The Long Island University men’s basketball team understands that expectations have changed along with its roster
After three straight trips to the NCAA tournament and three consecutive Northeast Conference crowns a poll of coaches predicted a fourth-place conference showing for the Blackbirds this year, returning with just one starter from last year’s squad.
Second-year head coach Jack Perri knows this is going to be a different kind of season.
“I keep telling my staff we have to be really patient this year, teach,” he said. “Now we have to teach.”
One of the main instructors will be senior point guard Jason Brickman, a first-team all-conference selection. He led the nation in assists last season with 290, and is just 281 assists away from becoming the fourth player in NCAA history to reach 1,000 for his career.
Brickman understands his job is still to make the extra pass and make the players around him better, but knows his scoring load may increase since the Blackbirds graduated leading scorers C.J. Garner and conference player-of-the-year Jamal Olasewere.
“I’m still going to look to find the open guy, but I might have to be more aggressive this year,” Brickman said.
He expects to get some scoring help from junior college transfer Gilbert Parga. The junior is described as a dead-eye shooter who can also put the ball on the floor to get to basket. The team will also look to former Wings star Gerrell Martin for perimeter scoring.
“I think we are going to be able to spread the floor out a little bit more than in the past,” Perri said.
The Blackbirds also added some size in 6-foot-6 junior college recruit Landon Atterberry, and Brickman believes sophomore wing E. J. Reed is primed for a breakout season. Reed was a member of the conference’s all-rookie team last season.
Additional help could also arrive in December in the form of 2011 conference player-of-the-year Julian Boyd. The graduate student will attempt to return from a second torn ACL after the same injury knocked him out eight games into last season. Perri said Boyd is upbeat and progressing well.
“I hope this works out for him,” the coach said.
Long Island University is hopeful about its chances this season even if Boyd doesn’t make it back. Perri expects a lot of players to see minutes early before they can find the right roles and combinations. The goal is to mature enough to be ready to make a run at a fourth straight crown.
“We still want to defend the championship,” Brickman said. “I think these guys want to learn and get better.