Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Devendorf Channeling McNamara but Boeheim Says '09 Won't Replay '06
NEW YORK – Eric Devendorf may have done his best Gerry McNamara impersonation over the last four days at the Big East Championship, but Syracuse isn’t headed for a repeat of 2006.
At least Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim says it isn’t.
The Orange won the Big East tournament title in 2005 and ’06, but proceeded to get upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Vermont and Texas A&M, respetively.
“I think the two times we won we really were riding a couple guys, especially the last time,” Boeheim said after top-seeded Louisville beat No. 6 Syracuse 76-66 to win the Big East title. “Gerry had nothing left the next week [in ’06]. That’s not the case this time. We’ll be fine and ready to go in a couple days; Jonny [Flynn] and all these guys will be at full strength by Tuesday. We could play Tuesday right now if we had to.”
Flynn, named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, chalked up 181 total minutes of play in the tournament, including 67 of a possible 70 in the Orange’s six-overtime win over UConn that ended Friday morning at 1:22.
“I wasn’t even fatigued,” Flynn said. “I was feeling actually pretty good out on the court today but just made too many mistakes…Louisville is a great team and they just really put it to us tonight.”
McNamara, who willed Syracuse to four wins in four days in ’06, sat courtside and said he, too, didn’t want to compare ’06 to ’09.
“I don’t want to compare,” he said. “Coming down here we were 7-9 in conference.”
This year’s squad went 11-7.
In 2006, Syracuse received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, whereas this year the Orange were already slated to dance before the Big East Championship began.
With this run, they likely helped themselves move from a No. 7 seed to a No. 4.
“I don’t know where we are,” Boeheim said. “The committee has got an impossible job.”
McNamara did praise Devendorf, who was a freshman on that ’06 team and ended up making this year’s All-Tournament team after finishing with a game-high 20 points in the title game.
Devendorf missed most of last year with a torn ACL and was then suspended this season by the University for allegedly striking a female student with an open hand.
“I’m a big fan of Eric’s,” said McNamara, who last year played in the NBA Development League. “He’s as good a guy and teammate as you can have..He’s been through a lot of controversy. He’s had some tough times, but it’s good to see him still focused on basketball. He’s doing a great job.”
And Boeheim believes Devendorf and company can continue to do a great job deep into the NCAA Tournament.
There will be no repeat of ’06 this time around.
“I told our players that the way we played the last two weeks has been tremendous for what we can do next week,” Boeheim said.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.