So far this fall, The Fizz’s basketball coverage has consisted of which Big East coach dresses the best, the interchangeability of Couzens and Conroy, and the drunken exploits of Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Marshall Street.
I think it’s time to follow some more substantive storylines. We could always churn out the obligatory SU basketball season preview, but that’s exhausting to write and boring to read. Not how we roll.
There is one aspect of the Orange you don’t know so much about. SU basketball is starting to resemble a miniature football team, fielding a roster of 18 players including the injured Dashonte Riley. Seven players were stuck on the end of the bench in the 96-60 preseason win over Kutztown.
In honor of the largest single-season roster in the Jim Boeheim era, The Fizz presents a guide to the Syracuse University walk-ons – all you need to know about the guys you’ll never need to know about.
The Fizz tracked down a source close to the program for the purposes of this guide. He has seen plenty from all the walk-ons. It is also worth clarifying that Brandon Reese is technically a scholarship player but will be lumped in with the rest of the walk-ons, because he is short and can only see Boeheim’s rotation with binoculars.
I was curious to find out whether any walk-ons let the “fame” get to his head, but the source says that isn’t the case. Each one works hard and knows his role. No one believes he is an undiscovered diamond in the rough who has a shot at significant playing time.
The Tryout Lottery Winners
Most years, the basketball team holds open tryouts that any student can attend. This year happens to be an exception because of the already bloated roster.
The tryouts are surprisingly simple. You show up, you scrimmage full court in a five-on-five game for a few minutes with a couple of Boeheim’s assistants watching, and that’s it. Tons of goofy 5-8 kids show up just for the hell of it, in some cases because they’re delusional, and almost everyone gets sent packing. There are two current players who made it through these tryouts, both last year.
Hoffman and Matt Lyde-Cajuste beat the odds and won the “tryout lottery.”
Hoffman, or “Griff Hoff,” as he’s called, is a guard from New York City. He scored over 20 points-per-game for York Prep High School and can play either point guard or shooting guard.
Lyde-Cajuste is only about 6-2, but made the team as a forward. Coach Boeheim was looking for a big man to walk on last year, and although Lyde-Cajuste doesn’t have much height, he plays big. An excellent hustle player who grabs a lot of offensive rebounds and loose balls, Lyde-Cajuste is forced to guard some of the taller forwards in practice, like C.J. Fair and James Southerland, because all the other walk-ons but one are guards. He could be the smartest player on the team – he’s an aspiring aerospace engineer – which is ironic because the other players make fun of him for having a small head.
The Former Manager
Nick Resavy was a team manager his freshman year, but showed the coaches enough to earn himself an opportunity to no longer be cleaning other people’s lockers. He now gets to have his former manager colleagues at his service.
Resavy is a big guard from New Jersey who had a very good high school career. He’s also a pretty scrappy player, with the ability to take and miss jump shots at the end of meaningless games in November.
In all seriousness though, Resavy has an extremely high basketball IQ, and the source says he’d really like to be coach some day. The jump from team manager to team member could be key in bringing him the necessary credibility to land coaching jobs.
In the event of another six-overtime-type marathon, Resavy is projected to be the third walk-on off the bench.
There were 13 players who traveled with the team to road games last year, and that number is expected to stay the same. Russ DeRemer and Nolan Hart almost certainly will be among those staying in CNY the whole season. If Brandon Reese needs binoculars to see the rotation, these guys need a telescope.
Players who have been with the program longer have the benefit of getting to travel. Freshman stay back. It is pretty funny though that if Syracuse had a starting lineup of walk-ons, DeRemer and Hart would even be included in the five. They were the only healthy players not to see action against Kutztown.
DeRemer has a big body for a guard – he’s a legitimate 6-4. He’s a lefty and a good shooter, but his biggest strength is his guarding ability. He uses his good size to play gritty, physical defense.
Hart is listed at 5-10, but is probably closer to 5-8. He holds the distinction of the being the shortest member of the team. He doesn’t back down in practice even though he could easily be intimidated by some of the older and bigger players.
During high school, Hart played for the Albany City Rocks, a quality AAU team that has also featured James Southerland, and potential future Orange man Dajaun Coleman.
According to his Facebook, Hart looks so pissed off in his SU Athletics photograph is because the photo was taken after the Reds blew a four-run lead to the Phillies in game two of the of the NLDS. Being a Reds fan from Albany is strange. To Hart’s credit though, and it may just be his glare in that specific picture, but he does kind of look like Eminem.
Six Overtimes and You Never Know
In case Syracuse ever needs another Justin Thomas, they do have a couple of walk-ons that could actually fill in. Brandon Reese was a recruited walk-on his freshman year, but is now on scholarship. He is reportedly the right up there with Brandon Triche as the quickest player on the entire team.
In an emergency, Reese could certainly come in and handle the ball for a few minutes and not be a complete disaster. If Scoop Jardine or Triche ever got hurt he could crack the rotation. Boeheim always inserts him into the game a minute or two before the other bench-warmers in garbage time.
Standing at 6-8, Matt Tomaszewski is another walk-on who has the faint hope of playing meaningful minutes if there were an injury or a bunch of foul-outs. Dashonte Riley is already gone for the season, so that is one less big man in Tomaszewski’s way.
Tomaszewski plays the forward, but could play center in a pinch. He bangs down low, but a lot of his value comes from his rare combination of height and solid perimeter shooting. He played for Division II University of Tampa for two seasons before transferring to Syracuse.
Posted: Andrew Kanell