LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds
2012-2013 Overall Rank: #101
Conference Rank: #2 NEC
LIU Brooklyn Team Page
LIU Brooklyn had some stiff competition in the Northeast Conference during the 2011-2012 campaign. Robert Morris and Wagner both sported very good teams, but it was the Blackbirds that won the regular season and took home the tournament title, earning a trip to the NCAA Tournament. This team returns four starters from that squad, but they lost Coach Jim Ferry, who made the move to the Atlantic 10. But the Blackbirds promoted seven year assistant Jack Perri and the transition should be very smooth. But again it will be Robert Morris and Wagner that will be the major hurdles in recording a third straight NEC title and NEC tournament championship.
2011-12 Record: 25-9, 16-2
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jack Perri
Coach Record: First season at LIU Brooklyn, 0-0 overall
The Blackbirds relied very, very heavily on their starting five, so losing one of them is a bigger deal than usual. Michael Culpo was the lowest scoring member of the starting five, although the lowest scorer still averaged 9.4 points per game. What Culpo provided was a consistent outside shooter and that is where this team will really miss him. Culpo, at 6-1, was also the biggest guard in the three guard lineup and that was beneficial for defensive purposes. The other loss is Arnold Mayorga, a forward who averaged 9.8 minutes per game. He was good at coming in and grabbing a rebound or two and giving the forwards a break, but that production is replaceable.
Coach Perri has a couple new faces to add to the mix. D.J. Griggs is another small guard who can score in bunches. If he can knock down the long ball with consistency, he could at least play a role off of the bench, but it is more likely he will only come in for defensive purposes as a freshman. Eric Reed is the typical small forward that this team lacks. At 6-5, he has a lot more size than the rest of the Blackbird wings, but there are more experience options available when LIU Brooklyn needs to play bigger, so Reed will have to beat out some competition for quality playing time this year.
Who to Watch:
If you are looking for a more experienced and talented group of upperclassmen in the NEC, you will not come close to matching this group. Junior Jason Brickman is the leader on the floor. He usually defers the scoring to the other three returning starters, but Brickman is more than capable of doing however much scoring the Blackbirds need him to do. The 5-10 point guard is a very consistent outside shooter and that ability opens up space for him to use his quickness to attack the basket. His 9.6 points is nice, but the real value is in Brickman’s 7.3 assists and 3.9 turnovers per contest. His 7.3 assists per game ranked fifth in the nation. Brickman’s partner in the backcourt is C.J. Garner. Garner is also 5-10, so that is where the size on the perimeter becomes an issue. But Garner can handle the ball and is a fine backup point guard for those very, very rare occasions when Brickman is on the bench. Garner is not a shooter, but he can finish around the basket with ease and averaged 12.6 points per game as a junior. The frontcourt duo of Jamal Olasewere and Julian Boyd can compete with just about anybody. Olasewere is a versatile 6-7 senior who can step outside and knock down the long ball, nab some steals and block some shots. In fact, Olasewere led the Blackbirds in steals and blocked shots last season. On top of that he averaged 16.9 points and 7.5 rebounds. Those numbers do not quite compare to Boyd’s 17.4 points and 9.3 rebounds. Boyd is a surprisingly consistent outside shooter, but on the other end of the floor he sticks to what he does best…hit the glass. Boyd is also 6-7, so size again can be an issue at times in the frontcourt just as it is in the backcourt. However, with Olasewere’s versatility and Boyd’s toughness, LIU Brooklyn’s frontcourt can do a lot of damage. Even in the NCAA Tournament loss to Michigan State where the Blackbirds scored a mere 67 points, well below where they like to play, Boyd and Olasewere accounted for 32 of those points. But it was their lack of size and tenacity on the glass that turned that game into a blowout.
So the big question is whether or not this team has a shooter to replace Culpo and maybe a big man who can play some defense. A shooter? Maybe. More size? Not really. Brandon Thompson was the perimeter player who would come in off of the bench last season. His 17.6 minutes per game was highest on the team after the starting five. Thompson is a 6-1 senior and is pretty much a senior. That means he has the size to do what Culpo did last year on the glass and the potential to be a decent long range threat. In fact, Thompson is a better rebounder than Culpo was, but he still needs to be more consistent with his shot. Kenny Onyechi was the frontcourt’s version of Thompson and will play that same reserve role this year. At 6-7 and 230 pounds, Onyechi is not larger than Boyd, but he is a much better shot blocker and at least that gives Coach Perri another defensive option and a seasoned reserve in the frontcourt. Sophomore Gerrell Martin did not see much playing time as a freshman, but he will have to play more minutes with Thompson, presumably, moving into the starting lineup. Small forward Booker Hucks averaged a mere 5.3 minutes per game, but he is a true small forward who can fill in some minutes when LIU Brooklyn needs more size on the wing. But they lived without much size last year and that did not make much of an impact in the NEC. But it will against stronger competition.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Jason Brickman, Junior, Guard, 9.6 points per game
C.J. Garner, Senior, Guard, 12.6 points per game
Brandon Thompson, Senior, Guard, 4.4 points per game
Jamal Olasewere, Senior, Forward, 16.9 points per game
Julian Boyd, Senior, Forward, 17.4 points per game