Orange Watch: Unprecedented season of delays for Syracuse basketball, Part I

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Syracuse guard Joseph Girard III drives to the basket as Niagara guard Justin Roberts defends during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports

Item: After the Syracuse football team joined Boston College as the only two ACC teams not to miss a scheduled football game this past season due to pandemic-related issues, the basketball Orange will miss a total of three consecutive conference games through this coming weekend, due to New York state-mandated quarantining and testing protocols. SU hopes to resume play Jan. 6 hosting Florida State.

In a season of directed time off between games unlike any other in the program’s 118-year history, along with the loss of organized practice team, it’s anyone’s guess as to how long it will take for the Orange to hit a stride on the court.

There’s been games canceled previously (March 3, 1943 vs. Penn State during WWII) and postponements made up in the past, but with no room for scheduling extra games this 2020-21 season, SU will be happy to finish with the 17 left on the docket.

Here’s a look back at several Syracuse games that were delayed in a particular season due to weather or extraordinary circumstances. Part I covers from 1980 to 2000, with 2000-present running tomorrow:

1983: After two consecutive NIT seasons, the ’83 team was the swan song for the senior trumpeted trio of Leo Rautins, Red Bruin and Erich Santifer. Syracuse’s road game at Georgetown set for Feb. 12 for postponed because of a severe snowstorm negating the Orange from being able to fly down to suburban D.C.

The makeup was pushed to the last game of the season, the Monday (March 7) before the Big East Tournament started later that week at Madison Square Garden for the first time.

SU, essentially without an injured Bruin, lost to the Hoyas at the Capital Centre by five points as it did in that season’s Dome defeat, then faced GU again three days later in the tournament opener in NYC.

It was sweet revenge, with Santifer (23 points) and Rautins (18) leading the offense, and with the zone frustrating Patrick Ewing, the ‘Cuse prevailed 79-72.

1996: A Sunday afternoon on an early Jan. day (7), it began to snow a lot in the Mid-Atlantic states (we know firsthand; having tried to drive to the game in N.J. from Pa. without much success after an hour only going 12 miles of a 50-mile trip). A downright blizzard that would sock many places with some 35” of snow.

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Syracuse flew down to New Jersey to meet Rutgers the day before the wintery mayhem. Minutes after the team left its Newark Airport hotel to make the innocuous 20-mile drive to Piscataway, the game was postponed as N.J. declared a state of emergency.

The SU bus painstakingly crawled through the snow for an hour to reach the arena, then to find out the game was postponed. The team made the best of a bad situation by practicing in the building, and when rescheduled for Feb. 12, SU, on route to the Final Four later that season also in New Jersey, beat RU 63-54.

Check back in for Part II tomorrow!

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About Brad Bierman 731 Articles
Now in his sixth 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.