By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Three weeks after having their "One Shining Moment" spoiled by James Madison in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, the LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds got a strong head start on extending their record run of three straight Northeast Conference championships on Tuesday afternoon.
The Downtown Brooklyn school's athletic department officially announced that 2011-2012 NEC Player of the Year Julian Boyd, who went down last December with a torn ACL, has received an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA, giving him an opportunity to spearhead the Blackbirds' bid for an unprecedented "Four-peat" in 2014.
"NCAA GRANTED MY 6TH YEAR!! SO Y'ALL BETTER B TUNED IN TA THE LIU BLACKBIRDS NEXT YEAR CUZ "IT'S ABOUT TA GO DOWN" Boyd tweeted Tuesday.
"It's a good day over here at LIU to get Julian Boyd back," Blackbirds coach Jack Perri told the Eagle after informing Boyd of the NCAA ruling himself in his Downtown office earlier Tuesday. "I brought him in this morning and we talked about it and obviously he was pumped. We both were very confident that he was going to get it. Now, let's get back to work."
Rumors began circulating even before the Blackbirds were bumped out of their First Four contest against JMU in Dayton on March 20 that Boyd, a former NEC Rookie of the Year who missed the entire 2009-10 season with a heart ailment, would be back at The WRAC to lead LIU-Brooklyn's dynastic unit next season.
CBS commentator Jim Nantz intimated during the nationally televised broadcast that the forecast looked good for Boyd to play for LIU in '13-14 after he participated in only eight games last season before suffering the gruesome injury in a 97-70 victory at Rice in Houston on Dec. 12.
"I would have been surprised if he didn't get it to be honest with you," noted Perri, who last week was named the Joe B. Hall First-Year Coach of the Year after helping the Blackbirds overcome Boyd's injury to become the first-ever NEC team to qualify for three straight NCAA Tournaments. "He fit the criteria (for eligibility). Both of those injuries that he had were season-ending. He had no control over either one of those. Obviously, the NCAA takes that into account."
The San Antonio native appeared on his way to going down as one of the all-time greats in LIU history after earning Player of the Year honors and capturing the NEC Tournament MVP trophy in March 2012.
Boyd was averaging a team-high 18.5 points per game as a senior before the injury forced him to watch from the bench as fellow fourth-year standouts Jamal Olasewere and C.J. Garner rallied the Blackbirds to a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
"He's such a positive kid. He really embraced it," Perri said of Boyd's time cheering on his fellow Blackbirds. "The initial timing of it all, the first few games were the most difficult, watching those guys have to go trhough it without him. Once he had the surgery, it's a pretty lonely process during the rehab. But he was great with these guys. He wanted these guys to succeed. He even wanted for me, my first year, to win a championhip. He's such a selfless kid that way. He handled it great and it was great for our program to have him around.."
With Boyd and Olasewere up front, and Garner and reigning NCAA assists leader Jason Brickman in the backcourt, the Blackbirds may have won their first-ever tournament game against the Dukes last month.
Now, Boyd, Brickman and fast-emerging freshman E.J. Reed will be the key components of a squad determined to end LIU's 0-6 NCAA drought.
"You lose five seniors, that's not only a lot of talented guys, but a lot of stability and maturity," Perri said of his new-look roster heading into next season. "The fact that we have one of the best point guards in the country [in Brickman] and get back Julian Boyd, it gives us the ability to compete for a championship."
In other local sports news, the soon-to-be-Brooklyn Islanders announced Tuesday that they will, in fact, play the first-ever NHL game in our fair borough later this year.
The exhbition contest, which was originally scheduled for the Barclays Center last Oct. 2. before the NHL lockout made that an impossibility, will take place on Sept. 21 on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenue.
It was also in October that the Islanders revealed they had inked an "iron-clad" 25-year agreement to bring the Islanders to Brooklyn for the start of the 2015-16 season, though some have openly predicted that the date would eventually be pushed up due to the readiness of the arena to host NHL games, and the Islanders' ever-dwindling attendance at the out-of-date Nassau Coliseum.
“Over the past 40 years, Nassau Coliseum has been one of the best buildings to attend and watch a hockey game,” said Islanders general manager Garth Snow on Tuesday after announcing the preseason contest in Brooklyn. “Our fans create an atmosphere that is second to none where you can feel the energy inside the Coliseum when the team makes a big play. I’m excited for our fans to bring that energy and have the ability to enjoy an Islanders game while taking advantage of the world class amenities at Barclays Center, that stand above and beyond what any other arena provides. This preseason game will be their first opportunity to do so. Our strong group of young talent is ready to take the ice in their future home, Barclays Center.”
“We are delighted to give Brooklyn a sneak peak at its future hometown NHL team this September as we welcome the Islanders to Barclays Center for the first time,” Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark added. “There’s a lot of excitement about professional hockey bound for Brooklyn, where the Islanders have a terrific opportunity to grow their fan base and build their brand. The team is showing great resurgence this season, with young star John Tavares, and is on the verge of making the playoffs. We’re proud to continue to bring top sports and entertainment to Barclays Center and we look forward to welcoming Brooklyn’s newest team.”
Current Islanders season ticket holders will have exclusive presale access for the exhibition game starting Thursday morning at 10 a.m. Brooklyn Nets All Access season ticket holders and American Express Cardmembers will also have exclusive presale access.
Tickets for the game will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday, Apr. 17 at 10 a.m. and are available for purchase via Ticketmaster by visiting www.barclayscenter.com, www.ticketmaster.com or calling 800-745-3000.
Pending availability, tickets will become available at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center, located at 620 Atlantic Avenue, beginning Thursday, Apr. 18 at 10 a.m. Group tickets are also available by calling 800-GROUP-BK.
Barclays Center is also accepting deposits for priority to purchase Islanders season tickets for the inaugural season. Current Islanders season ticket holders have first rights to purchase season tickets. For more information, fans can go to Islanders Season Tickets at Barclays Center.