Guerrier, Richmond carry SU vs Niagara after COVID Case

© Syracuse Athletics
Friday, Dec 04, 2020 at 2:54 pm by Sports Editor

By Tom Russo

CitrusTV Basketball Reporter

Two games into the 2020 season and Syracuse has already had its second brush with COVID-19.

Not even three weeks after head coach Jim Boeheim tested positive for the virus, it was announced an hour before tip-off of Syracuse’s (2-0, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) 75-45 win over Niagara (0-1, 0-0 Metro Atlantic Athletic) that a player had tested positive for the Orange. While the university did not reveal which player had tested positive, starting guard Buddy Boeheim was held out of the contest due to the school’s contact tracing.

“I’m not just his coach, I’m his father,” said the elder Boeheim of Buddy following the game. “He’s crying, dying at home not being able to be here. He’s worked all year, stayed away from anything and has had no positive test and he’s been tested 40 times.”

While Coach Boeheim heaped praise upon the county health officials and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to combat the virus in New York, he lamented the actions of other states and called for a national set of guidelines to help level the playing field for teams.

“If you’ve been exposed to this and it’s seven days and you don’t get it and you’re negative, how can it be right nationally and right in Pennsylvania but it’s not right here?” asked Boeheim. “This should all be standard stuff. Everybody should be wearing masks. Everybody should be social distancing. Everybody should be under the same quarantine rules. Gonzaga gets two positive cases they play the same day, another program gets contact tracing and is shut down. There’s no leadership whatsoever. And Buddy’s gonna be out at least another seven days unless this changes.”

Under the current guidelines, Buddy Boeheim would be ineligible to play in Saturday’s game against Rider or travel for Tuesday’s ACC-B1G Challenge game at No. 24 Rutgers. The best-case scenario would be a return for the start of conference play at Boston College Saturday, December 12th.

Without Boeheim though, the Syracuse offense didn’t miss a beat. Freshman guard Kadary Richmond drew the start in the backcourt alongside Joe Girard III and made an immediate impact. Richmond posted 16 points to go with 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks on 6-10 shooting while playing a team-high 35 minutes. The stat-stuffing performance drew praise from his coach and teammates alike.

“This was a good opportunity for Kadary, and he took advantage of it,” said Coach Boeheim. “He did some really good things. He’s got tremendous skill. He’s got the tools, and he showed that.”

“I think the freshmen really stepped up, especially Kadary,” said Quincy Guerrier. “I think Kadary was really good.”

Alan Griffin also drew his first start for Syracuse in place of the injured Bourama Sidibe, who is sidelined with a torn meniscus. Griffin followed up his 17-point, 13-rebound effort against Bryant with a 10-point, 4 rebound effort, while also demonstrating skill as a playmaker with 4 assists and a touch from deep, knocking down a pair of threes.

The unquestioned star of the night though was Quincy Guerrier, who posted a career-high 23 points and matched his career high of 13 rebounds while shooting a blistering 9-10 from the field and knocking down his only three-point attempt.

“He’s so physical and strong,” Boeheim said of Guerrier’s performance. “He’s doing a great job rebounding. He’s getting 4 offensive rebounds in 25 minutes, and those are all baskets. He’s really strong around the basket and finishing well. You couldn’t ask him to do anything more. He’s been really good, double-doubles both games. That’s pretty good.”

“Quincy is a monster on the boards,” said Marek Dolezaj. “He’s huge for us. With Bourama being hurt, he’s one of the guys who I think can come in and step up.”

“I’m just trying to help my team the best way I can,” said Guerrier of his career night. “Be a monster, be physical, grab rebounds, make shots, my open shots and bring energy. It’s about playing with energy. There was still some stuff I wasn’t doing really well, but overall, I think I was doing pretty good, but I’m just trying to help my team by running the floor, taking rebounds, making my open shots and be physical.”

If Guerrier does still have room to improve, it could be a massive boon for the Orange, as he is off to a tremendous start to his Sophomore campaign. Through two games Guerrier is averaging 19 points, tied for 5th in the ACC in the early going, and 13 rebounds, best in the ACC on 73% shooting, which is the 3rd best mark in the conference.

Syracuse will next welcome Rider (0-0, 0-0 Metro Atlantic Athletic) to the Carrier Dome for its final matchup of this three-game homestand on Saturday, before traveling to Piscataway to battle No. 24 Rutgers (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) on Tuesday in the ACC-B1G Challenge. | @TomRusso24