All photos taken by Bob Dea for Blackbirds Hoops Journal at NEC Media Day at the Barclays Center on October 26, 2016. [Read more…]
Last Wednesday, the first ever New York City College Basketball Media Day took place at the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex at Hofstra University in Hempstead, Long Island and LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri and senior guard/forward Joel Hernandez were on hand to speak with the assembled media.
Here were some notable quotes from both Perri and Hernandez on LIU’s upcoming season, one that will likely come with some bigger expectations.
Perri on what an event like the NYC College Basketball Media Day represents – “It is always great to get everyone together. We’re starting off a new season, 2016-17. It is an exciting time so you always want to get out and promote your program and tell everybody about what has been going on. We’re really excited about this year coming up. Finally having a bunch of seniors on our rosters. It should be really exciting. Anytime you get a chance to promote your program, to promote your team, that’s exciting. We have some great tradition-rich programs around here and sometimes we go unnoticed a little bit and this certain helps to give us a little bit of recognition.”
Perri on LIU’s strengths coming into the season– “Our strengths is our front court. I think that’s clear. Our upperclassmen are guys in the front court. When you have an all-league player like Jerome Frink who should be the best player in the league, that certainly helps. We have Nura Zanna, who has as much experience as he has playing, he looks great. He has changed his body even more so he looks great. We have Glenn Feidanga and Julius van Sauers comes in and he looks really good. And a few other guys like Ganlandou Cisse and Kwe Askew. We got a lot of guys in the front court.”
Perri on his opening game starting lineup – “I don’t know. We are in competition every single day. We’re competing. Our guys are doing a good job of that in practice. I’m excited about our youth. I’m excited about our older guys, it’s a good mix. Everybody seems to be on the same page. It’s exciting but I have no idea who is going to start.”
Perri on the mindset of his team going into the 2016-17 season – “The mindset is that it is always a process and last year although we had a winning season (16-15), we talked about in the offseason about underachieving. We felt we had the most talent in the league, certainly starting five wise and we underachieved. I really feel that way and so do our seniors. Our seniors think we should have been more productive and had a better year. I think not having senior leadership last year probably got in the way and talking about some of the things that wasn’t great within the program, we wasn’t cohesive enough. Too much individualized and we really talked about that and our seniors has done a really good job of getting everybody on the same page and everybody only caring about winning a championship. This is their last chance to have a special season. I think they’re ready to really commit to that.
Hernandez on his mindset going into his final season at LIU – “I pretty much just want to be a leader. I kind of know what to expect coming in, so when stuff goes wrong I just want to bring the team together. Last year, we didn’t really have that person to pretty much keep everyone together when stuff was going wrong. I pretty much want to do that with the team. I want to show the young guys the way to go because when I was coming up, I didn’t have anyone to look up to like that.”
Perri on will having senior experience bring to his team this season – “(Hernandez) didn’t have (leaders) when he was young because if you remember those teams when we had nearly all freshman and sophomores, when we have to restart the whole thing after having so many guys graduate. The coaching staff a lot of times had to be the leaders and now when really tried to help Joel and Jerome (Frink) as the two captains on the team this year to really understand and try to become those leaders. To get a little more vocal, to be a little more understanding that there is going to be some bad times for the young guys and lead in a lot of different ways, not only by example but also getting out of their own shell a little bit and focus on everything around them.”
Hernandez on how his game has come from his freshman season to now – “I feel like it has transitioned a lot. I put in a lot of hard work and I’ve matured a lot from my freshman year. I feel like me being more mature and working hard has made me into a better player.”
Perri on what he anticipates his style of play for his team will be like in 2016-17 – “With some of the turnover we had, we are going to be a little bit different. Obviously, with our strength being in the front court, we are going to have to go to those guys, they are going to have to see the ball a lot. So we’re not going to be so much run and gun but where he used a lot of ball screens, there is going to be less ball screen action and a lot more feeding the post, playing off guys in the post a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, in transition, we’ll also be that. You’ll some of our young guys have that ability to play fast, so we’ll still use that as our strength but once again, that quarter-court, you’ll see some different things.”
Perri on trying to re-establish home court dominance – “One of the things we struggled with was shooting. Our perimeter shooting at home was really poor. Now, we weren’t a great three-point shooting team last year, the last two seasons regardless, hopefully that changes this year. I think that really what it is. You’re talking about a team that had no seniors, the year before you had just Gerrell Martin and Landon Atterberry who was only a two-year guy. We’ve been young and we knew that. This year now, we have four or five guys that have been in the program for four years, it’s exciting and I think those guys will take that to heart and we’ll certainly talk about holding our home serve. If we can do that, that certainly make us more effective.”
Perri on what will be the motivating factors in getting another NEC championship – “I think the reality is, I want these guys to accomplish something that they can be so proud of and really leave a legacy that they could be proud of. They have, when you heard from Joel, how much they have mature and how much they have grown, if you asked me if Joel would be a captain after his freshman year, I’ll be a little surprised but he has earned that. He has been a great teammate and he has really matured. These guys have to really focus on staying committed to one another, staying committed to this process of trying to win each day, continue to get better, elevate the freshman that have come in and that are going to have to play some minutes and I think they will.”
Perri on his two freshman point guards – “Our freshman have done a really good job. They are very humble kids. They are talented and smart. A little unique in that they both can come in and have an impact. I’m excited about both of them. Now, the first week of practice, they were throwing the ball all over the place. But they’ve really calm themselves down. They’re eager to learn, they want to come in and watch film constantly which is great. I think they are both cerebral enough and understand, how are we going to this year and I think they get it. It doesn’t have to be about them and I think that’s huge. We you have guys like Joel Hernandez, Jerome Frink, and Nura Zanna, those guys need to get touches, those guys are going to get them the ball. That’s what excites me about those two guys. They are both very different. Jashaun (Agosto) is small but fast and he can really score. He is in impeccable shape, he never gets tired. He can defend on the ball so I’m very happy with him that way. Julian Batts is a tough kid. He has played at St. Thomas More prep school with a lot of top-level talent and he knows what a good shot is. He can play a little ball screen offense and get guys the ball when they need it. He understands the team dynamic. So I’m very happy with both of them.
Perri on his two seniors guards, Joel Hernandez and Iverson Fleming – “As far as a third point guard, you might think Iverson Fleming but Iverson and I have talked about playing him more off the ball and just worry about making shots and being that guy on the wing and Joel Hernandez is going to play some point guard minutes for me. He has tighten up his handle. He is different. He is unique. I always kid around with about Thomas Walkup, the kid from Stephen F. Austin, I don’t why he can’t be that. Physically, he is strong like him. He is athletic, probably even more athletic than Walkup was. He shots about the same. He can make decisions, when he has the ball in his hand and you didn’t see that as much because we had some many guys last year but I’m telling you, he can make some really good decisions with the ball in his hands and you’re going to see that. He is going to have to step up and do that a lot for us this year, play some point, play some four, play some two, play some three, play everything. He might even coach a little bit for me too. We’re really excited about that, throwing that dynamic out there as well.
Hernandez on being asked to be more versatile this season – “I was excited about it. I always been a versatile player. I was always able to play a lot of positions. I just want to do anything that will help the team out. I know I got to step up big time this year and be a leader on and off the court and I’m ready to do that.”
Hernandez on what goals he has in mind for his final season – “First, I want to win the NEC. I want to be first-team All-NEC and that’s pretty much it.”
Yesterday I took a one-by-one look at the LIU Brooklyn front court players, so naturally today it is time to focus on this season’s Blackbirds guards.
LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri returns back just three scholarship guards from last season and just one starter in Joel Hernandez. This is the part of the LIU roster in which many feel will either make or brake their 2016-17 season.
The biggest question will be at the point guard position in which it will be likely that Perri will go with one of his two incoming freshman, Julian Batts or Jashaun Agosto, as his starting point guard. That competition for that spot in currently underway and it will be a dynamic to pay attention to all season long as the position could a fluid one as the season goes along.
Time to meet the 2016-17 LIU back court players:
Starters* (*These are the three guards I think will be starting when the season tips off on November 11th)
Joel Hernandez – Senior
2015-16 stats: 12.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, 30 starts
If there is a player who will be certainly in the starting lineup this season, it is Joel Hernandez. Hernandez started in 30 of the 31 games played last season and finished fourth in the team in scoring and second in rebounding. He has consistently improved his game every season and has done anything and everything that the coaching staff has asked him to do in his first three seasons at LIU. He recorded a career-high three double-doubles last season and also shot a career-high 45 percent from the field.
This season, Hernandez hopes to raise his game even more in hopes of landing on an All-NEC team at season’s end. Hernandez has been compared to one of the last season’s NCAA Tournament starts, Thomas Walkup of Stephen F. Austin by his head coach Jack Perri. Perri plans on using him in a similar capacity as Walkup was used last season, as a player that can play any spot on the floor and that will include the point guard position. Perri has confidence he will be able to excel in this kind of role and Hernandez feels he is more than capable to taking on this challenge. This is certainly taking his game to a whole new level this season if Hernandez can play whatever Perri asks. Hernandez might be one of the most underrated player in the NEC and I have a feeling he is going to have a tremendous season for LIU.
Iverson Fleming – Senior
2015-16 stats: 4.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.2 apg
There is one word that comes to mind when thinking about Iverson Fleming 2015-16 season and that is inconsistent. Fleming started the season as LIU’s starting point guard but that lasted just eight games when he lost his starting position to now-Iona guard Aakim Saintil. Fleming then started seeing his minutes decrease and eventually rode the pine for four straight conference games. Upon his return to the rotation, Fleming still couldn’t break out until a 12-point performance in a loss to Robert Morris in mid-February. In the NEC quarterfinals, Fleming had his best game of the season, scoring 18 points in a win over Sacred Heart.
Although, Fleming for his career is a near 36 percent shooter and shoots 30 percent from three, he is going to be ask to play more shooting guard this season and Perri hopes he can excel at being more of a scorer and a shooter than having to worry about being a playmaker. You’ll probably see him occasionally play the point but his primary role will be to score. Fleming has put up big points in games in the past so if not like he isn’t capable of doing a solid job as a scorer. Whether he can be consistent enough to be a game-in/game-out scorer is what will remain to be seen.
Julian Batts – Freshman
Based on my observations from LIU practice last week, I feel Batts has the early lead on the starting point guard position over fellow freshman Jashaun Agosto. The Pittsburgh native last season was named WPIAL Class A Player of the Year. He averaged over 22.4 ppg and nearly 10 rpg as well as 8.4 apg.
Based on his high school numbers, Batts can obviously fill up a stat sheet. If anything, he looked quite mature and poised for a kid yet to play in his first college game but time will tell if he gets the starting nod or if he gets beat out for the spot. Batts can shoot the ball and has very good range on his shot but Perri likely isn’t going to ask either Batts or Agosto to do too much at least initially but just manage the floor and try to keep the turnovers down and lean on the senior leadership of the starting unit.
Jashaun Agosto – Freshman
Agosto is the other point guard in competition currently for the starting point guard spot. Last season, he averaged 10.5 points, 6.8 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 steals per game Garfield High School in Washington state.
One advantage Agosto has is that he has great quickness and can get up and down the floor in a hurry. He also has range on his jumper and can penetrate to the rim and draw fouls on his defenders. He could be a good change of pace point guard off the bench. Like Batts, he is going to be asked to keep mistakes at a minimum.
Raul Frias – Sophomore
2015-16 stats: 18 games played, 3/18 FGs, 2/10 3FGs, 8 points
Frias played a limited role off of the bench as a freshman last season. He appeared in 18 games and played in just 86 minutes, making three field goals in 16 shot attempts. This season, with the departure of Martin Hermannsson, he will likely move up on the shooting guard depth chart just behind Iverson Fleming.
Frias definitely looks like a player who went to work over the summer, working on his game, his shot and his body in preparation for the chance of more playing time in sophomore year. Frias should also be pushed by the addition of freshman shooting guard Ashtyn Bradley to the roster which should help motivate Frias to have a better season shooting the ball.
Ashtyn Bradley – Freshman
Bradley is the latest addition from the state of Texas as the Houston-area native arrives in Brooklyn. He averaged 25.4 points per game his senior year last season and his strength is shooting the ball from deep. Bradley has tremendous range on his shot and could see a amount of playing time at either the 2 or the 3 position for Jack Perri’s team off the bench and could see his playing time gradually increase as the season goes along if he proves to can consistently hit his shots.
Mitchell McMullen – Redshirt-Freshman
McMullen is a walk-on point guard who is in his second year with LIU and received a redshirt-year for 2015-16 since he didn’t appear in a single game. Good three-point shooter from what I’ve seen of him in practice.
Last season, LIU Brooklyn finished with a winning overall record for the first time and a .500 record in the NEC since the 2012-13 season, Jack Perri’s first season as the Blackbirds’ head coach.
It has been a long, and at times, a painful rebuilding process for LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball. Now comes the 2016-17 season and there is quite a bit of optimism surrounding this team heading in, much more so than there has been going into a season in the last few years.
With the Blackbirds coming off a NEC tournament semifinal run and with a mostly senior starting lineup returning for one more run, this is the season Blackbirds fan have been awaiting since the glorious three-year championship run ended back in 2013. [Read more…]
This past Thursday, I was fortunate enough to attend both LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams practices through generous invitations by LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball head coach Jack Perri and LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball head coach Stephanie Oliver.
I got to observe both teams go through their paces in practice as they prepare for the upcoming college basketball season. The LIU men’s basketball team is looking to make a deep run into March while the women’s basketball team will be hoping to build on what has to be considered a positive first season for them under Stephanie Oliver.
First, here are five thoughts from LIU men’s basketball practice: [Read more…]
A couple of weekends ago, Ken Pomeroy, college basketball’s premier advanced stats guru widely known as tempo-free whose website, kenpom.com, is one of the highest used tools of many who cover and coach college basketball throughout the season, updated his website for the fast-approaching new college basketball season.
Last week, I decided to go on his site, (it is a $19.95 yearly subscription for unlimited, full access but you can access the front page of the site for free) and wanted to check out what Pomeroy’s numbers had to say on this season’s LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball team. [Read more…]
NEC Media Day Conversation with LIU Brooklyn MBB head coach Jack Perri and junior guard Iverson Fleming with Photo Gallery
This past Tuesday, the Northeast Conference once again put on its annual NEC Basketball Social Media Day at the 40/40 club inside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and once again the NEC did a tremendous job organizing and running this great event. It is always the fastest four or five hours of the year it seems.
At NEC Media Day, I along with other members of the media, got to once again speak with LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri as he gets set to begin his fourth season as the Blackbirds head man and also begins his second decade coaching at LIU as he begins year eleven as an both an assistant and head coach in Downtown Brooklyn.
This year, junior guard Iverson Fleming joined him for the festivities. Fleming in his first two years at LIU is averaging 4.3 points per game and is a career 35.6% field goal shooter. [Read more…]