With familiar faces such as Jerome Frink (left) and Nura Zanna returning, head coach Jack Perri (right) is banking on upward mobility for his LIU Brooklyn team this season. (Photo by Bob Dea/Blackbirds Hoops Journal)
By Jonathan Reyes (@werdynerdy)
His first year showed off his ability toward continued success, and to no surprise due to his knowledge of the program after having spent seven seasons as an assistant under his predecessor Jim Ferry, the current Duquesne head coach.
Perri led his players to a 20-14 record in that 2013-14 campaign, which garnered the Blackbirds their third consecutive Northeast Conference championship and also rewarded him with the Joe B. Hall Coach of the Year award, given out annually to Division I first-year head coaches.
The second season of Perri’s tenure was riddled with injuries to the point where it shaved off eight wins from the year prior, finishing with a 12-18 record. Looking back at last season, the Blackbirds did improve by four wins and make it back over the .500 mark, ending the year 16-15. Can they build off that marginal uptick in wins despite what Perri noted as inconsistency being the problem? He thinks so, and it all has to do with a shift in mentality.
“If you saw us play some last year, we were a little inconsistent, very inconsistent,” he said. “We’d win one, lose one; win two, lose two. We did that within practice too; we’d have a good practice and a bad practice. This year, I see a different team. They’re much more consistent with their effort and focus. I attribute that to our seniors.”
“There’s a sense of urgency they have that tells them, ‘This is it. There’s not another year coming up afterwards, now is the time. We have a good group of seniors and younger underclassmen that are going to have to help contribute, especially at the point guard position, and they’re ready to do that. I like their personality and characteristics that they bring.”
Part of that group of upper and underclassman Perri referenced transferred: Twins Trevon and Trevin Woods, Martin Hermannsson and Aakim Saintil. They’re being replaced by three freshman guards: Jashaun Agosto, Julian Batts and Ashtyn Bradley. So it’s a guards-for-guards exchange pretty much, which fits the M.O. of a Blackbirds roster comprised of speed and versatility by carrying eight guards, three forwards and four combos.
“We’re itching,” Perri said about the start season approaching closer with each passing day. “Our guys still have to get better and learn different things. So I’m ready to keep that first game off for a little bit until we get everything that we want to get in and get as good as we possibly could be at that point.”
“It’s certainly an exciting time right now and our guys are just doing a really good job of staying in the moment and are focused on each and every day and getting better to kind of create that team identity. Every team takes on a different identity every year, it’s forming right now for us.”