With one minute remaining in the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball game against Georgetown, senior forward Marek Dolezaj took a tough shot to the mouth. A loose limb found Dolezaj going up for a rebound which caused the senior forward/center to chip a tooth.
Bleeding from the mouth, Dolezaj motioned to the locker room, but his head coach insisted he was fine. Syracuse was holding onto a 72-65 lead when Dolezaj took a shot to the chops.
“You just hurt your tooth. You didn’t hurt anything else. Let’s go,” Jim Boeheim said.
Instead, Syracuse trainer Brad Pike tended to Dolezaj and he finished out the game.
“He’s too important to us. We need him in there against pressure and handling the ball and stuff. He toughed it out,” Boeheim said.
When Boeheim was asked in the post-game Zoom conference if he’s ever seen a player chip a tooth in the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry, he shook his head left to right. In a physical, heated series which took off in the 1980s along with the Big East, Boehiem couldn’t recall a player chipping a tooth in the 40-year rivalry. Punches as well as chairs and oranges have been thrown throughout the years. Words have been used as barbs, but no player has ever chipped a tooth.
“It was just an accidental play. In the old days it might’ve been on purpose, but this was accidental,” Boeheim said.
Dolezaj has become a popular player during his time at Syracuse. Initially he won Syracuse fans over with his hustle, smart play and determination to win. In his freshman season, he scored a then career-high 20 points in an ACC Tournament win against Wake Forest. After the game he ate an entire pizza by himself.
In his sophomore campaign, Dolezaj took a charge against Duke’s Zion Williamson and lived to tell the tale. He now has another tale to tell, chipping his tooth and finishing the game against Syracuse’s most storied rival.
Joe Girard, who scored 18 points and dished out eight assists, said he’s never seen that on a basketball court.
“That was crazy. I saw like two split things on the ground and I said, ‘Yo is that a tooth?’ And I looked up and I saw Marek sprinting to the locker room,” Girard said.
“I knew Marek’s tough. He’s a lot tougher than you might think, just looking at him. But he’s a really tough kid. He’ll battle through anything, a lot of injuries. We were confident that he’d come back out and I think it was a really good thing that coach didn’t let him go to the locker room because we obviously need him. He’s a big part of the team. He’s a senior. He’s a leader,” Girard finished.
The missing tooth prompted Girard to invite someone to make a t-shirt, but Dolezaj shot it down.
Guys don’t even try to do that! RIP tooth https://t.co/sdaw9ZaBWH— Marek Dolezaj (@MarekDolezaj) January 10, 2021