|1981-1982 Syracuse Orangemen|
Coach: Jim Boeheim
|Tony 'Red' Bruin||Jr||F||26||24||-||126||249||50.6%||111||144||77.1%||49||102||98||9||-||-||-||363||14.0||1.9||3.9|
Syracuse had lost a trio of talented seniors, including center Danny Schayes who would be a first round NBA pick the previous Spring. The Orangemen would have a trio of talented juniors take control of the team in Erich Santifer, Leo Rautins and Tony Bruin. Syracuse would run a fast paced offense, but with some unusual configurations. Rautins, the 6'8" forward would run the point position on offense, and guard Santifer loved to play along the baseline. Sophomore Gene Waldron would join the starting rotation along with freshman Andre Hawkins, replacing Schayes.
Syracuse would start out their first couple of games strong with wins over traditional rivals Colgate and Cornell. Bruin would dislocate his index finger in the Cornell game, and miss the next few games, with senior Ron Payton taking his place. Syracuse would lose to St. Joseph's in the finals of Carrier Classic, for their first loss of the year, as the Hawk's Brian Warrick hit a seventeen footer with four seconds remaining to win the game 59-57.
Syracuse would lose a couple of games later to Fordham, and later to Ohio State, allowing the Orangemen to finish their pre-season non-conference record at 8-3. Rautins was playing very effectively, and in early January Santifer started to score strong. Syracuse would lose to highly touted Villanova on January 9th by a point, despite a strong game by Santifer who had 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Syracuse would play #8 ranked Georgetown and their highly touted freshman center Patrick Ewing on January 17th at the Carrier Dome. Hawkins would frustrate Ewing throughout the game, and Rautins was superb with his passing (10 assists) as the Orangemen upset the Hoyas 75-70. Santifer would lead the Orangemen with 19 points.
Rautins would hurt his knee in a loss to St. John's, and would have arthoscopic surgery as a result. He would miss seven games as a result, and would not start for the Orangemen for ten games. The loss of the Orangemen's top play maker, during the Big East season, did cripple the Orange offense, which was evident in their next game, a lopsided loss to Boston College. The Orangemen would grit out a win in a very physical game at Penn State, and they faced #4 ranked DePaul in the Carrier Dome.
The DePaul game was a tight contest, and their All-American Terry Cummings picked up four fouls in the first half of the game. Bruin had an outstanding game, scoring 22 of his 29 points in the second half. However, Syracuse was frustrated by the officiating of the game, particularly of note was Dick Paparo. Jim Boeheim thought Cummings should have picked up his fifth foul a few times in the second half, particularly on a basket by Payton with 11 1/2 minutes remaining. However, Paparo called Boeheim for a technical on arguing the call, and that broke a tie ball game at 59-59. Syracuse hung close, but DePaul would hold on to win 92-87.
The Orangemen would have different heroes throughout the season. Five players would have at least one game with double digit rebounding, and six different players would lead a game in scoring. Sophomore Sean Kerins would come off the bench in the Providence game to score 22 points along with 9 rebounds in the win. However, the loss of size and experience at center did hurt the Syracuse defense.
Syracuse would finish out the Big East season at 7-7, and had an overall record of 15-11, so they needed a strong Big East Tournament presence to make the NCAA. Rautins had returned to the starting lineup at the end of the regular season, so the starting five were intact. The Orangemen would play Boston College in the first round of the Big East Tournament, and they played 39 minutes of winning basketball. The Orangemen led 92-84 with 1:55 left in the game, but would not score again, turning the ball over five times, and allowing the Eagles to win the game 94-92. This despite the fact that Syracuse shot 36 of 51 from the floor for the game (70.5%), 20-23 from the free throw line (87%), out rebounded Boston College 37-26, and had twenty five assists. The offsetting factors were that Boston College scored 61 second half points, and the Orangemen turned the ball over 25 times.
With the heartbreaking loss the Orangemen were NIT bound. They would beat St. Peters 84-75 in the NIT first round, behind a triple double by Leo Rautins, who had 13 rebounds, 10 assists and 12 rebounds, while Santifer and Bruin each had 19 points. However, the Orangemen struggled against Bradley in the second round, unable to defend against the faster Bradley squad, losing 95-81.
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