Orange Watch: The last time Syracuse basketball played at Colgate and Cornell

Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim
Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim drives against Virginia. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Item: Following Syracuse’s first win of this season against Colgate, and the subsequent NIT victory over Seattle last Saturday, there will be a couple of days of talk about the Boeheim vs. Boeheim matchups with Cornell’s annual appearance in the Dome occurring Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET / ACCNX). The Big Red have played in Syracuse every year this century except 2000, 03, 06, 2011, and ’12, and the last 26 meetings have been played in the Dome. It’s a similar story with Colgate. The teams have met every season dating back to 1993, all at the Dome, including last week’s win over the Raiders. Your have to go back to Dec. 1977 to mark the last time SU hoops played in Hamilton, and Dec. 1981 the last time Jim Boeheim coached the ‘Cuse in Ithaca. We are probably among the few hundred who attended both games.

Can you imagine it in today’s ACC every-game-on-TV/streaming era?

Jim Boeheim coaching the Orangemen at 1,750 seat Cotterell Court (celebrating its 60th anniversary) in Hamilton? Yes, it happened on Dec 12, 1977, in an era when SU basketball still played road games in gymnasiums, before the Big East took off in the early 1980s and grew into drawing sell-out crowds at pro sports arenas (and a certain domed football stadium) along the Eastern Seaboard.

In fact, Syracuse and Colgate used to play twice a season in the 1960s, but that filtered down to annual matchups the following decade. The last meeting in Hamilton was on a typically cold December midweek night, and it was the first game following the famous win over Ervin ‘Magic’ Johnson and Michigan State in the initial Carrier Classic, and the infamous Boeheim tirade in the Manley Field House lobby that followed when he demanded to know from the two local beat writers with the Syracuse newspapers why Johnson beat out Marty Byrnes for tournament MVP honors.

» Related: Syracuse forward Marek Dolezaj dazzles against Seattle

Senior Byrnes, who later played five seasons with five teams in the NBA, including a cameo appearance in the Los Angeles Lakers Game Six, title-clinching win over the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1980 Finals, was the leading scorer (16.3 ppg) on the 1977-78 Orangemen. He started at forward against Colgate alongside sophomore Louis Orr, with fellow sophomore Roosevelt Bouie at center, and senior Ross Kindel and junior Dale Shackleford in the backcourt.

Shackleford was dazzling with a team-leading 17-points, and so were the Orangemen that evening almost 42 years ago in adjoining Madison County, cruising to a 99-50 rout of the Raiders.

The last road game against Cornell was at the Big Red’s former gymnasium home Barton Hall, where the basketball court shared space around the indoor track, and seated 4,800. It was the second game of the 1981-82 season, and the first campaign in which Boeheim did not win 20+ games, SU finishing 16-13.

Syracuse’s starting lineup featured the junior “Triplets,” Leo Rautins, Red Bruin, and Erich Santifer, along with freshman Andre Hawkins in the middle and sophomore Gene Waldron in the backcourt. (Side Note: When SU scored only 34 points against Virginia in this year’s season opener, we instantly thought about the game Waldron dropped 40 points himself on Iona in the 1983 Carrier Classic final with a backcourt freshman teammate named Pearl Washington.)

Against Cornell, Bruin suffered a hand injury that caused him to miss several games early that season, and Santifer, the team’s leading scorer (17 ppg) in 1981-82, was the game’s high-scorer against Cornell as well with 14-point in a 90-47 waltz almost 40 years ago.

Syracuse basketball road games in Hamilton and Ithaca; something that with the Dome and simple supply/demand economics means will never occur again.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 621 Articles
Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.