The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (7-3, 1-2) lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels 81-75 on Tuesday night. The Orange were once again forced to play without senior center Bourama Sidibe despite listing him as a game-time decision for the third consecutive game.
Sidibe tore his meniscus in the season-opener against Bryant. He had surgery to repair his left knee on Dec. 1 and was ruled out four weeks for recovery. In the post-game press conference following the loss to North Carolina, Jim Boeheim said Sidibe can’t play, repeating himself multiple times.
“He’s not playing,” Boeheim said. “He cannot play.
“I’m not a doctor. All I can tell you, he cannot play,” Boeheim finished.
It’s been six weeks since Sidibe underwent surgery to repair his meniscus. Syracuse has told local reporters that Sidibe has returned to practiced but he’s yet to appear in a game due to soreness. Without its starting center on Tuesday night, SU was out-muscled on the glass for the third time this season. North Carolina leads the ACC in rebounding and won the battle of the boards 48-31 against the Orange.
In the early going Marek Dolezaj picked up two quick fouls and was forced to sit. Sophomore center Jesse Edwards replaced him in the middle. When asked if Edwards could be utilized going forward, Boeheim rebuffed.
“No he just didn’t compete on the boards. He’s got to compete on the backboards and he didn’t,” Boeheim said.
With freshman Frank Anselem out for another two weeks, that leaves Syracuse in limbo at the center spot. It appears Dolezaj is the only reliable option in the middle for now.
“There’s nothing we can do about it,” Boeheim said. “We just have to play with who we have and that’s what we’re going to do.
“We don’t have a plan. We don’t have anybody that can play that position. Frank’s out for at least two more weeks. We’re trying to develop Jesse in practice. Bol is too small. He can’t get it done out there. We’re still working with Jesse every day. We’re hoping that he can give us some minutes in there. But he’s really the only alternative right now.”
If Sidibe is out for extended time, Syracuse will just have to keep playing Dolezaj at center. Rebounding is always difficult out of a 2-3 zone, but the Orange are going to have to team rebound from every position going forward and lend a hand to Dolezaj and Quincy Guerrier.
“Bourama’s not here right now. We need to find a way to help Marek at the rebounds, at the center because it’s not his position. So we need to help him. Especially for the guards,” Guerrier said.