Julian Boyd’s pain is helping him handle hearing bad news for a second time.
The reigning Northeast Conference player of the year found out over the weekend that a torn ACL in his right knee has ended his season eight games in.
It was after his freshman season at LIU Brooklyn that Boyd had gone through something like this before.
Before the 2009-10 season, Boyd, who had been selected NEC rookie of the year, was told he had a heart condition known as noncompaction cardiomyopathy – part of his heart was enlarged. There would be no activity of any kind for months. Finally he was cleared to resume playing basketball. He played like he did before the diagnosis. Many thought he played at a higher level and the Blackbirds won the conference tournament the last two years and the NCAA tournament berths that came with them.
Things were going well for Boyd in his senior season until a play near midcourt in the second half of a win at Rice last Wednesday.
Boyd went for a steal, got tangled up with some other players and his leg was bent the wrong way. Boyd knew he was hurt because of the pain. He was helped off the court. Nobody would know how bad it was until he underwent an MRI.
It was bad. The season was over for Boyd. This was different than the last time he heard words like that.
”This isn’t the same even though I’m not playing again,” the native of San Antonio said. ”This time it’s something I can feel. I can feel the pain. Last time I felt fine, felt I could play and was told I couldn’t. This time I know I can’t play. There’s the pain this time. I always want to be on the court but God has a plan and this is part of it.”
The 6-foot-7 forward is second on the team this season in scoring (18.5) and rebounding (6.1). He was one of four senior starters for the Blackbirds (5-4) who were looking at a run to a third straight NCAA tournament berth. It’s been slowed now.
”I don’t know who took the news harder, me, (forward) Jamal (Olasewere) or Julian,” said guard Brandon Thompson, another LIU Brooklyn recruit from San Antonio. ”This morning was the worst. It was so easy to break down knowing Julian from back home. We knew we all had to step up to a higher rate without him.”
The first game without Boyd was a 75-48 victory over Manhattan on Sunday. Things were OK with Thompson leading the way with 23 points on 7-for-10 shooting from 3-point range. The Blackbirds held the Jaspers to 30.2 percent shooting overall and outrebounded them 50-25.
Sitting at the end of the bench in a Brooklyn Nets sweat shirt, Boyd cheered for the Blackbirds and his hand was always the last to be tapped by every player who came out of the game.
”It’s so hard when you want to get out there,” he said. ”It was easier today because we played a great game. Close games and things like that are kind of hard when you think you can your help your team.”
The only time there was no visit to Boyd at the end of the bench was when he got up as a timeout was called and started limping toward the players coming off the court. He gave Thompson, who had just hit consecutive 3s to blow the game open, a high-five and a hug.
”I knew I had to step up with Julian out,” Thompson said. ”We all will.”
There is a chance Boyd may be able to step up himself next season. The process to get Boyd a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA because of the season missed with the heart problem and now the season-ending knee injury has already been started by LIU Brooklyn.
”We will appeal for the sixth year for Julian,” first-year LIU Brooklyn coach Jack Perri said. ”He fits the criteria because he played in less than 30 percent of our scheduled games this season and because he will miss the rest of the season without a doubt.”
Perri said the loss of a star player like Boyd won’t be the same for the Blackbirds as other teams.
”Things are different for us because we didn’t necessarily run everything through him,” he said. ”We still have talented players. We still have three players I consider to have all-conference talent. So I’m not going to change things a ton.”
Boyd is upbeat, like he was three years ago when his season ended before it started.
”It hurt then that night and when I woke up the next day the pain had stopped and I was hoping to get good news. I didn’t,” Boyd said. ”Unfortunately, things happen. A lot of other players can do the same things I did for the team and that’s why it’s not going to be bad. It will all be OK when we deal with it.”