LIU Tells Perri to ‘hit the road jack’
Blackbirds Oust Men’s Hoops Coach Following 20-Win Season
Jack Perri, the last head men’s basketball coach to lead the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds to the NCAA Tournament, has been fired, the Eagle officially confirmed Tuesday morning.
Perri, who guided the then-dynastic Blackbirds to the last of a league-record three consecutive Northeast Conference championships back in 2013, went 77-79, including a 46-42 league record, during his five-year tenure at the Downtown school.
Despite putting up 20 wins this season and boasting the NEC Player of the Year in forward Jerome Frink, the Blackbirds (20-12, 13-5) NEC) suffered a disappointing first-round ousting in the NEC Tournament on March 1 against seventh-seeded Robert Morris at the Steinberg Wellness Center.
“LIU Brooklyn has informed head men’s basketball coach John [Jack] Perri that it will not renew his contract which expires in August,” Brad Cohen, LIU’s athletic director, said in a school-issued statement.
“LIU is grateful for his many contributions to our program and wish him great success in the future,” Cohen added. “A search for a new head men’s basketball coach is underway. The university will provide additional information when a selection has been made.”
Perri, a key assistant for seven years on former coach Jim Ferry’s staff, took over as head man in April of 2012 after Ferry moved on to Duquesne University following back-to-back NEC crowns in 2011 and 2012.
Burdened with the task of living up to his predecessor’s championship legacy, Perri spearheaded the Blackbirds to a 20-14 mark during the 2012-13 campaign.
LIU went on to grab the tournament title with three straight wins, including a 91-70 rout of Mount St. Mary’s here before a packed house at the Steinberg Wellness Center, before dropping an NCAA First Four contest to James Madison for the right to advance as a No. 16 seed.
“Everything went right the last two years and this year they had to show their true colors,” Perri said after LIU became the first program ever to make three consecutive March Madness appearances.
“For me to be able to be the leader of that group, it’s a wonderful feeling.”
Things weren’t feeling so wonderful over the next three seasons as LIU went a combined 37-53 while managing to go as far as the NEC Tournament semifinals just once.
But this season, despite losing starting point guard Martin Hermannsson to a professional league in France, Perri put together perhaps his finest regular season, with the Blackbirds posting notable victories over St. John’s, Maine, Northeastern and Loyola, Maryland during a challenging non-conference slate.
LIU fell just one victory shy of capturing the NEC regular-season crown on the season’s last day after a hot finish that included six straight wins, including a 62-58 triumph over eventual NEC champion Mount St. Mary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, in late February.
The Blackbirds entered the NECs as the most likely team to stop the Mount, but were instead derailed themselves in a heartbreaking 69-68 setback to RMU.
“I’m certainly proud of this group and what they’ve accomplished,” Perri noted in what turned out to be his last official statements as head coach.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow, to go down at home,” he added. “It was an unbelievable environment. Our administration and staff did a great job in getting people at this game, and it was just an awesome environment. And it’s too bad the outcome was this outcome.”
One of Perri’s former players, 2013 NEC Player of the Year Jamal Olasewere, chimed in on the surprising move by the university following three straight years of improvement under his old coach.
“Unbelievable the news that I heard today. A great coach but even better man has been let go by a university that he’s done so much for,” Olasewere said on his Facebook page.
“Not only win games but turn boys in to men,” Olasewere added. “That’s always been first on his agenda and I can attest to that. He’s been like a father figure to me and one of my mentors till this day. don’t see me becoming the man I am without his guidance.”
Perri, an admitted basketball junkie, will likely find work elsewhere soon, if he so chooses. His recruiting and teaching skills were instrumental in building the best team in NEC and LIU Brooklyn history.
Continue to read the Eagle and visit brooklyneagle.com for updates on the ongoing search for his replacement.
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