Syracuse, N.Y. — The biggest observation about Thursday’s game was made about two hours before the Syracuse-Niagara game tipped off in the Carrier Dome.
SU announced a positive Covid-19 test in its men’s basketball program. That announcement impacted who could play Thursday night and juggled the Orange rotation, especially at the guard spots.
The game? Syracuse led by 14 at the half and cruised to a 75-45 victory.
Here’s what happened:
Syracuse University announced, at 6:18 p.m., that someone in its men’s basketball program tested positive for Covid-19 during last week’s testing. Orange basketball players and staff are tested three times a week, using the most accurate coronavirus tests — a PCR nose swab. The person who tested positive has to isolate for 10 days; anybody deemed to be a close contact must quarantine for 14 days.
The university will not identify people in its athletic programs that test positive. Buddy Boeheim was not in the Carrier Dome Thursday night and did not play in the game. He had started 36 previous games for the Orange and scored 21 points in SU’s home-opener in the Dome last week.
At any rate, SU had 10 players at its disposal against Niagara. It altered its starting lineup to look like: Joe Girard, Kadary Richmond, Alan Griffin, Quincy Guerrier and Marek Dolezaj. Bourama Sidibe was not available; he had surgery earlier in the week to repair a torn meniscus and is expected to miss about a month. Dolezaj started for him and Guerrier moved into Dolezaj’s traditional power forward spot. Richmond, the freshman point guard, took Buddy Boeheim’s place in the starting lineup.
The bench looked like this: John Bol Ajak, Woody Newton, Frank Anselem, Jesse Edwards, Robert Braswell.
Kadary Richmond, the 6-foot-5 point guard, started for the first time in his Syracuse career.
He struggled a little bit early. He looked a little tentative against a small (5-foot-10) guard assigned to cover him. But then, he got better. A lot better. Joe Girard handled most of the early ball-handling and point guard duties at the start of the game, but as the half wore on, Richmond had the ball in his hands more to make plays or make shots. And he grew more confident as his minutes mounted.
He was good in that first half. He showed nice hesitation and change of speed with his dribble that enabled him to get into the lane. He finished a Girard lob pass. He was 3-of-5 in that half with four rebounds, one blocked shot (he swatted a 3-point attempt from up top) and one assist. And when Niagara was attempting 3-point shots? They did that from Girard’s area of the zone.
He stayed good in the second half. Early in that closing half, he stole a ball out of the Dome air and