December 17, 2007
SU loses Devendorf for season
SYRACUSE — Junior guard Eric Devendorf, the second-leading scorer for the Syracuse Orange, will miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, a university official said Sunday.
An MRI on Sunday revealed the injury, according to Pete Moore, director of athletic communications.
Devendorf was hurt the first minute of the second half of Syracuse’s 125-75 victory Saturday night over Eastern Tennessee State. He had just led a fast break and passed the ball to Paul Harris for a layup when he fell awkwardly near the Syracuse bench.
Devendorf winced in pain and was in tears as he was carried to the locker room. He never returned.
The university is investigating a medical redshirt for Devendorf, a solid penetrator and long-range threat who already has surpassed 1,000 points in his career at Syracuse.
Before he was hurt, Devendorf had scored 19 points and equaled his career high with five 3-pointers. He was averaging 17 points a game.
“We can’t afford to lose a guy like Eric,” head coach Jim Boeheim said after the lopsided victory. “He’s a tremendous player. There’s nothing you can do. You just make up for it the best you can. We’ll play the other guys that are healthy.
“It’s a great opportunity for our young guys,” said Boeheim, who has five freshmen on his roster. “They’re going to have to step up.”
The loss of Devendorf, a former McDonald’s All-American and a preseason All-Big East guard, leaves Boeheim without three guards that played last year.
Andy Rautins suffered a torn ACL during the summer playing for Team Canada in the FIBA Americas Championship and won’t play again until next year. And Josh Wright, the lone senior on the team, might be staring at the end of his Syracuse career. Wright has only logged 19 total minutes in the four games he has played in and did not show for six other games, including Saturday night.
“Josh Wright did not come to practice this week, so I assume he’s not going to play basketball any more this year,” Boeheim said.
In beating ETSU, fdeshman forward Donte Greene had 25 points, hitting a season-high five 3-pointers as Syracuse matched its team record of 15.
ETSU (4-5) entered the game averaging 80 points and Syracuse (7-3) came within a dozen points of matching that total in the first half alone, hitting 12-of-19 from long range.
“This is a big win,” said freshman point guard Jonny Flynn, who had 14 points, eight assists and only one turnover. “You need wins like this. You don’t want every game to be close. You want to feel like you’re a superior team.”
The Orange felt that way from the outset, scoring the game’s first 16 points. Devendorf fed Arinze Onuaku for a two-handed slam dunk to start the surge. Flynn then fed the big center for a one-handed slam, Greene hit a fallaway jumper and a 3-pointer from the right corner, and Devendorf drained a jumper from left wing for an 11-0 lead.
Syracuse made its first six shots and forced five turnovers in the first three minutes before Courtney Pigram hit a driving layup for the Buccaneers.
“We can all shoot,” said Greene, who also had eight rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three steals. “We’re a scoring team. Sometimes, we get too caught up in the student section. Not having them here tonight (because of the holidays) probably helped us out, helped us stay more focused.”
The Orange finished 15-for-25 from long range to match the team mark set in an 87-77 overtime win at West Virginia on Feb. 15, 1997. Syracuse also set a school record for field-goal percentage in a game by shooting 75.8 percent (47-for-62). The previous mark of 73.3 percent (44-for-60) was set against Utica on Feb. 9, 1983.
“We played bad last game, lost a close game (to Rhode Island), and we just came back,” said Syracuse’s Harris, who scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and had nine rebounds. “What can you say? The way they (Greene and Devendorf) were shooting early, I came out in the second half and my shot started falling, too.”
The Buccaneers didn’t see it coming. Five of ETSU’s first eight games were decided by six points or less.
“We just got whipped in every which way,” head coach Murry Bartow said. “Obviously, in a game like this we want to get off to a great start and we didn’t. We were hoping that we were really on and they were really off.
“Syracuse needed kind of a breakout game,” Bartow said. “Unfortunately, we were the one they did it against. I still like my team. We can’t over magnify this one game. We’ve just got to move on.”
Onuaku had 19 points for Syracuse, Rick Jackson had 13 points off the bench, and Mike Williams, the leading receiver on the football team and a star basketball player in high school, had seven points.
Williams practiced twice with the team during the week and entered the game with just over 5 minutes remaining. He made a layup with just over 2 minutes to play and swished the Orange’s final 3 with 1:55 left.
“I’m just trying to help the team, wherever I can fit in,” Williams said.
Courtney Pigram had 23 points and Travis Strong had 19 for ETSU, which was 12-for-33 on 3-pointers.
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