During the summer it is usually a very uneventful period for college basketball fans. The introduction of The Basketball Tournament a few years back changed this. The Basketball Tournament is a nationwide tournament, filled with teams of college basketball stars, who are not currently on an NBA roster. Teams play for a $2 million prize, giving players incentive, and making games interesting in crunch time. Even NBA players have become involved such as Darren Collison, Evan Turner, Marcus Morris, and Markieff Morris coaching teams in the tournament.
Syracuse alums have fielded a team for the past three TBTs and have affectionately paid homage to their Hall of Fame coach, Jim Boeheim, by going by the name Boeheim’s Army. Boeheim’s Army consisted of past stars such as Eric Devendorf, Trevor Cooney, John Gillon, Rick Jackson, and C.J. Fair. Playing the classic 2-3 zone, Boeheim’s Army was able to stifle offenses all throughout the tournament. Syracuse basketball has always been known for their smothering 2-3 zone, but in the TBT the team was able to find the shooting stroke as well. Eric Devendorf was able to slash to the rim it seemed at will all tournament, and James Southerland exploded one game and led the team to victory like he did versus Arkansas back in college.
Eric Devendorf was definitely one of the best players all tournament. The TBT consists of teams lined with former NBA players from Jared Sullinger to Dejuan Blair, and Devendorf seemed to be the best player game in and game out. Devendorf, as any Syracuse basketball fan remembers was a very colorful spirit out on the court, but now seemed to act like a true professional. Of course you can’t take the fight out of the dog, Devendorf was still talking trash all game, but he seemed to always keep a level head. Devendorf’s maturity and performance raises the question of why isn’t he still playing professional ball? But the draw of the Syracuse nation, a spot on Jim Boeheim’s coaching staff, and a chance to be home for his kids were to much to pass up.
Devendorf’s return to the program is an ode to his former coach Jim Boeheim, and the community of Syracuse Basketball. A player who is dominating a tournament filled with NBA level talent, taking a job as an assistant strength and conditioning coach says a lot about the program, but also the character of the players who come through the program.
I think all Syracuse fans can agree, we are all so proud of the former alumni who played so hard and almost walked away with the $2 million prize, and good luck in the next tournament.