For LIU Brooklyn fans and alums, the worst-case scenario has been confirmed before the start of today’s game vs Manhattan. Julian Boyd, the reigning NEC Player of the Year and LIU Brooklyn’s second-leading scorer this season, is out for the season with a torn knee ligament he suffered in the team’s last game vs Rice on Wednesday. Boyd suffered the injury while battling for a loose ball with a Rice player as the ball was heading towards the Rice backcourt. Boyd immediately went down and grabbed on to his knee and looked like he was in serious pain. An MRI he had on Friday confirmed he has a torn ACL.
Boyd has been LIU’s go-to play since returning from a year-long absence after suffering through a heart ailment that costed him the entire 2009-10 season after being the NEC Rookie of the Year in his freshman year the season before. Last season, Boyd received NEC Player of the Year honors as well being named onto the All-NEC first team after scoring 17.4 ppg and 9.3 rpg and shooting 55.7% from the field and making 42% of his three-point attempts.
This season, Boyd was once again off to very good start. Through the team’s first eight games, Boyd was averaging 18.5 ppg (4th in NEC) and 6.1 rpg (10th in NEC) while shooting 54.6% from the floor. He had one double-double and had four games where he scored 20-plus in a game. His best scoring output came against two BCS schools in Maryland and Kentucky, scoring 22 against each of the two major opponents. In his best game of the season, Boyd scored 20 pts and recorded 10 rebounds in a win vs. Lafayette on December 1. Against Hofstra on December 8, it was his 6 straight points in the second-half along with a monster one-hand tomahawk dunk off an inbound pass that tied the game after LIU being down 16 in the second half, that propelled LIU to a comeback win in that game.
Boyd has missed just one game since he returned back from with his heart ailment. LIU is 14-18 in games Boyd have missed since he arrived in Downtown Brooklyn in 2008-09. LIU Brooklyn may look to see if they can get Boyd a medical redshirt for this season in which he would be able to come back for a sixth year next season. The likelihood of that happening is pretty iffy since the NCAA doesn’t always like to give a player a sixth year of eligibility. Some players get them, some don’t. The NCAA has in the past given players who has missed two seasons due to injury or circumstance which is outside a player’s control a sixth-year of eligibility. If that is the case, Boyd would be able to return with point guard Jason Brickman who will be a senior next season. They would be the only two returning players from this year’s starting lineup.
With Julian Boyd, now out for the season, the attention now turns to senior Jamal Olasewere who is currently the team’s leading scorer at 19.0 ppg. With the expection of the Hofstra game (7 pts, fouling-out in 13 minutes) Olasewere is having himself a NEC Player of the Year-type of season. He is currently 3rd in the NEC in points per game and 7th in the NEC in rebounding. Olasewere is currently fourth in the nation in free throws attempted and fifth in free throws made and leads the nation in fouls drawn per 40 minutes. Olasewere along with combo guard C.J. Garner, shooting guard Brandon Thompson and point guard Jason Brickman will have to pick up the scoring slack in Boyd’s absence. Senior Kenny Onyechi will likely replace Boyd in the starting lineup. Onyechi just returned back to the court this season after missing the team’s first six games due to a broken foot. Onyechi has started in 32 games for LIU Brooklyn in his career although 31 of those starts came in his freshman year while Boyd was out with his heart ailment. His last start for LIU came last season in the game vs. Columbia which his subbed in for Boyd who wasn’t available. This news also means more minutes for E.J. Reed, Booker Hucks, and Khalil Murphy. Hucks also just returned to the LIU lineup two games ago coming back from multiple injuries and had a great season debut knocking in a game-winning three vs Hofstra. Reed hasn’t played more than 19 minutes in a game this season and his highest point total is five points. This could be though his time to shine if he can eliminate some of his freshman mistakes which won’t be easy considering he has only eight college games under his belt. Murphy has missed the last two games with an apparent illness and has six points total for the season.
No one player will be able to replace the productivity Boyd gave to the Blackbirds but everyone will need to step up and produce as much as they can to take up some of the slack of missing Boyd. As far as the NEC goes, people will begin to look over LIU Brooklyn and now make Robert Morris and Wagner the favorites to represent the NEC in the NCAA tournament. The Blackbirds will have to rally around one another and use their experience and win some what are now are expected to be some closer than then what might have been games. LIU Brooklyn still have a bunch of upper class men that have won and know how to win. It they are doing to defend their two-time NEC championship and be the first NEC to do it three years in a row, they are doing to need to play as team and play smart together. Time will tell if this will be the case or will Blackbirds fan always wonder “what if”.