Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Jim Ferry Wishes LIU Were a No. 15 … Even More Now
COLUMBUS, Ohio — As soon as his team was cast as a No. 16 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament, LIU coach Jim Ferry was adamant that his club should have gotten a higher seed.
He felt the Blackbirds — the Northeast Conference regular-season and tournament champions — deserved better.
“I felt going into this tournament I felt there was a significant difference between the 1 seeds and the 2 seeds,” Ferry said late Friday night inside Nationwide Arena after the No. 16 Blackbirds fell to No. 1 Michigan State 89-67. “That’s how come I was extremely disappointed when we got a 16.”
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo agreed.
“Yes, I think they’re a better team,” Izzo said.
“I honestly didn’t think they were a 16 either when I saw them on film. I liked this team.”
Looking through the prism of the Madness that was Friday, Ferry probably wishes his team was a 15 even more than he did after Selection Sunday.
Not one, but two, No. 15 seeds stunned No. 2’s, with Norfolk State beating Missouri and Lehigh ousting Duke — in North Carolina.
“We didn’t show it tonight, but I thought we should have been a 15 seed,” Ferry said. “I think it would have led to maybe a little bit different outcome, because I thought there was a significant gap this year.”
LIU’s Jamal Olasewere wasn’t aware of Duke’s loss but he watched the Norfolk State win and the energy of the upset gave him a little boost heading into the Michigan State game.
“Watching Norfolk win definitely inspired us to come out here and try to upset Michigan State,” said Olasewere, who finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds.
The Blackbirds hung with the No. 1 Spartans for a half, trailing just 42-37, before being outscored 47-30 in the second.
“I told my guys at halftime, ‘We’re in trouble,'” Izzo said.
Turns out the trouble really only lasted for about a half.
But one of these days, Olasawere said, a 16 will cause real trouble for a 1.
“It will happen eventually,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with thinking you could be the team to do it.”
Added Ferry: “It’s going to happen, and I was hoping it was going to be us tonight.”
Photo: Getty Images
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.