Something new for Syracuse's Jim Boeheim: the injury bug Print
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Wednesday, 19 December 2007 12:00
NCAAB Headline News


 SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - Jim Boeheim hasn't seen anything like it in his more than three decades of coaching at Syracuse.
Injuries are turning up everywhere, and this may be the first time he's lost a key starter to an injury so early in a season
``You coach the guys you have,'' Boeheim said. ``You do the best you can with them. If everybody gets sick and you only have five walk-ons, you coach them.''
Eric Devendorf, a junior and preseason All-Big East guard, tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Saturday night. Devendorf, averaging 17 points, had just led a fast break against East Tennessee State and passed to Paul Harris for a layup when he fell awkwardly near the Syracuse bench.
ACL while playing during the summer.
``I don't think we've ever lost a starter in the beginning of the year. It is so rare for a really good player to go down at all,'' Boeheim said Tuesday night after the Orange defeated Colgate. ``We've really never lost a starter, a guy who played a lot, since I've been here, and both of these injuries were freak injuries, just missteps. Usually, you get in traffic and somebody rolls into you and you hurt your knee.''
Adding to Boeheim's woes was the loss of guard Josh Wright, the lone senior on the team. Wright, who started 27 games last season, logged only 19 total minutes in the four games he played this season and did not show for six others, including Saturday night.
Wright was not listed in the media notes Tuesday night for the first time this year, and Boeheim said Wright's playing days at Syracuse essentially were over.
``He left school, never took a test, just left,'' Boeheim said.
Which led the Hall of Fame coach to reach another milestone: Boeheim tabbed Scoop Jardine to take Devendorf's spot, giving the Orange three freshmen - Jardine, forward Donte Greene and point guard Jonny Flynn - in a starting lineup for the first time in program history.
Also on the floor was junior center Arinze Onuaku, who had surgery on his left knee before last season and never played. And on the bench was sophomore power forward Devin Brennan-McBride, who is facing a third operation on his left shoulder, will not play this season, and has to decide whether he wants to come back next year.
Boeheim shrugged it off.
``You'd like to have Eric,'' he said. ``You'd like to have Andy. The only thing that crosses my thoughts are the guys we have and how can we utilize these guys.''
No need for much pity.
Syracuse (8-3), which has been ranked once this season, has one of the top freshman classes in the country. Greene is averaging 19.5 points and Flynn has been a solid floor leader, averaging 14 points, 6.2 assists and only 2.9 turnovers. Jardine finished his first start with four points, five assists and four turnovers in a season-high 29 minutes.
Boeheim, who is down to nine scholarship players, said every player on the roster would help the team overcome the loss of the fiery Devendorf. He backed that statement by playing all nine against Colgate, including 6-foot-11 freshman center Sean Williams, who had two dunks and two blocks in eight minutes, the first action of his Syracuse career.
``We really didn't change anything,'' Flynn said. ``You don't want to change much, you just need guys to step up and fill the role that Eric filled for us. We did that and got a good win.''
Walk-on Justin Thomas and star wide receiver Mike Williams of the football team also played and helped put a smile on Devendorf's face as he watched from the bench.
``We talked to the players about it,'' Boeheim said. ``It's a great opportunity for those guys. Of course, we want Eric to be out there, but he's not, so we have to move on. Eric's been great. He's been rehabbing the last couple days, getting himself ready (for surgery) and very positive about what can happen. He can bounce back and we've got two pretty good shooters next year.''
 

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