It’s another college basketball season with most of the better teams having the one goal in common and on their mind-that is, going deep into the NCAA Tournament, whether it be Division I, II, or III. And maybe even the Final Four.
Of course, not every college is capable of attaining such an objective, and success. However, the Blackbirds of Long Island University, Brooklyn still have the opportunity even though their key players, including starters, have graduated at the end of last spring.
One player who comes to mind is Julian Boyd, now a graduate student with still some eligibility left on its hoop squad; he is still out recuperating with a knee injury. He should be ready for the second semester after missing the majority of last season. Boyd is a key figure to the team.
Recently, the Blackbirds, paced by the starting five of Landon Atterberry and E.J. Reed up front, and a three-guard offense of Gilbert Parga, Gerrell Martin and Jason Brickman, got off to a little rough start, but still managed to pull out a 87-80 victory over St. Peter’s College at the Barclays Center, home of the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets.
And what a show put on by Brickman, who had 14 assists in 37 minutes. He maybe, the top guard in the met area,and along with another holdover, Gerrell Martin, who stole the offensive show with 24 points, mostly from the field in 32 minutes must carry the team this season.
“It’s a good feeling playing here at the Barclay’s Center,” said Martin, who saw action in 32 games, including making one start, last year. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity just to play out here. I always wanted to play around here since I was a kid. Just to play in my back yard (felt) good.
“I was (scoring and) I found the open man,” added Brickman, a senior.
During the off season, including the summer, both Brickman and Martin stayed in shape, worked on their game, grew a little bit and prepared for their upcoming seasons. It’s up to them to help lead their teammates to another successful campaign.
A New York bred player, Martin is trying to take over the show from graduation losses Jamal Olasewere, C.J. Garner, Brandon Thompson, and Ken Onyechi.
After sitting on the bench and waiting for his turn, Martin finally got it in a starting role against St. Peter’s in a non-league game last Saturday.
“Now I have to give ‘it’ my all,” Martin added.
Blackbird Coach Jack Perri was very happy with the effort turned in by all his players.
“Obviously, the guys stepped up,” Perri said. “Our guys did a very good job, and executed their good shots. We got stops when we needed to get them. “
During the off season, Martin, a resident of The Bronx, tried to get stronger and faster and worked hard in preparation for his junior year.
Martin following in the footsteps of his father who also played basketball. The latter played at Power Memorial Academy, a Catholic High School in Manhattan, after Lew Alcindor did. Martin played at his high school ball at Wings Academy in The Bronx.
“My father taught me how to shoot and put the basketball in my hand,” the LIU student athlete recalled.
“The whole campus treats us like a family,” Martin explained after the victory over St. Peter’s. “I am starting to appreciate all the things that happened.”
Now he and his teammates really want to repeat what happened last year and even go further.
“I was happy for my team,” Martin added. “They really wanted it their third straight (Northeast Conference Championship) last year. They came into the season with a right mind set and we came out with a ‘W.’ It was unbelievable experience to win back-to-back-to-back titles and go to the NCAA The winner of the Northeast Conference post season tournament receives an automatic bid into the prestigious NCAA tourney.”
Now Martin and his teammates have to stay consistent and remain confident. They have to play hard and play as a team and do what it takes for the team to win and defend their title.
“Then everything will fall into place,” Martin summed up.