Worst Case Scenario For Syracuse Fans: Eric Devendorf Is Suspended

Larry RulisonContributor IDecember 10, 2008

We can start talking about the 600-pound Otto the Orange sitting in the room.

Syracuse guard Eric Devendorf has been suspended by a university judicial board indefinitely for allegedly punching a female student in the early morning hours after Halloween on SU's frat row.

The incident occurred two days before Syracuse opened its pre-season against Cal State Los Angeles, and ever since the story broke just before the Cuse's win over Richmond on Nov. 18, the possible suspension of Devo has been hanging over the heads of every Orange fan.

I don't know what was said at Devendorf's judicial hearing, so I cannot make a judgment if he is guilty of punching the girl and saying some nasty things to her, as was alleged in the police report.

And Devo's attorneys have five business days to appeal this decision to an appeals board that has another 10 business days to either uphold, modify, or nullify the decision.

Let's just assume for now for the sake of this article that the appeals process doesn't work or Devendorf doesn't appeal the decision. Where is Syracuse basketball after such a promising 8-0 start? Up until now, this has been the most promising start in a decade. The Orange beat Florida, national champion Kansas, and Virginia all in one week.

Devo was averaging 30 minutes a game, the second highest on the team, and 14.1 points per game, the third highest average on the team.

If you think that is replaceable, think back to last year when Syracuse lost Devo for the year to an ACL tear. They never recovered.

His slashing penetration moves kill defenses, and he is also good with 3-point shots. This sets the Orange back greatly, especially when his leadership would be needed during the tough Big East schedule coming up in a matter of two weeks.

Now I hope that Devendorf, if he is innocent of the allegations as his lawyer contends, gets cleared and can come back and play this year. If not, shooting guard Andy Rautins is going to have to step up, along with freshman shooter Mookie Jones.

Jones, from Peekskill, N.Y., home also to Elton Brand and Ben Gordon, has been averaging under 7 ppg and just 13 minutes per game. He needs to play more and start making more of his outside shots.

Rautins, who has been a catalyst all year long in tight games, also needs to contribute more. He is only averaging 9 ppg and 25 minutes. He needs to be like Devo and score 15-plus points every game and get on the floor for 30 minutes or more. The playing time is for the taking.

This is a sad story for Devendorf, who sat out most of last year with the injury. But maybe this is a blessing in disguise because he now has a young daughter, and he didn't look 100 percent on the repaired knee. Maybe he needs more rest. I hope he continues to play at SU after this ruling next year.

But you also have to think that Syracuse needs to seriously consider some type of program to keep its basketball players out of trouble.

Don't you remember the incident last year with Scoop Jardine, and then the incident that went to a grand jury earlier this year involving Jardine and other players on the team?

Also, guard Josh Wright never finished school after getting into trouble last year.

Coach Jim Boeheim is constantly losing players to disciplinary and academic problems. Why doesn't that ever happen at Duke or North Carolina?

The Memphis game is coming just 10 days from now. I was hoping for a victory if Devo was in the line-up, but now I'm wondering how we're going to get through the Big East without him.

Andy and Mookie, are you ready?