Looking for a return to prominence, a significant personnel facelift has given sixth year head coach Jim Ferry the opportunity to flip the reset switch and take the Long Island program in a new direction this coming season.NOTE: We'd have preferred to link to this, as well as the section of the same release dealing with Fairleigh Dickinson below. But that would require folks to download an 11-page pdf and scroll through it to find the LIU and FD parts. For NEC fans, or those who want to know more about other NEC teams, here is the link
With star guard James Williams - the face of the Blackbirds in recent years and the 17th-leading scorer in NEC history with 1,710 points - and two of his key cohorts now graduated, Ferry improved the team’s athleticism in the offseason with a number of pivotal additions to the lineup who will complement a cast of veteran returnees.
Long Island’s experience lies in its frontcourt, anchored by seniors Eugene Kotorobai, Paska Morkeliunas and Kellen Allen. One of the NEC’s top three-point threats the last two years, the 6’5” Kotorobai drilled 52 shots from beyond the arc and ranked sixth in the league with a 40.0 percent success rate from outside the arc in 2006-07. He is also the team’s leading returning scorer (9.7 ppg) and rebounder (6.5 rpg). Morkeliunas (4.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg) is a rugged interior defender who at 6’7”, 230 lbs., has an innate ability to draw fouls in the paint. Last season, he went to the line 109 times, the second-highest figure on the team despite averaging just over 16 minutes per game. Long Island’s low-post offense will be bolstered with the return of 6’7” Allen, a jump hook specialist who missed the last 18 games of the 2006-07 campaign with an injury. When healthy, Allen averaged 4.8 ppg and converted 56.5 percent of his shot opportunities. Sophomore Aurimas Adomaitis, the team’s biggest player at 6’8” and 235 lbs., started 21 games in a promising freshman campaign, averaging 6.0 ppg and 3.2 rpg. Junior forward Albert Forbes, who has suffered through two injury plagued seasons and has yet to suit up for the Blackbirds, will provide depth up front.
Sophomore Jaytornah Wisseh and junior Tyrone Mattison will push the tempo in the team’s ultra-swift backcourt. Wisseh displayed tremendous upside for Long Island last season when he was tabbed to the all-NEC Rookie team. A freewheeling penetrator, Wisseh often seemed unguardable in one-on-one situations and served notice of his skills with back-to-back 20+ point outings in early February, including a career-best 29-point effort at Sacred Heart. He averaged 8.7 ppg on the season and led the team with 3.0 apg. Manning the point, Mattison often deferred on offense to Williams and fellow graduate Aubin Scott, but should come into his own this season with two years under his belt. Extremely quick coast-to-coast, Mattison contributed 6.3 ppg and 2.0 spg as a sophomore.
Ferry wasted little time replenishing his backcourt with the addition of 6’1” shooter David Hicks during last fall’s signing period. A Minnesota native, Hicks prepped at South Kent in Connecticut in 2006-07. During the spring, Ferry added 5’11” Nehemiah Weicks out of the California JUCO ranks. Weicks is versatile enough to play either guard position and like Hicks, can stroke it from the outside. The Blackbirds also received a commitment from 6’4” forward Ron Manigault, a New York City native who played two years at the City College of San Francisco. The cousin of local playground legend Earl “The Goat” Manigault, he has the versatility to play any of four positions and will add some grit to the Blackbird lineup. LIU landed another urban recruit in 6’7” forward Ike Udanoh, a Detroit native whose natural athleticism and aggressiveness on the boards will serve him well in an up-tempo atmosphere. Ferry completed his recruiting class in the summer with the addition of two more guards, 6’3” Kyle Johnson out of Ontario, Canada and 6’1” Alan Mozee from Oklahoma City.
Long Island By The Numbers
2006-07 Overall Record: 10-19
2006-07 NEC Record/Finish: 6-10/10th
NEC Tournament Finish: Did not qualify
Starters Returning/Lost: 2/3
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 8/6
2006-07 Final RPI: 310
Games Decided By 5 Points or Less: 5-5
Last Two Years: 15-21 (.417)
Last Three Years 25-29 (.463)
Last Four Years: 29-43 (.403)
Last Five Years: 36-54 (.400)
Last Two Years: 22-35 (.386)
Last Three Years 36-50 (.419)
Last Four Years: 44-69 (.389)
Last Five Years: 53-88 (.376)
Leading Returning Scorers
Eugene Kotorobai: 9.7 ppg
Jaytornah Wisseh: 8.7 ppg
Tyrone Mattison: 6.3 ppg
Leading Returning Rebounders
Eugene Kotorobai: 6.5 rpg
Paska Morkeliunas: 3.7 rpg
Aurimas Adomaitis: 3.2 rpg
Leading Returning Assists
Jaytornah Wisseh: 3.0 apg
Tyrone Mattison: 2.0 apg
Kellen Allen: 0.8 apg
With 25th year head coach Tom Green at the helm of the Fairleigh Dickinson program, one thing is for certain: regardless of the team’s roster turnover from year-to-year, it is impossible to dismiss the Knights as a contender in the NEC. Despite losing a pair of all-stars and a dominating big man, the Knights quickly regrouped last season, scoring a non-conference win at Seton Hall in November. During league play, FDU stayed near the top of the standings for much of the season before fading somewhat down the stretch to finish tied for fourth in the NEC.BONUS LINKS:
Green, the winningest coach in conference history, will face a new set of challenges this coming season with the departure of first team all-NEC forward Andre Harris and do-everything swingman Michael Peeples, who combined for nearly 31 points per outing a year ago. If Green has any chance at adding to his league record four NEC titles, it will hinge on his ability to incorporate yet another fresh set of faces into the rotation.
Carrying the load for the Knights will be the sterling backcourt of junior Cameron Tyler and senior Manny Ubilla. Tyler blossomed in his sophomore year into one of the top point guards in the conference. His ability to draw defenders with his athletic attacks to the hoop created open shots for teammates - Ubilla in particular - and made for some stunning scoring flurries for the 6’0” New York City product. Tyler finished second on the club with 14.3 ppg, added 4.4 rpg and finished third in the conference with 5.1 apg. Ubilla stepped right into a feature role for the Knights last season, averaging 11.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 2.9 apg, while displaying a deadly touch from the outside. He hit 63 three-pointers and made 39.6 percent of his attempts on the year to rank in the NEC top-ten in both categories. Ubilla, a 6’3” catch-and-shoot specialist, hit a number of big shots on the year, including a dagger at the buzzer to stop Garden State rival Monmouth in a televised game last February. Reinforcing the backcourt for FDU is veteran Bernell Murray and sophomore Sean Baptiste. A dependable point guard, Murray (3.7 ppg) has a tremendous amount of big-game experience and as a senior is the last link to the Knights’ 2005 NEC Championship team. A physical player who is unafraid of contact and can get to the line, Baptiste (4.6 ppg) was a valuable contributor off the bench for the Knights in 2006-07.
With the loss of Harris and Peeples, along with starting center Jordan Ingram, Green will have to retool a front line headed by 6’6” senior Eric Hazard. One of the league’s best at spotting up from the three-point stripe, Hazard (5.3 ppg) provided instant offense off the bench last year, but could be moved into a more prominent role this coming season. The Jersey native made nearly 80 percent of his shots from long range and his 41.2 percent conversion rate ranked fourth in the NEC. Look for sophomore forward Bryan Lytle and 7’0” English import Lawrence Brown, a sophomore center, to crack the rotation as well.
While Green added five to members to the Knights’ cast in the offseason, he was clearly looking toward the future with his additions. Three of the recruits are New Jersey products who will sit out the 2007-08 season, including 6’1” junior guard Eric Moore, who averaged 12.5 ppg, 2.3 apg and buried 75 three-pointers in 21 starts for Buffalo a year ago. He led the Mid-American Conference in three-point field goal production, averaging 2.7 per game. Another transfer who will sit out this year is burly 6’8” forward Alvin Mofunanya, who played two years at Saint Joseph’s. Freshman guard Anthony Jeune contributed 17.0 ppg his senior year at Camden Catholic, but will be redshirt in 2007-08 after sustaining serious injury in February. Freshman John Galvin, a 6’8” forward, will immediately bolster the frontcourt after a terrific scholastic career at Weston (CT), where he earned All-State status last season and graduated as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,902 points. In 2006-07, he averaged 24.0 ppg and 15.0 rpg. Freshman Jordan Stasyszyn, a 6’3” shooting guard, will give the Knights yet another three-point marksman. As a senior at Carlisle (PA), he hit 10 treys in a playoff game and 110 on the year as he averaged 24.0 ppg.
FDU By The Numbers
2006-07 Overall Record: 14-16
2006-07 NEC Record/Finish: 9-9/Tie-4th
NEC Tournament Finish: Lost in quarterfinals
Starters Returning/Lost: 2/3
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 9/4
2006-07 Final RPI: 233
Games Decided By 5 Points or Less: 9-10
Last Two Years: 23-13 (.639)
Last Three Years 36-18 (.667)
Last Four Years: 47-25 (.653)
Last Five Years: 56-34 (.622)
Last Two Years: 34-28 (.548)
Last Three Years 54-41 (.568)
Last Four Years: 71-53 (.573)
Last Five Years: 86-67 (.562)
Leading Returning Scorers
Cameron Tyler: 14.3 ppg
Manny Ubilla: 11.9 ppg
Eric Hazard: 5.3ppg
Leading Returning Rebounders
Cameron Tyler: 4.4 rpg
Manny Ubilla: 4.3 rpg
Eric Hazard: 2.3 rpg
Leading Returning Assists
Cameron Tyler: 5.1 apg
Manny Ubilla: 2.9 apg
Bernell Murray: 1.5 apg
57. HOLY CROSS. The Crusaders were 13-1 in Patriot League play last season. This season's race figures to be tighter, but Holy Cross has enough to repeat.
25. The return of 6-11 center Tim Clifford is a prime reason Holy Cross is expected to defend its Patriot League crown. Bucknell, which will look to senior John Griffin (St. Joseph's Prep) after losing three starters, and Colgate should be the top challengers to Holy Cross.
"“Disrupt” is the perfect word to describe what Southern Illinois does to teams defensively. The Salukis don’t apply a full-court team press, but Lowery has his point guard, Bryan Mullins, pick up the opposing team’s point guard and defend him the full length of the floor. That can really wear a point guard down and make it difficult for a team to get into its offense. And once a team manages to get into its half-court offense against SIU, it’s under constant pressure. Each Salukis defender gets right up in his man’s grill when he has the ball. Virtually every pass is contested, let alone every shot. It’s rare to see a team get a clean, uncontested shot against Southern Illinois.Leftovers: Tatum got his hair cut and dreadlocks done with roommate Falker in April, 2004. Neither have cut it since . . . only three opposing players have scored 20 or more points against the Salukis this season . . . Southern Illinois shoots 69.3 percent from the free throw line for the season, but the Salukis are better during crunch time, making 71.4 percent in the last two minutes of regulation . . . the Salukis are 4-9 all-time in NCAA Tournament games . . . SIU has now strung together six straight 20-win seasons . . . All five starters and the top eight in Lowery's rotation are the same guys who filled those roles on last year's SIU team, which lost in the first round.
And on the offensive end, Lowery’s Salukis are extremely disciplined as well. You’ll rarely see them take a quick or forced shot. They’ll pass the ball around the perimeter looking for an open jumper or for their big men inside, using the majority of the 35-second shot clock in the process. That wears teams down too, having to play defense for that long."
I have seen talk on various boards around the league and on Hoop Time about the lack of the Lehigh student section, and I felt the need to chime in. I am currently a senior out here, and must say that the situation is sad.Not a lot to add, but since Andrew asked if I had any thoughts, we will point out that aside from that 2003-04 team, it has been a very long time since Lehigh has had a winner. And that team, by losing in the play-in game, might have done more to hurt the cause than help it, giving the impression that Patriot League basketball is a weak sister league.
About four years ago a group of sophomores started regularly attending games and painted themselves (the L-E-H-I-G-H guys, you refer to them as). In the beginning they were usually the only students at the games, but word grew around campus that basketball games can be fun, and the team was starting to play a lot better, so some (stress some) students started to join them. Over the next few years, it turned into a nice student section that would travel to Maryland for the league tournament, up to Colgate for a game, up to HC a few times, over to Army and BU, and even having a better showing than the Zoo-Crew in their building. (Actually in one of your posts from two years ago, you commented on the presence of the Lehigh student at Lafayette in that game we lost).
Unfortunately, most of the original L-E-H-I-G-H guys have graduated, leaving me (although I never paint myself) and maybe about 8 other regulars. Most Lehigh students who do come will sit behind us and not really get into the game anymore. The atmosphere at Stabler is nothing less than depressing this season. I think it is a combination of the team not performing that well and these guys graduating. Another thing to look at is the distance that we must travel to get over to the game. If I am not mistaken, I think all Patriot League arenas are within walking distance of where most students live. You know this is not the case at Lehigh. Ultimately, this kills attendance. On top of that, the Athletic Department shows no commitment to Lehigh basketball. Very rarely do they promote a big game in ways that go beyond a few fliers around their building and outside the ticket office. We never get campus wide e-mails like HC students do. The student paper is a joke, when it comes to LU sports.
The whole situation is a mess out here, which is unfortunate. We have a great, young coach who is an unbelievable recruiter. We have the best freshmen in the league (by far) and possibly the player of the year (although his last few games may indeed hurt him). Students should want to see this team play and actively cheer them on. They really are missing something thousands of other students are getting across the country exciting college basketball.
Hopefully I was able to shed a little light on this mess. I don t see things changing at all in the near future. For senior day on Sunday, being at 1PM, my guess is most LU students will be hung over, and not show up. Those that do will show up at about 1:15, missing the chance to honor Jose, Jason, Kyle, and Adam. Next week, for the 1st round of the tourney, expect a student crowd half of what was there for Bucknell. From there, it is up to the team to try to win at an arena (most likely Bucknell) where more than a handful of students give a bleep about their team.
Do you have any thoughts?
*by the way, if you do post this on your site, do not hold me responsible for poor grammar or spelling. I should have written this on a word file and sent it to you, but I just typed it into this little box...which is tough to proof read...i didn't think I would ramble on this long, but I wanted to get a lot of things off my chest.
Game time is 7 p.m. on ESPNU and Sirius 107.
The Bison and Crusaders have combined to win five of the last six Patriot League titles, and they are the only two league teams to have won in the postseason (Bucknell in the 2005 and 2006 NCAA Tournaments, Holy Cross in the 2005 NIT). These two teams have met 10 times in 16 Patriot League Tournaments, including three times in the championship game. Bucknell defeated Holy Cross in the 2005 and 2006 title tilts, while the Crusders topped the Bison in the final in 1993. Excluding games against each other, Bucknell and Holy Cross are a combined 71-3 against the rest of the Patriot League since the start of the 2004-05 season. The Bison have not lost to a PL team other than the Crusaders since Jan. 30, 2005 at Navy. The Bison and Crusaders had never met until the formation of the Patriot League in 1990-91, but in 16 years since then they have clashed 43 times, an average of 2.6 meetings per year. Bucknell had won four straight and six of the last seven in the series before Holy Cross ended that streak with a 65-60 win at the Hart Center earlier this season. Bucknell now leads the series 24-19. Bucknell is 11-7 against Holy Cross in Lewisburg, including 4-1 at Sojka Pavilion.
The "General" barks orders back in his Indiana days