Get the latest Syracuse news delivered right to your inbox.
Subscribe to our sports newsletter here.
After a hard foul midway through the first quarter, D.J. Kennedy missed his two free throws, continuing a cold streak that started nearly a minute prior after a missed three-point attempt. On the next possession, the four-time TBT champion worked around his defender in the paint. He found an opening to put up a layup, but was unable to connect. Kennedy, playing in his first game with Boeheim’s Army, didn’t make his first field goal until a wide-open dunk with under five minutes in the fourth quarter.
In 2015, Eric Devendorf reached out to Willie Deane — a graduate of Purdue — enquiring about playing for the newly formed Boeheim’s Army. He and Olu Famutimi were the first non-Syracuse alumni to join the team, leading them to a run to the regional finals. Sticking to the original idea of forming a TBT team of SU alumni, Deane remained one of the only outside players. The deep runs continued — going as far as the semifinals in 2017 — but each tournament ended without Orange jerseys cutting down the nets.
Then, general manager Kevin Belbey looked outside of the Orange’s extensive network of former basketball players. All alumni tournament teams that have won in the past have had at least two non-alumni players, assistant general manager Shaun Belbey said. It was time to “make sure (they) had the best team possible to try and bring home the money,” Shaun said.
The discontinued Overseas Elite powerhouse aided the brothers’ efforts to recruit talent outside the pool of SU alumni. They signed DeAndre Kane, a three-time TBT champion who played collegiately at Marshall and Iowa State. Then they added Kennedy, who holds the record for most points and rebounds in tournament history.
The new approach was chided by some, embraced by others. ESPN Syracuse’s Brent Axe said the goal for Kevin should be to win at this point, that the novelty of being involved had worn off. In Saturday’s 65-53 win over No. 14 Forces of Seoul, the Belbey brothers’ approach paid off after a rocky start as the new additions accounted for 32 points and lifted a sputtering Boeheim’s Army to the Round of 32.
“DJ and DeAndre (Kane) arrived a little later in the week. Personally I’m just worried because that’s just how I am,” head coach Jeremy Pope said. “But after practice one with them, it’s like ‘oh, okay, they get it.’”
Malachi Richardson tied the game at 34 apiece with 6:31 remaining in the third quarter. After a missed basket from Forces of Seoul to try and regain a lead they had held for 12 minutes — including the entire second quarter — Kennedy drove toward the basket. He stared down his defender as he stuttered in an attempt to throw off the footing of Jonathan Arledge. But the Forces of Seoul forward stood his ground and drew a charging call on Kennedy. Pope yelled “His feet were moving!” to the referee. The third foul placed Kennedy into foul trouble, and he took just one shot after that.
Kane and Kennedy pulled down 17 of the team’s 47 rebounds, leading Boeheim’s Army to the second-most team rebounds during a Round of 64 game this year. For a team lacking a center — Paschal Chukwu was denied entrance into the United States following a travel ban from European countries — the two forwards stepped up against a team that averaged 1.5 more inches per player than them.
“It was just getting them together with the guys and calling names and getting a feel for shooting the ball. They’re naturally down for that,” Pope said.
Kane managed to score four straight points, easily maneuvering his way through the Forces of Seoul transition defense for lightly-contested layups. With 2:15 remaining in the third quarter, Kane grabbed a long rebound after it bounced into his hands. He drove toward the basket with two defenders standing in his way, hoping to cash in on the third opportunity of the possession for Boeheim’s Army. Gliding to his right, he Eurostepped his way to a layup to cut the deficit to two. Kane spent most of the time at center, notching a block and two steals in over 18 minutes on the court.
But Kane also mishandled a last second attempt to bring Boeheim’s Army closer to Forces of Seoul when he tried to cross over his defender. While Kennedy did finally make a free throw, TBT’s all-time leading scorer managed just three points.
He was, however, able to connect with Tyrese Rice on a cross-court chest pass to make up for a missed free throw in the second quarter. He drew Rice’s defender off of him to make the point guard wide-open to finish off Forces of Seoul.
“You just don’t find that many teams in the TBT as far as the organization where the college is behind them,” Kennedy said. “Hopefully we can win this thing.”
The post Boeheim’s Army new additions struggle to score in 1st-round win appeared first on The Daily Orange.