Orange Opinions: Where Does the Eric Devendorf Situation Leave Syracuse?

Ryan CallahanAnalyst IDecember 14, 2008

Welcome to the first edition of Orange Opinions. This week’s participants were Jameson Fleming and Adam Fier.

One of the main issues surrounding Syracuse Hoops this season has been the controversy swirling around Eric Devendorf. Apparently, he punched a girl in the face in October.

A Syracuse University judicial hearing board ruled that the embattled guard should be suspended from school for the rest of the academic year. Devendorf has appealed the ruling, and can continue playing until the appeal process is over.

If Devendorf is suspended for the rest of the season, Syracuse will lose the junior for the second consecutive season. He is currently the Orange’s third-leading scorer and one of their primary ball handlers on offense. For this reason the topic for this week’s roundtable topic is Eric Devendorf.

Enough with the formalities, let’s start with the questions. Feel free to respond to this week’s comments or answer the questions.

Do you agree with the way the school has handled the Eric Devendorf situation?


Jameson - I don't agree at all with how the school handled Devendorf's situation. There is no evidence he actually touched the girl other than her word.

Middle ground in the incident was he shoved her away, if that's true, he deserves to be suspended for a few games, but not a whole season. Syracuse's judicial affairs has the tendency of being too tough on students and once again it has gone too far.

Adam - At this point, Syracuse is simply following procedure in allowing Eric the chance to appeal while allowing him to play while that appeal process in ongoing. 

There have been lots of stories out there regarding what he did or what he didn’t do, and until the facts are examined by this appeals committee coach Jim Boeheim is absolutely right in his decision to keep his guard in the starting lineup.  From a basketball perspective, the team needs to have him in the lineup as they continue to show promise.


What player will have to step up the most for Syracuse to continue to be successful without Devendorf?


Jameson - Paul Harris has to step up. He has done a great job bringing down boards and scoring against smaller teams, but if Devo is gone, Harris is the second-best ball handler on the team. Harris has to create shots for others and start knocking down his mid-range jay at a better clip.

Adam - I’ll give you two players.

The first is Andy Rautins, who would likely be put into the starting lineup in Devendorf’s absence.  Rautins has been solid off the bench providing much needed perimeter shooting while also showing improvement passing the ball and defending.

With more minutes, Rautins would be given an opportunity to increase his scoring, while providing point guard Jonny Flynnwith another set of hands to handle the ball. 

Unfortunately, Rautins doesn’t have the same ability to get to the basket and free throw line that Devendorf does, meaning more significance would be placed on his ability to convert those three-point attempts.

The second is freshman Kris Joseph. A highly rated recruit, Joseph plays just over 18 minutes a night right now. He has shown both the talent and poise that could provide the Orange with a player ready to take on more responsibility should Devendorf face a lengthy suspension. 

At 6' 7", Joseph is a small forward who has the ability to get to the basket as well as an outside jump shot that needs improvement.  With more minutes, he would likely get the chance to get a chance to improve his game while picking up some experience that would come in handy should the Orange find themselves back in the big dance come March.

How big of an impact will not having Devendorf have on their season and tournament run?


Jameson - Not having Devendorf means this team has no shot at a national title. They will still be a very good team and knock off some high quality opponents, but I can't see them going past the Sweet 16 without him.

They need his veteran presence. He's been ineffective at times on offense, but a small improvement in his shooter and finishing as the year goes on, and he could be back to his old self of scoring 17-22 points per game.

Adam - Simply put, enormous.  Without Devendorf last year (both he and Rautins were red shirted with knee injuries) Flynn was asked to play nearly 40 minutes every night. Boeheim had a limited rotation with his two primary shooting guards unable to play. 

Although not their leading scorer, Devendorf’s return to the lineup this season was supposed to replace the 17 points per game the team lost when Donte Greene declared for the NBA draft. 

While he is only averaging 14 points per game right now, Devendorf gives the Orange offense balance while also providing vital experience. The junior guard was part of the 2005-2006 team, the last Orange team to earn an NCAA tournament invitation. 

Without Devendorf, the Orange would struggle to match up with some of their fellow conference opponents in the highly competitive Big East.

Should his suspension get reduced, the Orange shouldn’t have trouble getting back to dancing. However, if his season long sentence is upheld, Syracuse would likely once again find itself on the tournament bubble facing an unprecedented third-straight year on the outside looking in.

If you would like to participate in next week’s Orange Opinions, email Ryan at ryan.callahan@yahoo.com.


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