The collegiate career of LIU Brooklyn sixth-year senior forward Julian Boyd has hit another bump, as it was reported by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports that Boyd re-tore the ACL in his right knee this summer. According to the report the earliest that the one-time NEC Player of the Year would be able to return to action would be in January.
This is yet another serious blow for Boyd, whose career nearly came to an end following a freshman season in which he earned NEC Rookie of the Year honors due to a heart ailment. After sitting out the entire 2009-10 season as a medical redshirt Boyd returned to the court with a vengeance, earning first team All-NEC honors while helping to lead the Blackbirds to the first of their three consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament.
Boyd was even better as a junior as he averaged 17.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest, winning NEC Player of the Year honors. But eight games into the 2012-13 season he suffered a torn ACL in LIU’s 97-70 win over Rice. Head coach Jack Perri was able to lead the Blackbirds to another NEC tournament crown due to the presence of veterans such as forward Jamal Olasewere (who won NEC Player of the Year) and point guard Jason Brickman.
And just when it seemed as if Boyd was on track to return to the starting lineup, he re-injures his right knee.
While Brickman is back for his senior season Olasewere is out of eligibility, meaning that LIU’s task of winning a fourth consecutive NEC crown gets even tougher with Boyd out of the lineup. Of LIU’s front court returnees sophomore E.J. Reed is the most experienced, as he averaged 7.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game as a freshman.
Can Reed make a significant jump in production now that Boyd is unavailable (there’s also the graduation of both Olasewere and Kenny Onyechi to deal with)? He’ll need to, and junior college transfers Landon Atterberry and Chris Carter will need to hit the ground running as well. LIU also adds a pair of freshmen in Glenn Feidanga and Nurra Zanna, with the latter being the younger brother of Pitt senior forward Talib Zanna.
LIU won’t lack for bodies in Boyd’s absence, but the loss of a player as talented and experienced as the sixth-year senior is a tough blow to take less than a month before practice begins. What kind of player will Boyd be if he’s able to return to the court this season? That’s a tough question to answer, especially when it comes to serious knee injuries.
But given his career up to this point, if there’s anyone who can come back and ultimately flourish it’s Julian Boyd.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.