Defending NEC champion Long Island held an open practice for the media last Thursday afternoon, providing the first glimpse into the Blackbirds. Jim Ferry has to do a bit of reconfiguring this season after losing Kyle Johnson and David Hicks, but LIU is well on the way to preparing to defend its title.
The first question Ferry has to answer is who is going to start in Johnson and Hicks’ places. Replacing Johnson is the more difficult question. It seems like Kenny Onyechi should be able to fill a big role in the front court this season, but on Thursday he was nursing a minor foot injury. Senior Arnold Mayorga is another option at the starting forward position. He didn’t play much last season, but was effective in spurts. One big benefit of Mayorga is that he could help facilitate the offense instead of being a focal point in it.
Or Ferry could decided that he wants to go small. Junior college transfer Brandon Thompson appears ready to hit the ground running and should make an impact for the Blackbirds this season. 6’1 senior Michael Culpo gives LIU another option in its three-guard set.
That’s all assuming of course that Jason Brickman moves into the starting lineup after a stellar freshman season. Watch Brickman shoot you’ll see the smooth easy stroke that led to 88% from line and 39% from three in 2010-11. With Brickman taking over at the point the super-quick C.J. Garner should be able to play more of a combo role, which should free him up to be more effective offensively. That’s great, because Garner’s speed makes him an elite defender.
Also worth mentioning is that I saw Julian Boyd practice some threes on Thursday, and while Ferry definitely wants him on the low block, it seems like the 6’7 forward has added another weapon to his arsenal after shooting only 10-34 (29%) from distance a season ago. That’ll be helpful to make up for Johnson’s departure.
Whatever Boyd and his teammates do Ferry isn’t going to let this team get complacent. Players were working hard and nobody was afraid to hit the floor in rebounding drills. A season after an NCAA tournament appearance isn’t the time to take it easy, and the Blackbirds won’t have the chance considering their brutal early schedule. This group is ready to make its own sort of history.
One thought on “A first look at Long Island”