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ONONDAGA, N.Y. – Boeheim’s Army wasted no time in their quest to win back-to-back The Basketball Tournament championships by easily dispatching India Rising 90-62 in the first round.
Although Boeheim’s Army lost two stars in Keifer Sykes and Tyrese Rice from last year’s winning team, they returned fan favorites such as C.J. Fair, Andrew White, Deandre Kane and D.J. Kennedy. Syracuse alums Marek Dolezaj, Rakeem Christmas and Jimmy Boeheim joined the squad this year for their first taste of TBT play. Boeheim’s Army also added Cornell alum Matt Morgan and Mississippi State alum Dee Bost to the roster.
In front of a raucous home crowd, Syracuse led wire-to-wire against an overmatched India Rising squad. Here are some observations from Boeheim’s Army’s first round victory.
Dominance inside and on fast break
India Rising trotted out some serious size in seven-footer Josh Sharma and 6-foot-10 forward Sukhmail Mathon. Boeheim’s Army’s guards penetrated their opponent’s defense in the paint constantly. Boeheim’s Army scored 44 points in the paint with 19 layups. On the other end, India Rising had only four points in the paint.
Boeheim’s Army also found success on the fast break, where it outscored India Rising 31-0. Time and time again, Boeheim’s Army’s guards stole the ball and drove down the court for open layups. In one first quarter exchange, Kane missed on his initial attempt to steal the ball but stuck with the play and snatched it from behind. Kane gathered the ball, sprinted to the other basket and tossed up an alley-oop pass to Kennedy, who finished with the dunk and a foul. The fast break defense continued throughout the rest of the game, hindering India Rising’s bigger players.
Josh Sharma was the tallest man on the floor, but staunch defense from Christmas held him to just two points at the end of the third. Continuing the strong defense, Christmas made an emphatic and-one layup in the second quarter and swatted several shots out of bounds in the third frame.
On the defensive end, India Rising didn’t fare much better. They shot just 34% from the field and 36% from three, but three-pointers made up more than half of their scoring.
Jimmy Boeheim and Marek Dolezaj return
Former Syracuse players, whether they graduated in 2015 like Christmas or just two months ago like Jimmy Boeheim, received a massive ovation from a Boeheim’s Army-dominated crowd at SRC Arena. Marek Dolezaj, after a year playing in Ukraine and Greece, received a huge ovation upon his entrance from the bench in the first quarter. Dolezaj had a breakaway dunk in the final frame and the crowd roared in approval again.
Morgan and Fair, an Orange alum, also received loud cheers from the Syracuse faithful after coming off the bench in the first quarter.
But the loudest of all cheers was reserved for the newest member of Boeheim’s Army – Jimmy Boeheim. Fresh off an appearance in the NBA Summer League for the Detroit Pistons, Boeheim’s signing was announced just four days ago. For the first time, one of Jim Boehiem’s sons is playing for Boeheim’s Army. It came after the forward played his graduate season for his father at SU, where he averaged 13 points and six rebounds per game. In his first TBT game, Jimmy finished with eight points, with some coming in the fourth quarter when the team was looking for the target score of 87.
Jimmy put Boeheim’s Army on the doorstep of victory with a second-chance layup to put them at 86 points. After making the tough finish, the already amped-up crowd cheered emphatically.
New leaders step up
Kane and Kennedy owned the most championship experience among anyone on Boeheim’s Army’s roster. The duo owns a combined 11 TBT championships, including last year. But against India Rising, the experienced veterans totaled just nine points. Tyler Ennis, the player on the court with the most NBA experience, shot just 2-for-9 from the field for four points, but served as a dependable floor general, dishing out four assists. With these experienced players struggling for the most part, the 2022 squad had to rely on the new additions.
Newcomer Bost led the team with 18 points. Bost represents one of Boeheim’s Army’s most celebrated signings this year after averaging 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as a member of Playing for Jimmy V in last year’s TBT.
In his first appearance for Boeheim’s Army, Morgan scored 16 points, 12 of them coming in the second half, on 6-for-10 shooting. He also added six boards and four assists. White, who came off the bench with Morgan, added 16 points.
Boeheim’s Army’s bench actually outscored their starting lineup, powered by 32 combined points from Morgan and White. Morgan and White shot a combined 5-for-10 from three, whereas the rest of the team managed just a 2-for-14 mark.
Although Boeheim’s Army needed just one point to secure the win, Bost unleashed a three-pointer to end the game. After it went through the net, Bost ran down to the other end of the court as Eric Devendorf sprinted after him from the bench and gave him a big hug.
The post Observations from Boeheim’s Army’s blowout win: New additions, dominance inside appeared first on The Daily Orange.
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