4 key takeaways from Syracuse basketball’s 75-45 win over Niagara

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Syracuse forward Marek Dolezaj shoots the ball against the defense of Niagara guard Raheem Solomon during Thursday’s game. Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports

Despite a positive COVID-19 test within the Syracuse basketball program less than an hour and a half before tip-off Thursday night, the Orange still blew past Niagara 75-45. Here are the main takeaways from Syracuse’s win.

COVID STRIKES AGAIN

Health officials and Syracuse University announced on Thursday night that a player within the basketball program tested positive, and as a result, other players who came into close contact would have to sit out of the game.

On Nov. 15, when coach Jim Boeheim tested positive for COVID-19, the entire team had to take two weeks off. That wasn’t the case on Thursday as the game was still played.

Junior guard Buddy Boeheim was not present for the game because he was deemed a close contact to the walk-on who had the virus. The only other scholarship player to have to sit because of it was freshman Chaz Owens. Owens and Boeheim will not be with the team for 14 days, which will span two games, including SU’s Big 10-ACC Challenge match against Rutgers.

“[Buddy is] home broken-hearted because he’s worked his tail off every day since last season ended to be on the court,” Jim Boeheim said. “And he hasn’t done anything wrong.”

GUERRIER’S CAREER NIGHT

Quincy Guerrier had the best game of his Orange career on Thursday night, finishing with 23 points and 13 rebounds on 9-10 shooting.

Guerrier has been a force on both sides of the court in the first two games of the season. In SU’s opening win over Bryant, Guerrier finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds. His shooting also appears to have improved since last year, as he hit a three against the Purple Eagles (Guerrier shot just 12 percent from downtown as a freshman).

“I’m just trying to help my team the best way I can,” Guerrier said. “Be a monster. Be physical. Grab rebounds. Make shots, and bring energy.”

Guerrier was projected as a potential NBA first round draft pick last year before early struggles and a lower body injury derailed his season. But if Guerrier keeps playing at the high level he is, there is no doubt scouts will notice.

RICHMOND SHINES IN FIRST START

Kadary Richmond got the start Thursday night with Buddy Boeheim out due to the COVID-19 contact tracing protocol. It is safe to say that he made the most out of his opportunity.

At 6’5 with a 6’9 wingspan, Richmond was effective at the top of the zone. He had four steals and finished with 16 points. His length in the zone was overwhelming for Niagara, as he was a major factor in the Purple Eagles shooting 6-36 from downtown.

“If we play a pressure team he will get tired in five minutes,” Boeheim said. “He just needs to get in shape; that’s all.”

Richmond will likely play the majority of minutes over the next two games at guard, so he’ll need to up his fitness in a hurry.

He also finished with seven rebounds and six assists in 35 minutes.

» Related: Key takeaways from Syracuse basketball’s win over Bryant

BOEHEIM RELUCTANT TO USE BACKUP Cs

With Bourama Sidibe out for at least four weeks with a torn meniscus, Marek Dolezaj was the obvious choice to slide to center for the immediate future. Boeheim barely used backups Jessie Edwards, Frank Anselem, and John Bol Ajak in a one-point win over Bryant because the game was too close.

That wasn’t the case on Thursday, yet the three backup centers still barely saw the floor, combining for just 14 minutes. Ajak played the most (9 minutes), but Anselem (4) and Edwards (1) were barely used.

It is clear that Boeheim has not seen anything in the three back-up centers that deem them reliable options for the future.

With Sidibe out and Dolezaj filling in, the center position is definitely a concern. If Dolezaj gets in foul trouble when the Orange start playing highly competitive teams, it will be interesting to see if one of the three underclassmen can step up and provide quality time.

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About Brett Gustin 22 Articles
Brett is from Canastota, NY, and is currently attending Falk college at Syracuse University studying Sports Analytics. Being a Central New York native, Brett has been passionate about Syracuse sports for his whole life. He covers all Syracuse athletics.