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Get To Know A Marquette Basketball Opponent: Long Island University

What do we need to know about the Sharks before Thursday night’s game?

Diving with sharks in Florida Photo by Joseph Prezioso/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Name: Long Island University

Location: Well, that’s kind of complicated.

How is the physical location of a college campus complicated? Well, hang on, we’ll get into it in a second.

Founded: The school was chartered in 1926 by the New York State Education Department but also part of the campus includes LIU Pharmacy, which has been around since 1891 as the Brooklyn College of Pharmacy. So, feel free to count whatever year you want there. Campus was located in Brooklyn, so officially, we could say it’s in Brooklyn.

Waiting for the complications, sir: However, in the 1950s, LIU acquired land about 25 miles to the east on Long Island and started operation of a second campus known as LIU Post in honor of C.W. Post, the breakfast cereal pioneer and the father of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the person who sold LIU the land. LIU Post was a Division 2 athletic department, while the original LIU campus, LIU Brooklyn, operated as a Division 1 outfit. This lasted until 2018, when LIU merged the two athletic departments under one banner of just Long Island University.

Enrollment: LIU themselves says “over 15,000” on their website, which I presume includes total enrollment over both campuses.

Nickname: Sharks

Why “Sharks”? The background to it is that they wanted to eliminate Blackbirds, which was the nickname for LIU Brooklyn, as well as Pioneers, which was the nickname for LIU Post. Thankfully, the name change happened in 2019, so the press release for it has been online ever since. The methodology is a tried and true one: Campus vote, with Sharks beating out Eagles and Falcons. I appreciate the decision making by the majority of the students here to pick something a little more off the beaten path.

Notable Alumni: If LIU is combining the Post and Brooklyn campuses into one Division 1 athletic department, then we’re counting grads from both campuses on this list. So: Rose Elizabeth Bird, the first female justice and first female chief justice of the California Supreme Court; Manuel Barron, Chairman of Barron’s Educational Series; Fred Gaudelli, Lead Producer for NBC’s Sunday Night Football; Robert Ronzoni, former president of Ronzoni Foods & Ronzoni Macaroni Company; Larry Doby, the first Black baseball player in the American League (honorary degree in 1996, but Larry Doby rules, so I’m putting it in here); Brian Kilmeade, host of Fox & Friends; actress Dina Meyer, best known to me for her role in Starship Troopers; Terry Semel, former CEO of Yahoo; John Edward, alleged psychic; and Nicholas Pileggi; author/writer who had his books adapted into Goodfellas & Casino.

Last Season: 16-14, but 12-6 in NEC play.

Final Ranking: #235

Final T-Rank Ranking: #245

This Year So Far: 1-1, although the win was over Mount Saint Vincent, which is a Division 3 program located in The Bronx. They did win easily, 111-50, after falling 89-48 to Utah in their opener.

Current KenPom Ranking and Projection: #341, projected to go 10-17 overall and 7-9 in the NEC. That would end up as a tie for sixth place with Stonehill, who is in their first year in Division 1.

Current T-Rank Ranking and Projection: #352, projected to go 8-19 overall and 6-10 in the NEC. That would end up in a tie for sixth place with St. Francis (NY).

Returning Stats Leaders

Points: Tre Wood, 6.5 ppg
Rebounds: Tre Wood, 3.1 rpg
Assists: Tre Wood, 3.9 apg

Actual Stats Leaders

Points: Marko Maletic, 13.0 ppg
Rebounds: Quion Burns, 8.5 rpg
Assists: Quion Burns, 5.0 apg

Shooters? Throwing a gigantic “it’s only two games and one of them involved LIU destroying a Division 3 team” caveat all over everything here, Marko Maletic and Quion Burns are on fire so far this season. Maletic, a 6’6” guard who hails from Canada and comes to the Sharks from Laramie County Community College, is 7-for-16 this season, which is a very good 44% from long distance. However, this is because he went 6-for-12 against Mount Saint Vincent, so that’s 1-for-4 against Utah. Quion Burns, a 6’6” sophomore from White Plains, is 6-for-10 on the year, but that’s because he went 6-for-7 against MSV. Yes, 0-for-3 against the Utes, which is not good.

Tre Wood, a 6’1” guard who is in his third season at LIU after starting his collegiate career at UMass, went 1-for-2 against Utah and 2-for-4 against MSV, so keep an eye on him.

Bigs? Junior Amadou Fall stands in at 6’10” and 240 pounds. He started off his career at Three Rivers Community College, spent last year at Arkansas Pine Bluff, and then transferred after participating in just two games there. He hasn’t been doing much for the Sharks, playing 14 minutes against Utah and 13 against Mount Saint Vincent, but he’s shot the ball just four times, all against the Utes, and has yet to get one to fall. He did grab three rebounds in each game, handed out an assist vs Utah, and recorded one block and one steal against MSV. He racked up four fouls in the game against Utah, so that definitely had an impact on his playing time.

Junior James Kamich qualifies more as Tall Man than Big Man at 6’9” and 195 pounds, but he also hasn’t played at all yet this season. Senior Cheikh Ndiaye has a lot of bulk at 250 pounds, but he’s “only” 6’8” tall. This is Ndiaye’s fourth stop on his collegiate basketball journey, which included two junior college seasons and spending last year at NAIA Faulkner University. He’s played 18 minutes in both games so far this year, going for 10 points off the bench against Utah and 11 last time out while getting the start for the Sharks. Ndiaye grabbed up four rebounds against the Utes and five vs MSV, so take all of that into account.

Jake Cook (6’8”, 180 lbs.) and C.J. Delancy (6’8”, 201 lbs.) have height but are outweighed by everyone that Marquette would throw at them at either the 4 or the 5. Cook is a regular rotation guy, playing more minutes off the bench against Utah than he did starting against Mount Saint Vincent. Delancy started and played 12 minutes against Utah, but then registered just six minutes in that blowout against MSV and he’s scored just four points all year so far.

Head Coach: Do you mean when this game was originally reported or do you mean now?

Wait, weren’t we aware of this game by the end of May? Oh yeah.

They have a head coach who wasn’t the head coach [does math] six months ago?? Oh yeah.

WHAT? Yeah, LIU fired Derek Kellogg on June 30th, about a month after we got the report that the game was happening.

WHY? No idea! LIU’s press release announcing their new head coach on that very same day does not even mention the fact that they let Kellogg go. On top of that, it is incredibly hard to say that Kellogg wasn’t meeting the challenges of his job. He went 10-8 in NEC play in his first season, 9-9 for three straight years, and then 12-6 last season. The only real explanation is that someone at LIU really decided that they wanted to have the guy that they hired to replace Kellogg as the head coach and just made the change just to make the change.

With that in mind.....

Head Coach: Rod Strickland, in his first season at LIU and first season as a Division 1 head coach. He spent three years as an assistant coach to Orlando Antigua at USF from 2014 to 2017, and this is his first year back in the college ranks since then. He has been serving as the NBA G League’s director of the professional path program since 2018, so it’s not like he was completely out of basketball... but he was also not coaching much less running a Division 1 program even at the NEC level.

From LIU’s press release on Strickland’s hiring:

“Rod Strickland has a demonstrated eye for recruiting and developing student-athletes and we are confident he will elevate Long Island University’s winning tradition to even greater heights,” Long Island University President Kimberly R. Cline said.

That first phrase is a lie, pure and simple. USF went 24-71 in Antigua’s three seasons on the sidelines in Tampa with a 8-46 record in AAC play. You wanted to turf Kellogg and hire Strickland, so you did. You don’t have to dress it up and walk it down the street.

All-Time Series: Long Island leads, 1-0.

WHAT? On January 11, 1939, Long Island defeated Marquette, 41-34, in New York.

What To Watch For: In this case, it’s actually a Who to watch for, as transfer guard Maurice Commander has not played for the Sharks yet this season. Commander, a 6’0” guard from Chicago, transferred into LIU after spending last year at Illinois-Chicago and the two seasons before that at Chattanooga. He has career averages of 6.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists to go with a 35% three-point shooting average, but he was better than that for the Flames last season. 10.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and a whopping 43% from downtown can make a big impact on the team, and that’s reinforced by T-Rank projecting Commander as LIU’s best player this season. He hasn’t played yet though, and in fact, it appears he didn’t even make the trip to Utah for their opener. If anyone out there has any idea what’s up with him, please pipe up in the comments, as even LIU’s game notes for this contest don’t mention anything about what’s going on.