Yesterday, I got the opportunity to visit the Steinberg Wellness Center for the first time this season and got a chance to take in a LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball practice as they begin final preparations for the start of regular season which is just over a week away.
First thing you can see is that without Julian Boyd, Jamal Olasewere or C.J. Garner out there on the court, this isn’t the same Blackbirds we have grown accustom to watching. There are many new cast members to this saga as they begin defense of their three straight NEC championships and look to continue the winning ways in Downtown Brooklyn.
Here are a five things I took away from watching the Blackbirds practice:
1. Injuries is slowing down the learning process – With so many new players on this year’s team, it was important for these guys to get on the court and practice and learn Jack Perri’s system and philosophies. Unfortunately, injuries has played a major part in interrupting this process especially with the four new freshman on this roster. Nura Zanna was on the sidelines rehabbing his injured wrist that will have him on the shelf this entire season. Joel Hernandez was also watching practice on the side as he continues to nurse a hip injury he suffered in the preseason. Iverson Fleming was sidelined from practice with a minor wrist injury although he has been practicing and played in LIU scrimmage against Rider last weekend and will likely not miss too much practice time and is expected to be ready by the season opener. Glenn Feidanga did practice and is back practicing after also dealing with injuries that kept him out on the sidelines for the first few practices of the season. In fact, Perri had only nine healthy bodies from this season’s roster who participated in practice.
2. Depth will definitely be a concern (at least early on) – With all these injuries that Jack Perri and his staff has had to deal with this preseason, it is obvious that depth will be an issue. Right now, without Julian Boyd and Nura Zanna to go to, Perri really only has four true front court bodies to count on in E.J. Reed, Landon Atterberry, Chris Carter and Glenn Feidanga. Reed is the only returning player in the group from last season. Also, with guys out at the guard positions, it could mean guys like Jason Brickman and Gilbert Parga may have to play heavy minutes for LIU at least early on in the season if not all season long.
3. Two JuCo transfers really impress – I was impressed watching both Gilbert Parga and Landon Atterberry go through practice. Both are junior college transfers although Parga was with LIU last season while sitting out the season due to NCAA transfer rules. Parga was known as a very good shooter coming out of junior college and he showed he has a very nice jump shot knocking down deep threes. Atterberry showed great tenacity and ability to get to the boards and get his points down low. Parga looked like a player who will be an immediate starter from day one. Atterberry looked like he will definitely start the season as a starter along side Reed in the front court. Atterberry’s stay as a starter could depend on the status of Julian Boyd and how Perri will utilize him once he is cleared to return.
4. Brickman being Brickman – Jason Brickman looked like the All-NEC first teamer he was picked to be this season. He looked solid and steady as he always does, all during practice. I actually think he looked more solid body-wise this season as he if readied himself to take on a bigger role on both ends of the court and handle the major minutes that will likely come his way once again. Even on defense, he looked good, knocking away passes, staying in front of his man. He looked like a player who is going to have a great senior year.
5. Starting to take it to the next level – By this I mean, E.J. Reed. He was extremely impressive in practice. You can tell he has done some work over the summer on his game. Reed showed incredible explosiveness and can leap out of the gym. The talent and ability is there for him to make the leap to an All-NEC team by season’s end. If he shows he has matured and can keep himself out of foul trouble which is a major key for him and for the success of LIU Brooklyn this season, he is going to open up a lot of eyes.
I would like to thank LIU Brooklyn men’s head basketball coach Jack Perri and his staff for allowing me to observe practice and sharing a few minutes of their time with me. Also, many thanks goes to LIU Brooklyn’s Director of Media Relations Dan Lobacz for help setting up my visit.
Next week, will be a big week on Blackbirds Hoops Journal. I will take a deeper look at the entire 2013-14 LIU Brooklyn roster as well as the return of the opponent gameday report as I preview the season opener against St. Peter’s and of course the return of the game recaps following LIU games and more. The return of LIU Basketball is almost here and we can’t hardly wait.