Team preview: Long Island

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Calling Long Island's 2005-06 season injury plagued doesn't even begin to describe the situation. Without their top-three frontcourt players -- who combined to miss 19 games -- the Blackbirds struggled for much of the season but still managed to land a spot in the NEC Tournament as the sixth-seeded team.

But LIU's postseason trip was brief as the Blackbirds went down to Monmouth in the first round.

After three seasons of building that included a surprise run to the tournament semifinals in 2004, LIU took a slight step back last year. But the good news is the program gets a chance to atone for that with everyone back, including first-team all-league guard James Williams, a 5-10 senior.

"It's exciting, we are looking forward to the season," said Jim Ferry, who jumpstarted the season by taking his 10 returning players to Italy in late August for several exhibition games. "We've taken the proper steps [in the building the program], but last year we ran into a buzzsaw with injuries."

The one player who managed to stay healthy was Williams (16.6 ppg, 3.3 apg), who led LIU again in scoring, assists, free-throw percentage (.824) and minutes (34.3 mpg). He finished third in the NEC in scoring and fifth in free-throw percentage.

"He's been tremendous for us since the moment he stepped on the campus," Ferry said of his senior co-captain. "He's a great person, a driven person and he's not satisfied with receiving a few individual awards. He wants to be part of a conference championship team."

Williams eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau last season and enters the season within 25 three-pointers of breaking the school record held by Charles Jones. Williams shot 41.8 percent on treys last season (89-for-213) and finished fourth in the league.