Jack Perri’s basketball philosophy dates to his days as a two-time Falcons captain: Concentrate on what you can control. The tenet has served him well both on and off the court.
In April, the Class of 1998 alumnus was named head coach of the men’s basketball team at Long Island University–Brooklyn, an up-and-coming Division I program that ranked fourth in the nation in scoring in 2011-2012.
Perri’s winning career was born from a defeating injury during his junior year at Bentley. Sidelined by a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), he studied Jay Lawson and assistant Jim Ferry as they led the team.
“I started seriously thinking that coaching was what I wanted to do,” Perri recalls. Fate was on his side. When Ferry left the Falcons for another post in 1998, Lawson tapped the newly matriculated Management major.
“I was very fortunate,” Perri admits. “A lot of guys spend years volunteering with teams just to get their foot in the door.”
Perri worked for the next six years as a full-time assistant at Bentley, developing his leadership skills and weaving deftly through unique challenges such as coaching a former roommate.
His next move was to Rhode Island College, where he led the Division III men’s program to an unprecedented 20-win season and co-championship of the Little East Conference. One of those taking note was former Bentley coach Jim Ferry, then head coach at LIU-Brooklyn. In 2005, he brought Perri aboard.
Perri rose to associate head coach in 2007, and the job was a full-court press: from planning practices and overseeing staff to recruiting players and awarding scholarships.
“The city is a great recruiting tool,” says Perri, who shares his life with wife Julie and sons Sean and Jackson. “We’ve found that players in Texas, especially, really want to spend four years in New York City. You can see their excitement when they come on visits.”
In fact, six members of the current team are Texans, including Julian Boyd, last year’s Northeast Conference Player of the Year.
So far, the transition to head coach has been smooth. The Blackbirds are shooting for a third-straight appearance in the NCAA postseason tournament, thanks in part to six returning seniors. The pillars of Perri’s coaching philosophy – rebound, hold your opponent to one shot, limit fouls, and keep your poise – are ready for their next workout.
“My guys are itching to do something that’s never been done in this league: win it three years in a row,” says Perri. “This is a stable group of guys who believe in the philosophy and have great chemistry. They know they can compete against anybody.”