Boeheim’s Army is preparing for the 2023 edition of The Basketball Tournament. This year, its roster of players includes more non-Syracuse alums than ever.
Back in 2015, the inaugural year for Boehaim’s Army, the team consisted of eight players, six of whom had played for the Orange. A high rate remained consistent through the years, with Boeheim’s Army featuring teams completely made up of SU alums in 2017, 2018, and 2020.
In recent years, that trend has started to change. In 2021, Boeheim’s Army won the TBT championship, but the team and tournament MVP was Tyrese Rice, who went to Boston College. Last summer, just over half of Boeheim’s Army roster had played for Syracuse in college. This year, the number of non-SU alums has climbed to six out of 14, a new high.
So is this a problem? At face value, it doesn’t look great. The team is named after Syracuse’s legendary head coach and often hosts the first few rounds of the tournament. It makes sense for fans to want to see a roster completely built out of former SU players. However, this isn’t always realistic.
Many Syracuse alums play professionally overseas, which can sometimes prevent them from joining Boeheim’s Army due to contract or scheduling conflicts. In fact, that situation is preventing Tyus Battle from playing in at least the opening round this year.
Another issue is competitiveness. There are 64 teams in the tournament, many of which have former NBA players and plenty of depth. Boeheim’s Army has always maintained at least a 50% SU alum rate, but adding more and more outside talent to fill gaps makes sense. The team might not have won it all back in 2021 without adding Rice to the roster.
It’s also important to look at the landscape of TBT. There are 23 teams in the tournament that are billed specifically as alumni teams. Just three of those squads are filled out by only former players of the associated school, which shows how difficult of a task it is to recruit alums. However, Boeheim’s Army is tied for the most outside recruits out of all the school-associated teams.
Boeheim’s Army should absolutely try to recruit a team made up of just former SU players every year, and they likely do. However, getting eight alums on the court is still an impressive feat. If the extra help gets them over the hump, then it’s all worth it in the end.