No ‘Jinx’ for Jason: Sophomore Guard Keeps LIU-Brooklyn atop NEC Standings

February 22, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By John Torenli

Brooklyn Eagle

Jim Ferry gushed about Jason Brickman after the 5-foot-10 point guard helped LIU-Brooklyn return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 14 years last March during his dynamic freshman campaign.

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The Blackbirds’ head men’s basketball coach also noted, however, that the second time around isn’t normally quite as easy for a breakout player.

“What a special season he had as a freshman,” noted Ferry after watching Brickman, a native of San Antonio, Tex., set a Northeast Conference rookie assists record with 180 in 2010-11.

“He emerged as our leader at the point,” Ferry added. “He’s playing with a little bit more quickness. He’s got great poise, but we need him to speak up a little bit more. He’s taken on the role as the leader on the floor right now. I’m hoping he won’t have a sophomore jinx.”

No jinxes thus far for Brickman, who handed out a career-high 16 assists Saturday at the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center (WRAC) as the Blackbirds (21-7 overall, 15-1 NEC) rolled to a 99-89 Senior Day victory over Quinnipiac for their seventh straight win.

Brickman, who earned NEC Player of the Week honors after falling just one assist shy of Antwan Dobie’s school record established in 2002, also added 10 points against the Bobcats after putting up nine points and nine assists against Sacred Heart in LIU’s 103-91 overtime win last Thursday.

Ranked fifth in the entire nation and No. 1 in the NEC with 7.0 assists per game, Brickman appears to be on his way to a record-breaking career with the Blackbirds.  He’s also Ferry’s most trusted ball handler and distributor as LIU looks to remain ahead of second-place Wagner (14-2) in the race for the NEC Tournament’s top seed next month.  

Junior C.J. Garner scored a career-high 25 points against Quinnipiac as the Blackbirds completed the home portion of their regular-season schedule with a perfect 12-0 mark, stretching their winning streak at the WRAC to an astounding 24 games.

LIU will try to complete the campaign with a flourish this week, facing Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday and Monmouth on Saturday.  With two victories, the Blackbirds can assure themselves the top seed for the upcoming NEC championships with home-court advantage throughout the tournament.

* * *

Junior Travis Nichols’ last-season basket gave St. Francis a share of third place in the Northeast Conference.  Photo courtesy of St. Francis AthleticsThe greatest measure of a good team is how well it responds to adversity.

Count the St. Francis Terriers among the most resilient up-and-coming teams in the NEC after Saturday’s pulsating 58-56 victory over Sacred Heart at Remsen Street’s Pope Physical Education Center.

Dead even at 56-56 after Sacred Heart’s Louis Montes made a layup with only 28 seconds remaining, second-year Terriers head coach Glenn Braica called time out and set up St. Francis’ final play.

A missed layup by sophomore guard Brent Jones appeared to dash the Terriers’ chances of pulling out a victory in regulation. But junior forward Travis Nichols slashed to the hoop to put back the rebound with 1.5 ticks on the clock, securing St. Francis’ second straight win since losing both ends of the Battle of Brooklyn series to LIU last week.

The victory boosted the Terriers’ overall mark to 15-12, but more importantly, Braica’s team improved to 12-4 in the NEC, good for a share of third place with Robert Morris (12-4).  Only the top four teams in the league will host a first-round tournament game, which could bode well for St. Francis, which boasts an 8-4 mark at the Pope this season.

Junior Akeem Johnson had 16 points and nine rebounds and senior Stefan Perunicic added 11 points as the Terriers completed their home schedule.

St. Francis will visit Monmouth on Thursday before finishing off the slate Saturday at Fairleigh Dickinson.

* * *

After winning back-to-back CUNYAC titles in 2009-10 and reaching the semifinals of the eight-team tournament last February, the Brooklyn College men’s basketball team was unable to defend its home court and advance past the quarterfinals on Saturday, losing 79-73 in overtime to York at the West Quad Center.

The Bulldogs (17-9), seeded second, were eager to return to the Division III NCAA Championships for the third time in four years under coach Steve Podias, but York (9-17) had other ideas.

Tony Vails scored a game-high 25 points as the Cardinals advanced to face defending CUNYAC champion Medgar Evers last night at CCNY in the semifinals.

Senior Amil John, a South Shore High School alum, led BC with 22 points, and Kavon Baker and Tyshawn Russell added 17 points apiece, but it wasn’t enough as the Bulldogs were outscored 15-9 in overtime.

Still eligible for an at-large bid to the NCAAs, BC can only wait for the selection committee to decide if its season is truly over. 

* * *

The NYU-Polytechnic men’s hoops squad celebrated Senior Night with a 78-74 victory over Cooper Union last Thursday night at Downtown’s Jacobs Gymnasium, but fell 67-58 at Mount St. Vincent in Saturday’s season finale.

Seniors Eric Southworth and Alex Westphal were honored before Thursday’s contest.

First-year coach Nolan Adams should be commended for his performance. He helped end the Jays’ 48-game losing streak this season as they finished 4-21 overall and 2-16 in Skyline Conference action, pointing to a brighter future for the program.

* * *

The LIU women shook off a heartbreaking 54-51 Senior Day loss to Quinnipiac on Saturday by topping NEC-leading Sacred Heart, 74-68, at the WRAC on Monday night.

Senior Ashley Palmer scored 25 points and sophomore Cleandra Roberts added 14 points, seven rebounds and a career-best six steals off the bench for the Blackbirds (20-8, 9-7 NEC), who are tied for sixth in the league with two regular-season games remaining.

Only the top eight teams in the NEC will reach the conference tournament, and LIU will be one of them after reeling off five victories in six games to solidify its playoff positioning.

The Blackbirds return to action Saturday at Monmouth.

* * *

Freshman Sarah Benedetti scored 10 points and sophomore Jasmin Robinson added seven in St. Francis’ 64-41 loss to Quinnipiac on Monday at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn.

The Terriers, who dropped to 3-24 overall and 2-14 in NEC play, will be in Teaneck, N.J., on Saturday to take on Fairleigh Dickinson.

* * *

Senior Charnelle Saint Laurent scored 21 points in Brooklyn College’s first-round CUNYAC Tournament home win over York on Saturday.	Photo by Damion ReidThe Brooklyn College women’s team lived up to its No. 1 seeding over the weekend, knocking off No. 8 York, 63-25, in the opening round of the CUNYAC Championships at the West Quad Center.

The Lady Bulldogs (20-6) will meet rival Lehman College, the No. 4 seed, in the semifinal round this evening at CCNY.

Junior Charnelle Saint Laurent scored 21 points to take home Player of the Game honors as well as securing BC’s first-ever 20-win season in women’s basketball.

* * *

The NYU-Poly women wrapped up their season with Saturday’s 65-58 loss to Mount Saint Vincent.

Junior Shelby Bruns scored 24 points for the Lady Jays, who went 10-15 this year, including 6-9 in Skyline Conference action.

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