Julian Boyd Is Ready To Play

At this point he’s more of a phoenix than a Blackbird. Julian Boyd rose from the ashes once again to take part in the second annual Gotham Hoops Invitational Saturday afternoon at Adelphi University with one simple declaration: “I’m ready to play.” Continue reading “Julian Boyd Is Ready To Play”

Breaking Down Jason Brickman’s 1,000 Assists

Jason Brickman sits on the bench

In the end, Jason Brickman’s 1,000th assist wasn’t overly flashy. A strong drive down the right-hand side of the key followed by a quick rotation and a kick out to an eagerly waiting Gerrell Martin for an easy three. One pass, one shot, one bucket. Continue reading “Breaking Down Jason Brickman’s 1,000 Assists”

NEC Conference Email Preview

NEC conference play is so close you can taste it. We here at Big Apple Buckets absolutely can’t wait for Thursday and so we’re rolling out our NEC preview content during the next few days. Then we’ll have full coverage of the games on Thursday. First it’s an email exchange between Ryan P. and John as we look forward to league play.

Continue reading “NEC Conference Email Preview”

NEC Team Primer: #6 LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds

Head Coach: Jack Perri, 2nd season (20-14, 12-6 NEC)
Last Season: 20-14 (12-6 NEC), lost to James Madison in the NCAA tournament first round
RPI/KenPom: 173/191
NEC Preseason Poll: 4th out of 10 teams
State of Programs: Rebuilding (but hungry)
Starters Returning: 2
Key Loss(es): Jamal Olasewere (18.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.5 spg, NEC Player of the Year), C.J. Garner (16.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.6 spg), Brandon Thompson (8.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg), Booker Hucker (5.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg), Kenny Onyechi (4.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
Incoming Players: Nura Zanna (F), Iverson Fleming (G), Joel Hernandez (G), Landon Atterberry (F), Glenn Feidanga (F/C), Chris Carter (F)

LIU-BlackbirdsProjected Starting Lineup:
PG: Jason Brickman (9.5 ppg, 8.5 apg, 2.2 A/TO ratio)
G: Gerrell Martin (3.7 ppg, 41.2% 3pt%)
G: Gilbert Parga (sat out last season)
F: E.J. Reed (7.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
F: Landon Atterberry (Jr. JUCO transfer)

Key Reserves: Troy Joseph (G/F), Chris Carter (F), Julian Boyd (F – Jan. return), Iverson Fleming (G)

Major Storylines:

  • Boyd Battling Back – Julian Boyd has been dealt some tough blows during his collegiate career. He’s missed time for his heart and his knee. Granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after injuring his knee against Rice last season, Boyd worked all the way back before tearing the same on in July. Now he’s trying to get healthy enough to contribute for one final run by the Blackbirds.
  • Fantastic Four-Peat – LIU has won three consecutive NEC tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA tournament each time. Last year it was thanks to the excellent tournament play of Jamal Olasewere and C.J. Garner. The Blackbirds even got to clinch on their home court again thanks to Mount St. Mary’s upsetting Robert Morris during the tournament. The Blackbirds have a chance to do something without precedent in the NEC – win four straight titles. It’s definitely not going to be easy. The team has now lost many of the key pieces of those championship teams.
  • The Injury Bug Bites Fast – As if losing Boyd until January wasn’t enough, the Blackbirds lost star freshman forward Nurra Zana for the season due to a wrist injury. Ryan Peters laid out all of their other injury problems. Thanks to the misfortune health wise, Perri hasn’t been able to practice a full roster this preseason. That could be a real problem for a team loaded with newcomers.

The Skinny:

Here we are again. Another season. Another opportunity for Blackbirds fans to wonder how they’re going to find a way to pull off another NEC title. Once again it isn’t going to be easy. Jack Perri is basically implementing an entirely new lineup. There’s a lot of talent on the wings though with Gilbert Parga, Troy Joseph and Gerrell Martin. The question is which of those players is going to step up given the gigantic opportunity put in front of them.

One player that Perri doesn’t have to worry about is point guard Jason Brickman. The nation’s leader in assists, Brickman is still struggling to gain national respect. I don’t really get it. He had a 2.2 assist/turnover ratio last season and the Blackbirds have won the NEC every season he’s been the starting point guard. What more could you want? How about being a vocal leader? Brickman has often been the type to lead to by example, but as a senior he’s taking more of a leadership role and is in charge of making sure LIU stays on top.

The expectation was that the Blackbirds would have Julian Boyd back to solidify the front court. Unfortunately that’s not going to happen this season. Even if Boyd is able to return in January it’ll take him some time to get used to the speed of Division I basketball again and have all of his movement on the court feel natural. The best athletes in the world take two years to fully recover from major knee surgery. Boyd’s had to go through it twice. In his stead expect E.J. Reed to pick up  a lot of the slack. Reed developed into a potent threat during NEC play last season and should do even more as a sophomore. He’ll typically be flanked by a junior college transfer – either Landon Atterberry or Chris Carter. Right now it seems like Atterberry has the inside track for the other starting forward spot.

The biggest wild cards for this LIU team are on the wing. How Parga, Joseph and Martin perform when given a starring role will go a long way towards determining if the Blackbirds can actually compete with the rest of the NEC and take home that fourth straight championship.

Coach’s Quotes:

“I would say Landon Atterberry has been clearly my next best frontcourt guy (other than E.J. Reed). Landon is a little undersized, but he’s definitely fine in our league. He’s athletic, he’s got great hands, and he’s great with Brickman because he catches everything and he can finish around the basket.”
– Perri, when asked who has emerged as the second frontcourt player opposite of Reed

“He makes us go. He’s a special kid. He is by far our hardest worker, by far the most cerebral kid I’ve ever been around… I think it’s crazy he hasn’t been an (NEC all-conference) first team guy.”
– Perri, talking about senior point guard Jason Brickman


Ryan – It’s so difficult to bet against LIU and Jack Perri, but here goes nothing. After Brickman and Reed, there’s far too much roster uncertainty for me to stomach. Yes, Parga and a frontcourt guy will likely emerge, but with so much quality in the top half of the conference, I have trouble believing the Blackbirds will make it four straight titles. Can this team make a run in the NEC tournament? Sure! But for the regular season, I’m far more pessimistic then my counterpart. (13 wins, 8-8 NEC)

John – So many injuries. It’s tough to pick LIU that high after the Blackbirds got so beat up. Still, the NEC has basically played right into Jack Perri and co.’s hands. Everything is fast and everything is a shootout. LIU has the best player at the controls in Jason Brickman. This is overly optimistic, but… (15 wins, 10-6 NEC)

Other NEC Team Primers:
#10 Fairleigh Dickinson Knights
#9 St. Francis (PA) Red Flash
#8 Sacred Heart Pioneers

#7 St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers

LIU Brooklyn Badly Infected By the Injury Bug

The 2011-12 season was a magical year for LIU Brooklyn, as Jim Ferry rode off into the sunset after securing his second straight NEC championship. The Blackbirds were ferocious on the offensive end of the floor, averaging 1.12 points per possession in league play while executing at a dizzying 75.9 possessions per game pace. Continue reading “LIU Brooklyn Badly Infected By the Injury Bug”

NEC All-Conference Teams: The Way Too Early Edition

In keeping with the spirit of those “way too early ratings” for the upcoming 2013-14 season, I decided to unveil my all-conference teams for the NEC. Mainly because I had nothing better to do. Plus it’s fun to speculate with over five months left before the season begins! Here we go, and of course feel free to disagree with me in the comments section.

All-NEC Preseason First Team
PG: Jason Brickman, LIU Brooklyn
SG: Kyle Vinales, Central Connecticut
F: Alex Francis, Bryant
PF: Julian Boyd, LIU Brooklyn
PF: Jalen Cannon, St. Francis Brooklyn

Well so much for Kyle Vinales leaving. With the graduations of Jamal Olasewere, Shane Gibson, and Velton Jones, I strongly felt these five players will represent the preseason All-NEC team. In my opinion, all five are virtual locks to make the preseason first team, barring injury of course. Let’s see, we have an assist leader in the NCAA (Jason Brickman), a former NEC Player of the Year (Julian Boyd), a former NEC Rookie of the Year and leading scorer in the conference (Vinales), and two forwards in Alex Francis and Jalen Cannon that are so difficult to guard for NEC competition. This is a loaded first team.

All-NEC Second Team
PG: Kenneth Ortiz, Wagner
SG: Dyami Starks, Bryant
SG: Latif Rivers, Wagner
F: Lucky Jones, Robert Morris
F: Matthew Hunter, Central Connecticut

Now it gets a little tricky. I’m still confident in my second group, even though there’s plenty of high upside talent lurking underneath. Kenneth Ortiz is coming off another NEC Defensive Player of the Year title, yet people should also be impressed with his climbing assist rate. Dyami Starks led the NEC in three pointers made and was fourth in scoring last season, so I’m expecting a monster junior season, as long as someone can get Starks the ball with Frankie Dobbs now gone. Latif Rivers had a down season mainly due to a bad wheel. Obviously his knee will need to check in at 100% for a return to the all-conference team, but he sure has the potential given the athletic ability around him. Two do-everything stat fillers, Lucky Jones and Matthew Hunter, have first team potential. Still, given the star power above them, the safe bet is seeing each player settle into the second team.

All-NEC Third Team
PG: Shivaughn Wiggins, Mount St. Mary’s
G: Rashad Whack, Mount St. Mary’s
F: Jay Harris, Wagner
F: Louis Montes, Sacred Heart
PF: Earl Brown, St. Francis (PA)

We are officially in the speculation point of the exercise. If you replace someone here with someone from my “also considered list” below, I would have no qualms. I love the overall game of Shivaughn Wiggins, therefore I’m expecting he’ll catapult into All-NEC contention. With an excellent junior season under his belt, Rashad Whack should continue to produce in Jamion Christian’s shooter friendly system. Jay Harris is the most unfamiliar face in this group of 15, yet I’m expecting the Valpo transfer to have an immediate impact in Staten Island. He may very well be the best skilled athlete in Bashir Mason’s rotation, and that’s saying a lot. I gave some love to Louis Montes, whose numbers were quite impressive down the stretch last season. With a solid core of sharpshooting veterans in the backcourt to stretch defenses, look for Montes to optimize the interior game with his big, wide body. Earl Brown may be the most speculative athlete of this group, but with exceptional rebound rates, we’re looking for continued growth. He could lead the league in double-doubles next season.

Also Considered: Phil Gaetano, Sacred Heart, Karvel Anderson, Robert Morris, E.J. Reed, LIU Brooklyn, Sam Prescott, Mount St. Mary’s, Julian Norfleet, Mount St. Mary’s, Malcolm McMillan, Central Connecticut