|1954-1955 Syracuse Orangemen|
Coach: Marc Guley
Syracuse was coming off a 11-10 season, with its top two scorers not returning. Furthermore veterans Walt Scott, Dave Kline, and Connie Zimmick were ruled medically unable to participate. The good news was the arrival of sophomore Vinnie Cohen, an explosive leaper and scorer. Cohen had some extremely talented classmates joining him including Gary Clark, Jim Snyder, and football star Jim Brown. Captain Jack Larned and Manny Breland returned to give a strong backcourt, and Ronnie Gillespie was present up front.
Coach Marc Guley was trying to get experience on the court as he started Larned, Breland and Gillespie at the beginning of the season, with Cohen and Snyder rounding out the starting five. The rest of his sophomore talent would come off the bench for significant playing time. Unfortunately, the inexperience of the young Orangemen showed as the team lost seven of its first nine games. Included in those losses was a 103-54 loss to LaSalle, the worst loss in Syracuse history (to date), and a 75-74 overtime loss to Columbia.
Syracuse played Sampson Air Force Base on January 8th, and easily beat the airmen 92-77 behind Jim Browns 33 point effort, a feat he accomplished despite not starting the game. Brown was the second leading scorer on the team for the season at that point, and his status as a reserve was about to change. He would start against Pittsburgh on January 11th (replacing Breland), and power the Orangemen to a 91-85 victory with 26 points.
Syracuse would lose the next two to Penn State and Navy, and Clark would take over for Snyder in the starting center position. Breland would return to the starting lineup and Larned, the team captain, would become a reserve. The new Syracuse lineup featured four sophomores (Brown, Breland, Clark, Cohen) and junior Gillespie. This was a much faster lineup and it showed as the Orangemen were able to run the ball well.
The team would finish the season with a 6-2 run, the two losses being a last second loss to Penn and a overtime loss to Colgate. Syracuse had a more balanced offense down the stretch, with Cohen and Brown leading the way. The young team that had struggled so hard early in the year was now on a roll, preparing for the following season.
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