Another season comes to a close. Time to say Thanks!

Tonight a new men’s basketball champion will be crowned and thus officially ending the 2015-16 college basketball season.

Although, LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball season ended nearly a month ago, for me, I like waiting until the day of the national championship game to proclaim the finality of the season.

As far as LIU Brooklyn goes, it was another up and down season although it did end with them with a winning overall record for the first time in three seasons and a .500 record in the NEC which is the first non-losing conference mark in three seasons as well.

With an appearance to the NEC Tournament semifinals, LIU head coach Jack Perri has made steady progress over the last three seasons since LIU last won the NEC tournament back in 2013.

Yet, there is feeling that LIU could and maybe should have done better than they did in 2015-16 with the team they had this season. LIU’s sixth-place finish in the NEC standings, even though it was two places better than the previous season, still felt like somewhat of a disappointment with the expectations many had for this team entering the season.

Still LIU, for now, are planning on having everyone return next season including their two All-NEC first team players in Jerome Frink and Martin Hermannsson. The good is that group will all be familiar with one another going into the offseason and into next season and hopefully that cohesion of playing together for a year will only help LIU going into next season. The bad is that there some definitely flaws to this team this season that one or two new players could help improve this team and make them one of the teams to beat if not the team to beat in the NEC next season. There are several things LIU will need to work on in the offseason to make themselves better if they are to make a run at the NEC title next season.

With all that being said, it was once again a great pleasure to cover LIU Brooklyn basketball this season. We covered 20 of LIU Brooklyn’s 31 games live this season with the only home game missed was the blizzard game against St. Francis Brooklyn in January which kept me at home. A few times, we were the only media at the home games which is always a bit more challenging. Yet, I’ve been privileged to cover this team and this league which I greatly enjoy for another season.

So let’s begin the thank you to all those who made it possible for Blackbirds Hoops Journal to make through another season.

First, I have to thank my awesome wife Millie and my soon-to-be two-year old daughter Victoria (can you believe that already?!?!) and allowing me to continue on with this blog. Without the support of my family, trust me, there would be no Blackbirds Hoops Journal. I love you both and thank you for having extreme patience with me.

I also have to thank Bob Dea, BHJ photographer since the very beginning, on another great season together. No one can miss Bob at home games, he is at almost every one, out there with his camera working on both the men and women’s side. He has been my travel companion on our road trips for the last four years and his passion for his craft is second to none. The man works literally all night after games editing photos. He has been a great friend to me the last four years and I’m happy to have him by my side. I look forward to us working together again next season.

Thanks once again to the entire LIU Brooklyn media relations department for their help and support. Thanks in particular to Dan Lobacz for all of his help once again this season. The help and assistance he provides all year long is immeasurable.

Thanks to LIU Brooklyn athletic department for their help and support as well. From LIU Athletic Director Brad Cohen, Deputy Athletic Director Margeret Alaimo on down, everyone has been great to me and Bob from the start and it only continued on this past season.

Thanks to all the NEC coaches and players who gave me their time all season long. It is always greatly appreciated. Also, to all the non-NEC coaches and players we came across during the season. Everyone we came across with this season were very gracious with their time and courteous to us.

Thanks to the LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball team, to head coach Stephanie Oliver and her staff, Tim Gardner, Heather Zurich, Asia Williams and Hilary Spears. I wished I was able to cover them more than I did this past season but I believe the program is in very good hands and they are going to be a program on the rise over the next few seasons.

Thanks to the LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball team and head coach Jack Perri and his coaching staff, Chuck Bridge, Jim Mack, Kenyon Spears, and Alvin Vivican. I greatly appreciate Jack giving me a few minutes after every game, win or lose and the support he has given us from the very start. I appreciate all the LIU players who spoke with me during the season. I know for some postgame interviews are not necessarily their favorite things to do so I appreciate their time and efforts.

Also, thanks to the great people at the Northeast Conference once again. From NEC commissioner Noreen Morris, associate commissioner Ron Ratner to everyone down the line over there in New Jersey. Thanks again for the support.

Thanks also to some of my fellow bloggers out there who do tremendous work at their respective website all year long. John Templon, Ryan Peters, and Ray Curren at Big Apple Buckets and Jaden Daly at Daly Dose of Hoops. Also shout out to Brandon Glogau from LIU’s Seawanhaka student newspaper who was there for every home game during the school year.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a debt of gratitude to LIU Brooklyn NEC Front Row crew and to the voice of LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball Ray Martel (his Patriots fandom aside), the voice of LIU women’s basketball Gregg Caserta, and Mike Kerr. Many thanks to Ray and Mike for letting me join them on their audio broadcast during LIU’s NEC tournament run.

Finally, thanks to all you who have supported Blackbirds Hoops Journal through the years and continued so this past season. It still always surprises me when people come up to me at games and say hello and say nice things about the site. I greatly appreciate your continuous support and readership.

This season was no doubt the most challenging season to date managing the blog and trying to put out content with a crazy home life and an ever-increasing workload at work. As many of you know, this blog has always been something I started and continued doing because I have fun doing it, I enjoy doing it and my love for not just LIU hoops but NEC hoops as a whole.

Next season will mark Blackbirds Hoops Journal fifth season if you can believe that. I thought when I started I’ll be lucky to get through the first season and here we are four years later still going strong.

I hope you all enjoyed this season’s coverage. I know things have been quiet on the blog since the season ended. Life has been busy of late but I hope to get some offseason stuff out in the coming weeks.

I’m always on Twitter, so you can always follow me @NelCastBHJ. You can keep track on NEC player transfer news and NEC coaching news and notes by following me there all offseason long.


  1. Dan From Staten Island says:

    Hi, Nelson! Have really enjoyed your coverage of the LIU Blackbirds and the rest of the NEC over the years. Know that when you first started out, there apparently was a point at which you were considering not continuing this effort, but certainly glad you did. Wishing you many more years of success!

  2. Michael Hernandez says:

    Hi Nelson,
    Thank you and Bob Dea for another great season. As a avid follower of LIU’s MBB, I’ve truly enjoyed reading and keeping up with your blog. You and Bob are our eyes and ears at the game.

    As a result of your blog this year, I’ve taken some things away from from the NEC in general and LIU in particular. With the relaxation of transfer rules, we know that top flight D-1 players jump to the professional ranks while the better players from conferences like the NEC jump to schools in stronger conferences, and with more visible and wealthier basketball programs. The “transfer-up” concept is happening more and more and you can bet wealthier programs keep a few scholarships open to land this windfall talent. Hopefully obtaining a release from scholarship is done on the “up and up” and there is NO recruiting influence from schools through surrogates to encourage a player to go for a release. It is what it is. I’m the eternal optimist and probably the eternal fool.

    Concerning LIU. Our expectations were overly optimistic. So, hopefully next season, we’ll have more guarded optimism. Let’s not expect our players to deliver more that can be expected from a talent level. Hopefully, Coach Perri and his staff will continue to schedule OOC games like this past year. Nothing outrageous, like guarantee games we have no chance of winning. Let’s play teams from the MAAC, MEAC, America East, Sun Belt, Atlantic Sun–teams from conferences with players that are talented as ours. Hopefully, Coach Perri will play a more structured offense. And encourage our players to defend and take pride in playing tough defense. This is about winning as a team, as opposed player individualism. Focus on winning the NEC tourney. This is our only chance to dance. Finally, let’s hope the injury bug stays at bay. Conditioning prevents injury. Hopefully our players will work hard over the off season. More than anything we hope that our players continue to do well in school, and to get better as athletes.
    Again Nelson, thanks much.
    Michael Hernandez

    • Thank you Michael for the kind words and your support. Next season is going to be an important one for LIU, no doubt. They will be picked among the favorites in the preseason although I would still expect Wagner and FDU with most of their players coming back next season to be picked ahead of LIU. I’m going to be fascinated to see what they plan on doing at the point guard position and on the wings. Let’s face it, the offense ran better when the ball was in Martin Hermannsson’s hands and he took his game to another level as well. Also, if their perimeter shooting doesn’t get better next season, it is probably going to more of the same next season. I hope these guys get in the gym this summer and shoot, shoot, shoot and work on that three-point shot. I have to think right now having everyone back next season is only going to help them especially with some of these big name guys leaving the NEC this offseason.

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