By John Torenli
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Riley Clarida, who starred for the LIU-Brooklyn men's basketball team from 1979-82, was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and is currently undergoing treatment near his home in Charlotte, N.C., the Downtown Brooklyn school's athletic department revealed earlier this week.
Clarida, one of 31 players in the Blackbirds' long, illustrious history to register at least 1,000 career points, has had his condition complicated due to the effects of his chemotherapy treatments, according to his friend and former LIU teammate Eric Short. He suffered a heart attack following a recent treatment due to aggressive dosage and is being monitored at home by doctors after his release from the hospital.
"Riley is a terrific guy and we want to do all we can to help him at this time," LIU-Brooklyn director of athletics John Suarez said. "Our athletics alumni is a tight-knit crew and I'm sure they will be supportive in Riley's time of need."
Clarida also helped the Blackbirds to back-to-back postseason appearances, including an NCAA Tournament berth following the 1980-81 campaign.
Those wishing to learn more about Clarida's ongoing fight, and perhaps make a contribution, can visit http://www.giveforward.com/rileyclaridavscancer.
* * *
In other LIU-Brooklyn sports news, Allison Nuzzi, formerly an assistant at Hofstra University and the University of Richmond, was named the new head women's lacrosse coach for the Blackbirds on Wednesday.
“We are excited to have Allison as our new women's lacrosse coach," Suarez said. "She has had great experience at two schools that have been very successful, and I'm confident that she will do a great job.”
“I am extremely honored to be the new head women's lacrosse coach at LIU Brooklyn,” Nuzzi added. “I am excited to join the Blackbirds program and was instantly drawn to the family atmosphere present here. ... It is clear that the Athletic Department supports and encourages its student-athletes to grow as people. I look forward to leading these young women while and building a successful and competitive program."
Nuzzi served as an assistant coach at Hofstra for the last three seasons, helping the Pride to the championship game of the 2010 Colonial Athletic Association Tournament in her first year with the team. Hofstra finished 2010 with 12 wins and was ranked No. 16 in the nation following the regular season.
While with the Pride, Nuzzi's responsibilities included budgets, recruiting, scouting and on-field coaching, while directing the midfield and defense. She developed six All-CAA players and seven All-Rookie Team selections during her time in Hempstead, N.Y., and mentored a pair of United States National Team selections: Developmental Team selection Corrine Gandolfi and current U.S. National Team defender Katie Hertsch.
Prior to Hofstra, the Baltimore, Md. native was an assistant coach for Richmond during the 2008 and 2009 seasons and helped the Spiders compile an 11-3 Atlantic-10 Conference record during that time.
* * *
The Blackbirds also announced the addition of Erin Geary to the coaching staff of the women's basketball team.
Geary, who has over a decade of college basketball experience and who previously served as the director of basketball operations for the Blackbirds two seasons ago, will rejoin the program as an assistant coach.
“We are very excited for Erin to return to our staff,” LIU-Brooklyn women's head coach Gail Striegler said. “She has many years of experience in a variety of different areas, and we are happy to have her back at LIU-Brooklyn.”
Geary returns to the Downtown Brooklyn after spending a year at Centenary College in New Jersey, where she served as an assistant for the Cyclones. Previously, she served as director of basketball operations at LIU in 2010-11, when the Blackbirds won 19 games and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Northeast Conference Tournament.
Prior to her stints at LIU and Centenary, Geary spent 10 seasons with the Seton Hall women's basketball program.
* * *
St. Francis College men's basketball player Akeem Johnson, who averaged 11.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game during his junior season, took time out from his summer vacation to read for the children of the Harlem RBI Program at the Dream Charter School last Thursday morning.
Johnson read a couple of chapters from a book about the early days of the Olympics and then helped the kids write recaps about what they had just heard.
“I had a great time and I'm glad that I got introduced to this program,” Johnson said. “Hopefully my teammates and other St. Francis student-athletes will have the opportunity to get involved in the future.”
The mission of the RBI Program is to provide inner-city youth with opportunities to Play, Learn and Grow. They use the power of teams to coach, teach and inspire youth to recognize their potential and realize their dreams.
Johnson, a Brooklyn born-and-bred forward, scored a career-high 24 points in only 27 minutes against LIU-Brooklyn at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 8.