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#ThrowBackTournament: Boeheim's Army Invades Philadelphia

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TBT may stand for “The Basketball Tournament”, but for Syracuse basketball fans watching in Philadelphia and online it was a “Throw Back Tournament” as several former Orange stars took to the court wearing the familiar orange and white.

Boeheim's Army huddles before the start of the second half.
Boeheim's Army huddles before the start of the second half.
Jeremy Ryan

"Boeheim’s Army", the squad of ex-Syracuse greats, defeated a team called the NYCSuperstars 91-73 in front of a few hundred fans at Philadelphia University’s Gallagher Athletic Center. Yours truly and the Mrs. made the brisk drive down from Syracuse to take in the action, and here’s my report:

- The official roster for Boeheim’s Army consists of 11 players: Rick Jackson, Hakim Warrick, Lawrence Moten, Demetris Nichols, Josh Pace, Olu Famutimi, Willie Deane, Baye Moussa Keita, Terrence Roberts, Donte Greene, Mookie Jones, and Eric Devendorf.

- A few of these players were unavailable on Saturday vs. NYC. Rick Jackson is reportedly trying out for a Korean team, Donte Greene is still in China, and Josh Pace accepted an assistant coaching position at Pepperdine.

- The team was put together by SU grad Kevin Belbey, who was a manager for several Orange squads. He was one of the guys who sits right next to Jim Boeheim with a clipboard in his hand.

- The crowd was firmly behind Boeheim’s Army from the start, and of course they were the ‘home’ team. There was several dozen fans wearing orange in the bleachers, and many did the ceremonial ‘stand and clap’ until BA scored its first field goal of both halves.

- BA’s starters were Deane, Devendorf, Nichols, Warrick, and Keita. It makes you wonder if Greene or Jackson would have started if they were available.

- The action was fast-paced, and there weren’t too many instances where the 35 second shot clock was even a glint in the players’ eyes. BA scored 22 fast break points and 17 off of turnovers, but gave up 16 offensive rebounds for 16 NYC second-chance points. #ZoneProblems

- BA led 39-30 at halftime, and the outcome never really seemed in doubt. The ex-Oranges held around a 10 point lead throughout most of the contest, and stretched it to nearly 20 by game’s end. In face, BA led the game for more than 31 minutes, as opposed to 3 and change for NYC (the games are 36 minutes long – two 18 minute halves).

- Moten served as player/coach, and sported his signature high socks. He provided the highlight of the evening when he inserted himself into the game with a couple of minutes left and promptly drained a long turnaround jumper to the delight of the partisan crowd. When asked about the shot at the post-game news conference, he said it was nice to be able to "give the fans a little Poetry" one more time.

- Most of the BA players wore their college jersey numbers – Keita wore #12, Warrick wore #1, etc. It probably shouldn’t have bothered me that Moten wore #2 while Jones wore #21, but it did. Just a little. But I got over it. I promise.

- Deane, of Purdue, and Famutimi, from Arkansas, were recruited to fill out the roster due to their familiarity with SU’s players. Deane served as point guard and provided a great spark when the offense struggled early on, scoring 16 points for the game on 7-9 shooting. Nice pickup by GM Belbey there.

- Of course Boeheim’s Army played most of the game in a 2-3 zone, and had probably the tallest and most athletic back line in the tournament with Keita, Nichols, Warrick, and Roberts all 6’8" or taller rotating in and out. There were a few glimpses of man-to-man defense here and there, but they quickly came to their senses and stopped with all of that nonsense.

- Nichols looks as good as ever, and still has that sweet baseline jumper he was known for in college. He led BA with 24 points on 9-16 from the floor, and shot 50% from three.

- However, the in-house PA announcer called Nichols "Demetrius" on more than one occasion. Someone must have mentioned it to him, though, because the egregious and unforgivable error was corrected in the second half.

- Other top contributors were Warrick with 9 points and 8 rebounds, Keita with 4 points and 8 rebounds, and Roberts with 7 points and 6 rebounds.

- Devendorf managed to NOT climb up on any scorer’s tables, which was disappointing to me but probably a relief to the game staff. He scored 18 points, but on 5-11 shooting, and committed 4 of the team’s 7 total turnovers. He also had 7 assists and committed 3 turnovers, 2 of them on offensive fouls.

- Going against tradition, BA shot 13-18 from the charity stripe. See kids, #FreeThrowsMatter!

- I saw a couple of current and former Orange players in the house to take in the game. Pearl Washington was hanging around with the players, as was Matt Gorman, and none other than Trevor Cooney himself watched the action from the stands.

- After the game an SU alumni group from the Philadelphia area held a meet-and-greet with the team in a nice little lounge off of the gym. All of the players attended, with several taking photos with fans and Moten making it a point to high-five everyone in the room. My wife got a picture with Keita and Roberts made it a point to thank us for coming to the game, which was nice.