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Booker Hucks is ready to play
Losing a player of Julian Boyd’s caliber would cripple many, if not most teams, in college basketball. Boyd was lost for the season after tearing his ACL in a 97-70 win against Rice on December 12.
But LIU has experience and depth on their side. The Blackbirds are the two-time defending NEC regular season and tournament champion and has a majority of its players from both of those squads back, including senior forward Booker Hucks.
The Bay Shore high school graduate had a career-high 12 points during a 75-48 win over Manhattan, LIU’s first game after Boyd’s injury. Hucks, who is likely to see his minutes increase significantly in Boyd’s absence, is convinced the Blackbirds (5-5), who have won five of their last six games after an 0-4 start, is convinced his team will still thrive.
“It’s not too big of a challenge, because all of us are still going to play our roles,” said the 6-6 senior. “We just have to perform at a higher level.”
Hucks’ confidence notwithstanding, the news of Boyd’s injury sent shockwaves throughout the locker room.
“It was devastating,” said Hucks. “But we had to get over it quickly.”
Hucks won’t be the only forward expected to increase his production. Senior center Kenny Onyechi, a key player the last three seasons, Jamal Olasewere, a first-team All-NEC performer last year, and San Francisco transfer Khalil Murphy are all expected to pick up the slack.
“We still have Kenny and Jamal,” Hucks said. “We’ll still be in good shape.”
A key for LIU will be the leadership provided by its backcourt. Junior guard Jason Brickman and senior guard C.J. Garner are holdovers from the two NCAA Tournament teams. Both players have been key players the last few years.
Senior guard Brandon Thompson, who is averaging 16 points per game over his last four contests, will also be important to LIU’s continued success.
“They are some of the biggest parts of the team,” Hucks said of the trio. “We’ll still be following the same plan. We just need to be better.”