COVID clouds Games

Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

The Syracuse University men’s basketball team, whose up-and-down season has been twice interrupted by COVID-19 pauses that now has caused a jumbled schedule for the rest of 2021, is now striving for consistency from now through early March.

The Orange (7-2, 1-1), which plays at North Carolina tonight in a key ACC makeup game, and its outcome of games be can readily determined by how it performs on the boards.

SU moved to 7-0 in games this season when it outrebounds its opponent and that was the case in Saturday’s 74-69 victory over old Big East Conference rival Georgetown. The Orange outrebounded the Hoyas 38-32, including 12 caroms on the offensive glass.

Meanwhile, in its only two losses of the season to Rutgers and Pittsburgh, the Orange was badly outrebounded by a combined 91-59.

The Orange will get a good boost shortly with the return of center Bourama Sidibe, who has missed the past eight games with a knee injury. He was almost an 8.0-per-game-average rebounder last season.

Sidibe’s return should also help head coach Jim Boeheim’s roster depth. In the win over the Hoyas, the Orange bench played a combined TOTAL of only 23 minutes — 17 by Robert Braswell and six by Kadary Richmond.

n Thoughts on NFL wild-card weekend: Is it time to bid adieu to 40-year-old QB Philip Rivers of the Colts and 38-year-old QB Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers? Rivers was never an athletic QB in his days with the Chargers, but he appeared to be a rather 50-year-old in the Colts’ 27-24 loss to the Bills on Saturday. The 40-second play clock was a constant issue for him and he had trouble throwing deep balls. To me, the Colts outplayed the Bills but Buffalo won because of QB Josh Allen’s ability to make plays in crucial moments. The Colts, who entered Bills’ territory on all nine of their drives, became the first team in NFL history to lose a playoff game with 450-plus total yards and no turnovers. ... .Big Ben’s and the Steelers’ performance in Sunday’s 48-37 loss to the Browns at home was shameful. This was a team that started 11-0 and then quickly fizzled 1-5 down the stretch. Roethlisberger threw for an NFL all-time playoff-record 501 yards, but 400 of that came after the result was decided, and he had four costly picks. It had to be disappointing for the Steelers’ fan base to see the team fail to develop any resemblance of a rushing attack for the final six weeks of the season and be so sloppy with the ball even from the game’s first play from scrimmage where the hungry Browns pounced on a fumble in the end zone after a bad snap.

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

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