LIU Brooklyn’s chance at an unprecedented NEC four peat just took a major blow. Jon Rothstein tweeted out the following news today:
BREAKING — LIU’s Julian Boyd re-tore his ACL over the summer, per a source. Best case for a possible return is January.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 4, 2013
Julian Boyd initially injured his knee last December in the second half of a road victory over Rice, after diving on the floor for a loose ball. Shortly thereafter, he underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL, and then successfully lobbied the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility. Now the prospects of Boyd returning for the 2013-14 season have decreased significantly, given the latest development. Jeff Goodman of ESPN recently tweeted that Boyd suffered the setback back in July.
If the former NEC Player of the Year is somehow able to return to the court in January, which is hardly a given at this point, it’s unlikely he’ll recapture the level of superb play from his junior season, when he posted a fantastic 112.4 KenPom offensive rating while using up 27.4% of the team’s possessions. He finished the conference that season fourth in scoring (17.4 ppg), first in rebounding (9.3 rpg), seventh in field goal percentage (55.7%), and fifth in three-point percentage (42.0%). In addition, his clutch play late in the year was critical in earning Jim Ferry his second straight NEC postseason crown. He wasn’t the MVP of the 2012 NEC Tournament for nothing.
With the supposed healthy return of Boyd, LIU Brooklyn was expected to legitimately challenge for their fourth straight NEC championship, even though all-conference selections Jamal Olasewere and C.J. Garner are LIU alums. Now, without Boyd in the middle for the foreseeable future, Jack Perri must tap into his young and inexperienced frontcourt to find minutes.
E.J. Reed is expected to emerge as a future star, after a freshman campaign where he made the NEC’s all-conference rookie team, averaging 7.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game while making more than half of his shot attempts (50.6%). Not bad at all for a rookie. After Reed, however, the amount of returning minutes in the frontcourt is extremely limited.
Instead, a few newcomers previously mentioned by Big Apple Buckets will have an opportunity for playing time right out of the gate. Perhaps the favorite for an increased workload is 6’7” freshman power forward Nura Zanna, who’s brother, Talib, currently plays at Pittsburgh. Zanna certainly has the physical tools and athleticism necessary to compete at the Division I level, as he averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior at Coral Springs Christian in Florida.
While Zanna is suited for post play, forward Chris Carter is a little more comfortable out on the perimeter, despite his athletic 6’6” frame. A very capable ball handler for his size, Carter possesses the ability to break bigger defenders down off the dribble, which is something that Olasewere did exceptionally well. A JUCO transfer, Carter has two seasons of eligibility remaining, so it’ll be interesting to see if his experience pushes him into a leading frontcourt role in the absense of Boyd.
In addition, Perri also recently signed 6’8” forward Glenn Feidanga, who figures to be in the mix for minutes down low. Feidanga may be rather raw offensively, but his high motor and ready-to-play-now body may be difficult to ignore this preseason.
Despite the high upside talent LIU has brought in, it’s highly unlikely any of the newcomers will be able to fully replace the production of Boyd, should he miss the entire season. As a result, I’m inclined to bump an unproven Wagner squad – who lost twice in the last two NEC semifinals at home – into my preseason number one position. I’m not writing that one in stone yet, but I do have to penalize LIU Brooklyn for the unfortunate setback recently suffered by Boyd.
You certainly have to feel for him, given the lengthy injury history he’s had to encounter while at LIU.
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride