Fifth-year senior Bourama Sidibe logged a season-high 18 minutes for the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team on Saturday. Sidibe, who has struggled with various knee issues during his college career, posted a stat line of 2 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks against Boston College.
Sidibe has appeared in just six games this season. He missed all but two games last year with a torn meniscus. So, with Jesse Edwards evolving into a force down low and Frank Anselem showing improvement, Sidibe found himself as the third center in rotation earlier this season.
But with Edwards sidelined for the remainder of the season with a fractured left wrist, the beleaguered Sidibe has been thrust into the backup center position. He delivered on Saturday with Anselem struggling.
“I was glad to see Bourama get back in there. He made a couple plays,” Jim Boeheim said. “He’s healthy but he’s just not game-ready. Hopefully he’ll improve a little bit each time out.”
Sidibe has picked it up in practice the past few weeks. He’s been able to go the full length of practice without heading back to the locker room or getting attention from team trainers. Perhaps with minutes available that’s provided some extra motivation too.
“He’s been pushing it a little harder and I think he’s been great in practice. He’s really physical, which is what we need,” Jimmy Boeheim said.
“He’s had a couple monster practices where he finishes everything, he scores on us. He let’s us know like, ‘You can’t stop me!’ It’s just fun to see him back out there doing what he loves. I’m just really proud of him as a teammate to see how far he’s come. All the battles, the adversity with his knee. To get somewhat healthy—I’m sure there’s still some pain—but he’s playing through it. He’s being a great team player and he’s helping us a lot,” Buddy Boeheim said.
Sidibe was able to provide 18 minutes, the most he’s played since the 2019-20 season when he emerged late in the season. While he’ll need more reps to get his timing down, Sidibe made a few big plays against Boston College. He muscled up a shot from the left block and scored, much to fans’ as well as Cole Swider’s approval. Swider, who has often shown enthusiasm for his Syracuse teammates, bumped chests with Sidibe after the play and had some words of encouragement.
“He’s gone through so much the past couple years. For me it’s just great to see a guy who works hard, who does the right things, who puts a lot of time into the gym and doesn’t see the game time that maybe he wants or deserves. But at the same time he’s coming back from an injury and it’s tough. It was great to have Bourama out there and have him score that basket,” Swider said.
Shortly after the score inside, Sidibe swatted a corner 3-point attempt out of bounds, much to the Syracuse bench’s liking. It was an important boost off the bench in the first half with Anselem in foul trouble.
“He was in there for a while in the first half and he played 18 minutes. I was like alright, this is good. He hasn’t said anything yet, he’s running the floor and playing hard. I’m really happy for him. We were all really encouraged,” Buddy said.
Sidibe has fought knee injuries throughout his Syracuse career, battling through tendonitis in his freshman year for a team that eventually made the Sweet 16. After the season, the knee required surgery. He missed last season after tearing his meniscus in the season-opener against Bryant and watched from the sideline has Syracuse made another unexpected run to the Sweet 16.
The meniscus injury set Sidibe back and he hasn’t been able to get much playing time this year. At least not up until now. But with Edwards out, his Syracuse team is going to need him down the final stretch.
“He’s a great kid. He’s one of the best kids we’ve ever had here. He doesn’t complain, he just keeps going,” Jim Boeheim said. “When all you’re doing is getting treatments and not playing it’s awfully difficult — it’s been ongoing for two years.
“He’s a good player. It’s a shame because he was really rounding into a really good player. I’m hoping we can get him back a little bit closer to that.”