This year's games and lineups are often a matter of last-minute adjustments due to COVID-19 protocols. For Syracuse, the adjustments also include compensating for the absence of its leading scorer Buddy Boeheim.
The son of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, Buddy did not test positive but is sitting outdue to contact tracing and will be out again Saturday when unbeaten Syracuse (2-0) hosts Rider, which is playing its season opener.
Buddy Boeheim was among five players who missed Thursday's 75-45 rout of Niagara due a teammate's positive test. He has to sit out for 14 days starting from Thursday, meaning he will also miss Tuesday's game against No. 24 Rutgers. Boeheim is expected to return when the Orange open Atlantic Coast Conference play at Boston College on Dec. 12.
"He's home broken-hearted because he's worked his tail off every day since last season ended to be on the court and he hasn't done anything wrong," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said of his son.
Buddy Boeheim is Syracuse's top returning scorer after averaging 15.3 points per game last season. He scored 23 points to help the Orange hold off upset-minded Bryant, 85-84, on Nov. 27. Without him on Thursday, the Orange got a career-high 23 points and 13 rebounds in 25 minutes from Quincy Guerrier and 16 points from Kadary Richmond, who also totaled seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks in his first career start.
"I thought Kadary was the difference in the game," Jim Boeheim said. "He blocked some shots. He used this game to really help himself."
Rider is picked to finish last in the 11-team Metro Atlantic Conference and is opening its season a little over two weeks since announcing its nonconference schedule.
The Broncs were 18-12 last season and lost leading scorer Dimencio Vaughn, who averaged 14.8 points per game and shot 48.4 percent last season before transferring to Ole Miss. In total, Rider lost nine players from last season's team and has 12 new players to incorporate along with holdovers Ajiri Ogemuno-Johnson and Christian Ings.
"It's important just so we can get some experience under our belt," Rider coach Kevin Baggett said. "We have a lot of inexperience and youth on our team. The more opportunities you get to play an opponent, the more experience you can get, the more you can figure out your team, the more you can figure out rotations and where you still need to continue to teach and coach."
--Field Level Media