Grand olé game marred

Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

It’s now the third season that Syracuse University head basketball coach Jim Boeheim has been without his first lieutenant along the bench. Long-time assistant coach Mike Hopkins is now the head man at the University of Washington.

But more importantly, Hopkins was Boeheim’s main cog in recruiting players into the Carrier Dome, and now that steady shipment of bona fide ACC First and Second Teamers along with sometimes an All-American or two has disappeared in the past few years.

Oh, SU has brought in excellent players in recent and current seasons, such as the current backcourt duo of Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard III and a stellar transfer student-athlete in Elijah Hughes.

Hopkins has taken his astute recruiting skills to the Pacific Northwest. Since his arrival in Seattle, he may have been directly or indirectly responsible recruiting Nahziah Carter, now a junior, and undoubtedly the prize stud in Isaiah Stewart. Both players grew up in Rochester. The 6-foot-9 freshman forward Stewart — the 2019 Naismith High School Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American — is a four-time Pac-12 Conference Player of the Week. He leads the Huskies with a 19.5-points-per-game average in 17 contests, and 9.1 rebounds pg to go with a team-high 28 blocked shots. Carter, a 6-6 guard, is tied for second on the team at 13.3 ppg and has a team-high 24 steals.

Wouldn’t it been nice if that duo had worn SU orange-and-white instead of Washington purple-and-gold this season? They could have complemented Boeheim and Girard greatly, but we’ll never know.

Hopkins became Boeheim’s assistant for 20 seasons after a four-year playing career at SU. When SU was hit with NCAA sanctions in 2015, Boeheim announced he would retire in 2018, paving the way for Hopkins. But Boeheim, now 75, changed his mind about retirement, and in 2017, Hopkins left for Washington.

In the coach Boeheim 44-year era, he has produced a total of 10 All-Americans (either first or second team), but only two in the recently ended decade (Wes Johnson, 2010, and C.J. Fair, 2014). The others were Carmelo Anthony (2003), Derrick Coleman (1990), Sherman Douglas (1989), Billy Owens (1991), Rony Seikaly (1988), John Wallace (1996), Hakim Warrick (2005) and Pearl Washington (1985).

SU (9-7 overall, 2-3 ACC) temporarily helped its NCAA cause with Saturday’s win at Virginia. But the Orange has to win more often in the second half and improve its ACC mark to avoid an NIT appearance.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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