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Superlatives from Boeheim’s Army 10-point Win over Gael Nation

For the fourth time in five years, Boeheim’s Army is playing in the Regional Final. The Syracuse alumni beat Gael Nation, an Iona alumni team, 84-74. “What a difference a day makes,” head coach Ryan Blackwell said after the game. He was referring to Boeheim’s Army’s nervous start against We Are D3 the night prior. The win over Gael Nation showed stark overall improvement.

Best Performance: Eric Devendorf

Devendorf was self-deprecating after game one. Blackwell told him he “had work to do.” Not sure how much work can be done in under 24 hours, but “Devo” looked like a different player. He started off the game with a left-handed and-one. He turned to his midrange pull-up game for the majority of his production. And banged a triple as well. It culminated in a game-high 20 points on 8/10 shooting. Devendorf’s effect on the game goes beyond the stat sheet. He energizes the crowd more than anyone and his hustle is contagious. The team enjoyed a palpable jolt of energy when Devendorf returned from a scary-looking eye poke in the second half. This was a fitting way to end it.

Unsung Hero: BJ Johnson

He probably doesn’t get the love he deserves, because his Syracuse career was nothing special. But Johnson came off the bench and did it all. He scored 13 points (4/9), added six rebounds, a steal and a block. He is one of the few players looking comfortable in the 2-3 zone. Blackwell rewarded him with the highest total minutes of any bench player.

Most efficient: Darryl Watkins

Arinze Onuaku couldn’t get anything to fall for most of the game, and Warrick was quiet. But Watkins made up for it. He rock solid down low, with five offensive rebounds and 12 points on 5/6 shooting.

Worst Individual Performance: Jordan Crawford

If it weren’t for Crawford’s second half performance in the first round, Boeheim’s Army may have been sent packing. But he didn’t keep the good momentum going in this one. Crawford isn’t overly helpful if he’s not scoring. He had a rough 3/13 day from the floor, with 8 points. Onuaku and Gbinije had worse numbers, but their roles aren’t nearly as crucial.

Worst Team Performance: Defense

Blackwell wants to be true to the Syracuse way and play the 2-3 zone. The poor defensive execution continued to force his hand to switch to man against Gael Nation. The Iona alumni shot 48% as a team. Quick ball movement was often all it took for the Gaels to get inside. Speedy point guard Steven Burtt wasn’t contained very well, nor was skilled scorer Alex English (20 points). The level on defense is forcing Boeheim’s Army to score at a high clip. So far they have.

Best Team Performance: Bench Scoring

Bench points were 32-10 in favor of Boeheim’s Army. See “Unsung Hero” and “Most Efficient.”

Best Play: Johnson and Jordan Crawford back-to-back Dunks

The replay operators had a lighter load today, as not many highlight-reel plays come to mind. During a vital third scoring quarter run, Johnson iso’d up a defender, blew by and jammed it. On the very next play, John Gillon picked a pocket and outletted to Crawford for a breakaway slam. SRC Arena went bonkers.

 

Boeheim’s Army plays the winner of Brotherly Love and Armored Athlete on Sunday at 2 PM.

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