Know Your Small Conference Winners: Long Island Blackbirds

Despite the odd nickname, the Blackbirds should not be taken lightly, but it’s a shame they got stuck with a 15 seed and will likely be unable to challenge for an opportunity to play into the tournament. The winners from the NEC cruised to a 19-2 conference season, and are only one of nine teams in the country with at least 27 wins. But what might be most fascinating about this team is their ability to somehow build a team that comes from a very diverse geographic background.

Head coach Jim Ferry has brought kids in from as far as Canada and Minnesota, with only one roster player hailing from the New York/New Jersey area; amazing considering the size and location of this predominantly commuter school. In his ninth year, this is Ferry’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament, and the school’s first since 1997. They must love this guy to give him that long of a leash.

Learn more after the jump…

Location: Brookville, New York

Enrollment: 10,600

Record: 27-5 (19-2)

Leading scorers: Jamal Olasewere (13 ppg); Julian Boyd (13); David Hicks (11)

What to know:

  • They're wildly balanced. Just look below. I probably could just stop right here.

 

  • This team has attempted more free throws than anyone in the country. Made free throws account for 24 percent of their points, but they're a measly 65 percent overall from the charity stripe.
  • Conversely, they commit an average of 24 fouls a game. Yes, these guys may play in the most drawn out first round game of the tournament.
  • Outlook: Given their propensity to get to the line and play at a fast pace, the Blackbirds should, on paper, give themselves a chance to hang with North Carolina. They're biggest problem is being small. Not one player in the rotation is over 6'7", a major problem against the loaded Tar Heels frontcourt.

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