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Syracuse women’s basketball: Dyaisha Fair embraces underdog role

The incoming Buffalo transfer is looking to set the bar high for a hungry Syracuse women’s basketball team.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Basketball Tipoff Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Talented, but not respected. Gone, but not lost.

Like many players on this year’s Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team, newcomer Dyaisha Fair is looking to embrace the underdog mentality heading into her senior year.

Fair is one of eight transfer players acquired by Syracuse over the break. A collegiate program looking to make a complete turnaround will be tasked with building chemistry and trust with all the new players. Fair said that compared to other seasons, this collegiate season feels different for her.

“You have a new team almost every year, but this one is completely new. I think that putting in the work is going to determine the outcome on the court,” said Fair. “So once we do that and continue to do that, we’ll be alright.”

Fair is entering her fourth season of women’s college hoops after starting her career with the Buffalo Bulls.

In Buffalo, Fair put herself on the map as one of the best women’s players in the NCAA. She finished top-5 in scoring in two of the past three seasons. She’s already been recognized by the ACC as a newcomer to watch for and by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as one of the best women’s collegiate point guards.

Fair’s size and frame don’t always tell the whole story. She’s smaller compared to most players, but that doesn’t stop her from becoming one of the nation’s best volume scorers.

“My game is unpredictable,” said Fair. “I think that with me being as small as I am, it’s an advantage because I’m as fast as I am.”

According to Fair, Syracuse wasn’t a guaranteed destination when she chose to transfer schools. She said besides ‘Cuse, she was considering the university of Connecticut, the University of South Carolina, and Rutgers.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

There was one card the Orange had that ultimately convinced Fair to move to the 315: Coach Felisha Legette-Jack, Fair’s head coach in Buffalo.

“It was just what felt like home,” said Fair. “Nothing felt like what coach Jack brought to the table, what she can offer me, (and) what can can instill to help me. Coach Jack is why I’m here. With her having the confidence in us, it means and feels like we can do anything in the world.”

The Orange hired Coach Legette-Jack over the break. So far, she’s been transformational in rebuilding Syracuse’s women’s basketball program after a down year in 2021-2022.

She was also a big influence to convince Fair to join up, yet again, but this time in Syracuse. At the team’s season-opening conference, Fair said Legette-jack is “bigger than the game.”

A big theme for the Orange this season is establishing a blue-collar, work-hard mentality on the court. Defense, intensity, effort, and accountability are just a handful of coach Legette-Jack’s priorities this year.

But, the biggest focus for Legette-Jack and the rest of the team is instituting a new culture within the team. Unlike previous years, the Orange have almost an entirely new team.

Fair said the team’s makeup will make this team hungry to compete on the hardwood.

“We all came from different situations,” said Fair. “We came from broken programs or broken families. I feel like we’re going to be really resilient and one, put-together team because we are the underdogs and it’s going to take a lot of work. But I feel like we are made for it.”

NCAA Basketball: ACC Basketball Tipoff Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Orange will begin their season with lots of optimism, but also many doubters. Syracuse is beginning the season ranked 10th in the first ACC poll of the year. Not many eyes will be on this program. Fair said most of the team has a chip on their shoulder.

But, she said that if the team blocks out all the noise, the team will be focused and ready to win.

Fair hopes to be a leader for a young, feisty, and new Syracuse women’s basketball team.

“I always looked at myself as a leader. I’ve been a freshman and been where they were before, but I’ve always done what I needed to do to the best of my ability to show the leadership in me.”

Dyaisha Fair and the rest of the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team kick off its regular season on Monday against Stony Brook at the JMA Wireless Dome.

Regardless of the product on the court, Fair said the Orange are going to give one hundred percent effort every night.

“Let’s do what you do best and tell your story through that,” said Fair.