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Syracuse Basketball: Orange Crush and COVID Concerns in First Three Games

Syracuse tipped off their season with a pair of cupcakes on the schedule, but the two performances could not have been more disparate. In their season opener, the Orange barely escaped the clutches of Bryant and wound up with an 85-84 victory despite being tagged as 22 ½ point favorites.

However, the Orange clearly woke from whatever slumber gripped them when they laid down the hammer on Niagara with a 75-45 thrashing. The odds showed Syracuse as 17 ½ point home favorites and they did not disappoint their fans or backers. 

Quincy Guerrier did most of the heavy lifting for the Orange as he netted 23 points and 13 boards. Guerrier has made an immediate impact this season and after his big game against Niagara said, “Right now I’m just trying to help my team the best way I can. Like Red [Autry] said, be a monster. Be physical, grab rebounds, make shots, and bring energy.”

But the big story leading into the game was the five players who were excluded from playing due to COVID-19 contact tracing concerns. Even Buddy Boeheim did not get to play. 

“I’m not just his coach, I’m his father,” Jim Boeheim said. “He’s dying at home not being able to be here. He’s worked hard all year, has stayed away from everything, has had no positive tests. And he wasn’t scrimmaging, he was near a guy.”

“He’s home broken-hearted because he’s worked his tail off every day since last season ended to be on the court, and he hasn’t done anything wrong,” Boeheim said.

“It is what it is and we have to live with it,” Boeheim said. “We have to get ready each game, whoever’s here. We’ve already lost two starters, Bourama (Sidibe, out with knee surgery) and now Buddy.”

Brewster Academy Feeder System for Syracuse

It must be nice as a high school sophomore knowing that your college tuition is paid for if you’re willing to accept it. Well, that’s Brewster Academy’s small forward, Matas Buzelis. Illinois, Wake Forest, and Western Illinois have already extended offers to the 10th grader while Wisconsin has also expressed interest in his services. 

Writer Collin Allen has scouted Buzelis. “The 2023 small forward has consistency with his three-point jumper, making him a reliable scorer. Additionally, he can create an opening to score in the paint with some flashy moves to the basket, whether that’s with a cross-over move, a spin move, or a behind-the-back dribble.”

Allen went on to say, “To go along with possessing the ability to score from every level of the court and his nasty handles, Buzelis is also great at dishing out dimes and has shown he is an unselfish player.”

Buddy and freshman combo guard Kadary Richmond are also Brewster graduates, and the elite private school in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire produces plenty of college hoopsters.

Four-star 2021 center Micawber Etienne and 2022 four-star small forward Yann Farrell, have also received scholarship offers from Syracuse. Unfortunately, Etienne has made it clear the UCLA will be his destination while Farrell is still in the cross-hairs.

Looking Ahead

Syracuse trounced Rider over the weekend but will then get their first real test of the season when they travel to meet #24 Rutgers. After that, they’ll head to Chestnut Hill for a tilt with BC. 

The beginning of January will feature critical games against #14 North Carolina and #22 Florida State. How much havoc the novel coronavirus will wreak on this season is anyone’s guess but it will take creative coaching from Boeheim. He’ll need to rotate his lineups and keep the legs fresh of players taking the brunt of the minutes without their teammates on the floor. 

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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