Updated: Sep 25, 2022
By: JOE SIMILE / SPORTS CO-EDITOR
Following a 16-14 season and the departure of previous Coach Derek Kellogg, Long Island University brought in New York basketball legend Rod Strickland to become the new men's basketball head coach.
Strickland, a Bronx native, has been involved in New York basketball since the 70s, beginning a legendary career that would lead him to the greatest heights of professional basketball.
Coach Strickland was a standout star for Truman High School in the Bronx during the 80s. Strickland would transfer to Oak Hill Academy for his senior campaign, where he earned All-American First Team Honors.
Strickland would go on to have a successful college career at DePaul, scoring over 1400 points with over 550 assists in three seasons before getting drafted by the New York Knicks with the 19th pick in the 1988 NBA Draft.
Strickland spent 17 years in the NBA, playing for nine different franchises. He was named to the All-Rookie second team in 1989 while with the New York Knicks, and had one of the best seasons of his career in 1998, garnering All-NBA second team honors, posting 17.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 steals, as well as a league-leading 10.5 assists per game.
Strickland was one of the top guards in the league in the late 90s, in a five season stretch from 1994 to 1998 Strickland averaged 17.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 9.4 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
Strickland is 13th all time in the NBA in assists, and 35th all time in the NBA in steals, as well as top 100 all time in both games and minutes.
Strickland held coaching and administrative roles with the University of San Francisco, Memphis, and Kentucky. He also served as the program manager for the NBA G League’s professional path. Strickland is a member of the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame, and is remembered fondly in New York for the legacy he has left and is continuing to make in the city and in the game of basketball.
Ahead of his first season as Head Coach, Coach Strickland sat down for a phone interview with Seawanhaka.
Q: Is there anything you would like the LIU student body to know about you?
A: I'm honored to be the coach here at LIU, I’m looking forward to trying to help this program be the best it can be, helping my staff and the players obtain all their goals.
Q: What drew you to the LIU Head Coach position?
A: t’s a great opportunity, I’ve never been a Head Coach before and it’s always been in the back of my mind. Obviously being in Brooklyn, with me being from New York is a big piece in the puzzle. Having the opportunity to coach in my hometown, being around family and friends, I have a lot of relationships here in New York so it’s comfortable. It just felt right.
Q: Has anything stuck out about LIU, whether it be the campus or the community?
A: It’s Brooklyn. Period. Brooklyn has a rich history, the community is ever-growing. It’s Brooklyn. I’m a Pearl Washington fan, and I’m playing in my idol's backyard. Then you have the Nets right down the street. Brooklyn is full of basketball history.
Q: What kind of identity are you hoping to establish for the program?
A: Hard working, up-tempo, team. Togetherness. We’re going to try and play fast and push the pace, and we’re going to defend. We’re going to be aggressive on both ends.
Q: While you obviously have experience with coaching and player development, was there anybody who you reached out to for advice once you accepted the head coach position?
A: I spoke to a few people, I spoke to my AAU coach who I first started out coaching with. I had a conversation with Mike Kryzewski, and spoke to Larry Brown. I’ve had conversations.
Q: Last year, the Sharks were 12-1 at home. Is the dominance at home something you expect to maintain, and how will you ensure success on the road after LIU’s struggles last season (4-13)?
A: I can’t ensure anything other than to work hard. The past is the past, in terms of comparing, I don’t really do that. I think it’s important to protect your home, and then when you go on the road you’ve got to play hard and be disciplined, and hopefully you’re engaged and we can win them at the end.
Q: Are there any games on the LIU basketball schedule that you are particularly looking forward to?
A: Probably the first game, because it’s the first game with me as a Head Coach and I’m looking forward to getting the season started. And I play my son, so if I had to pick one, when we play James Madison on December 18. So I look forward to me being on the sideline and my son being on the court.
Q: Do you have a favorite basketball court in New York City? Arenas included
A: Mitchel Housing. That’s where I grew up. That’s where Tiny Archibald, who’s arguably the greatest point guard to ever come out of New York. I watched him as a youngster come in and work out and shoot on a special court with a special rim. Tiny Archibald classic was played here where players from all over the city play at a high level. So Mitchel Gym is the place for me. Also the Gaucho Gym, which is where I spent most of my time growing up and practicing.
Q: Who were some of your biggest influences personally and professionally?
A: The game and the experiences. I know it may sound weird, but I look up to the experiences. I’ve had so many experiences and I’ve been in so many environments. I think it’s helped me have a real understanding of the game and people. Like I said Pearl Washington I was a big fan of Magic Johnson. I wanted to be Magic Johnson, Dr. J, George Gervin. I first wanted to be my two older brothers, Steven and Byron. Coaching wise, I loved the late-great John Thompson. I played for Pat Riley for a year and I love the way he goes about his business. There’s so many that I’m a fan of.
Q: Do you have a favorite moment in your career?
A: No singular favorite moment. If I wanted to say one I’d say it’s being drafted, but again I’m all about the experience. When I look back there’s so many single moments, it’s hard to just pinpoint one. But I think about the experience of being an NBA player. But when I look back there’s being a high school All-American, to being a college All-American, to being a professional, becoming All-NBA, leading the league in assists, to going to college to coaching at Memphis and Kentucky, or helping to start a new professional team with G-League Ignite, now becoming the Head Coach of LIU Brooklyn. Those are all special moments in my life, but it’s not one moment. I think it’s the fact that I’ve been able to do so much with this game, and I’m still in it, I’m still growing, I’m still taking on new challenges. So for me, that is it. It's not one experience, it's the whole picture, the whole journey, the whole story to get to this point. I've been out of the NBA for, I hate to say it, 20 years, but I'm still in the game and I'm still contributing and growing and taking on new challenges.