Syracuse Basketball: For Boeheim’s Army, $1M shot heard round the world

Syracuse basketball, Boeheim's Army (Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball, Boeheim's Army (Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports) /

More than 12 years ago, in the Big East Tournament against long-time nemesis Connecticut, Syracuse basketball star and current Boeheim’s Army player Eric Devendorf hit a buzz-beating shot against the Huskies that, it turned out, came after the final horn.

Devendorf and his Orange teammates would go on to defeat UConn in a ridiculous six overtimes that storied night in 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Fast-forward to Tuesday evening in Dayton, Ohio, and former ‘Cuse player Devendorf and his colleagues with the No. 3 seed Boeheim’s Army faced off with No. 6 seed Team 23 in the championship contest of The Basketball Tournament (“TBT”), with a cool $1 million on the line.

As with many of its previous encounters in the 2021 TBT, Boeheim’s Army had to claw back from a deficit and go through some heroics during the heart-palpitating Elam Ending.

With the target score to win it all set at 69, both teams had multiple opportunities to get a bucket and prevail. It was a chaotic finish to a terrific game.

Boeheim’s Army, with its Syracuse basketball guys and other stars, finally has TBT glory.

Like many other Syracuse basketball faithful, I was on pins and needles. I was, similar to the Orange’s run during the 2003 Big Dance, screaming at my television a lot.

Then Boeheim’s Army point guard Keifer Sykes, who suited up in college for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, drilled a highly contested, deep 3-pointer to propel Boeheim’s Army to a 69-67 victory and its first TBT crown after numerous years of going deep in this annual summer tourney but coming up short.

Like Devendorf in 2009, Sykes ran up to a table and jumped onto it, frenetically engaging with the boatload of ‘Cuse fans who made the trip to Dayton.

But Devendorf’s shot was after the final horn. Thankfully, for Boeheim’s Army, with the Elam Ending there is no final buzzer. Sykes’ shot counted, and the Boeheim’s Army squad has itself $1 million to share. Simply remarkable.

I’m beyond thrilled for the veteran TBT competitor, Devendorf, and the entire Boeheim’s Army crew of coaches, players and other staff members, as well as the Syracuse basketball fan base that supported this group in Dayton, across the country, and likely in other parts of the world.

Throughout this summer’s TBT, I’ve read some comments from fellow ‘Cuse fans on social media in which they’ve said that they wished this Boeheim’s Army unit consisted of only Syracuse basketball players.

I get it. But let’s keep in mind that the Team 23 roster had 14 players on it, all from different colleges. Boeheim’s Army had four non-Orange guys, including Sykes.

After this incredible TBT run, those four players will be a part of ‘Cuse Nation forever.

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