Boeheim’s Army General manager, Kevin Belbey made a controversial decision this summer. The former SU basketball manager decided to have four non-SU players play for Boeheim’s Army. The team of course is named after legendary Syracuse basketball coach, Jim Boeheim, and in a perfect world is supposed to be derived of entirely Syracuse alumni. Now, non-SU players have played for the team prior to this season, but not as many as this year’s four. Before this summer, the team had always been entirely Syracuse aside from 1-2 players such as last year’s late addition, Will Rayman. That wasn’t getting the job done, however.
Since the team was created in 2015, it’s only been to the semi-finals (Final Four) once, and never made it to the tournament’s championship game. A strictly Syracuse squad wasn’t getting it done. This tournament is of course one that evokes plenty of nostalgia for everyone involved, fans, media, and players included, but it’s also one Belbey decided he really wanted to win. So he did what any smart GM would; improved his roster.
If you haven’t listened to the interview I conducted with Kevin, make sure to check it out:
Belbey went out and got four extremely talented and battle-tested men who make this team what it is. Without Tyrese Rice, D.J. Kennedy, DeAndre Kane, and Keifer Sykes, Boeheim’s Army would not be facing off against Team 23 in The BAsketball Tournament Finals on Tuesday night.
What we’ve seen from Tyrese Rice alone has been more than any SU player has given in this tournament prior to this season. This tournament, Rice is averaging 15.6 ppg, as well as 3.2 apg, both of which lead Boeheim’s Army. In fact, when looking at the assist category places, 1, 2, 3, and 4 are non-SU players, so is the steals category. These guys are dominating the box scores, and some fans are upset about it. That’s understandable. Their argument being that they came to watch a full-SU team go out and compete as they did in the old days, fair. But the question those fans have to ask themselves is, “What’s more important, winning or nostalgia?” Most Syracuse fans will say winning every time, which is why Belbey went out and got these guys.
Also, it’s not like none of the SU guys are performing well. Chris McCullough has been on fire. The former SU big is averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds over his last three games. He said he still has dreams of playing in the NBA, and these performances are only helping those dreams come to fruition. Malachi Richardson has also been a key contributor. His clutch threes down the stretch against the Golden Eagles are one of the main reasons Boeheim’s Army is where it is. C.J. Fair has also been extremely impactful. With only 12.6 minutes per game, C.J. puts forth 5.2 ppg and 4.4 rpg.
If you haven’t listened to my interview with C.J. Fair, make sure you check that out as well:
It’s understood that fans partly watch this tournament to see their favorite players of the past, but without these non-Syracuse guys, Boeheim’s Army would not be competing for The Basketball Tournament title.