors last year. Olasewere, a 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward averages 18.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. The Silver Spring, Md. native was a first-team All Met pick by the Washington Post as a senior in high school and led Springbook High School consecutive Class 4A state championships in Maryland.

HOW THEY PLAY: The Blackbirds play extremely fast, and that’s especially been the case lately. They’ve scored 90 points or more in each of their last four games and five out of their last six. They rank fifth in Division I in scoring with 79.5 points per game. Of course, they also give up a lot of points, allowing 76.4 points per game. They rank 51st in the nation in offensive efficiency with 109.0 points per 100 possessions — best in their conference and among the best nationally among mid-to-low major schools — and they rank 29th in tempo with 69.6 possessions per game. However, they also rank 319 in defensive efficiency, surrendering 111.0 points per 100 possessions. They are the best shooting team in the NEC, making 48.4 percent of their field goals and 38.5 percent of their 3-pointers. Olasewere and guard C.J. Garner give them two of the top six scorers in the league and point guard Jason Brickman leads the conference in assists with 8.5 per game.

TEAM: James Madison

RECORD: 20-14

HOW THEY GOT HERE: The Dukes were the No. 3 seed in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament, a league that not long ago was one of the best top to bottom conferences among mid-majors. It has taken a number of significant hits in recent years, however, most notably the departure of Virginia Commonwealth to the Atlantic 10 as well as former George Mason coach Jim Larranaga’s move to Miami and the downfall of former power Old Dominion. James Madison took advantage of the weaker league with a stirring three-game run through the CAA Tournament that culminated with a win over top seed Northeastern in the final. It’s James Madison’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1994.

WHERE YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD OF THEM: James Madison actually has a history of being a bracket buster. From 1981-83 they won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament three straight times, knocking off Georgetown in 1981, Ohio State in 1982 and West Virginia in 1983. The Dukes also gained some level of national attention in the late ’80s and early ’90s when they hired Lefty Driesell after Driesell had been forced out of Maryland after Len Bias’s death. Driesell coach at JMU from 1988-96 before he was fired.

THEIR COACH: Matt Brady is in his fifth year with James Madison after four seasons at Marist. Before his first head job, he was an assistant under Phil Martelli at St. Joseph’s, where he helped lead the Hawks to a 27-0 regular season record and an Elite Eight appearance in 2004. Jameer Nelson, the national Player of the Year that year and still the point guard for the Orlando Magic, credits Brady for fixing his jump shot in college. So too does Delonte West, also a star on that team and current NBA player.

Before Brady’s first year at JMU, the Dukes had suffered eight straight losing seasons, which included a four-year streak from 2003-04 to 2006-07 in which they won seven games or fewer. In his first year, the Dukes went 21-15 and played in the Tournament.

Since then, the program has been mostly plagued by injuries. The Dukes went 13-20 in his second season, but was healthy in his third and went 21-12. Last year, due in large part to more injuries, Madison went 12-20.

This year Brady needed a big season to save his job, and it was still in jeopardy going into the CAA Tournament, but this run could mean an extension on his contract.

TOP PLAYER: One of Madison’s top players is forward Rayshawn Goins, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound wide body who averages 12.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. However, Goins was arrested on charges of obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct after a campus party on Saturday night, and his status is uncertain.

But JMU’s heart and soul is fifth-year senior Devon Moore, a 6-foot-4 point guard who averages 11.6 points per game and led the CAA in assists with 4.9 per game. Moore starred at Columbus, Ohio’s Northland High School, where he played beside former Ohio State star Jared Sullinger under Sullinger’s father. That’s the same alma mater as Michigan’s Trey Burke. He was an All-Freshman Team pick in his first year at James Madison but missed his second year with an ACL tear and also missed the first half of last season due to academics, but this year, he was a third team all-league pick along with Goins.

HOW THEY PLAY: The Dukes play neither particularly fast nor particularly slow, and most of their games play out in the low to mid 60s. They are a decent but not spectacular shooting team, a fairly good defensive team, and not a particularly good rebounding team. They average 65.2 points per game and yield 64.4, ranking 224th in offensive efficiency (97.3 points per 100 possessions) and 132nd in defensive efficiency (98.9 points per 100 possessions) But they have just enough scoring options and they cause a lot more turnovers than they commit, ranking first in the conference in turnover margin.



  1. That Richie Parker story is a must read. Very timely after the Steubenville, Ohio verdict. Talk about radioactive, truth is always stranger than fiction. Don’t be intimidated by the length and keep an open mind reading it as there are a lot of twists and turns in that story.

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