By John Torenli
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jim Ferry bid what he described as an “emotional” farewell to his players and staff at LIU-Brooklyn this week, revealing that there were plenty of hugs and maybe even a few tears prior to his departure.
“I said it would have to be a special place for me to leave LIU,” Ferry admitted before being officially introduced as the new head coach at Duquesne University yesterday.
The 44-year-old Elmont, N.Y., native, who resurrected big-time college hoops in Downtown Brooklyn by guiding the Blackbirds to the NCAA Tournament in each of the previous two years, described the program he inherited in 2002 as “in shambles, in ashes,” in the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review.
Though the Dukes are coming off a winning season instead of the 5-22 mark LIU posted prior to his arrival, Ferry believes he will need to start from scratch in the Steel City, building it his way as he did with the Blackbirds.
“We are going to come in and do the same thing at Duquesne,” noted Ferry, who used recruiting bases in Texas and Maryland to build the winningest LIU team since the legendary Clair Bee-led squads of the 1930s and 40s.
Ferry’s successor, long-time assistant Jack Perri, will try to get the Blackbirds back into the NCAA Tournament as they will doubtlessly be the preseason favorite to capture a third consecutive Northeast Conference title in 2012-13.
As for Ferry, he’ll simply go back to preaching his up-tempo, breakneck style of play in the hopes of returning March Madness to Duquesne for the first time since 1977.
Judging from his work on Flatbush Avenue over the past decade, it’s hard to bet against him doing just that.
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While the men’s program has been gobbling up all the headlines of late, LIU-Brooklyn women’s hoops coach Gail Striegler made some news of her own this week.
Striegler announced Wednesday that forward Fanny Cavallo and guard Taylor Ignoto, both junior-college transfers, have signed National Letters of Intent to join the Blackbirds this fall.
Ignoto, 5-foot-7, and the 6-foot Cavallo, will each have two years of eligibility remaining with the Blackbirds, who have won a program-record 62 wins over the past three seasons, but remain without an NCAA Tournament berth since 2001.
Cavallo, born in the Republic of Mali in western Africa and raised in Lorgues, France, played last season at Georgia Perimeter College in Alpharetta, Ga. The Jaguars won 23 games in 2011-12 and advanced all the way to the Elite Eight of the National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament.
“Fanny has the ability to score from the block and is also a great defender,” Striegler said. “She runs the floor very well, and will fit right in to our up-tempo style of play.”
Originally from Thousand Oaks, Calif., Ignoto was an NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American at Mineral Area College in Park Hills, Mo. A first-team all-region selection, she averaged 17.2 points and shot 40.7 percent from 3-point range in her one year for the Lady Cardinals.
“Taylor can score from anywhere on the floor, and in many different ways,” Striegler says. “She is a proven scorer at the high-school and junior-college levels, and will help open up our inside game with her perimeter play.”
The talented duo will join eight returning letter-winners from last year’s 21-win team.