Julian Boyd endures another medical hardship
LIU had some bad news to digest when senior forward Julian Boyd's knee injury was diagnosed as torn ACL that will end his season. The injury occurred during a scrum for a loose ball in LIU's 97-70 win over Rice last Wednesday.
What intensifies Boyd's misfortune even more is the fact that this isn't the first time he's had a medical issue that's put him on the shelf for an extended period of time. Following a 2008-09 campaign that saw him win NEC Rookie of the Year honors he was diagnosed with a heart condition called noncompaction cardiomyopathy. That forced him to sit out the entire following season.
Boyd came back with a vengeance after being cleared to play, helping lead LIU to a record of 52-15 the past two years. Last season, Boyd was tabbed as NEC Player of the Year after scoring 17.4 ppg to go with 9.3 rpg. Through LIU’s first eight contests this season, Boyd was averaging 18.5 ppg, which included 22 point outbursts against Maryland and Kentucky.
LIU's first game without Boyd's services was an easy 75-48 win over Manhattan on Saturday. Guard Brandon Thompson, who like Boyd is a San Antonio native, led the way with a season high 23 points. Heading into NEC play look for the Blackbirds to rely even more heavily on senior forward Jamal Olasewere for scoring production. He's currently averaging 18.1 ppg on the young season.
Florida fails to close the deal in Tucson
With 1:17 remaining on the clock this past Saturday, Florida was sitting pretty with a 64-58 lead over Arizona. With a victory the Gators were poised to crack the top three in the country.
That's the point where it started to get away from Billy Donovan's team. Kevin Parrom hit two free throws for the Wildcats with :56 seconds left to cut the lead to 64-60.
Arizona then forced a turnover on the ensuing inbounds play, leading to a layup by Solomon Hill. 64-62, Gators. Then Arizona's press forced another turnover, after which Grant Jerrett made 1-of-2 free throws. 64-63, Gators.
With :21 seconds left the Wildcats were then forced to foul the Gators' Kenny Boynton, who just happens to be a 90% free throw shooter. But Boynton missed the front end of the 1-and-1 and Nick Johnson collected the rebound for Arizona.
The collapse was complete when Mark Lyons hit a tough layup with a mere 7 ticks remaining. 65-64, Wildcats, and that's your ballgame.
What makes the loss even more maddening for Donovan is the fact that his Gators had a meltdown at the end of the first half as well. With 1:20 left in that stanza, Florida led 32-21 but an 8-0 Arizona spurt closed the gap to three at halftime.
This was a nice trial by fire for Arizona's trio of frontcourt freshmen Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski. While the three young Wildcats didn't light up the stat sheet (a combined 9 points and 9 rebound among them), the experience of mixing it up with Florida's talented big men will pay dividends for them in the long run.
Reality checks can be good learning tools
Coming into the weekend's play, SMU and Charlotte had a combined record of 17-1. The lone blemish between the two programs was SMU's 69-56 loss to UALR in the Hoops for Hope Classic in Mexico.
On Friday night, Charlotte's perfect record was squashed by a bigger, more physical Miami team. The Hurricanes pulled down 40 rebounds and blocked 12 49er shots en route to a convincing 77-46 victory.
The following day, SMU's loss total was doubled at the hands of Rhode Island. The Rams were only 2-7 coming into the contest but hit 10 3-pointers and forced 22 Mustang turnovers. Once the dust settled, Rhode Island owned a 72-50 blowout win over SMU.
What's the common denominator between these two programs who have now been trounced after fashioning impressive early season records? For SMU and Charlotte it comes back to youth.
SMU is a VERY green team with reserve guard London Giles being the only senior on the roster. Including Giles, Larry Brown's current stable of Mustangs only have a combined 11 seasons of Division 1 basketball experience. As for Charlotte, three of its top five scorers are either freshmen or sophomores. Something to also keep in mind: 49ers coach Alan Major welcomed in six newcomers before the start of the season.
Hey, no team wants to step onto a court and be thoroughly whipped. But I'm of the belief that for young teams like this, a little adversity isn't necessarily a bad thing.