First-year LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri inherited a very good roster when he took over for Jim Ferry, who is now the head coach at Duquesne, back in April.
With four starters returning from last season’s 25-win team, Perri has enough talent to lead the Blackbirds back to the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season.
But thanks to an on-campus altercation LIU Brooklyn’s chances of winning the Northeast Conference for a third straight season could take a major hit.
As first reported by Pat O’Keefe of News 12 in Brooklyn, four players were arrested on charges of third-degree assault for their involvement in the altercation with three of them being returning starters.
According to New York Post law-enforcement sources the players got into a fight with three male and two female members of the track team, with four of the track athletes being taken to Brooklyn Hospital for minor injuries.
However an LIU spokesperson stated in an email to NBC Sports that the track team had nothing to do with the incident in question.
LIU Brooklyn athletic director John Suarez released the following statement this morning:
LIU Brooklyn has suspended indefinitely four members of its men’s basketball team for their involvement in a Sept. 14 altercation on campus. No other student-athletes were implicated in this incident. Until all legal and appeals processes have been completed, we will not comment further on this matter.
Those three starters, forwards Julian Boyd and Jamal Olasewere and guard C.J. Garner, are key cogs in an attack that averaged 81.4 points per game last season and has won back-to-back NEC titles.
Boyd, who averaged 17.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game last season, is the reigning NEC Player of the Year and has made a remarkable comeback after missing the 2009-10 season due to a heart ailment.
Olasewere was one of Boyd’s partners in crime in the front court last season (with key reserve Kenny Onyechi being the other), averaging 16.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and earning first team All-NEC honors.
Garner may not have earned any postseason honors for his efforts but the 5-10 guard was third on the team in scoring (12.6 ppg) while also dishing out 3.3 assists per game.
While the tandem of Garner and point guard Jason Brickman is undersized they were a handful for opponents last season and likely would be again in 2012-13.
But the legal situation that these four players puts things in doubt, especially if they were indeed not just suspended from the team but suspended from school as well.
With a tough schedule that includes trips to Kentucky and Maryland and a game against Seton Hall at the new Barclays Center, losing any of the returning starters for an extended period of time would be a serious blow.
Brickman and Onyechi have plenty of experience but they would have a lot more heavy lifting to do if this situation leads to lengthy punishments for the players reportedly involved.