Four LIU players have been indefinitely suspended. We don’t know many details at this point about what “indefinitely” means or what will come to pass, but what if the worst case scenario occurred and all four had to miss the 2012-13 season? Where would the Blackbirds end up?
Those are the questions I set about to answer with some numbers and estimates of future production and how the team would be impacted by the loss of Julian Boyd, Jamal Olasewere and C.J. Garner. The impact of the fourth member, Troy Joseph, is almost impossible to measure since we’ve never actually seen him on the court – though he was getting strong reviews from the LIU coaching staff in preseason.
For the purposes of making an argument I’m going to use Low-Major Value Add as a baseline. I’m not sure if this is the perfect method, especially because it rates LIU as the fourth best team in the NEC to start out at 28.53 LMVA points. But it is better than nothing. The differences between two and four are minuscule anyways. (Computers love Robert Morris coming into this season.)
But if you remove Boyd (8.22 LMVA points), Olasewere (7.99 LMVA points) and Garner (4.09 LMVA points) you’ve gutted LIU’s rotation. The total of 20.3 LM points drops LIU down to 8.23 LMVA, which is hanging out around the territory of St. Francis (PA) and Fairleigh Dickinson. The problem though is just removing those three players fails to take into account the fact that some other LIU players will be given increased roles.
One of the players that would greatly benefit in terms of playing time is Kenny Onyechi. The only season that Onyechi was a starter, when Boyd missed a season due to a heart ailment, he aquitted himself quite ably. He was a freshman playing 63% of possible minutes and using 20.7% of possessions and put up an 87.8 offensive rating. As a senior with a game plan more focused around his strengths, I’d expect a higher effective field goal percentage, which would make him a valuable offensive player. He’s also no slouch defensively. An increase in Onyechi’s playing time would certainly impact his LMVA in a positive way. I don’t think that 3/4 of Boyd or Olaswere’s projection is that unreasonable a place to start.
The other player that would probably benefit from all this is Brandon Thompson. He’s slated to start anyways this season, but with Garner out there would be more shots available. Jason Brickman would also have to provide a bit more offense, but it seems like Thompson would have a shot at filling a huge void. I think that he’d do a capable job. He put up a strong offensive rating last season and with 96 three-point attempts coaches obviously trust him to shoot. That’s the formula for a jump.
Gerrell Martin – another good shooter – and some of the newcomers also end up making a larger impact under this scenario – because there are more opportunities. So we boost up the numbers a bit and say in the end that LIU is going to get back 7.5 LMVA points from increased playing time for other options. That’s still a huge hit. It should be considering you’re taking two all-conference first team players off the court, but it’s workable.
Where does that leave LIU? Fighting for a spot in the quarterfinals with Mount St. Mary’s, Monmouth and Central Connecticut. That’s four teams for three spots. An improved Bryant might also get into the mix and then things would get even more complicated.
Under this scenario, if Jack Perri managed to keep LIU in the NEC Tournament in his first season as head man on the bench it would be a rousing success. LIU fans certainly hope it doesn’t happen.