It was a season of change entering the 2013-14 season for the LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball team. LIU graduated five seniors at the end of the 2012-13 season and coming into this season with the arrivals of seven new players, three transfers and four freshman, it was definitely going to be a different LIU Brooklyn than what we have been accustomed to during their three-year run as NEC champions.
Yet, there was still a three-peat championship to defend and two big pieces from the championship puzzle were returning for one last run in point guard Jason Brickman and power forward Julian Boyd. Boyd after the 2012-13 season where he played only eight games after tearing his ACL in a game at Rice in December of 2012, was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA in April and was hoping to be ready to go once the season started.
But the first setback for Boyd occurred over the summer as Boyd re-tore his ACL for the second time in a workout which would put him out until at least January of 2014.
October would arrived and the official start of practice for the new season would commence. In what would actually setup to be the tone of the season for LIU as they would suffer another loss in freshman Nura Zanna who was projected to be LIU’s best prospect from this 2013 freshman class and was projected as one of the early candidates for NEC Rookie of the Year. Zanna would hurt his wrist on first day of official practice and be out for the entire 2013-14 season.
October would be a difficult month for LIU’s second-year head coach Jack Perri as injuries started rearing it ugly head with preseason injuries to all four of his incoming freshman. After the Zanna injury, freshman Joel Hernandez would suffer a hip injury would eventually sideline him for the first twelve games of the season and he wouldn’t return until the final game of 2013 versus Texas State. Also injuries to Glenn Feidanga and Iverson Fleming would leave Perri short of bodies to conduct a full team practice.
By November, Fleming and a less than 100 percent Feidanga would be back in time for the season opener against Saint Peter’s at Barclays Center, the first of three games LIU would play there this season. LIU got the season started right with a 87-80 win.
Next, they headed to Bloomington, Indiana to take on the mighty 23rd-ranked Indiana Hoosiers with their All-Americans in Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey. This would end up being LIU’s best and most exciting game of the season. LIU had Indiana on the ropes and led by three with three minutes left to play before the Hoosiers closed the game on a 6-2 run to beat LIU by one, 73-72.
Unfortunately, the Blackbirds couldn’t ride the wave of their near-upset into their next set of games at the 2K Sports Classic in Irvine, California. LIU would go 0-3 in the three-day event against UC-Irvine, Eastern Washington and Boston University, losing by a combined average margin of 23 points during the three days.
LIU would return back home and play their first game at the newly renamed Steinberg Wellness Center against Norfolk State. LIU would trail for most of this game but would erase a six-point deficit with 1:41 left to tie the game with 20 seconds remaining. Norfolk State would get the ball and then this happened…
The game-winning layup by junior Gerrell Martin on the pass from Jason Brickman helped get LIU back on track before starting another three-game road trip.
LIU would drop a pair of games at Seton Hall and at Lehigh before taking on NJIT on December 12th. Going into that game, senior point guard Jason Brickman needed just three assists to break the 25-year old NEC career assist record of Marist’s Drafton Davis. It took into the second half but at the 13:35 mark on a pass to Troy Joseph, Brickman got assist #805 to become the NEC’s assist king.
LIU would go up as much as 17 before NJIT would start a furious comeback and get within one with five seconds remaining before LIU sealed it at the free throw line. Iverson Fleming would have his best game of the season with a season-high 22 points. Brickman would also set a new career-high with 21 points in the win. The win would prove to be costly as junior transfer Gilbert Parga would hurt his achilles in the game which would end up being a lingering injury for most of remaining of the season and change the course of Parga’s season.
After surviving the NJIT scare, LIU would once return to the Steinberg Wellness Center to take on Lamar who LIU had lost to the season prior. Before the game, we would learn that LIU would suffer another devastating injury, this time to junior transfer Chris Carter who suffered a foot injury in practice and it would ultimately end up costing him the rest of the season. In the game, LIU would go down at the half before taking a lead midway through. Lamar would come back and tie the game at 79 with five seconds remaining. Once again, the duo of Brickman and Martin delivered some heroics.
The 82-79 win would give LIU their only back-to-back wins of the season. As with Norfolk State buzzer-beater win, the carryover effect of the win against Lamar didn’t carry over to the next game as they faced Temple at the Barclays Center and were throughly beating 101-65 in their worst loss of the season.
LIU would then make their annual trip to Texas for a pair of games against Sam Houston State and Texas State. Even though, Jason Brickman scored a career-high 26 points and dished out 13 assists, it was not enough as LIU lost to Sam Houston 82-78. To close out 2013, LIU would get a win versus Texas State as Landon Atterberry posted a season-high 22 points in the victory. LIU would close 2013 and the non-conference season at 5-8.
As January came and with conference season approaching, LIU once again got hit with bad news. Julian Boyd who was expected to be back for the NEC opener against St. Francis Brooklyn on January 9th, re-tore his ACL for the third time in a year during a drill which would end Boyd’s LIU Brooklyn career. Boyd career would finish with 1,467 points and 843 rebounds in just 104 career games.
After the news of losing Boyd for the entire season, LIU would start the NEC season 0-3 with losses at St. Francis Brooklyn and Wagner and uninspired loss at home to Fairleigh Dickinson where they lost by 22.
LIU would get its first NEC win of the season in game four at Central Connecticut State who played without their star Kyle Vinales who broke a finger before the start of the NEC season. The win was once again hard-earned as for the third time this season, Gerrell Martin hit a game-winning shot with a layup with 39 seconds left to give LIU the 62-61 win. This win would prove to be important for LIU’s NEC tournament chances later on.
After a tough loss at Bryant where they would let a ten-point halftime lead disappear to lose 87-79, LIU would get their second win of the conference season at home against Mount St. Mary’s which proved to be their most impressive conference win of the season. Freshman Glenn Feidanga would get his first career double-double with a season-high 15 points and 11 rebounds in the win.
Once again, LIU couldn’t build any momentum as they would go on a four game losing streak with losses to Wagner, at Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris and Saint Francis (PA) to go to 2-8 in conference.
The Blackbirds would get a much needed 69-68 win against St. Francis Brooklyn in the annual Battle of Brooklyn game held at the Barclays Center on February 16th. But two more losses followed this win with a brutal loss at Robert Morris where LIU blew a 17-point second half lead to lose 73-64. This loss was followed by a pretty lackluster defeat at Saint Francis (PA) where once SFU got the lead, the game was over. LIU lost by 19 to the Red Flash and their hopes of the making it into the NEC tournament and defending their three-time NEC championship were fading fast.
With three games remaining, LIU needed to run the table in order to avoid failing to make the NEC tournament. LIU got the first win they needed by going on the road and defeating Sacred Heart 80-75 thanks to a then career-high 26 points from Gerrell Martin. This game was a makeup game from the postponed game on February 13th due to the snow storm which hit the tri-state area that day and postponed four of the five NEC games scheduled.
With the win and coupled by a two-game losing streak by Central Connecticut State, it helped set up a huge game between LIU and CCSU on February 27th in which if LIU won, they would control their own destiny going into their final game against Bryant at home but if they lost, CCSU would get the final NEC tournament spot available.
CCSU would score the first ten points of the game and go up six at the half on LIU. The Blackbirds would comeback midway through the second half and eventually take their first lead of the game with 8:21 remaining. LIU would get up by as much as six with 4:48 to go but CCSU would come back. In the final minutes, it would be All-NEC performer Kyle Vinales who would hit a first three of the game with just over a minute left to get CCSU to within one. After a pair of LIU free throws with 18 seconds remaining, Vinales would get the ball and hit a three over Gerrell Martin to send the game into overtime. In overtime, CCSU would quickly lead by four before LIU would score the next five points to take a one-point lead. LIU couldn’t protect a one-point lead with one minute left to play in overtime as CCSU would close the game on a 7-2 run to beat LIU and thus eliminating them for NEC tournament contention.
LIU would fail to reach the NEC tournament for the first time since the 2006-07 season. They would not get a chance to defend their three-time NEC championships.
The only thing left for LIU in the season finale was for Jason Brickman to reach a pair of historical individual statistics. Brickman needed just three assists in the season finale against Bryant to become the fourth player in NCAA history to reach 1,000 assists for their careers. He also need to just 12 assists to get to 290 assists for the season and finished as the second player in NCAA history to average a season-long double-double in points and assists and haven’t been done since 1988.
Brickman dished off his 1,000th assist at the 8:33 mark of first half on a pass to teammate Gerrell Martin. His 290th and final assist of the season and of his career came on a pass to Martin once again with 40 seconds remaining. Brickman finished his great LIU career with 1,009 career assists, making him the only non-ACC player in the 1,000 career assist club.
LIU would drop their final game of the year 81-62 to Bryant and finish an injury-plagued and disappointing 2013-14 season with a record of 9-20 overall and 4-12 in the NEC.
LIU players lost a grand total of 103 games played due to injury this season. Boyd and Zanna missed all 29 games, Chris Carter missed 20, Joel Hernandez missed 12, Gilbert Parga missed 10, Gerrell Martin missed three.
LIU after going 42-6 at home the last three seasons including 40-4 at the Steinberg Wellness Center, went just 5-7 at home and 3-6 at Steinberg Wellness Center this season.
LIU would say good-bye to Jason Brickman and Julian Boyd and quite possible to Troy Joseph. These three players are the final three with all three NEC championships rings.