- Sep 9, 2015
- Reaction score
Two Weeks from Today
Return with me now to the thrilling days of yesteryear. Specifically, let’s return to early February 2005 and join a Williams Arena crowd of 8,800. Minnesota, 8-2 in the Big Ten, coming off a Final Four appearance, faced a 9-2 Michigan State squad which was Final Four bound. It was over before it was over. Sparty, coached by the original Coach P, jumped to a 42-25 halftime lead on their way to a 79-48 victory. MSU was led by a 5’10” sophomore guard who came off the bench to go 8-10 from the field. She finished with 22 points (3-3 from three), 6 rebounds and 3 steals. Post game, Pam Borton said:
“She did that to us last game, so no, I wasn’t surprised. I don’t know if it’s something she has for Minnesota or what.”
The sophomore guard, now in her fifth year as head coach at Long Island University, was Rene Haynes. Haynes came to LIU following a five-year stint as a Duke assistant coach under Joanne P McCallie. And whether there’s “something she has for Minnesota” is about as much concern as I can muster for the outcome of a match-up between the Gophers and Sharks. The opener will be all about the Gophers and their coaching staff.
LIU, coming off a 7-22 (5-11 in conference) season, are projected to finish sixth in the Northeast Conference behind Sacred Heart, Merrimack, Wagner, FDU and Stonehill. Suffice it to say that Haynes is not threatening the record of the winningest coach in LIU women’s basketball history, Gail Striegler. Yes, that Gail Striegler whom, after her dismissal from LIU, spent three seasons as an assistant for Marlene Stollings at Minnesota. I love connections.
Anyway, LIU welcomes eight newcomers (three freshmen and five transfers) to join the seven returnees. NEC Media Day provides this quick write-up on the Sharks:
Returning Players to Watch:
Ashley Austin (Sr, G, 5-6): 12.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 25.6 mpg, 43.1 FG%, 1.8 apg, 1.3 spg
Emaia O’Brien (Jr, G, 5-1): 9.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 23.8 mpg, 34.1 FG%, 77.2 FT%, 1.6 apg, 1.1 spg
Hitting its stride late, LIU entered the 2023 NEC Tournament as one of the league’s hottest teams, as the Sharks ripped off wins in five of their final six games before meeting up with eventual champion Sacred Heart in the opening round of the postseason. During that late-season turnaround, head coach Rene Haynes’ squad averaged 66.2 points per game, nearly a 10-point boost from their season average of 56.7 ppg. Senior guard Ashley Austin (Compton, CA/Lynwood (Texas Southern)), a 2022-23 All-NEC performer who quickly made a statement as one of the most consistent — and versatile —scorers in the league, will look to make an even bigger impact in her second season in Brooklyn.
Two days before traveling to Minnesota, LIU plays at St. Johns which will give us a better look at the Sharks. LIU’s only NCAA tournament appearance came in 2001 when they were edged in the first round by UConn 29-101.
About the Sharks:
For decades, Long Island University was nicknamed the Blackbirds. But in 2019, the school merged the Brooklyn and Post campuses into one athletic department and selected Sharks as the new nickname.
About the Post campus:
In 1951, Long Island University bought the country estate of Marjorie Merriwether Post and named the new campus for her father, cereal magnate Charles Post. Marjorie Post moved on to her other properties. One of which was an ocean front estate she built called Mar-a-Lago. Its current resident claims it is worth billions.
In 1951, Long Island University’s run at the top level of college basketball came to a jarring end when they were one of the seven universities (LIU, NYU, CCNY, Manhatten, Bradley, Toledo and Kentucky) caught up in basketball’s point shaving scandal. LIU shut down their basketball program for six seasons.
Just as important, LIU’s head coach, Clair Bee, resigned. Bee, a basketball innovator, still has the third highest win percentage in college basketball. Bee also authored the Chip Hilton sports series which had a more benign effect on the sport than did his mentorship of Bob Knight.