After arriving in Columbus, Ohio last Thursday, Boeheim’s Army finally plays its first game against Men of Mackey – representing Purdue – tomorrow. Boeheim’s Army, the three seed, received a first-round bye. In that downtime, the squad watched former point guard Justin Dentmon lead Men of Mackey with 32 points. Besides Dentmon, Men of Mackey also has 7-foot-2 big man Isaac Haas. BA bigs Donte Greene and Will Rayman will be tasked with limiting Haas’ impact.
“In my Syracuse days, I used to get bashed a lot for my defense,” Greene said. “I took pride in that as I became a professional. I look to be that lockdown defender, and that’s what got me playing time when I was in the NBA, and I’ve continued that in my professional career.”
Andrew White added that the team’s strategy for Haas will be to crowd the middle and make him run in transition as much as possible. BA head coach Ryan Blackwell emphasized spacing in The Basketball Tournament. Rather than have big men planted in the paint, most teams focus on wing players spread along the arc.
However, after losing Tyler Lydon and Chris McCullough days before the tournament began, Boeheim’s Army scrambled to find a replacement. That led general manager Kevin Belbey to Will Rayman. The former Colgate star has impressed his teammates with his grit, energy and shooting touch. This past season for Colgate, Rayman hit almost 36 percent of his threes and was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year.
Besides Rayman, Malachi Richardson also joined the team for the first time this year. While Richardson is known as a shooter from his year at Syracuse, he has also improved in other areas of his game since many SU fans last watched him play.
“Well I definitely added a lot, getting better at finishing, a better handle, more rebounding,” Richardson said.
After staying in the hotel for the past few days passing time, Boeheim’s Army emphasized its readiness to play. John Gillon, who recently signed with a Turkish basketball team, has one purpose in mind for TBT.
“I want to win,” Gillon said. “I don’t want any moral victories. We’re going to go out there with great energy, even though there’s no crowd, and we’re going to do our best.”