LIU Brooklyn Athletics

Nura Zanna injury makes LIU Brooklyn’s front court rotation even thinner

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When news broke last month that LIU Brooklyn senior forward Julian Boyd re-tore his ACL, the prevailing thought was that Jack Perri’s Blackbirds had enough options remaining in the front court to make a run at their fourth straight trip to the NCAA tournament. The best case scenario for Boyd would be to return to the lineup in January, and at full strength he’s clearly one of the best players in the Northeast Conference (Boyd won NEC Player of the Year honors in 2012).

But with there being no guarantee that Boyd will be ready by then, the last thing the Blackbirds needed was another injury to a member of their front court. Unfortunately that has happened, as it was first reported by Nelson Castillo of Blackbird Hoops Journal that 6-foot-7 freshman forward Nura Zanna is out for the year with a hand injury. According to the report Zanna suffered the injury during a pickup game, hitting his hand awkwardly on the backboard while blocking a shot.

Sophomore E.J. Reed was expected to lead the way for the Blackbirds prior to Zanna’s injury, so that much won’t change. Reed earned NEC All-Rookie Team honors last season, as he posted averages of 7.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in just over 19 minutes of action per game. With the injuries and the graduation of four starters including NEC Player of the Year Jamal Olasewere and All-NEC guard C.J. Garner, Reed will figure prominently in the Blackbirds’ plans in the front court with one of the nation’s best point guards in Jason Brickman running the show.

The question now is who steps up to assist Reed, with relief in the form of Boyd not coming until the start of conference play. In a story by Ryan Peters of Big Apple Buckets, Perri mentioned junior college transfer Landon Atterberry as the player who’s stepped up in practices thus far:

“I would say Landon Atterberry has been clearly my next best front court guy (after Reed),” said Perri. “He’s athletic, he’s got great hands which is important with (Jason) Brickman, because he catches everything and he can finish around the basket. I’m excited about where Landon is right now, and I think he can certainly help us.”

Another junior college transfer, Chris Carter, and freshman Glenn Feidanga are also expected to be heard from as the Blackbirds look to sort things out ahead of their season opener on November 9 against Saint Peter’s. And given the many health issues LIU’s had to deal with thus far, it would be hard to fault any Blackbird fans who will keep their fingers crossed with the hope that no one else goes down during the preseason.

Gill’s 16, ‘D’ lead No. 7 Virginia past Virginia Tech, 67-49

Lehigh Virginia Basketball
AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Anthony Gill scored 16 points and No. 7 Virginia turned the tables on state rival Virginia Tech with a 67-49 victory Tuesday night, the Cavaliers’ seventh straight.

Isaiah Wilkins added a career-best 14 points and Malcolm Brogdon had 12 for the Cavaliers (20-4, 9-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Virginia avenged a 70-68 loss to the Hokies in Blacksburg on Jan. 4 in what rates as their worst performance of the season, and extended their winning streak at John Paul Jones Arena to 17 games.

Freshman Justin Robinson scored 16 points and classmate Chris Clarke had 11 in his first action for the Hokies (13-12, 5-7) since breaking his right foot in late December. Virginia Tech’s top two scorers, Zach LeDay (16.0 ppg) and Seth Allen (14.5), were limited to seven and six points, respectively, in part because of foul trouble.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said his team wasn’t ready to play when it lost to the Hokies earlier, but they have been surging of late and were focused from the outset. They were credited with assists and 14 of their first 15 baskets and forced 10 turnovers in the first half; they forced just eight in the last meeting of the teams.

For most of the game, the Hokies had more turnovers than field goals.

The Cavaliers led 32-20 at halftime and extended their advantage to 47-29 on a three-point play by Mike Tobey with 12:11 remaining. It capped an 11-4 run for Virginia, during which LeDay was whistled for his fourth foul. On Virginia’s next trip down court, it got the ball to Gill inside and LeDay basically backed off and let him score, quickly earning a spot on the bench.

The Cavaliers’ lead never dipped into single digits again.

The Hokies had just eight turnovers and outscored Virginia 26-6 off turnovers in their first meeting. This time, Virginia Tech had 10 turnovers by halftime and the Cavaliers had already turned them into 15 points. Virginia Tech finished with 16 field goals and 15 turnovers.

Already leading 9-6, Virginia got scoring from eight players in a 23-8 run that spanned about 8 1/2 minutes.

Gill started it with a dunk, Brogdon hit a 3-pointer, London Perrantes had a four-point play and Wilkins finished it with two free throws, giving the Cavaliers a 32-14 lead with 2:06 left in the half. They didn’t score again, and the Hokies closed within 32-20 by halftime.

TIP-INS

Virginia Tech: The Hokies shot 57.1 percent (15 of 26) from the field in the second half of their 70-68 victory against Virginia on Jan. 4. … Virginia Tech’s starting five totaled four points in the first half.

Virginia: The Cavaliers have held four consecutive opponents to 50 points or fewer.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech plays at No. 12 Miami next Wednesday.

Virginia plays at Duke on Saturday.

Follow Hank on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/hankkurzjr

The AP’s college basketball page: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org

No. 25 Wichita State pounds Drake 74-48

Gregg Marshall
AP Photo/AJ Mast
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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Ron Baker and Shaq Morris had 11 points each and No. 25 Wichita State pounded Drake 74-48 on Tuesday night for its 13th win in 14 games.

Thirteen players scored for the Shockers (18-5, 12-1 Missouri Valley Conference), who moved within two victories of clinching at least a share of its third straight league title.

Wichita State had little trouble with the Valley’s worst team, rattling off a 27-5 run to close the first half in beating the Bulldogs for the ninth straight time.

Reed Timmer scored 20 points for Drake (6-19, 1-12), which lost for the 15th time in 17 games.

Wichita State was coming off just its second Valley loss in three seasons, as it fell at Illinois State 58-53.

The woeful Bulldogs didn’t stand a chance against a Shockers team seeking a measure of redemption.

Drake hung in for a few minutes, even closing within 17-16 at one point midway through the first half. But the Shockers tightened up their defense and spread the ball around, getting baskets from nine players in the first half to pull away from the overwhelmed Bulldogs.

Wichita State went 7 of 12 from 3-point range in the opening half, while Drake went 1 of 16 from the field and failed to score in the final 5:23 before halftime.

Fred VanVleet’s wide-open 3 with 17 minutes left made it 50-25.

The Shockers held Drake to 25 percent shooting and forced 15 turnovers.

TIP-INS

WICHITA STATE: The Shockers were the eighth team in this week’s Top 25 to play a road game in Iowa – and that doesn’t include the fourth-ranked Hawkeyes or 14th-ranked Iowa State. … Early in the second half, the 6-foot VanVleet was alone in the paint to defend a 3-on-1 break. VanVleet forced a jump ball.

DRAKE: Timmer twice tricked opponents into fouling him on a 3-point attempt. He converted all six free throws. … Dominik Olejniczak, a freshman from Poland, had nine points in his second career start.

UP NEXT

Wichita State hosts Northern Iowa on Saturday.

Drake plays at Southern Illinois on Saturday.