Revenge, new additions fueling Boeheim's Army in TBT 2018

 

By: KJ Edelman | @kyle_edelman


Boeheim's Army will look to avenge last year's loss to Overseas Elite

Boeheim’s Army was agonizingly close to pulling off the biggest feat in TBT history in last year’s semifinals.

But, despite taking an early 14-8 advantage and hanging tough the whole game, three-time TBT champion Overseas Elite eventually did what they do best. Behind 18 points from Errick McCollum and 11 apiece from DJ Kennedy and Kyle Fogg, Overseas Elite pulled away to improve its career record to 18-0.

For Brandon Triche and the rest of Boeheim's Army, it wasn’t the defeat that hurt most, but rather the way they lost.

Triche felt that Boeheim’s Army lost its team mentality during the course of the game. Its coveted 2-3 zone was slashed by scorers like McCollum, while scoring for Boeheim’s Army was hard to come by. Triche went 3-12 and the team shot just 46 percent from the field.

Despite the close outcome, 81-77, Boeheim’s Army never picked up enough momentum to have a chance to steal the game.

“It felt like we were a couple of players, couple of plays and tweaks away from a championship,” Triche said. “There was no excuse for the way we lost. It’s on us.”

Weeks after the defeat to Overseas Elite, Eric Devendorf created a group chat with general manager Kevin Belbey and head coach Ryan Blackwell. Devendorf, who scored 24 points in the loss on Aug. 1, wanted to talk additions and how to win the 2018 title.

Belbey sent over a list of possible alumni the team could add to boost its roster. Devendorf stressed adding players who could do “a little of everything while filling up the wing,” he said. Triche, on the other hand, consulted the three individually and thought a lengthy post scorer who “drops 10-12 points every night,” would benefit the team.  

In the end, Boeheim’s Army got both.

For the past four years, Devendorf has been trying to convince 2010 Big East Sixth Man of the Year Kris Joseph to play in TBT. For the first three of those years, Joseph had to decline due to a busy summer schedule that included trips to the NBA Summer League. This year, he decided that it would be the perfect time to make his debut for Boeheim’s Army.

“I figured, why not,” Joseph said. “It’s a little different than just going back to Syracuse and playing pick up all summer. But I like the challenge.”

Devendorf was persistent on bringing in Joseph because he’s a well-rounded scorer who plays team friendly ball. Joseph regards himself as someone who can knock down open shots, play the backboards in the 2-3 zone and create transition opportunities. Triche, who has faced Joseph in France during a professional game overseas, highlighted his 3-point shooting as key to his role for Boeheim’s Army.

“Absolutely,” Devendorf said in regards to the notion that Joseph can pick up some of the scoring slack. “I’m getting older and I know Kris can fill it up.”

Next, Boeheim’s Army looked to gain veteran leadership and rim protection. They turned to an old friend in Hakim Warrick. The 35-year old forward, who spent eight years in the NBA, brings NCAA title experience with frontcourt length at either the forward or center spot.

 

“That’s big for me,” Joseph said when he found out about Warrick joining the team, “I grew up watching him. He’s going to be really good for us, I know it.”

Triche highlighted the consistency of Warrick when describing his role on the team. Warrick can protect the paint and pull up from mid-range, but his elite finishing ability could be what shine's brightest. 

31-year old Paul Harris will also be added to the Boeheim’s Army roster for the first time. As a junior at Syracuse in 2009, Harris averaged 12 points and 8.1 rebounds.

 

Although the Overseas Elite game leaves a bad taste in its mouth, Boeheim’s Army will look to its victory over Team FOE in the Northeast Regional Championship Game as a building block for TBT 2018.

Down 25 points with 11:54 remaining, Boeheim’s Army was on the verge of elimination. Triche recalls one particular play where Boeheim’s Army forced a turnover to slightly cut into the lead. After a timeout, Devendorf led the conversation.

“Everyone on this team can make plays,” Devendorf said in the huddle, “so why not do it now?”

Boeheim’s Army started to press and players like James Sutherland started to knock down shots. Finally, with 1:49 remaining, Boeheim’s Army finished off the biggest comeback in TBT history with an Eric Devendorf layup to give them a 67-66 lead, which they held for the remainder of the game.  

“That game symbolized what TBT is,” Triche said, “where anything can happen when it's sudden death.”

Boeheim’s Army will begin its title defense with a two week mini-camp prior to tip-off in Brooklyn. The team will play five-on-five, pick up and of course fine-tune the 2-3 zone.

“We can win it,” said Joseph, “we need to be in for real, put in work, but it can get done.”