How Bourama Sidibe’s Injury Affects Syracuse Going Forward
By Eric Moon
CitrusTV Basketball Beat Reporter
Following a nail-biting one-point victory over the Bryant Bulldogs (0-1, 0-0 Northeast Conference) on Friday, Syracuse (1-0, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) is searching for a 2-0 start when they take on Niagara (0-0, 0-0 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) Thursday night inside the Dome. The Orange were dominated on Friday due in part to a lack of practices in the two weeks leading up after multiple positive tests within the program. But following Friday’s contest, SU Athletics announced Monday the team will be without senior Bourama Sidibe for the foreseeable future after Sidibe suffered a torn meniscus vs Bryant.
Sidibe is one of four returning starters for the Orange, so he is a significant loss for the team, especially this early in the season. Head Coach Jim Boeheim has had to shuffle the lineup very early this season, but fans got a preview on Friday of what to expect in the frontcourt in the next few weeks.
Marek Dolezaj moved to the center position in Sidibe’s place in the 1st half vs. Bryant and looked fantastic for the Orange. Dolezaj recorded a double-double and was second among all scorers with 20 points. His 10 assists were the most among all players as well.
Boeheim was very impressed by Dolezaj’s performance at the center position.
“Marek did a great job out there,” Boeheim said. “He took away the lob pass. He did unbelievable stuff out there. He was great. Marek was tremendous and I think he can play better.”
Boeheim added that Dolezaj’s performance was pivotal in Syracuse even having a chance at winning Friday’s game.
“We might not have gotten to the wire unless Marek played center,” Boeheim said.
Dolezaj is not a natural center. The only two natural centers on the team other than Sidibe are freshman Frank Anselem and sophomore Jesse Edwards. Anselem and Edwards played a combined five minutes on Friday.
Boeheim has given every indication that for as long as Sidibe is out of the lineup, which is expected to be approximately four weeks, Dolezaj will be the team’s center.
“With Bourama going down right now, if he can’t play, Marek’s starting at center, Quincy’s at forward, and Alan’s at the other forward,” Boeheim said. “That’s our best team.”
Regardless of what position he’s playing, Dolezaj is focused simply on playing good basketball.
“I don’t think about playing center or forward,” Dolezaj said. “I’m just going to play smart and try to get stops.”
Dolezaj and Syracuse take on Niagara Thursday night inside the Dome. It’s only the second all-time meeting between the Orange and the Purple Eagles with SU coming out on top 71-57 last season in the first meeting. Elijah Hughes led all scorers with 19 points in last year’s contest. Key Purple Eagle returning players Nick MacDonald and Greg Kuakumensah led Niagara with 11 points and 10 points, respectively, in that game. Thursday marks Niagara’s season opener before the Purple Eagles begin MAAC conference play next week. Tipoff Thursday night is set for 7pm.
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