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Blackbirds Rising on the Hardwood, Track, and Diamond

Blackbirds Rising on the Hardwood Track and Diamond

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When the LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball team lost one of its four seniors and three returning starters (guard Joel Hernandez) in the first game of the 2016-17 season, no one knew what to expect.

Certainly, no one would have predicted the best start to a Blackbirds season in 45 years, a 20-win season, and a No. 2 seed in the Northeast Conference tournament...but that’s exactly what happened.

After turning heads around the nation in December with a 74-73 upset of St. John’s, the Blackbirds have returned to prominence the Northeast Conference (NEC), with senior Jerome Frink being named the conference’s Player of the Year.

While the Blackbirds became an early victim of the chaotic nature of conference tournaments with a first-round NEC loss to Robert Morris, the overtime win over Wagner that closed the regular-season slate sealed LIU Brooklyn’s first 20-win season since 2012-13.

“’I’m certainly proud of this group and what they’ve accomplished,” Perri said after the loss to Robert Morris. “It’s unfortunate that the outcome was this outcome.”

As the Blackbirds await word on a possible bid to the NIT or another postseason tournament, the LIU Brooklyn men’s track and field team is celebrating a fourth consecutive NEC indoor title. Head coach Simon Hodnett’s team was picked first in the conference preseason poll, and lived up to its billing in a series of regional meets throughout the winter heading into the NEC championship meet, where the Blackbirds bested the closest competitor by 35 points.

“For the most part, I am happy with the performances that we have had as a team,” said Hodnett, whose team will now prepare for the NCAA Indoor Championship this month in Texas. “We are fighters, and we will fight for every single point.”

February marked the start of competition for LIU Brooklyn’s spring sports, with the Blackbird baseball team beginning its first season under head coach Dan Pirillo ’08. The Blackbird softball team is also gearing up to defend its NEC title this spring under head coach Roy Kortmann – and recently knocked off No. 23 BYU – while the women’s lacrosse team continues to improve under head coach Allison Hanley.

“We’re always excited for the start of a new season,” said LIU Brooklyn athletic director Brad Cohen. “We have championship expectations for all of our teams, and the spring sports are no different. I know I’m not alone when I say I’m looking forward to getting back outside to cheer on our teams at LIU Field, and celebrating all the wins that we hope will come with the warmer weather.”

Posted 02/02/2017

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