Excitement building for Syracuse alumni team in The Basketball Tournament

Keita will play on the Syracuse alumni team
Keita will play on the Syracuse alumni team

The Basketball Tournament. Sounds pretty vague, doesn’t it?

Add in a million-dollar, winner-take-all purse? OK, now you have my attention.

Throw a team made up of former Syracuse basketball players into the field. Well, color me intrigued…

It may have one of the simplest names in all of competitive sports, but TBT attracted some attention last year in its inaugural go-around and it’s back for more in 2015.

The Syracuse team of Josh Pace, Eric Devendorf, Donte Greene, Rick Jackson, Hakim Warrick, Baye Moussa Keita and Brandon Reese became the first of 97 teams to enter the tournament. No amount of money will get a team into the tournament. Fan support is the driving force in who makes up the tournament field.

It’s a pretty compelling idea and has garnered enough of a following not only to bring it back for a second run in 2015, but also to double the prize money to a cool mill.

The 2014 champion was comprised of Notre Dame alumni, including Rob Kurz, Chris Thomas, Torin Francis, Colin Falls and others. So, the premise of getting together a bunch of former college players from a major university has some merit for the Orange faithful.

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The question is: who else might be a good target for the team?

They need guys who can still get up and down the court and are still near the top of their games. They need guys who, obviously, aren’t occupied with NBA or other pro careers.

The first two guys that came to mind were Warrick and Pace, two of my all-time favorites. But who else?

Team general manager Kevin Belbey, a former SU team manager, is said to be inquiring about Demetris Nichols, too. The names Brandon Triche, Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine and Jonny Flynn all spring to mind, if available. Might Gerry McNamara be interested?

The talk surrounding the team so far is the size it has across the board. Warrick, Greene, Jackson and Keita all have significant length. But the lack of a true point guard is glaring. Someone like Scoop, who had a great rapport with fellow Philadelphian Jackson, would fit nicely. And you can’t tell me that the grittiness of G-Mac, who is still known to provide scintillating displays during SU practices, wouldn’t be a welcome addition to the club. Now, I am not privy to any of their summer calendars. But, if available, those are the guys that would help round out the club.

Even with just the guys already on the roster, this year’s Syracuse team compares favorably to last year’s winning Notre Dame team and could very easily be a competitor. Guys like Warrick, Pace and Jackson were just as, if not more, accomplished than the likes of the Fighting Alumni players. And these guys are not far removed from high-level competition, be it college, overseas or the NBA.

With a TV deal struck for the final rounds of the tournament, TBT has a chance to further propel its popularity in its second year. If the Syracuse team is able to secure a championship (and the hefty prize money along with it), it will give Orange basketball fans something else to get behind when the regular Syracuse season is on hiatus.

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About Matt Dagostino 100 Articles
Matt currently works as an on-air talent and producer for Turner Sports in Atlanta, where he is from. Among his responsibilities are voicing over highlights for NCAA.com, NBA.com, WNBA.com, and PGA.com. He has also served as an associate producer for TNT’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs and TBS’s coverage of the MLB Postseason. Matt also has experience as a minor league baseball play-by-play announcer and as a PA announcer in D-I college athletics. Matt graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @MattDags28.