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Long Island runs to second consecutive NCAA tourney bid


Mike Miller

Long Island could get used to this. Maybe that’s why it stormed the court.

The Blackbirds ran past Robert Morris 90-73 in the Northeast Conference tournament final Wednesday night, securing their second consecutive NCAA tournament berth. It’s the fifth one in school history, but the first time in back-to-back years.

That’s good news for fans of up-tempo basketball. Long Island (25-8) plays faster than all but two D-I teams. Its ideal game? A 90-85 final. Sign me up. I’m not the only one, either. Spike Lee, a fixture at Knicks games, came out to Brooklyn to watch.

“We set a goal to try to accomplish something and become great team,” said coach Jim Ferry, in his 10th season at LIU. “To do it back-to-back ... is pretty special.

“Heck, Spike Lee even showed up.”

Wednesday’s wasn’t unusual for scoring, either. All five starters hit double-figures, led by C.J. Garner (21), Julian Boyd (18) and Jason Brickman (16) as LIU connected on 53 percent of its shots. They proved to be too much for Robert Morris, which likes to play slower, but couldn’t get Long Island to its pace. It scored – nothing new there vs. LIU – but just didn’t have enough scoring.

So this happened.

Would these Blackbirds be able to soar to an NCAA tournament win? Possibly.

They’d need a favorable matchup against a team likes to run, but doesn’t feature a ton of size. When LIU was a 2 seed last year against North Carolina, it ran (87 points), but the bigger, more athletic Heels ran to 102 points. It’ll face a team of similar strength, too.

The Northeast champ has been a 15 seed the last four years. Tough spot for LIU.

(Also notable: It was Robert Morris’ fourth straight appearance in the Northeast title game; it won the automatic bid in ’09 and ‘10. Just sayin’. It’s a solid feat for any team in any conference.)

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.