A bombshell was dropped before this afternoon’s game between LIU Brooklyn and Manhattan at the Wellness Center. LIU Brooklyn’s star forward Julian Boyd would be gone for the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his knee. The Blackbirds only found out their go-to player would be out for the rest of the season yesterday. With only about a day to prepare to go on with the season without what most people would say is their main weapon, the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds put together one of the season’s best defensive efforts and shot lights out from the three-point arc in their 75-48 win against Manhattan at the WRAC on Sunday. This continued their winning streak at the WRAC to 31 straight games and brings LIU’s overall winning streak up to five.
So life for the 2012-13 LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds began without Julian Boyd. Khalil Murphy returned after missing the last two LIU games to get what I felt was the surprise start over senior Kenny Onyechi who played in his third game back since his broken foot injury in replacing Boyd in the starting lineup. LIU started off slow and really neither team got off to a good shooting start. At the first media timeout of the game, the score was just 4-0 LIU. Rhamel Brown checked in for the Jaspers and it seemed to get the Manhattan offense going. He scored a quick four points off the bench. Unfortunately for Brown and the Jaspers, those were his only field goals of the game as he ended the game with just 5 points in 16 minutes before fouling out. Manhattan played their third straight game without their go-to player George Beamon who is out with an injury.
It was a back and forth game for most of the first half. There were six ties and four lead changes before LIU pulled ahead the last couple of minutes to take a five-point lead to the locker room. Out of the gate in the second half, LIU set the tone for themselves. They went on a 12-4 run to start the half and then went on a 17-0 run to take a commanding 60-33 lead and pretty much cruised their way to the finish line to win by 27.
In the second half, Brandon Thompson, who most of us Blackbirds’ fans, including myself, were waiting for finally had a breakout performance today. Thompson had a career-high 23 points on 8 for 12 shooting including hitting an outstanding 7 for 10 from three. One in particular, he hit from well beyond NBA range and another one in the corner as the shot clock expired and with a hand in his face. Thompson had his fair share of shooting woes in the first few games of the season but has picked it up of late and today, he exploded. “I just felt confident.” said Thompson after the game. “I just knew I had to step up just because of Julian’s out and I just felt like my teammates found me and I was able to make shots.” In the last three in games now, Thompson is averaging 17 points per game and is shooting 56.6% from the floor including 54.5% from outside the arc. “I feel like I’m just getting into my rhythm, finding my spots, where to find the defense and being able to shot it with confidence. I knew I can shoot so I knew I would be able to get into the game and play hard.” Booker Hucks stepped up for LIU as well with a career-high 12 points on 4 of 6 shooting in 21 minutes.
The LIU Brooklyn defense also deserved some credit. The Blackbirds held Manhattan to 30% shooting for the game (16 for 53) and just 4 for 21 (19%) from three. In the second half, the defense only allowed Manhattan to shoot 26.9% from the floor and only 10% for the three-point line. “They were very prepared and we weren’t.” said Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello. “I was more disappointed in our rebounding and our defensive intensity more than anything.” LIU out-rebounded Manhattan 50 to 25 and got 11 offensive rebounds to Manhattan’s five. LIU shot 48.1% for the game and 54.5% from three. LIU scored at 1.10 points per possessions (75 points in 68 possessions) while allowing Manhattan to only score 0.68 points per possession (48 points in 70 possessions). This was their best defensive points per possession output of the season so far. Lots of credit have to go to the LIU players and coaching staff, showing up with a tremendous effort on both ends a day after hearing that Julian Boyd was out for the season. “I’m really proud of our team’s effort today.” said LIU head coach Jack Perri after the win. “When we got the blow as far as the news yesterday about Julian, I told the group we can go one of two ways. You can sink or you can handle adversity the way we showed.”
Back to the main story of the day, the loss of Julian Boyd. Boyd spoke to the media after the game and described what happened and what his outlook is like.”When it happened, it hurt and then after a little bit it didn’t really hurt so I was hoping maybe it wasn’t anything that bad but getting that kind of news for anybody who plays any sport isn’t good news. Things happen. Unfortunately it happens but this is team that isn’t fully ran through me and we have a lot of other players on this team that can do the exact same thing so that is why it it is not going to be that bad and hopefully I’m just going to get through what I have to do and come back and be ready to be with this family again next year.” LIU Brooklyn will put Boyd on medical redshirt for this season and since he didn’t play in 30% of his team’s game this season and he suffered a season-ending injury, he can apply for a sixth-year of NCAA eligibility next season. This will be his second medical redshirt season after missing the entire 2009-10 season with a heart ailment. Boyd said he wants to come back to LIU for another year. “As long as I can get that redshirt year that will be a great thing to be back here again. Great coach, great team, great family. We’ll give it another run at this after we do what we’re suppose to do this year.” Jack Perri said he falls under the perimeters for the sixth-year of eligibility and that they are hopefully he can get it.
This is a busy week for the Blackbirds with three games in seven days so there isn’t a lot of time to dwell on Boyd’s injury. LIU goes to St. Peter’s on Wednesday and play their second game at the Barclays Center vs. Seton Hall on Saturday night. The Blackbirds will be busy practicing and begin moving on with the season without Julian Boyd. History is still on the docket for this season so this team is got to continue to learn to play without him. At least for one day, they showed that they could. In a way, better this happened now than it happening in January. It doesn’t mean his presence on the court won’t be missed greatly. It will. As Boyd himself said, things happen.
Extra: Here is LIU Brooklyn’s Postgame Press Conference in its entirety courtesy of 1495sports.com. For more videos & pictures of the LIU Brooklyn vs Manhattan game courtesy of 1495sports.com, click here.