Prior to today’s afternoon matchup between LIU Brooklyn and Manhattan, LIU blogger Nelson Castillo has reported that the reigning NEC Player of the Year, Julian Boyd, has torn his ACL. The injury, which has been confirmed by the team, happened when Boyd dove for a loose ball in their last game versus Rice. According to Castillo, a MRI on Friday confirmed the torn ligament.
The injury ends the fifth year senior’s season, although Boyd and the Blackbirds will apply for a medical redshirt. If the redshirt application is accepted, a sixth year of eligibility would be granted to Boyd. As a typical rule of thumb, the medical redshirt cutoff is 30% of the games played for a season. At this point, LIU has only completed 27% (eight of 30 games) of their season, so it seems plausible that a medical redshirt may be granted.
In the short-term, this is an enormous blow to the back-to-back NEC champions. Boyd, who dealt with a bad back and cramping issues early in the season, was still playing at an extremely high level. Through eight games, Boyd possessed a KenPom offensive rating of 110, despite having a high possession rate of 28%. He was averaging 18.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. Quite simply, Boyd was once again producing at a all-league type of level.
Looking ahead, the health of seniors Booker Hucks and Kenny Onyechi suddenly becomes more significant. Both players missed time early in the season and have each played minimal minutes in the past two contests as they ease back into playing shape. The 6’6″ E.J. Reed will be leaned upon a bit more. The freshman has tremendous upside and energy on the floor, but as is the case with most freshmen, Reed has been plagued by inconsistency in the early going. Jamal Olasewere, currently the team leader at 19.0 points per game, will shoulder more of the scoring burden. The terrific backcourt of C.J. Garner and Jason Brickman may be also asked to take more shots.
Of course, LIU will struggle to replace Boyd’s fantastic production and this certainly moves the Blackbirds a notch down. Robert Morris instantly becomes the favorite, at least in my opinion, to win their third NEC regular season title in five years.
The loss of Boyd doesn’t take LIU out of the conversation for best team of the NEC, but it certainly makes a historic three peat that much more difficult. If there’s any silver lining to this, it’s that Boyd may get an extra year of eligibility and that Jack Perri will have at least a few non-conference games to figure out his new team, sans Boyd, before NEC play in January.