September 16

Boeheim’s Army advances to second round of The Basketball Tournament despite upset scare

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on July 27, 2019 at 12:23 am Contact Andrew: arcrane@syr.edu | @CraneAndrew Jordan Crawford jab-stepped his right foot out and hesitated. The shot clock had ticked under five seconds late in the third quarter as John Gillon’s crosscourt pass arrived, giving the Boeheim’s Army guard no time or space to drive. We Are D3’s Johnny McCarthy had already closed out with his hand raised.With McCarthy’s hand in his face, Crawford elevated and sunk a 3-pointer from the left wing to put Boeheim’s Army ahead, 51-48. It was BA’s first lead since the game’s opening baskets. For 24 minutes, those shots hadn’t fallen for Crawford or anyone on Boeheim’s Army. Their passes were tipped, shots bothered and rebounds corralled by D3’s forwards. Defensively, neither man-to-man nor 2-3 defenses prevented We Are D3’s shooters from slipping wide open. But late in the third quarter, that changed.“I don’t think any of us felt we played good all game,” Crawford, who scored 17 points, said. “It’s just about grinding it out.”Riding the third quarter surge, Boeheim’s Army slowly clawed its way back from a 26-15 first quarter deficit and defeated D3 68-65. The comeback started with a switch from the 2-3 zone to man-to-man on defense, continued with more accurate shooting and was capped off by Hakim Warrick and Arinze Onuaku’s play in the paint. With the win, Boeheim’s Army finds itself in a second-round matchup against Gael Nation — a team it defeated in 2017 — on Saturday afternoon.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We did what we needed to do,” head coach Ryan Blackwell said. “We locked them on defense at the right time, we made some plays, but we’ve got to be better going forward.”It wasn’t supposed to be that close. After TBT announced in January that a regional would be held at Onondaga Community College, excitement built around the Syracuse alumni roster. Mainstays Warrick and Eric Devendorf returned. Fan-favorite Gillon announced his commitment. Jordan Crawford became only the third non-SU alum to play for Boeheim’s Army. Slowly, general manager Kevin Belbey assembled a roster that had enough talent to become only the second team not named Overseas Elite to win the TBT championship in the tournament’s six years.But from the opening tip, the perceived talent disparity was missing. Crawford missed his first two shots – so too did Andrew White. By the end of the first quarter, Boeheim’s Army shot a combined 4-for-12 from the field compared to D3’s 11-for-17. During those nine minutes, D3 grabbed control. McCarthy corralled the ball on the left-wing, stepped up, and sunk a three. Arik Smith — who led all scorers with 20 points — floated a jumper and hit a 3-pointer of his own. Blackwell stroked his chin and folded his hands together while pacing the sidelines. Devendorf talked with Onuaku about his defense at the bottom of the 2-3. While BA struggled, D3 thrived from the field.“We were a little lackadaisical on defense, and that gave them the opportunity to get in a rhythm and get going,” Blackwell said.After the switch to zone, Boeheim’s Army started to disrupt passing lanes and shooting rhythms. Devendorf stole a kick-out pass. Then, a Gillon steal. With that, Boeheim’s Army began to close the gap: eight by the second quarter’s media timeout, two by halftime. With 40 seconds left in the second, John Gillon jumped and swung his arms in the right corner as Devendorf brought the ball up. Instead of attempting to thread a pass into the opening, Devendorf took two dribbles, pulled up from the middle of the court and calmly sunk a three.“When we play zone, if you’re not out there flying around, it’s not gonna be a Syracuse zone,” Warrick said. “I think the man kinda got us going.”Finally, using a 12-4 run to close the third quarter, BA grabbed the lead. With a target score of 68 and a four-point lead entering the Elam Ending, BA tallied four free throws — including the game-sealer by Crawford — to clinch the win, fighting off a late run that cut their lead to two.  After Onuaku placed the “Boeheim’s Army” tag on the bracket above Gael Nation, Blackwell and Crawford slumped in two chairs before the postgame conference room filled with media and other BA players.“I know I didn’t have a rhythm for a minute,” Crawford said to Blackwell. The pair shook their heads and conversed: now BA knows what to expect, now they were tested, now they’ve proved their ability to win close games, albeit against a lesser team. Blackwell rested his arms on the black tablecloth. “They played hard man, they played really hard,” he said. “Got in the passing lanes almost every possession.”A smirk crossed Crawford’s face as he swung his arm around the two seats next to him. He stared at the table. “No. Every possession.” But, that didn’t matter anymore. Boeheim’s Army had done enough. Commentslast_img read more