Ossie Schectman, former LIU Blackbird, scorer of first NBA basket, passes away

Ossie Schectman, the NBA’s first-ever scorer and former LIU Blackbird, passed away at the age of 94. (Photo Credit: LIU Brooklyn Athletics)

Benjamin ‘Ossie’ Schectman, a member of the Long Island Blackbirds from 1938 to 1941, passed away on Tuesday morning at the age of 94. Schectman is most remembered as the player who scored the first-ever basket in NBA history as a player for the New York Knicks.

Schectman was a member of two NIT championship teams with LIU back in 1939 and in 1941, back when the NIT was “the” tournament.

Schectman was a New Yorker through and through. He was born in Kew Gardens, Queens and then raised in Manhattan. He would then play his high school basketball at Tilden High School in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn before coming to LIU. At LIU, he played under Basketball Hall of Famer Clair Bee. In his first year in 1938-39, LIU went 23-0 and captured their first-ever national championship. In 1940-41, he would be named first-team All-America and would help LIU win their second NIT championship. In his three seasons at LIU, his teams went 67-6.

LIU's 1938-39 NIT Championship team which went undefeated, 23-0. (Photo Credit: LIU Brooklyn Athletics)

LIU’s 1938-39 NIT Championship team which went undefeated, 23-0. (Photo Credit: LIU Brooklyn Athletics)

After LIU, Schectman went on to play professionally for the Philadelphia Sphas of the American Basketball League where he would win two championships in that league. He played for the Sphas until 1946 when he left to join the New York Knicks of the new Basketball Association of America which would later become the NBA.

On November 1, 1946, in the Knicks first-ever game versus the Toronto Huskies at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, Schectman would score the first-ever NBA basket on a underhanded two-hand layup. The Knicks would win that first game 68-66. He would only play in the NBA that one season before returning back to the ABL. Here is YouTube footage of that first-ever NBA basket:

Ossie Schectman has been inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 and then inducted in the LIU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001.

LIU Athletics also has written an article on their official website mourning the loss of Ossie Schectman. Here is the link to their article.

Here are also articles from the New York Times, ESPN New York, USA Today, Newsday and NBA.com regarding Schectman’s passing.

Schectman is survived by his wife and two sons.

A pair of former Blackbirds to play in international tourneys this summer

Jamal Olasewere and Kyle Johnson to play in international tournament this summer (Photo Credits: Bob Dea/northeastconference,org)

Jamal Olasewere and Kyle Johnson to play in international tournament this summer (Photo Credits: Bob Dea/northeastconference.org)

Two former LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds will get a chance to play for their respective country’s FIBA confederation tournament. One is veteran of international play while the other is a first-timer on his country’s senior national team.

Jamal Olasewere and Kyle Johnson have each been selected to join their respective country’s senior men’s national team for upcoming FIBA tournaments.

Jamal Olasewere, as was announced last week, is with the Nigeria senior men’s national team in Florida as they are in the midst of preparation for the upcoming 2013 FIBA AfroBasket, which is a tournament consisting of 16 qualifying African teams which is being held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast from August 20 through August 31. On Monday, before their game versus Venezuela, Olasewere put out this Instagram picture of himself in his Nigeria uniform wearing his customary number one.

The reigning NEC Player of the Year and LIU Brooklyn’s all-time career points scorer (1,871 points) told Dan Serafin of News 12 Brooklyn/Bronx that he will be playing for the Nigeria national team at the 2013 AfroBasket tournament.

The three-time NEC champ has appeared in the first two exhibition games against Venezuela which is serving as tune-up games for both sides. Nigeria has dropped both games thus far. Last Friday, Nigeria would let a double-digit lead slip away in the second half and would lose in overtime, 86-82. Then on Monday, Nigeria once again let a double-digit lead disappear and gave up a wide open jumper with 3.7 seconds remaining to lose another heartbreaker, 59-57.

The third and final game of their three-game exhibition series around the state of Florida will be played on Wednesday, July 31 at the University of Miami’s BankUnited Center in Coral Springs at 8pm ET. Unfortunately, there are no box scores available from these friendly or exhibition games that has Olasewere’s stats.

Kyle Johnson, a member of the LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball team from 2007-2011 and a member of 2010-11 NEC champions, will once again wear the uniform of Great Britain for the 2013 FIBA EuroBasket or European Basketball Championships as Johnson was selected to participate in the competition. The 2013 FIBA EuroBasket is being held in Slovenia and will take place from September 4 through September 22. Great Britain is one of 24 European teams involved in the tournament.

Johnson, who finished his LIU career with 1,433 points and 240 career made three-pointers, was a member of Great Britain Olympic team at the 2012 Summer Games in London. Johnson played in all five games for Team GB although he only played in 29 total minutes. He averaged 2.4 ppg and was 4 of 15 shooting. His best game was the team’s final game in their only win of the competition versus China, he scored 12 points and grabbed two rebounds in 12 minutes of play.

Great Britain will play in a series of seven exhibition games across Europe against various countries as they prep for the EuroBasket before starting the tournament on September 4 versus Isreal. Team GB will begin practice for this competition on August 2 and their first exhibition game will be on August 11 versus Puerto Rico in London.

Blackbirds Hoops Journal will be keeping tabs of these two former LIU stars as they compete in their separate FIBA tournaments and will be looking to provide stats and recaps of their performances on the blog as well as on Twitter.

Good luck to both Jamal and Kyle.

Jamal Olasewere joins the Nigerian Men’s Basketball Team Training Camp in Orlando

Jamal Olasewere joins the Nigeria men’s national team as they begin training for the 2013 Afrobasket in August (Photo Credit: Bob Dea)

2013 Northeast Conference Player of the Year and four-year LIU Brooklyn graduate forward Jamal Olasewere arrived in Orlando, Florida on Thursday to join the Nigerian men’s national team as they begin final preparations for the 2013 FIBA Africa Championship or Afrobasket which is essentially the equivalent in soccer to the African Cup of Nations. The Nigerian men’s national team arrived in Orlando on Wednesday.

Nigeria is one of the sixteen African teams participating in this tournament which is being held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast and will be played from August 20 through August 31.

Olasewere is of Nigerian descent which allows him to play for Nigeria.

The three-time NEC champ went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft and also wasn’t signed as a free agent by any NBA team post-draft after working out for three different NBA teams (Brooklyn, New York, Boston) in pre-draft workouts. He may likely end up playing professionally overseas.

Blackbirds Hoops Journal will keep tabs on Olasewere as he continues his basketball journey after LIU Brooklyn basketball.

Kedar Edwards leaves LIU for JuCo next season, never played a game for LIU

Kedar Edwards is leaving LIU Brooklyn for junior college next season. (Photo Credit- http://www.ihigh.com)

It appears that guard Kedar Edwards and LIU Brooklyn have decided to go their separate ways. Brad Winton of JuCoRecruiting.com tweeted the following on Wednesday:

Edwards was added late last summer to the 2012-13 roster but was promptly removed after the team’s first game of the season after the NCAA deemed him academically ineligible. Edwards never played a game for the Blackbirds.

Although he wasn’t able to play, he was enrolled and took classes at LIU for the entire 2012-13 academic year.

With a seemingly full roster for next season and all 13 scholarships seemingly accounted for, Edwards has decided to move on and play in junior college next season. He is going to go play for State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Missouri.

Good luck to Edwards in his future endeavors.

LIU Brooklyn MBB Scheduling Update: What we know so far – July 25 Edition

It has been awhile since I did a scheduling update and as more and more teams begin putting out their non-conference and full season schedules, I thought it would be a good time to give an update on where we are at tracking LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball games for the 2013-14 season.

Let’s review what we know. We already know that St. Peter’s and Lamar are coming to Brooklyn to complete the two-year home and home series LIU had with these teams. We also know about the game against Temple at the Barclays Center on Saturday, December 21 which will be likely be the second game of the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational.

Here is the latest updates:

– LIU hasn’t yet completed their ’13-’14 non-conference schedule as they are still looking for at least one more opponent to play them just after the start of the new year.

– As was reported by John Templon (@nybuckets) of Big Apple Buckets a couple of weeks ago, LIU will be playing NJIT this season. I’ve heard that the game will be on the road in Newark and the game will take place likely sometime in mid-December.

– Thanks to Sacred Heart and Saint Francis University (PA) officially releasing their complete schedules, we know that LIU will face Sacred Heart just once in NEC play this season and that game will be on the road in Fairfield, CT on Thursday, February 13. LIU will take on St. Francis (PA) at home on Saturday, February 8 and will head to Loretto, PA for a game on Saturday, February 22. Usually, a game with SFPA is either proceeded or followed by a game with Robert Morris for travel reasons. Expect for a couple of possible Thursday night affairs with the Colonials to be on the LIU schedule after the two teams met once in an epic game at the formerly known as WRAC last season although don’t be surprised if one of those games gets moved to be showcased on either the NEC TV package or on ESPNU/ESPN3.

– Although Central Connecticut State have yet to officially announce their ’13-’14 schedule, most of their schedule is known. LIU will visit CCSU on Saturday, January 18 and will then host the Blue Devils on Thursday, February 27.

– Per Ron Ratner (@NECHoopsRon), Associate Commissioner of the NEC, we now know that the NEC tournament will start on Wednesday, March 5 for the NEC quarterfinals. The NEC semifinals will take place on Saturday, March 8 and the NEC Championship final will be on Tuesday, March 11.*

– LIU will not be playing St. John’s this upcoming season. The Red Storm released their non-conference schedule on Tuesday. This will be the third straight season LIU and St. John’s will not face one another. The Johnnies will take on NEC rival Wagner on November 15 and face local squads Fordham on December 7 at Madison Square Garden and Columbia on December 28 at the Barclays Center.

As we start heading into August and teams finish completing their non-conference schedules, I hope to have an weekly update available up until LIU Brooklyn officially releases their schedule which usually happens in either late August or early September.

* Correction – I had earlier posted that the NEC tournament dates were March 6, 9 & 12 as per the Sacred Heart men’s basketball schedule. Those dates are incorrect and the dates that, as tweeted to me by Ron Ratner, are the correct 2014 NEC tournament men’s basketball dates.

LIU Brooklyn faces tough odds in going for an NEC “four-peat”

We all knew the goal of last season for the LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball team was to make history and be the first Northeast Conference team to win three consecutive basketball championships. With that accomplished, the goal for the 2013-14 LIU Blackbirds is to expand on their NEC record and create further history as they try to become the first to four straight NEC championships.

That, of course, will be a lot easier said than done. Three straight championships is obviously a major accomplishment. Yet, trying to win four straight championships in any conference much less from a one-bid conference like the NEC will be incredibly tough. [Read more…]

The 10 Best LIU Brooklyn Men’s Basketball Moments of 2012-13: Part Two

Last week, we had the first five of the top ten best LIU Brooklyn Men’s Basketball Moments of 2012-2013. You can check out numbers ten through six here. Today, we go over what I believe was the top five best moments.

5. Two straight second half comebacks in back-to-back games vs Quinnipiac

A team LIU Brooklyn won’t missing see in the NEC is Quinnipiac. The Bobcats gave LIU fits the last two seasons. This past season, LIU played Quinnipiac in the regular season finale on Senior Day. LIU Brooklyn would get a preview of C.J. Garner’s amazing run of play with this game as he went off for a then-career high 30 points in 96-90 comeback win over Quinnipiac which gave LIU the 3-seed in the NEC tournament. LIU was down by as much as 11 at the start of the second half to take as much as a 13-point lead in the comeback victory.

In the NEC quarterfinals, LIU for the second consecutive year had to make a late comeback in the NEC tournament against Quinnipiac to continue on. LIU was down by 9 with 7:57 left to go. LIU would get 50 points combined between seniors Jamal Olasewere and C.J. Garner to comeback and win once again, 91-83.

4. Jamal Olasewere’s dunk on James Madison’s Andre Nation in NCAA tournament First Four game.

This was likely the LIU dunk of the year. Senior Jamal Olasewere would get a pass from Jason Brickman off a curl play and go straight to the rim and one-hand power dunk over James Madison’s Andre Nation in the First Four game of the NCAA Tournament. Amazingly, he was given a foul call on the dunk as he was hit to the ground as Nation tried to go for the block. Immediately there were GIFs of the dunk on the web as one of the first great dunks on the NCAA tournament. You can watch the video by clicking the link below through ridethepine.com.


3. LIU’s huge win at Wagner/Olasewere becomes LIU’s all-time leading scorer

After the win against Quinnipiac in the NEC quarterfinals, LIU had to make their first road trip of the past three NEC tournament appearances to Wagner. LIU returned back to Staten Island just a couple of week after a hard-fought loss on a Kenneth Ortiz last second layup. With that loss still fresh on their minds, LIU played their most complete half of the season. They went into the locker room at the half with a 20-point lead, holding Wagner to under 40% shooting and just 25% from three. LIU would go up by as much as 24 before Wagner would cut the deficit down to 11 but we not get any closer as LIU would get a tremendous road win. Later that day, they would learn that Mount St. Mary’s would upset number one seed Robert Morris to give LIU the home court advantage in the NEC Championship game for the third straight season. Jamal Olasewere with his 12 points surpassed Joe Griffin’s 1830 career points and put him first all-time on LIU’s scoring list. Olasewere ended his LIU career with 1873 career points.

2. C.J. Garner’s NEC tournament run

In what was a playoff run for the ages, Senior C.J. Garner was determined to not see his college career end and get his team a third straight NEC tournament championship. In the three NEC tournament games, Garner scored 30, 23 and a career-high 31 points in the NEC final to complete one of the greatest run of play any LIU play has ever had. If you include the 30 he scored on Senior Day in the season finale, Garner averaged 28.5 points per game. He broke his career-high in scoring twice in a span of ten days. Garner could not be stopped. In the NEC tournament he shot an incredible 31 for 49 (63%), was 4 of 8 from three (50%) and didn’t take a single three in his career-high 31 point game in the NEC final vs MSM. His play would reward him with NEC tournament MVP honors.

NEC Tournament MVP C.J. Garner

NEC Tournament MVP C.J. Garner

1. LIU winning third straight NEC tournament championship

In an obvious choice, the top moment of the 2012-13 season for the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds was them three-peating by defeating Mount St. Mary’s in the NEC Championship game, 91-70. The championship win would give seven players their third consecutive NEC title. It would also be head coach Jack Perri’s third straight title as well but his first as the team’s head coach. LIU Brooklyn would become the first-ever NEC program to three-peat in men’s basketball and go to three straight NCAA tournaments. In what was a roller coaster season for the Blackbirds, to watch that team achieve their goal of three-peating with their best player, Julian Boyd, on the sidelines for most of the season was an amazing sight to behold. It was a determined team effort. They showed great will, determination and drive to not let their season and the opportunity of doing something historic go by the waste side. The smiles on the faces of Jack Perri and the seniors after the game that night will always be etched in my mind.