Baye Moussa Keita’s injury will mean more resilience and adjustments for the Orange.
The Orange defeated Clemson 57 – 44 as expected yesterday in the Carrier Dome to improve to 23 – 0, but Jim Boeheim’s always reliable reserve center, Baye Moussa Keita, sprained his right knee with about seven minutes left in the first half Sunday. SU’s depth along the frontline immediately jumps from a minor concern to possibly a major one.
Team athletic trainer Brad Pike attended to the veteran senior. Soon, Keita headed for the locker room. Turns out, the same physician who performed season-ending knee surgery on big man Dajuan Coleman, Dr. Brad Raphael, worked on Baye, according to the Post Standard’s Donna Ditota. Boeheim said about the injury:
“Hopefully, Baye will be OK. We don’t have any ideas, but we hope that it wasn’t too bad and we can get him back. But we’ll have to wait and see.”
If the knee sprain is indeed serious, the no. 1 team in the country could be in a lot of trouble. Coleman is already out for the season after having season-ending knee surgery. Rakeem Christmas’ elevated post game and noticeable defensive presence have kept the Orange afloat as a serious national championship contender. However, Baye’s injury means much less room for error for Christmas. C.J. Fair showed concern about losing Keita as he discussed Pittsburgh:
“If Baye isn’t able to go Wednesday, that’s a little concern. They’re a team that likes to get it inside. You know they’re going to want to take advantage of that opportunity. I think we’ll do a good job of packing our defense in and helping Rak out. I think we can kind of save him.”
Fair’s right on point. Pitt has arguably given Syracuse the best run for its money to date. Luckily Tyler Ennis went to school on the Panthers’ defense down the stretch, as he attacked the lanes like no one has ever seen before. But it comes to show how important Keita’s limited minutes are down low.
Many players were asked about his availability for another former Big East clash Wednesday. Most guys like Jerami Grant are optimistic:
“I’m not concerned. Baye’s a tough player. I feel like he’ll be back for Pitt and for the games to come.”
Grant played extensively in the paint once Keita when out, and he was very efficient for the Orange. Once again, he’s going to be asked to log even more serious time in the post rather than outside the paint.What cannot go without saying is that this year’s Syracuse team has been resilient when it’s been doubted most. Keita’s knee sprain is yet another hurdle for the Orange to move past.
We’ll find out Wednesday.
Posted by: Brendan Glasheen