Long Island University men’s basketball may have found the star it was looking for.
At the Northeast Conference media day, Coach Jack Perri said he expected the team to emerge more balanced and improve over last year — when it lost its first six games and won just 12 overall — but he wasn’t sure where who would fill the offensive shoes wing Gerrell Martin left open when he graduated. The team’s 3–0 start this year is proving that it can improve, and Florida International transfer and redshirt junior Jerome Frink appears to be the star he needed.
The 6-foot-7 Frink is off to a flying start to his career in Brooklyn after sitting out last season because of NCAA transfer rules. The Jersey City native and former St. Anthony’s standout is shooting 55.3 percent from the field, averaging 17 points, eight rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game.
Frink is also getting it done on the other end of the floor. He blocked a layup that laid the groundwork for Joel Hernandez’s buzzer-beater three that took down Loyola in the season opener.
Frink followed up on Northeast Conference player of the week honors by dropping in a game-high 25 points and pulling in nine boards to help the Blackbirds beat Maine in its first home game of the season.
Frink has certainly emerged from the pack, but the Blackbirds are winning with contributions from everyone — like Perri expected. Four players scored in the double figures — including Frink with 18 points — when Long Island University mounted a second-half rally from 12 points down to preserve its perfect record and best North Carolina Central. Martin Hermannsson, Aakim Saintil, and Joel Hernandez are all averaging 11 points or more over three games, and red-shirt sophomore Nura Zanna is nearly averaging a double-double.
The team faces stiffer challenges in December, but for now, there are plenty of positive signs the Blackbirds squad is ready to regain its perch in the Northeast Conference’s upper echelon. Long Island University won three straight crowns before going just 12-22 in league play the last two years. And it had to watch borough rivals St. Francis become conference darlings a season ago.
Coaches in the preseason picked The Blackbirds to finish fourth in 2015-16, and the last three games are proving why. Long Island University has played with the balance Perri predicted, but Frink has moved to forefront.
It’s a formula that should make for an exciting season from the Blackbirds — one that could remind us of the not-so-recent glory years.