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Fan Forum Sets Stage for 24th Crunch Season

Fan Forum Sets Stage for 24th Crunch Season

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Story and Photo by Matt St. Jean

SYRACUSE, N.Y.
 — 50 or so die-hard Syracuse Crunch fans packed into the War Memorial player’s lounge for the opportunity to address Crunch president and owner, Howard Dolgon, Monday afternoon. After a near dream season ended in a crushing Calder Cup defeat at the hands of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the fans wanted to know: where does the Crunch go from here? According to Dolgon, the organization has already started to reload.
“We’re back at it now,” Dolgon said, “[The NHL parent club Tampa Bay Lightning] has been signing, most importantly, a lot of our own players. Like Mike Bournival, Cory Conacher, (Jake) Dotchin, (Slater) Koekkoek, (Gabriel) Dumont, and (Yanni) Gourde.”

Additionally, the Crunch signed one of the top available goalies in the AHL, Michael Leighton.

 

Questions 

When the forum opened for questions, one fan didn’t ask what the Crunch can do for him, but what can he do for the Crunch.

“What can we do more to help you?” The fan asked. “Whether it’s willfulness, coming to the meetings with you with the county, just helping out.”

The fan also offered to purchase a massive “7th man flag.” Blown away, Dolgon jokingly asked the gentleman if he was looking for a job!

While the opening question was certainly a softball, the crowd turned to more serious questions surrounding the in-game experience.

“What promotions are you planning on having throughout the year and when will those be available?”

“Is something being done about the paint in the arena? There are areas where it is chipping.”

“The sound. Are you improving the sound because it’s loud, but you can’t understand it.”

“The quality and selection of food at the concession stands is not that desirable. Any chance of improving that?”
On the topic of food options, another fan was particularly concerned about the Crunch returning the pasta bar instead of the current meatball sub option.

 

They ARE fans

Concession and cosmetic concerns aside, there was one theme that arose above the rest: The love and admiration the fans had for the Crunch franchise. Each fan who stepped forward to ask question led off by complimenting Dolgon on the raucous atmosphere of the War Memorial Arena and the loyalty the organization has shown the city of Syracuse.

Even though the ’16-’17 season just ended in mid-June, Crunch fans have less than three months to wait before the puck drops at the War Memorial Arena on October 7th against Rochester.

A Chat with Howard Dolgon

A Chat with Howard Dolgon

Story and photo by Matt St. Jean SYRACUSE, N.Y. — What does it take to own and maintain a team in the American Hockey League? For Syracuse Crunch owner, Howard Dolgon, it’s more than a business, it’s a passion.   Roughly 15 minutes before taking center stage at the Crunch fan forum Monday afternoon at […]

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Story and photo by Matt St. Jean


SYRACUSE, N.Y
. — What does it take to own and maintain a team in the American Hockey League? For Syracuse Crunch owner, Howard Dolgon, it’s more than a business, it’s a passion.

 

Roughly 15 minutes before taking center stage at the Crunch fan forum Monday afternoon at the War Memorial, Dolgon had the look of a man who was genuinely happy to be sitting behind his desk about to enter his 24th season as owner. In addition to discussing the ins and outs of the franchise from a business perspective, Dolgon was adamant about his commitment to the city and people of Syracuse.

 

“I’ve said this forever.” Dolgon said, “One of the mandates of a professional sports team in town, is to utilize your popularity to make things better in the community you play in and that’s critical.”

 

Players involved


Dolgon’s New York City-based business career has been in sports public relations and that translated well to how he’s handled the Crunch.

 

With Dolgon at the helm, Crunch players are encouraged to get out in the community and give back. They have participated in the Sunny Delight Anti-Bullying programs in schools, put on holiday parties for kids with pediatric cancer at the Upstate Medical Center and even serve doughnuts for the Dunkin Donuts Munchkins Hosting Program, where proceeds benefit area youth groups and nonprofit organizations.

 

“For us that’s a blessing to do, not a job,” Dolgon said, “when we see the fruits of our work in a positive way in our community then we know we’ve done what we’re supposed to do.”

 

A better place to play

 

In addition to the work outside of the rink, Dolgon is dead set on improving the conditions of the War Memorial, so Crunch fans have an immaculate game experience. His goals for the 2017-18 season are to digitally upgrade the whole area, primarily the scoreboard and concourse as well as to update the areas honoring our nation’s veterans. All of those plans, hinging on the green light on obtaining funding from Onondaga County.

 

“This is the closest we’ve ever been, I believe, to getting the approvals that we need,” Dolgon said, “Are we there yet? No. Are we in the right direction? I think a lot would have to go wrong not to get there.”

 

Owner as fan

 

What this all comes down to for Dolgon is that, at the end of the day, he’s a fan.

 

“We’re fans first, we own a team, but we do it because we love hockey and we love sports.” Dolgon said.

 

With that, he shook my hand and walked down the hallway to greet 50 eager, loyal Syracuse Crunch fans ready to answer any question they sent his way.

 

The full length audio of the interview can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/matt-st-jean-1/howard-dolgon

PawSox Sweep Chiefs Again

PawSox Sweep Chiefs Again

Story and photo by Corey Crisan Syracuse, N.Y. – Let’s not sugarcoat anything here. The Pawtucket Red Sox (47-44, Red Sox affiliate) have owned the Syracuse Chiefs (32-58, Nationals affiliate) this year. The PawSox were 14-2 against their International League North Division rivals entering Sunday’s play. The PawSox haven’t just won these games; the offense has […]

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Story and photo by Corey Crisan

Syracuse, N.Y. – Let’s not sugarcoat anything here. The Pawtucket Red Sox (47-44, Red Sox affiliate) have owned the Syracuse Chiefs (32-58, Nationals affiliate) this year. The PawSox were 14-2 against their International League North Division rivals entering Sunday’s play.

The PawSox haven’t just won these games; the offense has dominated Syracuse. In these 16 games, the PawSox have scored at least five runs, ten times against the Chiefs. However, Syracuse has scored 20 total runs in their two victories, so offense often has come at a premium for the Chiefs.

 

Same Old Song The PawSox continued their dominance over the Chiefs on Sunday, collecting 13 hits en route to a 7-1 victory. In addition, they earned their third sweep of the Chiefs in 2017.

The first half of Sunday’s game was the Aneury Tavarez show at NBT Bank Stadium as he led off the game with a home run on the second pitch he saw. He followed that with a triple and run scored in the third inning to give Pawtucket a 2-1 lead. Tavarez went 2-5 on Sunday to lead the way at the top of Pawtucket’s order.

Syracuse scored its lone run in the second inning. Neftali Soto led off that frame with a single, Spencer Kieboom doubled, and Caleb Ramsey sacrifice flied Soto in to tie the game at 1-1.

Ramsey and Michael Almanzar led off the Chiefs fifth with back-to-back singles, but runs failed to cross the plate. Stephen Perez struck out swinging, Andrew Stevenson grounded out to first base, and Irving Falu struck out looking to follow and end the frame.

 

Broken Wide Open

The PawSox broke opened the flood gates in the sixth inning. Heiker Meneses led off with a double down the left field line, Castillo singled, and Bryce Brentz clubbed a three-run home run to dead center field to break the game open and give Pawtucket a 5-1 lead.

Pawtucket added another run in the seventh on an RBI double by Matt Dominguez off Chiefs reliever Kevin Jepsen. Castillo reached on a strikeout-wild pitch, advanced to second when Brentz walked, and scored on the double from second to give the PawSox a 6-1 lead.

The Chiefs had runners on first and second with two outs in the sixth and seventh innings versus PawSox reliever Kyle Martin. However, they failed to score in each case.

Dominguez doubled in another run to deep right-center field in the ninth to extend Pawtucket’s lead to 7-1, and that ended the scoring for Sunday.

Both starting pitchers remained on record on Sunday. Marcus Walden earned the win for Pawtucket and improved his record to 8-3. Jaron Long took the loss for Syracuse and dropped to 1-4.

Pawtucket also improved its 2017 record versus Syracuse to 15-2. The Chiefs have fallen to an International League-worst 32-59 and are now 26 games back of first place Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the IL North Division.

 

From the Source

Chiefs catcher Spencer Kieboom reached base safely in each of his four plate appearances, including doubles in the second and eighth innings. He also bumped his batting average up to .323 on the season.

“I’m just trying to do whatever I can to get the barrel on the ball, and whatever happens… happens,” he said. “I was active during the All-Star break – I lifted some weights, nothing crazy. Went and hit and had some fun.”

Regarding the Chiefs’ struggles against Pawtucket, Kieboom noted that the PawSox are just that team they can’t get past.

“(Our guys) want it just as bad as they want it against anybody else. It’s just the way it’s been against those guys,” he tabbed. “Everybody has that team every year… They play fundamentally sound baseball and they do a good job, but they don’t do anything significantly different than any other team. It’s just about what they’re doing against us.”

 

Series Lines

Thursday 7/13: PAW 5, SYR 0. W: Johnson (3-1), L: Turner (0-1)

Friday 7/14: PAW 8, SYR 1. W: Kendrick (3-6), L: Ross (3-8)

Saturday 7/15: PAW 7, SYR 4. W: Beeks (3-3), L: Cole (4-4)

Sunday 7/16: PAW 7, SYR 1. W: Walden (8-3), L: Long (1-4)

 

What’s Next

The Chiefs begin an eight-game road trip on Monday. They will play three at Louisville (Reds) and five at Columbus (Indians) including a June 4 makeup game at Columbus. The Chiefs will return to NBT Bank Stadium on July 24 where they will open a seven-game home stand versus Louisville and Gwinnett (Braves).

PawSox Continue Dominance Over Chiefs

PawSox Continue Dominance Over Chiefs

Story by Matt St. Jean Photos by Kristin O’Grady SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The fan favorite ZOOperstars were out in force at NBT Bank Stadium for the first of a four-game set between International League North Division rivals, the Pawtucket Red Sox (45-44) and the Syracuse Chiefs (32-56). But the Chiefs bats were not. The Chiefs the […]

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Story by Matt St. Jean

Photos by Kristin O’Grady

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The fan favorite ZOOperstars were out in force at NBT Bank Stadium for the first of a four-game set between International League North Division rivals, the Pawtucket Red Sox (45-44) and the Syracuse Chiefs (32-56). But the Chiefs bats were not.

The Chiefs the went into the All-Star break on a three-game losing streak, 22.5 games out of first place and in dire need of a win streak to start the second half of the season. But they hadn’t had much success against the PawSox thus far, winning only two out of 13 contests.

Nothing changed Thursday evening at NBT Bank Stadium, as Pawtucket won 5-0 to start the series.


Johnson Jams Up Chief Bats

Pawtucket starter, Brian Johnson had all his pitches working on the mound orchestrating seven scoreless innings while only allowing three hits, lowering his season ERA to 2.68.

“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Johnson,” Chiefs manager Billy Gardner said “He did a heck of a job and you know good pitching is always going to beat good hitting.”

The Chiefs hit the ball hard off Johnson, but usually right at Red Sox fielders as they never put more than one runner on base at a time against the PawSox lefty.

 

One Rough Inning

Jacob Turner took the mound for the Syracuse Chiefs and threw a solid game despite his stat line of five innings pitched with seven hits, four earned runs, and only two strikeouts.

“I thought at times he really located his fastball,” Gardner said. “I thought his location was in the zone, the ball left his hand really good, had some good life to it, I thought he spun some good breaking balls in.”

Turner cruised through the first two innings, but then ran into trouble in the third when Pawtucket bats came to life scoring three runs.

“Sometimes you really need to get somebody out in that situation,” Turner said. “I think they strung together like four hits together, so, anytime they do that in that situation, it’s usually not going to end in a good inning.”

 

Jackson’s Scoreless Streak Halted

Edwin Jackson entered the game in relief of Turner with a 17-and-a-third inning scoreless streak. After increasing the streak to 18-and-two-thirds innings, Jackson surrendered his first run of the 2017 campaign on a Steve Selsky seeing-eye single.

“Coming out of the break, haven’t been on the mound in a little bit,” the veteran righty said. “They really made me work–they hit some balls, found some holes.”

In total, Jackson pitched three innings, giving up five hits and striking out two. Jackson, however, has a big decision coming up in the not-so-distant future. If he is still pitching in AAA on August 1 he can choose to opt out of his current contract and seek employment elsewhere. A decision he said he is not keeping in the front of his mind.

“Honestly, I’m really not necessarily that concerned, can’t really worry about what I can’t control,” Jackson said. “When I get the ball out here, just go out and continue to work and everything else will happen in due time.”


What’s Next for the Chiefs

With a tall mountain to climb in the North Division, Gardner wants his players to maintain their focus.

“We gotta go out there and compete, continue to grind at-bats out, get some big hits, and, you know, just battle every night,” Gardner said.

They’ll get another chance against the PawSox Friday night at 7:05.

Cub Reporters Cover Boeheim’s Army at the Ballpark

Cub Reporters Cover Boeheim’s Army at the Ballpark

Staff Report SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Three days into Boot Camp, seven new graduate students in the Newhouse School’s Sports Communications Emphasis jumped into the deep end of the pool to cover their first assignments, Thursday evening at NBT Bank Stadium. Seven players and the coach of Boeheim’s Army tossed ceremonial pitches before the Syracuse Chiefs […]

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Staff Report

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Three days into Boot Camp, seven new graduate students in the Newhouse School’s Sports Communications Emphasis jumped into the deep end of the pool to cover their first assignments, Thursday evening at NBT Bank Stadium. Seven players and the coach of Boeheim’s Army tossed ceremonial pitches before the Syracuse Chiefs game against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, then signed autographs and posed for photos with fans on the stadium concourse, before retiring to a Chiefs’ suite to relax with family and friends as the game went on below. Boeheim’s Army opens play in Philadelphia on Saturday in The Basketball Tournament, which carries a $2 million winner-take-all prize.

The students, Corey Crisan, Rafael Freitas, Monica Ortiz, Kent Paisley, Dominique Patrick, Jonathan Singh and Matt St. Jean, ranged in experience with this sort of thing from fairly extensive to none whatsoever. They were first among the 34 SCE students to volunteer for the job. Their assignment was to cover the pregame ceremony, general media opportunity and autograph/photo session, then conduct one-on-one interviews with each student reporter assigned to one player.

Along the way, they stood shoulder to shoulder with the Post-Standard/syracuse.com men’s basketball beat writer Donna Ditota, WSYR-TV’s Mario Sacco (an SCE alum), the Chiefs’ official photographer Herm Card and the Chiefs’ press box manager Don Johnston, better know as Syracuse’s Donnie Baseball.

They also fired questions at Boeheim’s Army Manager Kevin Belbey, Coach Ryan Blackwell and Chiefs General Manager Jason Smorol, who was dressed in his outrageous disco outfit to celebrate Disco Night at the stadium.

You’ll find the reporters’ work on this website under Student Reporting.

Here’s a look behind the scenes: 

 

 

Orange All-time Leader Back with Boeheim’s Army

Orange All-time Leader Back with Boeheim’s Army

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — No one has started more games in a Syracuse Orange uniform than Brandon Triche. Four years after his graduation, he has returned to the city again to join other notable alumni in a chance to share $2-million dollars in The Basketball Tournament, playing for Boeheim’s Army. The 6’4″ guard from Jamesville-DeWitt High School […]

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — No one has started more games in a Syracuse Orange uniform than Brandon Triche.

Four years after his graduation, he has returned to the city again to join other notable alumni in a chance to share $2-million dollars in The Basketball Tournament, playing for Boeheim’s Army.

The 6’4″ guard from Jamesville-DeWitt High School started every single game in his four-year carer in Syracuse, with a total of 147 games played, a record that still belongs to him.

“I’m happy just to have any type of record or be part of history here at Syracuse”, Triche said Thursday evening at NBT Bank Stadium, where he and other six players plus Coach Ryan Blackwell tossed out ceremonial first pitches and signed autographs as the Syracuse Chiefs beat the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.


TBT Challenge

Triche and his teammates are set to play the first game in The Basketball Tournament next Saturday in Philadelphia against the DuBois Dream. For Triche, the greatest challenge will be figuring out how to be the best team.

“I know some teams had more time to practice more than we did; others grew up playing with each other, so they know their game a little better… but I think we have the talents to win this tournament,” he said in an interview. “Different types of guards, different players with different sizes. Plus, our shooting is pretty good. We just have to figure out how to win those games.”

Last year, Boeheim’s Army fell in a Sweet 16 game against a Pittsburgh Alumni team.

Just happy to be back

Triche has played professionally in the NBA Developmental League as well as overseas, finishing this past season with a team in Israel.

“I’m just happy to be back here,” he said, looking back to his days and nights in the Carrier Dome.

“To play in front of 30 thousand people is just amazing. You don’t get this in college basketball or even in the NBA. I just wanna say that I love and appreciate all you guys and all these games are from you.”

That love for the community, the fact that he is a local guy and his dedication on the basketball court make Triche one of the favorite Syracuse players for the fans. He was one of the most asked for photos during the autograph session. Steve Taubart, an Orange Basketball fan,  didn’t lose the chance of to take a picture with one of his favorite players.

“Brandon Triche completed four years in Syracuse,  had 147 games, was in the Final Four a couple of times, great college player. , He is just someone I look up to, a remarkable individual,” Taubart said.

A Fair Chance

A Fair Chance

Story by Kent Paisley Staff photo Syracuse, N.Y.— CJ Fair says he is ready for The Basketball Tournament no matter who the opponent is. “I’m here to play against anyone,” Fair said Thursday night at NBT Bank Stadium. “I know some players want to take on Overseas Elite, but I’ll play anybody. I’m just excited […]

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Story by Kent Paisley

Staff photo

Syracuse, N.Y.— CJ Fair says he is ready for The Basketball Tournament no matter who the opponent is.

“I’m here to play against anyone,” Fair said Thursday night at NBT Bank Stadium. “I know some players want to take on Overseas Elite, but I’ll play anybody. I’m just excited to play with my fellow alumni.”
Fair joined fellow Orange alums Trevor Cooney, Eric Devendorf, DaShonte Riley, Donte Greene, John Gillon, Brandon Triche and Coach Ryan Blackwell throwing out ceremonial first pitches before the Syracuse Chiefs’ win over Lehigh Valley, then signed autographs for fans on the stadium concourse.

 

Still working towards The League

Fair, who played all four years and finished his tenure in 2014, is one of SU nine alums on the Boeheim’s Army roster this upcoming Saturday in the opening round.

The 6’8″ Fair, known for his slashing drives to the basket, finished his career as an Orange team leader in 2014.

He has signed two NBA contracts, both with the Indiana Pacers, and has been waived by them twice: once in October 2014, and once in October 2015. He has spent time in the D-League with the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants and signed with a professional team in France. His career goal remains to make it in the NBA. This tournament appearance, however, is not about furthering that dream.

“Making this tournament is about representing the school. I don’t anticipate the results of affecting my chances of making the NBA,” he said.

 

New approach

The team has taken a different approach for this tournament, electing to practice for a full week before the tournament begins. Last year, the team only practiced for two days before the start of the tournament.

In addition, in the event the team wins the tournament and the $2-million winner-take-all prize, the team will donate $50,000 to Boeheim Foundation, in to show support for their head coach who has provided them the opportunity to wear the Orange during their college careers.

Boeheim’s Army is scheduled play in its first game this upcoming Saturday in Philadelphia at 6:00 P.M. EST. The game will be available on the Watch ESPN app and ESPN3.

Sour Taste Turns Sweet; Greene Still Bleeds Orange

Sour Taste Turns Sweet; Greene Still Bleeds Orange

Story and photo by Dominique Patrick Syracuse, N.Y. — Boeheim’s Army leads fan votes this year for the Northeast region of The Basketball Tournament and Donte Greene most likely is one of the reasons why. Greene, who left for the NBA after a single season at SU, is back to wear the Orange again. “It’s just […]

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Story and photo by Dominique Patrick

Syracuse, N.Y. — Boeheim’s Army leads fan votes this year for the Northeast region of The Basketball Tournament and Donte Greene most likely is one of the reasons why. Greene, who left for the NBA after a single season at SU, is back to wear the Orange again.

“It’s just me representing my school,” Greene said in an interview at NBT Bank Stadium Thursday evening. “I left on a bad note; a little a sour taste left in some of the fans’ mouth so I just want to come back and show them I still bleed Orange. I love my university. It’s always an honor to come out and represent them and put on the Orange jersey”

The Syracuse Chiefs honored Greene and Boeheim’s Army, Thursday having seven players and Coach Ryan Blackwell throw the ceremonial first pitches of the night before the game against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

 

Greene and Orange

When he’s not warming up his shooting wrist by drumming a solo, something he did with the SU pep band the Sour Sitrus Society before home games, he continues to pursue his basketball career. Since his four seasons with the NBA Sacramento Kings, he has moved around the world, signing most recently with a team in Puerto Rico.

The 6′-11″ Greene plans to bring not only his offensive skill set to the team but his tremendous growth on the defensive end. At 29, he is one of the oldest players on the roster, but experience comes with age. His plan to use his experience and leadership may be the push his teammates need. Greene said expects nothing short of a championship.

“I want to win. We’ve been out here practicing for a week and I want to come out and have a better showing than we did last year.”

“Getting them together for a couple of games, its like a big family reunion,” Boeheim’s Army manager Kevin Belbey said

The team has hopes of bringing home the $2 million prize. It is scheduled to take on the DuBois Dream in the first round of the tournament at Philadelphia University at 6 p.m., this Saturday July 8.

Gillon Steps Up for Boeheim’s Army

Gillon Steps Up for Boeheim’s Army

Story by Monica Ortiz Staff photo SYRACUSE, N.Y. — When Boeheim’s Army suddenly needed a point guard, John Gillon stepped up, something he did more than once during this past Orange men’s basketball season. And when other members of the team that will compete in The Basketball Tournament took the field for ceremonial first pitches before the […]

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Story by Monica Ortiz

Staff photo

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — When Boeheim’s Army suddenly needed a point guard, John Gillon stepped up, something he did more than once during this past Orange men’s basketball season.

And when other members of the team that will compete in The Basketball Tournament took the field for ceremonial first pitches before the Syracuse Chiefs game and signed autographs for fans Thursday night, Gillon was right there with them as he has been in practice this week.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Gillon said.
Connections

Gillon, who is best know for his buzzer beater against Duke, replaces Scoop Jardine who was injured while playing professionally in Canada last season. General Manager Kevin Belbey’s goal has been to stick to a team of former Syracuse Basketball players. He contacted Gillon. Belbey said after finding out Gillon had not signed on with a summer league team, the decision to add him as point guard came fairly easy.

Belbery’s brother Shaun, a walk on transfer for Syracuse Basketball put him in contact with Gillon. After a couple of conversations with his agent, Gillon responded he could be on a plane the next day.

“Back home”

Gillon has only been gone from Syracuse about two months and says his return feels like he’s “back home.”

Choosing to play for Boeheim’s Army didn’t require much thought on his part.

“I’m glad Belbey asked me to be on the team,” Gillon said. “Getting back and being able to replace such good player, with the team thinking highly of me in that role means a lot.”

As far as he is concerned the team is skilled in every position, but the strength of the team will be revealed once the tournament starts. Boeheim’s Army will go after the $2 million winner-take-all prize, facing the DuBois Dream in its first game this Saturday, July 8 in Philadelphia.

Riley’s Return

Riley’s Return

Story and photo by Corey Crisan SYRACUSE, NY — Eight Orange hoops alumni convened at the Syracuse Chiefs game on Thursday evening as part of a promotion for an upcoming event – The Basketball Tournament – where former players Ryan Blackwell, Trevor Cooney, Eric Devendorf, C.J. Fair, John Gillon, Donte Greene, DaShonte Riley, and Brandon Triche […]

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Story and photo by Corey Crisan

SYRACUSE, NY — Eight Orange hoops alumni convened at the Syracuse Chiefs game on Thursday evening as part of a promotion for an upcoming event – The Basketball Tournament – where former players Ryan Blackwell, Trevor Cooney, Eric Devendorf, C.J. Fair, John Gillon, Donte Greene, DaShonte Riley, and Brandon Triche will represent as “Boeheim’s Army.”

“Just seeing those guys, it’s been a fun experience. Reminiscing about things from freshman and sophomore year… I’ve been embracing coming back and it feels like I never left.”

“Unfinished business”

It’s not often that one of the nation’s most popular Division I Men’s Basketball programs watches players transfer from its school to go elsewhere, but there are the rare occasions where circumstances do apply. One player who falls into that category is former SU center and Boeheim’s Army player DaShonte Riley.
The seven-foot tall Riley was recruited by big-name basketball programs, including Marquette University, The University of Virginia, The University of California, and LSU. He averaged 1.4 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks per game in the 2009-2010 season for the Orange, then he was sidelined by a foot injury for the entire 2010-2011 season before transferring to Eastern Michigan University, just outside his hometown of Detroit. He played there for former SU assistant coach Rob Murphy.

Riley views this opportunity to right some “unfinished business” as he reunites with some former teammates and the rest of Orange Nation.

“The vibe of being back here made me feel like I left something I should’ve stayed with, and now I’m just enjoying the whole Syracuse community,” Riley said. “The fan base and everybody were real welcoming. These guys have embraced me a lot, like I never transferred… I can’t wait to represent Syracuse again.”

Blackwell on Boeheim’s Army’s chances

Ryan Blackwell will serve as the Boeheim Army’s head coach, and he gives a preview of what to expect from the Army on the court.

“The commitment of these guys to getting here and paying attention to detail in practice, I think that’s key,” he said. “Offensively, we’ll be more in tune. I think defensively we’ve gone over some stuff that we did last year, especially man-to-man. We’ll play our 2-3 zone, but I think man-to-man defense is going to be key for us as well. We didn’t do that well last year.”

The tournament is a 5-on-5, single elimination tournament involving 64 teams. A $2 million prize will go to the Championship winning team. Boeheim’s Army will open on Saturday at 6:00 versus the Dubois Dream. The game can be seen on WatchESPN.

Cooney Happy to Enlist in Boeheim’s Army

Cooney Happy to Enlist in Boeheim’s Army

Story and Photo by Jonathan Singh Syracuse N.Y.  — Trevor Cooney stepped to the mound and tossed one over the plate at NBT Bank Stadium, Thursday night. He is one of eight members of Boeheim’s Army to throw ceremonial first pitches before the Syracuse Chiefs took on the first place Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The 2016 graduate […]

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Story and Photo by Jonathan Singh

Syracuse N.Y.  — Trevor Cooney stepped to the mound and tossed one over the plate at NBT Bank Stadium, Thursday night. He is one of eight members of Boeheim’s Army to throw ceremonial first pitches before the Syracuse Chiefs took on the first place Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

The 2016 graduate of Syracuse University said he is excited to be back in town, and wear the Orange once again.

“To be back up here, and to play with some of the guys I watched before I got to college, and guys that I played with in college, it’s just an awesome experience,” Cooney said.

The new guy is a veteran

Cooney is the newest member of Boeheim’s Army, a tournament team with past stars from Syracuse University. The 6’4″ guard was picked up just over a week ago, as he will look to add more offense to what is already a dynamic one to begin with.

As one of the younger players on the roster, Cooney will bring along a fair amount of college experience. The Delaware native has been to two Final Fours, the only player in Syracuse Men’s Basketball history to do so.
“He’s going to work his tail off, he gives 100 percent and never stops.” Boehiem’s Army head coach Ryan Blackwell said. “He stretches the floor, can shoot and do multiple things out there.”

Trying to make it

The versatile shooting guard has made a quick transition from the NCAA, to playing overseas, and too now emerging as a young star in NBA D-League.

“My first year was a great experience I was able to get some experience overseas in the D-League and now back here in New York, playing for the Long Island Nets.”

Cooney started in over one hundred consecutive games for Syracuse.

A fan favorite

“Yeah Cooney is very good, he is clutch,” said Steve Taubart, a long time Syracuse fan. Taubart was taking pictures of Cooney, as the team was signing autographs at NBT Bank Stadium, “He was a great player and took the Orange deep during his time here.”

Down on the field the Chiefs were beating the IronPigs, 5-0, an example Cooney and his teammates hope to follow in the $2-million winner-take-all The Basketball Tournament.

Boeheim’s Army is set to tip off against the Dubois Dream this Saturday in Philadelphia.

Devendorf Hopes Third Time is the Charm

Devendorf Hopes Third Time is the Charm

Story and photo by Matt St. Jean SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Eric Devendorf plans to lay it all on the line for the Syracuse alumni team, Boeheim’s Army, in “The Basketball Tournament” (TBT) for the 3rd year in a row. Devendorf and six of his teammates threw out ceremonial first pitches at Thursday’s Syracuse Chiefs game against […]

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Story and photo by Matt St. Jean

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Eric Devendorf plans to lay it all on the line for the Syracuse alumni team, Boeheim’s Army, in “The Basketball Tournament” (TBT) for the 3rd year in a row.

Devendorf and six of his teammates threw out ceremonial first pitches at Thursday’s Syracuse Chiefs game against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

The players then met a long line of Orange fans for pictures and autographs before relaxing with friends and family in a suite provided by the Chiefs. With $2 million dollars on the line in the coming weeks, the support was a welcomed boost for Boeheim’s Army.

Leadership and experience

Playing in the most tournaments on the team, Devendorf has taken on a leadership role, a role which he has embraced much to the delight of returning coach and former SU star, Ryan Blackwell.

“These guys are into it, especially Devendorf,”Blackwell said. “He’s taken it upon himself to be my assistant to get these guys going because he knows what it means,”

Now an SU assistant coach, Devendorf spent several years playing professionally abroad. In addition to being Blackwell’s right hand man he provides insight and experience on the court.

“Playing overseas, in different countries, I learned the game more, I became more patient, matured as a player and a person,” Devendorf said, “When I’m out there on the floor, I know every situation.”
It has to be fun

In his two years of playing, Boeheim’s Army hasn’t made it out of the Northeast Regional with last year’s loss coming at the hands of the Pitt alumni team, FCM Untouchables. The loss still fresh in their minds, the team came together to practice a week early to re-establish their chemistry on and off the court.

“To be able to get back with all these guys, it’s fun, you know, it’s fun,” Devendorf said. “I know we’re competing and playing for money, but you got to have fun with it and enjoy doing it.” .

No. 3

Boeheim’s Army will wear uniforms similar to those worn by the 2003 National Championship team. The team has been given a No. 3 seed in the tournament, the same seed as SU was in the 2003 NCAA Tournament. However, Devendorf isn’t looking past first round opponent DuBois Dream, in Philadelphia on Saturday.

“Just because they don’t have recognizable names doesn’t mean they can’t play, they may go out there, shoot the lights out and shock everyone.” Devendorf said, “That’s why we have to go out there with a one game at a time mindset, focus on these guys, and then after that, hopefully the next.”

The Chiefs set a good example Thursday defeating the first-place Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 5-0.