Led by three all-Met candidates-Jamal Olasewere, CJ Garner and Jason Brickman, the Long Island University Blackbirds will host rival St. Francis College of Brooklyn for a noon tip-off on Saturday, Feb. 10. This contest to be played not at the college itself but at nearby Barclays Center is part of a round-robin schedule in the Northeast Conference, which ends in early March with the winner of its post season tournament earning an automatic spot into the NCAA post-season tournament.
The Terriers, with three double-figure scorers on their roster, feature Jalen Cannon, a 16-point a-game-scorer, while LIU features Olasewere, who is scoring at a 19-point-a-game clip.
In the last game more recently between both teams, the scoring and rebounding of both Garner and Olasewere, and the backcourt play of Brickman paved the way for LIU’s victory. Garner was named most valuable player of the ‘Battle of Brooklyn’ game as a large crowd of 1023 fans jammed the gymnasium of St. Francis College. The Blackbirds with the victory increased their overall record 9-10 and dropped the Terriers to 8-10.
They were treated to a tremendous second half come back by the Blackbirds who last year went to the NCAA tournament.
Jack Perri, in his first year as head coach of the Blackbirds, but in his eighth year with the team, has been satisfied with his players’ performance this year, especially in the second half of the Terriers’ game when they battled back from a 14-point deficit late in the first half to go ahead 46-44 on a Garner lay-up, half way through the second half.
With about two minutes remaining on the clock, Garner fed Olasewere for a layup to make the count 71-57 on way to a 78-68 victory.
LIU’s frontcourt players have to step it up for the remainder of the season because 18-point a game scorer Julian Boyd played the first seven games of the season and then against Rice suffered an injury to his knee that needed season ending surgery. He will thus sit out the rest of the scheduled. Boyd was chosen as he league’s pre-season player of the year.
“It is difficult to guard Olasewere,” said St. Francis head coach Glenn Bracia. “He’s quick. He’s tough to match up against him. Garner is also difficult.”
The same goes for LIU’s guard Brickman who at times looks just tremendous on the court and who could certainly set up the scorers., Take for example, after a slow start in the first half, Brickman cane alive in the second 20 minutes and turned in nine more assists to wind up with 11.
Both teams must continue to improve if they want to put together winning teams. Perri has certainly been high on his top players.
“Garner shoots and scores at a high level,” said Perri after the St. Francis-LIU game. “We must continue to do a great job in transition.”
“We have to keep our poise and stay tough (for the remainder of the season),” added Olasewere. “It’s a collective thing (to do) with five seniors).”
However, for the immediate future, former basketball players at LIU Dave Masciale and Leo Merson, soccer star Nick Megaloudis, Fred Munsch in swimming, James Ruocchio for baseball, and volley ball star Ivana Vasiljevic will all be inducted into the 14th annual Hall of Fame class during half time of the Northeast Conference contest against Robert Morris this Saturday (Feb. 2).
“We are very excited to be inducting a class of extraordinary individuals into the LIU Athletics Hall of Fame,” said athletic director John Suarez. “This group of inductees embodies the great athletic tradition of LIU Brooklyn and it is a pleasure to honor their accomplishments and contributions.”