For the past three winters, the Blackbirds from Long Island University-Brooklyn dominated college basketball in the Met area. The 2012-13 season was no exception. A more than decent starting five, plus the reserves, were dominating and went to the NCAA tournament–the dream of any college quintet.
During this current season, they are attempting to advance for the fourth time to win the Northeast College Conference championship.
This team list five freshmen and one senior, all Northeast Conference guard Jason Brickman on their 14-man roster. Meanwhile, about a mile west of LIU also in downtown Brooklyn, lies St. Francis College. Last year, the Terriers struggled but this time around seem to be much improved.
The Terriers return one pre-season all-Conference team member to go along with LIU’s Brickman in Jalen Cannon, a junior. The Terriers list three seniors and three freshmen also on a 14-man roster.
The Blackbirds recently made a short trip to the Terrier gym for the first of two meetings on the Northeast Conference schedule. The second clash, known as the Battle of Brooklyn, will be held at the Barclays Center, home of the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets, for an afternoon tip off on Feb. 16.
Last week’s game, witnessed by a capacity crowd, of maybe 1200 fans when the Terriers dominated action, shot long range or better known as three points out was much better than the Blackbirds-38 percent to 31 percent-and almost doubled their output in rebounding, 52 to 28.
While Brickman was ‘off’ in his field goal shooting, his back court play was still superb. But the Blackbirds could not stop Ben Mockford, who shot eight for 14 from long range out, and wound up with 30 points. Cannon grabbed 14 rebounds and Brent Jones, who out played Brickman from the guard position, ended with 12 assists, one more than Brickman. Jones played the first part of the season mostly as a reserve but started against LIU.
The way that the trio of Jones, Mockford, and Cannon played and controlled the game, opponents must watch out for them for the duration of the season.
The capacity crowd was treated to a tremendous game and now they are awaiting the return match at the Barclays Center.
“Jones has geat poise with ball control,” said a spectator and former athletic director and soccer coach at St. Francis College-Carlo Tramontozzi. “This is a very good team.”
The 5’10” guard from Brooklyn has been playing very well both on offense and defense.
“He’s maturing as a player,” said Head Coach Glenn Braica. “He’s starting to understand when to go and not to go. He’s going to mature as a person and a player. He makes great decisions. He’s been great. Jones developed and gotten better all the time. He plays very hard and is a tough kid.”
Braica thought that his team put together a very good victory over LIU.
“I thank the guys the way they responded the way that they did,” the coach went on after the LIU game. “LIU played with two point guards the last two years and they were very quick. “They (LIU) made a nice run the last three years. Not many teams beat them. Look at their league records.”
Meanwhile, Braica really likes this group and is optimistic about this season and advancing far.
“We’re resilient and we have a certain something about them,” added the coach. “They are good kids and work hard. We want to take it a step further – one day at a time and try to be as good as we can be…..What that is I have no idea.
“We’ve had great wins over Miami and Florida Atlantic, That’s college basketball and that’s the way it is. We have to stay focused, have a little luck, stay healthy and have to improve as the year goes on. We are really proud of our guys.”
As for the Blackbirds at times they got together and tried to make a run, but it did not work out during the LIU game.
“We did not do the job in (rebounding),” said LIU Coach Jack Perri. “That set the tome (against St. Francis). We got small and that didn’t help, either. But at the start of the second half, we did a better job.”
“Beating LIU is a good start to the season,” Jones said. “We needed a good conference win to start it (NEC schedule) off.”