The 2013-14 LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds’ MBB Schedule: NEC Team-by-Team Opponent Breakdown

January 9, 2014 – at St. Francis Brooklyn (Pope Physical Ed. Center – Brooklyn Heights, NY; 7pm)
February 16, 2014 – ST. FRANCIS BROOKLYN (Barclays Center – Brooklyn, NY; 2pm)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 12-18 (8-10 NEC)/8th
’12-13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 204/220

Outlook: Two seasons ago, St. Francis Brooklyn finished the NEC with a 12-6 record and looked like a team on the rise in the NEC. But last season, they took a step back. They had to win their final game of the season just to get into the NEC tournament as an 8-seed. They return All-NEC second teamer junior forward Jalen Cannon (14.7 ppg/8.8 rpg) who will be among the candidates for NEC Player of the Year. Junior guard Ben Mockford also returns as the Terriers’ top three-point threat (39.8 3FG%). Junior guard Brent Jones will be the number one point guard all-season long this season.

January 11, 2014 – at Wagner (Spiro Sports Center – Staten Island, NY; 4pm )
January 30, 2014 – WAGNER (Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY; 7pm)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 19-12 (12-6 NEC)/2nd
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 125/185

Outlook: Wagner transformed themselves mid-season last year as they went for a defensive, low-scoring team to high-octane, high-possessions offensive team. A lot of it had to do with the health of now-senior guard Latif Rivers who battled injuries and missed 11 games for the Seahawks. Then they were upset by LIU in the NEC semifinals at home to end their season. This season, they look like they may be the best team in the NEC. They have a ton of firepower offensively with Rivers and Valpo transfer Jay Harris launching shots. They also have the two-time NEC Defensive Player of the Year in senior point guard Kenneth Ortiz back. Sophomore Dwaun Anderson looks to bounce back after a shaky freshman campaign.

January 16, 2014 – FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON (Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY; 7pm)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 7-24 (2-16 NEC)/12th (last)
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 297/339

Outlook:  At one point last season, FDU was actually 7-9 and 2-2 in the NEC before they went on to lose their last 15 games to end the season and it cost head coach Greg Vetrone his job. FDU went out and hired former UMass-Lowell head coach Greg Herenda. Herenda will have his hands full in his first season at the helm. The top four scorers from last season have all graduated leaving senior Mathias Seilund as the top returning scorer at 5.9 ppg. Senior point guard Sidney Sanders Jr. also returns, he led the Knights in assists (3.4 apg) last season.

January 18, 2014 – at Central Connecticut State (Detrick Gymnasium – New Britain, CT; TBA)
February 27, 2014 – Central Connecticut State (Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY; 7pm)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 13-17 (9-9 NEC)/7th
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 194/261

Outlook: It was quite an offseason for CCSU’s All-NEC first teamer Kyle Vinales. He decided to transfer, picked Toledo as his new destination, then changed his mind and then decided to return to long-time head coach Howie Dickenman and CCSU for his junior year. Vinales (21.6 ppg last season) will likely be most people’s preseason favorite for NEC Player of the Year. He has a full green light to shoot and he isn’t afraid to launch shots from anywhere. Senior Matt Hunter (15.7 ppg) also returns and make for a dangerous 1-2 punch for CCSU. The Blue Devils will likely be this season’s popular sleeper pick in the NEC. They have a bunch of good players returning back which will allowed them to make a strong run to the top half of the NEC.

January 23, 2014 – at Bryant (Chace Athletic Center – Smithfield, RI; 7pm)
March 1, 2014 – BRYANT (Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY; 2pm)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 19-12 (12-6 NEC)/4th
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 157/187

Outlook: Bryant had one of the best one-season turnaround of all-time last season going from 2 wins overall two seasons ago to 19 wins last season. After a strong start in the NEC, they faded a bit in the second half and lost to NEC tourney finalist Mount St. Mary’s in the first round. Gone is point guard Frankie Dobbs but NEC head coach of the year Tim O’Shea returns a lot of talent this season in senior Alex Francis (17.4 ppg/8.6 rpg) and junior guard Dyami Starks (17.7 ppg/45.0 FG%). If they can find a suitable replacement for Dobbs at the point guard spot, the Bulldogs will be back in the upper tier of the NEC once again this season.

January 25, 2014 – MOUNT ST. MARY’S (Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY; 4:30pm)
February 1, 2014 – at Mount St. Mary’s (Knott Arena – Emmitsburg, MD; 2:30pm )

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 18-14 (11-7 NEC)/5th
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 118/205

Outlook: The Mount came all so close to winning their first NEC championship since 2008 but were halted by three-peat champs LIU in the NEC final. The Mount though return plenty of firepower for what is expected to be another run at the NEC title. Head coach Jamion Christian return a lot of his keys guys in seniors Rashad Whack (13.8ppg/3.7 rpg), Sam Prescott (11.1ppg/4.2rpg), and Julian Norfleet (10.8ppg/3.2apg). The Mount suffered a blow losing NEC Rookie of the Year Shivaughn Wiggins who decided to transfer. Even without Wiggins, expectations will be high at the Mount. Mount Mayhem took over the NEC in the latter half of the season at one point going 11-1 down the stretch. Scary thing with the Mount is there is room for improvement and with a year of this system already under their belt, the Mount could be racking up plenty of wins this season.

February 6, 2014 – ROBERT MORRIS (Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY; 7pm)
February 20, 2014 – at Robert Morris (Sewall Center – Moon Township, PA; 7pm)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 24-11 (14-4 NEC)/1st
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 123/136

Outlook: For the first time since 2009, Robert Morris will take to the court without their floor general and leader Velton Jones who graduated this past May. Although Jones may be gone, there is still plenty of returning talent for head coach Andy Toole to work with. Starting with senior guard Karvel Anderson (12.5ppg/43.9 3PT%) and junior forward Lucky Jones (11.6 ppg/5.9 rpg). Experienced senior guard Anthony Myers-Pate now takes over the role of starting point guard. Also the additions of a coiuple of nice recruits will once again keep the Colonials in contention for another run at the NEC championship.

February 8, 2014 – SAINT FRANCIS UNIVERSITY (PA) (Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY; 4:30pm)
February 22, 2014  – at Saint Francis University (PA) (DeGol Arena – Loretto, PA; TBA)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 5-24 (5-13 NEC)/11th
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 317/327

Outlook: The Red Flash actually showed some flashes toward the end of the season after a brutal start to their season. They started 1-19 before finishing 4-5 their last 9 games. Head coach Rob Krimmel looks to build on the end of year momentum and he has some pieces coming back this season. Although the Red Flash did lose leading scorer Umar Shannon who transferred to Quinnipiac, they have some young talent to build around. Starting with junior forward Earl Brown (10.1ppg/8.1 rpg) who is a rising start in the NEC. They also have All-NEC rookie team performer Ben Millaud-Meunier (9.3ppg/47.6 3PT%) back along with Ollie Jackson, Stephon Mosley and Dominique Major. It is not out of the question that the Flash could sneak into the NEC playoffs as an 7 or 8 seed this season.

February 13, 2014 – at Sacred Heart – Pitt Center – (Fairfield, CT; 7pm)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 9-20 (7-11 NEC)/9th
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 242/271

Outlook: Sacred Heart has a new coach in former SHU head coach Dave Bike’s assistant coach Anthony Latina who takes over the program. Early indications out of Fairfield is that the Pioneers want to run. Latina has a point guard who can find open guys down court in junior Phil Gaetano (4.8ppg/7.9apg-2nd in NCAA). The Pioneers also have an guy who isn’t afraid to get inside and do the dirty work in senior Louis Montes (14.4ppg/6.2 rpg) and their have a guy who knock down open threes in Steve Glowiak (10.4ppg/37.4 3PT%). The Pioneers also get back junior guards Evan Kelley and Chris Evans back from a year of injuries. The Pioneers now begin the post-Shane Gibson era so it will be interesting to see who gets the end of game shots and how this new offensive philosophy will go in year one of the Latina era.

The 2013-14 LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds’ MBB Schedule: Non-Conference Team-by-Team Opponent Breakdown

Today, LIU Brooklyn Athletics released the 2013-14 men’s basketball schedule. LIU will play a 29-game schedule with 13 non-conference games and 16 Northeast Conference games down from the 18 conference games they have played in the past several seasons.

The Blackbirds will play 12 home games, 9 homes games at the Steinberg Wellness Center and 3 games at the Barclays Center, NBA home of the Brooklyn Nets. They will play 15 true road games and 2 neutral-court games. The Blackbirds will face six teams that participated in postseason play including two 2013 NCAA tournament teams.

Today, I will focus on LIU Brooklyn’s non-conference schedule and give a brief breakdown on each non-conference opponent. Let’s take a look at the opponents the Blackbirds will face this season in non-conference play.

November 9, 2013 – St. Peter’s (Barclays Center – Brooklyn, NY; 12pm)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 9-21 (3-15 MAAC)/10th (last)
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 283/282

Outlook: St. Peter’s for the second consecutive season finished well below .500 and finished last season in last place in the MAAC. One of their nine wins last season did come against LIU Brooklyn in their first road game after the Julian Boyd ACL injury. The Peacocks lost six seniors from last season’s team including three starters. They do return their leading scorer in redshirt junior guard Desi Washington (14.6 ppg) who lit up LIU for 28 points in their meeting last season. They also return starting senior guard Chris Burke. SPC’s eighth-year head coach John Dunne has brought in three freshman and three juco transfers onto his roster for this season. In what will be a tough MAAC conference this season, it looks like SPC will likely take their lumps again this season.

This will be the second straight season LIU will open their campaign at home although last season they opened their season at the Barclays Center. This is the first season opener at the Steinberg Wellness Center since the 2010-11 season when they opened the season against Norfolk State. This is the 35th meeting between LIU and SPC. LIU is 13-21 all-time vs St. Peter’s. The two teams have alternated wins and losses in their last six meetings with the home team winning each time.

November 12, 2013 – at Indiana (Assembly Hall – Bloomington, IN; 6pm) (Part of 2K Sports Classic)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 29-7 (14-4 Big Ten/1st)
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 9/3
Postseason: NCAA Tournament – Sweet 16

Outlook: Last season, LIU was one NCAA tournament win from facing Indiana in the second round. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Gone are NBA draftees Cody Zeller (4th pick overall-Charlotte) and one my favorite players of last season, Victor Oladipo (2nd pick overall – Orlando). But sixth-year head coach Tom Crean has plenty to work with for this season. Starting with sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell. Ferrell started every game as a freshman last season averaging 7.6 ppg & 4.0 apg (lead team). Senior forward Will Sheehey (9.5 ppg) also returns. Both these players were on the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games Team. Also, Indiana wouldn’t be Indiana without landing some big time recruits. Crean signed FOUR ESPN Top 100 high school recruits with the top recruit being #13 overall 6’8″ power forward Noah Vonleh from Haverhill, MA. The Hoosiers will once again make a play for the Big Ten title along with Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

Sad (for LIU fans) but true: Indiana has not lost a non-conference home game since Loyola (Md.) beat them in December, 2009. That is a span of 29 straight non-conference games without a loss. The one good thing is the game could likely be televised on the Big Ten Network.

November 22, 2013 – at UC Irvine (Bren Events Center – Irvine, CA; 10pm) (Part of 2K Sports Classic-subregional)

12-’13 Record/Finish: 21-16 (11-7 Big West/4th)
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 133/161
Postseason: CIT Tournament – Second Round

Outlook: UC Irvine had its first winning season in five seasons in ’12-’13. They look to build on the success they had last season which carried them to a CIT berth. They do lose two of their top three scorers from last season but do return 6’8″ junior F/C Will Davis II (9.7 ppg/6.8 rpg) who finished second on the team in scoring and first in rebounding. They also return senior guard Chris McNealy (9.2 ppg) who got late run as a starter including in their Big West tournament and CIT postseason run and sophomore guard Alex Young (9.2 ppg) who started in 29 of 37 games as a freshman. Last season, UC Irvine was 13-1 at home with the one loss going against LSU. Will be a very good early test for the Blackbirds. This is the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

November 23, 2013 – vs. Eastern Washington (Bren Events Center – Irvine, CA; 6pm) (Part of 2K Sports Classic-subregional)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 10-21 (7-13 Big Sky/9th)
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 324/292

Outlook: It has been a rough go for EWU since they last made the NCAA tourney back in 2003-04. They have had just one winning season (’06-’07: 15-14) and have not been over .500 in conference since 2005-06. Third-year head coach Jim Hayford had some challenges last season including his leading scorer leaving the team just after the start of conference play. Hayford does has some talent returning in starters Venky Jois (12.3 ppg) and Parker Kelly (9.5 ppg). Jois was the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year. EWU did have a tough time playing away from home last season as they were a combined 3-14 in road and neutral-site games. This is the first all-time meeting between the two schools.

November 23, 2013 – vs. Boston University (Bren Events Center – Irvine, CA; 4:30pm) (Part of 2K Sports Classic-subregional)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 17-13 (11-5 America East/Tied for 2nd)
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 156/148
Postseason: CIT Tournament – First Round

Outlook: Boston U. and third-year head coach Joe Jones return plenty of talent from a team which played in the CIT last season. They return their top seven scorers including leading scorer senior guard D.J. Irving (14.2 ppg). They return four players who scored over 9.0 ppg including leading rebounder 6’8″ senior forward Dom Morris (11.6 ppg/6.4 rpg). The Terriers this season make the move from the America East conference to the Patriot League. The will likely be contenders this season with the likes of Bucknell and fellow newcomers Loyola (Md.) in their conference. Last season, the Terriers were respectable away from home, going a combined 7-10 in games away from campus. This will be the sixth all-time meeting between the schools. LIU is 4-1 vs Boston U. Will likely be another great early-season test for LIU head coach Jack Perri and the Blackbirds.

December 1, 2013 – Norfolk State (Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY; 2pm)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 21-12 (16-0 MEAC/1st)
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 176/214
Postseason: NIT Tournament – First Round

Outlook: Norfolk State has had a magical last two seasons under former head coach Anthony Evans. The Spartans went a combined 47-22 and 29-3 in the MEAC. Two years ago they went to the NCAA tournament and upset Missouri in the “second round” and last season they went undefeated in conference but had to settle for the NIT after losing by 2 to Bethune-Cookman in MEAC tournament. Since then Evans has left for Florida International and NSU named associate head coach Robert Jones as their interim head coach.  Coach Jones has most of his quality players returning. Five of his top six leading scorers are back including top scorers seniors Pendarvis Williams (14.3 ppg) and Malcolm Hawkins (11.6 ppg) as well as top rebounder sophomore Rashid Gaston (8.3 ppg/6.3 rpg). With some much talents returning plus a familiar new head coach, don’t be surprised to see Norfolk State back at the top of the MEAC once again. After a one-year absence last season, LIU and Norfolk State will meet for the third time in the last four seasons. NSU was a respectable 10-12 in combined games away from home last season. LIU did beat NSU in their only home game of the series back in November of 2010. They are 2-1 all-time against NSU.

December 5, 2013 – at Seton Hall (Prudential Center – Newark, NJ; TBA)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 15-18 (3-15 Big East/Tied for 13th)
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 130/109

Outlook: For the second straight season, LIU will face the Seton Hall Pirates. Last season, LIU was manhandled by the Pirates in a rout at the Barclays Center. This season, the scene shifts to Newark. The Pirates are coming another subpar season in the Big East going a horrid 3-15. This could be a make or break year for Seton Hall’s head coach Kevin Willard who is entering his fourth season at the helm. Seton Hall hasn’t had a .500 season in conference since the year they last went to the NCAAs back in ’05-’06. Willard will need another productive season from senior Fuquan Edwin (16.5 ppg/5.8 rpg) who was the Pirates leading scorer a season ago. Seton Hall also returns senior center Gene Teague (11.2 ppg/7.2 rpg) and junior forward Brandon Mobley (9.0 ppg). Willard was able to grab a ESPN Top 100 recruit in point guard NJ native Jaren Sina. Seton Hall is entering the season on a 15-game home non-conference winning streak dating back to December 2010. The Pirates finished last season 8-7 at home. The all-time series between Seton Hall and LIU is now all tied at 16 apiece.

December 7, 2013 – at Lehigh (Stabler Arena – Bethlehem, PA; 7:30pm)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 21-10 (10-4 Patriot/Tied for 2nd)
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 106/96
Postseason: CBI Tournament – First Round

Outlook: Last season, Lehigh was the pick to represent the Patriot League in the NCAAs but then NBA-draftee C. J. McCollum (10th pick overall-Portland) was lost for the season with a broken left foot after 12 games and gone was his 23.9 ppg. But Lehigh’s seventh-year head coach Brent Reed keep his team together and rallied behind his other senior to a successful season and a trip to the CBI. This season, Reed will have to depend on a new set of seniors in guards Mackey McKnight (11.9 ppg), B.J. Bailey (8.3 ppg) and Anthony D’Orazio (6.4 ppg). This is the third all-time meeting between LIU and Lehigh with Lehigh leading the series 2-0.  Lehigh was 10-3 at home last season.

December 12, 2013 – at New Jersey Institute of Technology (Fleisher Athletic Center – Newark, NJ; 7pm)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 16-13 (6-2 Great West/1st)
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 304/267

Outlook: NJIT will be playing this season as the nation’s only Division I independent. They will be using this season as pretty much an audition to gain entry into either the America East Conference or the Northeast Conference after the lowly five-team Great West conference disbanded after last season. NJIT head coach Jim Engles has done a fantastic job under difficult circumstances. NJIT finished with their first winning season last year (16-13) since joining Division I back in 2006-07. Unfortunately, this could be a long season for the Highlanders this year. They lose their top three scorers from last season to graduation. The top returning scorer is sophomore guard Ky Howard (7.2 ppg). This will be a very young team with just one senior and two juniors on the roster. NJIT was a good home team last season at 12-3 but that was with a senior top-heavy team. LIU is 2-0 all-time against the Highlanders.

December 18, 2013 – Lamar (Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY; 7pm)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 3-28 (1-17 Southland/10th-last)
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 334/345

Outlook: In what was likely LIU’s worst loss of last season, Lamar who ended the season with just 3 wins, got one of those wins against the Blackbirds while they were going through their roughest stretch of the season. Lamar, who is coach by third-year head coach Pat Knight, the son of college hoops coaching legend Bob Knight, had a terrible season after getting his senior-loaded team into the NCAAs the year prior. Knight with a very young team (6 freshman, 2 sophomores) struggled to find wins. There were only three seniors on last season’s team but two of those were top three scorers including his leading scorer. Sophomore forward Rhon Mitchell is Lamar’s leading returning scorer (10.3 ppg). With even more youth being implement into the system this season and with Knight having to play guys with not as much experience more minutes, this could be another challenging season for the Cardinals. With the win last season, Lamar is 1-0 all-time against the Blackbirds.

December 21, 2013 – Temple (Barclays Center – Brooklyn, NY; 5:30pm) (Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 24-10 (11-5 Atlantic 10/Tied for 3rd)
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 42/62
Postseason: NCAA Tournament – Round of 32

Outlook: After over 30 years in the Atlantic 10 conference, Temple is moving to the brand new American Athletic Conference (Thanks football!). Temple has been enjoy plenty of success since Fran Dunphy took over the program from the legendary John Chaney. Dunphy has taken the Owls to the NCAAs in every year he has been the head coach with the exception of year one (’06-’07). Dunphy will face more of challenge this season. The Owls will face new teams and will do it without their four of their top five leading scorers from last season due to graduation. Junior forward Anthony Lee is the top returning scorer and rebounder (9.8 ppg/6.8 rpg). After Lee and junior guard Will Cummings, the rest of the roster don’t have a ton of experience. It will be interesting to see how Temple will fare this season. Last season with a veteran team, the Owls were a combined 12-7 away from home. This is the fourth all-time meeting between the schools. The Owls are so far undefeated at 3-0.

December 28, 2013 – at Sam Houston State (Johnson Coliseum – Huntsville, TX; 5pm)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 17-17 (8-10 Southland/Tied for 5th)
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 227/231

Outlook: The Blackbirds makes the annual trip down to the Lone State state for two games. First, it’s the Sam Houston State Bearkats. Talk about a team with a bunch of upperclassman here. The Bearkats have 10 juniors and seniors on their roster this season. The majority of the team are junior college transfers and not a single player has been with the team for more than two seasons. Head coach Jason Hooten brings back his leading scorer and rebounder in senior forward James Thomas (9.6 ppg). This team like to play at slow to moderate pace as their 65.6 possessions per 40 minutes shows. They kept opponents to .951 points per possession last season. They weren’t a great home team last season going just 9-6 and had a below .500 record overall versus Division I schools (14-17). This will be the first meeting between the two teams.

December 30, 2013 – at Texas State (Strahan Coliseum – San Marcos, TX; 8pm)

’12-’13 Record/Finish: 12-22 (5-13 WAC/Tied for 5th)
’12-’13 Final RPI/KenPom rankings: 268/240

Outlook: Texas State is about to enter third conference in three years. After a long run in the Southland Conference, last season the Bobcats moved to the WAC. This season, they head to the Sun Belt Conference. There is a new head coach this season for Texas State in Danny Kaspar who arrives from Stephen F. Austin. Kaspar has a weapon on the roster in returning leading scorer and rebounder senior forward Joel Wright (17.8 ppg/6.9 rpg). Texas State last season was 6th in the nation in possessions per 40 minutes at 73 although Kaspar’s team usually play at a much more slower pace (SFA last season: 62.3 poss/40 – 323rd rank nationally). After a one year absence, LIU and Texas State will meet for the third time in four seasons. LIU is 2-0 lifetime against Texas State.

The average 2012-13 RPI for LIU’s non-conference opponents is 191. The average of 2012-13 KenPom ranking is 188. LIU Brooklyn’s RPI last season was 174 and their KenPom ranking was 191.

Tomorrow, I will shift the focus to LIU’s NEC schedule and take a look at LIU’s path through the NEC as they try to continue their unprecedented championship streak and chase after their fourth straight NEC men’s basketball title.

BHJ’s Top 30 Players in the Northeast Conference for 2013-14: #10-#1

We have come to the final installment of our Top 30 players in the Northeast Conference countdown as we look at the what I believe is the top ten players in the conference. You can check out the list of players 30 through 21 by clicking here and the list of players 20 through 11 by clicking here.

10. Lucky Jones – Forward – Junior – Robert Morris (’12-’13 stats: 34 GP/31 starts, 11.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg)

Lucky Jones had a great year last season. He finished second on his team in scoring at 11.6 ppg and first in rebounding at 5.9 rpg. Jones effective field goal percentage last season was close to 55% and he shot over 42% from three. He failed to score in double-digit during NEC play just three times in 18 games. He is a very good free throw shooter at over 82% and he gets to free throw a bunch. Shot 152 free throws last season which ranked him sixth in the NEC. Will be a very integral part of RMU’s success this upcoming season.

9. Rashad Whack – Guard – Senior – Mount St. Mary’s (’12-’13 stats: 32 GP/32 starts, 13.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg)

Talk about finding happiness at a new location. Rashad Whack transferred to the Mount from George Mason and quickly received the playing time he never really got at GMU. Whack took advantage of the green light given to him by head coach Jamion Christian and led the Mount in points scored, steals and field goals made and attempted. Shot 231 three-pointers which was second most in the NEC. Finished second in steals in the NEC under Christian’s Mount Mayhem system. Shot under 40% from the field and from three last season. If he gets those shooting number above 40% this season, he could get himself in the running for NEC leading scorer.

8. Jason Brickman – Guard – Senior – LIU Brooklyn (’12-’13 stats: 34 GP/34 starts, 9.5 ppg, 8.5 apg (led NCAA))

If there was a constant for the Jack Perri and his LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds last season, it was point guard Jason Brickman. Brickman led the NCAA in assists with his 8.5 apg. He finished the season with 11 games of double-digit assists and also recored five double-doubles (points/assists). His effective field goal percentage was an awesome 58.1% last season and he shot over 46% from beyond the arc. Brickman was also one of the ironmen of the NEC playing an exhausting 36.5 mpg, fourteen time his played at least 38 minutes in a game. He was a luxury LIU couldn’t live without. This season, he has an opportunity to rank himself among the best assists men in NCAA history. As a senior now and playing with a lot of new players on the LIU roster, Brickman may have to shoulder some scoring and leadership responsibilities especially with LIU not having All-NEC superstar Julian Boyd during the first half of the season.

7. Latif Rivers – Guard – Senior – Wagner (’12-’13 stats: 20 GP/19 starts, 13.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg)

An All-NEC second teamer two seasons ago, Rivers missed a third of last season due to injury. Upon his return to the lineup in late December it took him a bit to get it going with the exception of 20-point game against LIU. After a month back, he got things going and scored in double-digits in every game for the rest of the season (11 straight games). A three-point threat anytime he has the ball beyond the arc, Rivers shot just under 40% a year ago and did get up 104 three pointers in 20 games. If Rivers stays healthy this season, he will likely win back his spot on the All-NEC team once again. Should still be Wagner’s number one scoring option coming into the season.

6. Dyami Starks – Guard – R-Junior – Bryant (’12-’13 stats: 31 GP/30 starts, 17.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg)

There was no bigger transfer impact than what Dyami Starks had with Bryant last season. After sitting out a year after transferring in from Columbia University, Starks made an immediately impact on a team that went from 2 wins total two seasons ago to 19 total wins last year. He scored in single digits just five times a year ago and dropped 20 or more points 11 times. His effective field goal percentage was 56.1% and shot just over 40% from downtown. He also shot the most threes among all NEC players last season. Expect similar numbers from Starks this season as he is one of the best shooters in the NEC.

5. Julian Boyd – Forward – 6th Yr Senior – LIU Brooklyn (’12-’13 stats: 8 GP/8 starts, 18.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg)

Under normal circumstances, it would be a given to call Julian Boyd the best player in the NEC. But unfortunately, this isn’t normal circumstances. Boyd will attempt to comeback from two ACL injuries which happened seven months apart. Before the first ACL tear last December, Boyd was looking primed to repeat as NEC Player of the Year. Now, it will be amazing to see Boyd take the court at all at any point this season. It is the hope of Boyd and everyone at LIU to see Boyd return back to the court when NEC play begins in January. Even if Boyd returns at 75% of his former self, that will still make him one of the best players in the NEC. If he comes back and plays at a high level, not only would it be one of the most remarkable stories in the NEC, it would be one of the most remarkable stories in all of college basketball. Jack Perri and the Blackbirds could definitely use his experience, leadership and production this season with LIU having just six players returning who played last season.

4. Karvel Anderson – Guard – Senior – Robert Morris (’12-’13 stats: 33 GP/10 starts, 12.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 47.5 FG%, 61.1 eFG%)

This is just my opinion but I believe now with the graduation of Shane Gibson at Sacred Heart, that Karvel Anderson now becomes the best shooter in the NEC. Anderson shot an effective field goal percentage of 61.1% which was second behind LIU’s Booker Hucks among NEC players who made at least one three-pointer last season. He shot close to 44% from three last year on 187 three-point attempts. By the way, he played part of the season with a broken wrist in his shooting hand making his numbers even more impressive. Anderson should be moving to the starting lineup this season after the transfer of Coron Williams to Wake Forest. If his wrist has fully recovered, it is going to be bad news for team watching him take three-pointers this season because he is going to make a whole lot of them.

3. Alex Francis – Forward – Senior – Bryant (’12-13 stats: 31 GP/31 starts, 17.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg)

Alex Francis will likely go out as Bryant’s best player of all-time. The 6’6″ forward has been a model of production and consistency since he first stepped on the court for head coach Tim O’Shea and the Bulldogs. He has a 16.4 career ppg average coming into his senior year and will likely finish his college career as a 2000 point scorer. Francis had ten double-doubles last season and had a 26 point and 18 rebound game versus CCSU. Scored in single figures just twice and fouled out of a game just one time for the entire season. He shot close to 57% from the floor last season and will once again be in the running for NEC Player of the Year.

2. Jalen Cannon – Forward – Junior – St. Francis Brooklyn (’12-’13 stats: 30 GP/29 starts, 14.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg)

For two-thirds of the season last year, Jalen Cannon was the front runner for NEC Player of the Year. By February, he had already ten double-doubles, eight games over scoring 20 or more points, eleven games of double-digit rebounds and had SFC in position for a NEC top four push. Cannon though ran out of some gas in the last month of the season. He had zero double-double in last four weeks of the season and got passed by LIU’s Jamal Olasewere for NEC Player of the Year honors. This season, Cannon will be among the early favorites for NEC Player of the Year. A workhorse on the boards already from his freshman season, Cannon took his offensive game to a new level his sophomore year, now as a junior I wouldn’t be shocked if he averaged 17 ppg and 9 rpg this season.

1. Kyle Vinales – Guard – Junior – Central Connecticut State (’12-’13 stats: 30 GP/30 starts, 21.6 ppg, 3.8 apg)

There aren’t too many better scorers in the nation than CCSU’s Kyle Vinales. The 6’1″ combo guard is just a scoring machine. He had an interesting off-season this summer, first deciding to transfer to play at a school with a better chance of him playing in the NCAA tournament. Then deciding on playing for Toledo and then changing his mind the next day and then eventually returning back to head coach Howie Dickenman and CCSU. He did the smart thing in returning to CCSU. No one has a bigger green light to shoot than Vinales does. He was NEC’s leading scorer last season. He took 557 shots last season and 219 of those were threes. Even with the high volume of shots, Vinales made over 41% of them while shooting 36.5% from three. Vinales was also the ironman of college basketball playing an incredible 38.2 mpg last season finishing tied for second in the nation. The return of Vinales to the CCSU roster this season with a couple of nice additions by Coach Dickenman could make CCSU an interesting team to look out for this upcoming season.

BHJ’s Top 30 Players in the Northeast Conference for 2013-14: #20-#11

We continue on with our Top 30 players in the Northeast Conference countdown as we look at the second group of ten, players number 20 through 11. You can check out our picks for players number 30 through 21 by clicking here.

20. Marcus Burton – Guard – Junior – Wagner (’12-’13 stats: 25 GP/8 starts, 8.6 ppg, 2.2 apg)

Another piece to the shooting arsenal at Wagner this season is Marcus Burton. Burton is a combo guard who plays well at either guard position. Burton filled in well in the starting lineup last season while Latif Rivers was out with injury. In Wagner’s last eight games of the season, Burton went on a scoring tear with seven double-digit scoring games, averaging 14.5 ppg in that span including a career-high 23 points vs Central Connecticut. It will be interesting to see what Burton’s role will be and how much playing time Basin Mason will have available to him with players like Rivers, Dwaun Anderson and Jay Harris to compete with for minutes. The thing that might hurt him is he is just a lifetime 35.7 FG% shooter in his career thus far and was under 33% from three last season.

19. Phil Gaetano – Guard – Junior – Sacred Heart (’12-’13 stats: 28 GP/28 starts, 4.8 ppg, 7.9 apg (2nd in NCAA), 2.7 rpg)

Gaetano is a player who deserves more attention then what he gets. He is an outstanding floor general with great court vision and delivers beautiful passes to his guys. The reason why he doesn’t get as much of the spotlight is because he is the same conference with one of the best point guards in the nation in LIU’s Jason Brickman. Another reason is because he is true point guard so he thinks pass-first. He only scored double-digits twice last year while having 11 double-digit assist games. His shooting also fell off last season from his freshman year like due to playing over 35 minutes a game a year ago. Gaetano will likely be gunning for the number one spot in the NEC in assist this season and with a little more talent around this season, it is not out of the realm of possibility.

18. Steve Glowiak – Guard – Junior – Sacred Heart (’12-’13 stats: 28 GP/19 starts, 10.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg)

One of the guys Gaetano will be feeding the ball to is this guy, Steve Glowiak. Glowiak took advantage last season of several key guys getting hurt and he didn’t look back. He started the last 19 games he played for Sacred Heart a year ago. Now with the graduation of NEC superstar and sharpshooter Shane Gibson, Glowiak becomes Sacred Heart’s biggest threat from deep. I got to see him play a little on Sacred Heart’s summer tour through Canada and Glowiak looked like he had his shooting stroke going. He is going to be a key player this season as Sacred Heart looks to run more with new head coach Anthony Latina moves over from assistant coach chair to the head chair.

17. E.J. Reed – Forward – Sophomore – LIU Brooklyn (’12-’13 stats: 34 GP/2 starts, 7.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg)

Last season, it was a neck and neck dog fight for NEC Rookie of the Year between E.J. Reed and Mount St. Mary’s Shivaughn Wiggins. Wiggins won out but Reed had a nice freshman season coming off the bench, helping lead the Blackbirds to their third straight NEC championship. With the graduation of NEC Player of the Year Jamal Olasewere and now the delayed return of former NEC Player of the Year Julian Boyd, Reed will be counted on more heavily this season. Reed showed typical freshman inconsistency last season but he showed he has great potential. He had a five-game stretch where he scored double figures and scored a career-high 25 points on the road vs Mount St. Mary’s. If he can stay out of foul trouble and if worked on his body over the summer, he is going to a headache to coaches in the NEC this season.

16. Julian Norfleet – Guard – Senior – Mount St. Mary’s (’12-’13 stats: 32 GP/32 starts, 10.8 ppg, 3.2 apg)

It is hard to believe but Norfleet’s averages actually went down a bit last season. The reasons for it was he had more talent around him last season plus with head coach Jamion Christian and his Mount Mayhem system going at full effect, everybody was taking shots last season. Norfleet though thrived during their end-of-year winning streak that took them to the NEC final. He had six games scoring in double figures and if not for an ankle injury against RMU in the NEC semis which had a partial effect on him in the final, it could have been a lot closer final last March. With the transfer of Shivaughn Wiggins, Norfleet will likely play mostly at the point this season and continue pushing that Mount Mayhem pace on opponents.

15. Louis Montes – Guard/Forward – Senior – Sacred Heart (’12-’13 stats: 29 GP/29 starts, 14.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg)

Montes had an outstanding season last year as Sacred Heart second leading scorer behind the great Shane Gibson. He had four double-doubles last season and went off on LIU for 35 points in the first NEC game of the season. This Sacred Heart team this season becomes his team. He will be the main man on this squad and the go-to man on the interior. I wouldn’t be shocked in Anthony Latina’s new run and gun system if Montes puts up averages of 18 ppg and 8 rpg. The issue will be if he can stay on the floor, he did foul out of five games last season and had four fouls in another eight games. For the Pioneers to have success, Montes will need to stay on the court and out of foul trouble.

14. Sam Prescott – Guard – Senior – Mount St. Mary’s (’12-’13 stats: 32 GP/10 starts, 11.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg)

How often do you see a player in college basketball take 10 threes in a game? Not often. How about a player who MADE 10 threes in a game? That is what Sam Prescott did in a game last season against Bryant in which he went 10 of 14 from three on his way to an NEC-high 44 points. Even without that incredible game, Prescott showed he could get the Mount 15 points a night any night. Once he was inserted into the starting lineup along with Shivaughn Wiggins, the Mount only lost once and that was against LIU in the NEC final. He will likely start every game this season which will likely mean an increase of his 170 three-pointers he took last year. In this Mount Mayhem system, Prescott bombing abilities fits in perfectly.

13. Earl Brown – Forward – Junior – St. Francis (PA) (’12-’13 stats: 26 GP/21 starts, 10.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg)

This season, SFU becomes Earl Brown’s team. Leading scorer Umar Shannon transferred out so Brown now becomes the man for Rob Krimmel’s team. Brown doesn’t get much attention playing at a program that has only won 11 games total in his two seasons there but Brown showed he is a rising star in the NEC. He had ten double-doubles last year and at one point had seven straight double-double games. He had a 25-rebound game last season against Central Connecticut. This guy can really play. He just needs more talent around him to help him out. If the Red Flash find a few more players to go along with Brown, they might actually sneak up and grab a playoff spot at the end of the year.

12. Kenneth Ortiz – Guard – R-Senior – Wagner (’12-’13 stats: 31 GP/31 starts, 11.8 ppg, 5.4 apg, 4.3 rpg)

If there was any player that took his game up a notch last year, it was Kenneth Ortiz. Not only did he repeat as NEC Defensive Player of the Year but he improved his offensive game enough to be named to the All-NEC Third Team. Ortiz is a menace defensively against the opposing point guard. He averaged two steals a game last season. For the first time, he made teams pay for leaving him open from the outside as he shot 42.7% from the field as he was a lot more aggressive offensively. Also, he is probably the best rebounding point guard in the NEC and for a player barely six feet tall, he has a knack for getting to the glass and grabbing big boards. This season, he will have plenty of options to throw passes to so you might see his assist totals rise even more.

11. Matt Hunter – Guard – Senior – Central Connecticut (’12-’13 stats: 30 GP/30 starts, 15.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg)

As a junior college transfer last season, Hunter burst onto the NEC scene, playing well on both sides of the ball. He led the NEC in steals last year while being in top seven in the conference in scoring and rebounding. He produced five double-doubles a year ago and also had himself a 40-point game which came against Indiana in a blowout loss. Hunter along with teammate Kyle Vinales will prove to be a big one-two punch offensively. If Hunter improves upon his three-point shooting (31.9 % last season) this season, Howie Dickenman’s team may be a dark horse for an NEC title come March.

The final installment with the top ten players in the NEC for this upcoming season will be revealed on Monday.

BHJ’s Top 30 Players in the Northeast Conference for 2013-14: #30-#21

The talent within the Northeast Conference was on full display yet again last season. The NEC produced the top two assist leaders in the country, a top 10 scorer nationally, a top 10 ball stealer, a top 5 highest-scoring team nationally as well as the best rebounding team in the nation. The conference for the second consecutive season received three postseason bids which is a first for the NEC. The conference may lack in national hype but it doesn’t lack in quality players who help their team succeed.

With that, today I begin examining the 2013-14 NEC men’s basketball season by revealing the second annual Blackbirds Hoops Journal’s Top 30 players in the Northeast Conference. Those of you who follow the NEC will have a good idea who most of the players on this are. Some of you will ask where is so and so on the list or say who the heck is that guy? This is a subjective list created by myself based on how these players did last season and/or seasons prior on what impact they will have on their teams this season. Based on this premise, I came up with what I think are the 30 best players we will see representing NEC schools this season.

Let’s begin by looking at players 30 through 21.

30. Ben Mockford – Guard – Senior – St. Francis Brooklyn (’12-’13 stats: 30 GP/26 starts, 11.1 ppg, 39.0 FG%, 39.8 3FG%)

Mockford is a prototypical all-or-nothing player. Example: last season he had five games where he scored 18 or more points but then he also had 9 games where he scored 5 points or fewer including a pair of goose eggs. Mockford can shoot his team into a game and as quickly shoot them out of it. When he is squared up and has a good look, it is usually going in but he likes shooting too many off-balanced shots especially fade aways. If he can correct that part of his game, he is going to have a very good season for the Terriers.

29. Anthony Myers-Pate – Guard – Senior – Robert Morris (’12-’13 stats: 32 GP/8 starts, 5.9 ppg, 2.7 apg)

Myers-Pate was Velton Jones’ understudy for most of his career at RMU. Last season, due to Jones’ various injuries, Myers-Pate started in 8 games for the Colonials and held the fort very well for Andy O’Toole’s team. He even started in their biggest postseason win ever, the NIT first round win at home vs Kentucky. This season, he finally gets the key to the car and RMU will likely not skip a beat with him at the point guard spot. Look for Myers-Pate to help lead RMU to contention once again in the NEC.

28. Ben Millaud-Meunier – Guard – Sophomore – St. Francis (PA) (’12-’13 stats: 20 GP/4 starts, 9.3 ppg, 47.0 FG%, 47.6 3FG%)

Last season, the 6’1″ guard made the NEC All-Rookie Team even though he played in only 20 games. His excellent outside shooting is what got him on it. He shot over 47% from three last season and scored over 20 points in a game three times including a season-high 26 points. He will likely get his opportunity to start from game one this season on a young SFU team.

27. Jay Harris – Guard – R-Junior – Wagner (Sat out last season after transferring from Valparaiso)

Harris is being hyped as the missing piece to what could be a championship campaign for Bashir Mason’s team. Ryan Peters of Big Apple Buckets ranked him #1 on his Top NEC Impact Transfers List. Harris two seasons ago while at Valpo averaged 9 ppg and shot 40% from the field. He is an outside threat and will launch plenty of threes as his 383 career three-point attempts already shows. He is now on a team that already has plenty of long-range shooters on it but you can be sure he will find a way to get his shots.

26. Joe O’Shea – Guard/Forward – R-Junior- Bryant – (’12-’13 stats: 31 GP/3 starts, 8.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg)

O’Shea made a nice impact in his first season playing under his uncle Tim O’Shea. Was Bryant’s fifth leading scorer and provided good punch off the bench. Could likely move into the starting lineup this season with the graduation of point guard Frankie Dobbs, opening up a guard spot. Shot barely over 30% from three-point range last season but did grabbed close to 4 boards a game which is not bad for a 6’4″ player.

25. Dwaun Anderson – Guard – R-Sophomore – Wagner (’12-’13 stats: 31 GP/9 starts, 4.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg)

Let’s call it as it is. Dwaun Anderson looked very rusty through most of last season after sitting out all of the 2011-12 season after transferring from Michigan State and then getting a late waiver to play the entire 2012-13 season instead of half. He had the most hype of any freshman player coming into the NEC with good reason. He was most people’s pick for NEC Rookie of the Year in the preseason last season and possibly some of that pressure along with the time off hurt him. No doubt he has remarkable talent as he showed glimpse of with some SportsCenter Top 10 high-flying acts such like this.

He showed he can dunk but he also showed his inaccuracies shooting the ball. He was a terrible 19.4 3FG% shooter and a not-so-good 60.7% free-throw shooter. I don’t expect him to play like this again this season with an offseason of motivation carrying him. The NEC may need to watch out for this kid, he could explode big time this season.

24. Mike McFadden – Forward – R-Senior – Robert Morris (’12-’13 stats: 33 GP/28 starts, 8.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg)

McFadden will forever be known for making the two biggest free throws in RMU’s history when he drained two from the line with 8.7 seconds left to give RMU the 59-57 win against defending NCAA champs Kentucky in the NIT in March. That moment almost didn’t happen from McFadden who nearly left the team in early February but ended up only missing one game. You know what you get from McFadden who is fairly consistent. At 6’8″, his length is a problem for a lot of teams. Will once again be a key contributor to RMU’s success this season.

23. Mario Moody – Forward – Junior – Wagner (’12-’13 stats: 30 GP/8 starts, 6.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg)

This is the season for Mario Moody to shine at Wagner. Jonathon Williams has graduated so now Moody should be in line to take his spot in the starting lineup. Moody is athletic and has a nose for the ball inside. He grabbed nearly 7 boards a game in just under 17 minutes of playing time per game, which is outstanding work in brief playing time. He now becomes Wagner’s best inside weapon on a team with a lot of perimeter shooters.

22. Kevin Douglas – Forward – Junior – St. Francis Brooklyn (’12-’13 stats: 16 GP/14 starts, 7.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg)

Through the first nine games last season, Douglas was doing his best Robin to Jalen Cannon’s Batman impression. He had six double-digit scoring games and was looking like he was heading for a great season. But a hand injury to his non-shooting hand, derailed his season and pretty much ended his season prematurely. I fully expect to see the same Douglas we saw before his hand injury. At 6’5″, 210 lbs, he takes up some room and he can shoot from the outside as well. If he comes back to form and plays the entire year, the Terriers should surprise a lot of folks this season.

21. Corey Maynard – Guard – Senior – Bryant (’12-’13 stats: 30 GP/28 starts, 9.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.5 apg)

Maynard was part of the one-two shooting guard punch with breakout star Dyami Starks last season for Bryant. This season though Maynard could likely be moved to point guard position which would make him more of a facilitator than a scorer. It will more than likely be that he will split his time between point and shooting guard so you’ll probably won’t be see much drop in Maynard’s production this season. That is going to go a long way in Bryant repeating the success they had a year ago.

Tomorrow, I will continue with players 20 through 11.

LIU Alum Kyle Johnson and Great Britain are eliminated from EuroBasket 2013

LIU Alum Kyle Johnson and Team GB end their run at the 2013 EuroBasket (Photo Credit: http://www.eurobasket2013.org)

This morning, the Great Britain senior men’s national basketball team were eliminated from the 2013 FIBA European Championships thus we will not be seeing them play in Spain next summer at the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball. This means we won’t get to see LIU alums Kyle Johnson and Jamal Olasewere (Nigeria) play in the biggest international basketball tournament outside of the Olympics next year.

Great Britain were eliminated this morning after losing to Group A leaders Ukraine, 87-68. Here were the highlights from that game.

Great Britain finished the 2013 EuroBasket with a 2-3 record, defeating Israel in the tournament opener and upsetting Germany on Sunday to have a shot at advancing to the second round group stage before losing to Ukraine.

Here were Kyle Johnson’s game-by-game stats for the 2013 EuroBasket:

Opponents Result Mins Pts FGs 3FGs FTs Rebs (Off.) Asts Steals Blks TO Fouls
Israel W, 75-71 34 22 8/15 3/6 3/3 6 (2) 1 0 1 0 3
France L, 88-65 20 5 2/8 1/2 0/0 4 (1) 0 0 0 0 0
Belgium L, 76-71 28 5 2/9 1/5 0/0 4 (2) 1 1 0 1 0
Germany W, 81-74 27 0 0/6 0/4 0/0 3 (2) 2 0 1 0 0
Ukraine L, 87-68 28 8 3/7 2/5 0/0 3 (1) 1 1 0 0 2

Johnson started this tournament red hot with an outstanding first half against Israel which propelled him to a game-high 22 points on 8 of 15 shooting and a Great Britain win in overtime. After the Israel game, Johnson had a tough time duplicating that shooting performance. He would go 7 for 30 in the remaining four games and would combine for just 18 points.

Johnson finished the 2013 EuroBasket averaging 8.0 ppg/4.0 rpg/1.0 apg in 27.4 mpg. He started in all five games for Great Britain and upped his playing time and averages from his 2012 Summer Olympics experience. Hopefully, we will see Johnson as a mainstay in the Great Britain men’s basketball team for many years to come and get to watch him play in more international tournaments in the future. Johnson is currently unsigned to play for a club team for the 2013-14 season.

Julian Boyd re-tears ACL over the summer. Out until January at the earliest.

Hump day is usually a crappy day in general but for Blackbird Nation, this couldn’t have been worse news to receive at the end of the work day. Sixth-year senior forward Julian Boyd who was recovering from an ACL tear he suffered back in December, has re-tore his ACL and at best-case scenario, will be back on the court for LIU in January for NEC conference play. At worse-case scenario, his stellar LIU Brooklyn career may be over.

CBS Sports Network college basketball insider Jon Rothstein was the first to break the horrible news on Twitter.

Boyd originally tore his ACL in his knee back in December while he dove after a loose-ball near mid-court in a game at Rice. He played in only 8 games last season and averaged 18.5 ppg and 6.1 rpg before his injury. He had yet played in 30% of LIU’s games which gave him a good chance of him receiving a sixth-year of eligibility which he got back in April.

The year before Boyd was the NEC Player of the Year after putting up incredible numbers, averaging 17.4 ppg and 9.3 rpg which led the NEC. He did that two years after sitting out his sophomore year with a heart ailment known as noncompaction cardiomyopathy which nearly ended his career then. The year before sitting out he was named the NEC Rookie of the Year back in 2008-09 after averaging 10.5 ppg and 6.4 rpg off the bench that season.

ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman also tweeted this as the Boyd news was breaking:

This would mean he suffered two tears in a span of about seven months. I’m no doctor so I had to do some research and according to WebMD.com, they said this regarding ACL injuries:

“Physical rehabilitation after ACL surgery may take several months to a year. The length of time until you can return to normal activities or sports is different for every person. It may range from 4 to 6 months.”

Now Boyd has suffered two such injuries in a span of seven months. We obviously don’t know to what degree the second tear was, if it was a full tear or a slight tear. We also don’t know how he suffered the second tear. All we know is that he has been rehabbing since his surgery in January.

The Boyd news is obviously devastating to LIU Brooklyn’s chances at winning an unprecedented fourth-straight NEC championship. Last season, as we know, LIU had a veteran team with great seniors on it like reigning NEC Player of the Year Jamal Olasewere and All-NEC third team performer C.J, Garner. Those guys are now gone as is Kenny Onyechi, Brandon Thompson and Booker Hucks. With Olasewere and Garner stepping up, LIU had enough to withstand Boyd’s injury and win a third-straight NEC title. This season, LIU head coach Jack Perri has to turn to a relatively young and mostly inexperience roster.

Now, if Boyd is gone just until January, who is likely to start in his place? Right now, with three weeks until practice begins, you have to think 6’7″ 215 lbs. freshman forward Nura Zanna has a bit of the inside track. He has a good upside and had the stats in high school to back it up with 19 ppg and 10 rpg as he was named Florida’s Class 5A-4A-3A-2A Player of the Year. The other possibility is junior college transfer Chris Carter out of Wake Tech Community College. He is around 6’7″/6’8″ with good handle for a big man and has nice passing ability. He shot nearly 50% from the field last season at Wake Tech and will shot the three on occasion although his game is mainly inside. 6’8″ freshman Glenn Feidanga from Florida could get a look but will likely be used off the bench as his game is likely not ready for the role.

As not just an LIU blogger but also as a fan, I hope we get to see Boyd back on the court this season. I personally would hate to see a great player like Julian Boyd has been to LIU over these past few years to end his college career like this. The guy was told his career was possibly over as a sophomore and he came back and dominated. A lot of people will think his college career if not his basketball career is now over with this latest setback. For his sake, I hope he can prove everyone wrong. If he doesn’t play another second for LIU, I would be fine with that. He has already giving us more than anything we could have hoped for in a player. He showed heart (literally), courage, determination and strength. I know he is going to try like hell to get back on the court sometime this season.

I just want him to find good health so he can have a nice and long pro career after this upcoming season and have a chance to fulfill his dream. He has given us three championships. There is not much more that Blackbird fans can ask for from any player. The book of Julian Boyd at LIU Brooklyn may be complete, or it may have one last good chapter left. At this point, I would consider it a victory if we get to see him on the Wellness Center court one more time but if it doesn’t happen, we’ve already won anyway. We got to see one of the best player in NEC history wear an LIU jersey for four seasons and he help put up three more years on the NEC championship and NCAA tournament men’s basketball banners hanging high inside the Wellness Center. Either way, it has been an awesome ride. I wish Boyd well in his recovery.