Tuesday, March 12, 2013

L.I.U. Blackbirds: Flatbush Goes For Third Straight NEC Title Tonight

From the desk of:   THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Northeast Conference Championship Game
The Wellness Center, Ashland Place

LIU BLACKBIRDS - First Year Coach Jack Perri Has Flatbush In Position To Win Third Consecutive NEC Title.

* Jamal Olasewere - 2013 NEC Player of the Year
* Jason Brickman - Led nation in assists.

The back-to-back Northeast Conference Champions have returned to defend their title, although it didn't always seem they would.  Even before the regular season commenced, their year got off to a tumultuous start.  Several team members were involved in an on-campus altercation which required a response from law enforcement, and earned three Blackbirds starters, plus a fourth player, school issued suspensions.  Making matters on the court worse, last season's NEC Player of the Year, senior, Julian Boyd was lost to a season ending injury.

Under first year coach Jack Perri, the Blackbirds stumbled out of the starting bloc.  As part of the season opening Barclays Center Classic, LIU lost their first four games.  They followed with a five game win streak.  But ended their out-of-conference schedule with another three straight losses, most notably to #8 Kentucky.  They finished their out-of-conference schedule with a 5-7 record.

To begin Northeast Conference play, the Blackbirds continued to lose their first three games beginning with Sacred Heart, followed by Quinnipiac, then a third loss to Wagner.  Finally, on January 12th, the Blackbirds defeated Mount St. Mary's, whom they will face tonight in the Northeast Conference Championship game being played inside downtown Brooklyn's Ashland Place gym; or as it's properly named, the Wellness Center.  LIU went on to win another five in a row before falling to Robert Morris.  In the second meeting between LIU and Mount St. Mary's on February 21st, the Mountaineers defeated the Blackbirds by an 83-71 score.

LIU won their last two games of the season to finish with an overall 19-13 record; 12-6 in the conference.  They ended in a three-way tie for second place, along with Wagner and Bryant.  Mount St. Mary's finished in fifth place with an 18-13 record.  They were 11-7 in the conference.  Robert Morris won the regular season title with an overall 23-10 record, and a 14-4 NEC mark.

In the NEC quarterfinals, LIU defeated Quinnipiac 91-83, at the Wellness Center.  Brooklyn then took a trip into Staten Island to face #2 seed Wagner in the semifinal round, where they orchestrated a convincing 94-82 win, earning them a trip to the NEC championship game.  LIU/Brooklyn senior guard, C.J. Garner, scored twenty-three points in the victory.  The Mount defeated Bryant in the quarterfinals to advance into the semifinal round against #1 seed Robert Morris.  On Saturday in Pennsylvania, Mount St. Mary's pulled out a 69-60 upset of the Colonials, to earn a trip to Brooklyn.  It was The Mount's ninth win in a row.  This will be the Mountaineers first trip to the NEC Finals since the 2009 season.  LIU/Brooklyn is aiming for their third straight crown.


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