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.
Syracuse big man Arinze Onuaku will likely miss the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, Orange coach Jim Boeheim told ESPN Monday.
“He’s still hurt and I don’t know if he’ll play this weekend,” Boeheim said. “We’re hopeful he might be able to play Sunday, but that’s a long-shot. We’re really kind of focusing, if we can play well, that he might be able to play in the second weekend. But that’s what we’re looking at right now.”
Syracuse is the fourth overall seed and No. 1 in the West. The Orange (28-4) will face Vermont (25-9) on Friday in Buffalo.
Dan Guerrero, the head of the NCAA Selection Committee, said one of the reasons Duke got the No. 3 overall seed over Syracuse was because Onuaku suffered a calf injury in a Big East tournament loss to Georgetown. Duke went on to win the ACC tournament and got the No. 1 seed in the South, where it could meet No. 2 Villanova in the regional final.
“As far as our seed, I think Duke had a great year and they won the ACC tournament,” Boeheim said. “I have no problem with them being the third No. 1. When you start worrying about things like that, that’s like worrying whether it’s 80 degrees or 82 degrees outside. It’s not enough to worry about.”
Kris Joseph, the Big East Sixth Man of the Year, will step in and start for Onuaku. He averaged 32 minutes a game.
“He has been, for all intents and purposes, a starter,” Boeheim said. “It’s not like we’re taking a guy off the bench that played 15 minutes a game, which most teams would have to do. So we’re bringing a guy in that’s been playing starter’s minutes, so it’s not as big an adjustment. It does hurt our depth at the center position, although we have a freshman, DaShonte Riley, that we think can go in there and play.
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.