Michigan State’s Keith Appling, left, steals the ball from Long Island’s Jason Brickman during the second half of an NCAA college basketball tournament.
AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

While basketball fans are focused on the National Basketball Association, especially with the progress of the Brooklyn Nets, the buffs follow this sport on the college levels, as well, whether it be St. John’s, Brooklyn, CW Post, or Long Island University.

For the past two years, basketball has been on the rise at Long Island University-Brooklyn, which made it to the NCAA tournament. However, the main players return from last year’s team, led by Julian Boyd up front, and Jason Brickman in the backcourt.

But the head coach stepped up another level, and left his job to his assistant Jack Perri, who was part of the Blackbird teams in past years or since the fall of 2005.

And the combination of Brickman to Boyd continued this season. It finally came together in the seventh game of the season when the combination really clicked during the second half. They are both pro material right now anyway, based on their ability on the court.

Boyd is a senior and Brickman is a junior. They are among the top players in the Northeast Conference. Boyd’s high game in a Blackbird uniform is 22 points, on two occasions this year. In one game in January of 2011 he went to town and tallied 34 points. In addition to putting the ball in the hole, he can rebound the ball. Boyd was named pre-season all-American player as well as pre-season player of the year in the Northeast Conference.

Whoever thought that the Blackbirds would make such a comeback in their last game before press time? They were down by 16 points around the eight-minute mark of the second half against Hofstra, who played minus four of their top players for personal reasons.

Then a reserve, Booker Hucks came off the bench in the second half, took a pass from Brickman, and made a three-point shot with about 40 seconds left in the second half, as the Blackbirds never fell behind to help them to an 88-84 victory for their third win of the season and losing their initial four games.

The victory over Hofstra also marked their 30th straight win at home. This is a terrific accomplishment for the Blackbirds under a first year head coach, who is so proud of his team. The Blackbirds were chosen to finish first by the league coaches prior to the start of the season.

The backcourt work of Brickman to the forwards, especially Boyd, turned the game around for them. This same duo helped them to their tremendous success of last year.

It’s still a learning experience for the team comprised of six senior holdovers and seven under classmen, including two freshmen, the players of the future.

Brickman has been a super star since he became a Blackbird.

“His confidence continues to grow,” Perri said. “And now he is making shots at a higher level.”

“It’s an unbelievable combination because Julian has great hands,” Perri went on. “And Jason has unbelievable ability to pass the ball. They’ve been together for the last three years. (But) we’ll miss Boyd when he leaves (graduates). He’s had an unbelievable career. He has unbelievable talent and is a great leader on the court. He’s pro material.”

And one can’t count out Olasewere who got into foul trouble against Hofstra last week.

“He has to show more poise,” added Perri.

The Blackbirds already played two games at the nearby Barclays Arena, home of the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association.

“Any time you get a chance to play there, you play in a beautiful arena,” summed up the first year head coach. “Our guys get really excited in playing there. It’s a State-of-the-Art arena. They (the builders) did it right. We play there four games this year.”

Long Island forward Julian Boyd (42) dunks the ball against North Carolina.
AP Photo

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