Syracuse Basketball: Outpouring of support and love for Tiana Mangakahia

Syracuse basketball, Tiana Mangakahia (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball, Tiana Mangakahia (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Syracuse Orange sports community was devastated to see the news of former Syracuse basketball women’s point guard Tiana Mangakahia announcing her retirement. Tiana announced on social media that due to a recent stage IV cancer diagnosis, she will step away to focus on her cancer treatment.

First off, my prayers and love go out to Tiana, her family and those around her. Cancer sucks and this is sadly not her first experience with it after a 2019 diagnosis of breast cancer. Many of us have lost loved ones to cancer and followed Tiana’s journey at Syracuse, including her return to the court and we are praying for her to beat it again.

But this post is an appreciation post for Tiana Mangakahia not just for her battles with cancer but also for the heart and soul she played with on the basketball court. Tiana was one of the best guards in Syracuse basketball women’s history.

Former Syracuse basketball star Tiana Mangakahia has retired from professional hoops.

As’s Brent Axe pointed out in an article, Tiana finished her Syracuse basketball career averaging 15.2 points and 8.5 assists per game and broke the record for most assists in program history with 736.

So I propose we honor this woman properly sooner rather than later. Waiting several years to honor players seems like such a waste and Tiana is one who deserves it immediately…well, when the basketball season starts anyway. Tiana is an inspiration to many for her work on the court and her fight off of it.

So now is the time to honor her properly and do so in a meaningful manner. I propose a two-step idea that obviously would need some input from Tiana, but here is my plan.

The first step is obvious, raise a pink Tiana jersey to the rafters to honor her on-the-court achievements. She is one of a few women in university history who helped raise the recognition of the program and if you’re like me and watched her play, you know her play was entertaining. Let’s not wait 40 years as though waiting makes it more rewarding…let’s do it soon.

The second step I propose is, depending on her treatment and schedule, attempt to do this during an NC State game at the JMA Wireless Dome. Try to bring Tiana in, raise that jersey and announce the Tiana Mangakahia Cancer Foundation in conjunction with the V Foundation/Kay Yow Cancer Fund to help raise awareness and support in the form of whatever Tiana feels a need to help (early detection, caregiving, pediatrics, etc).

During her time with Syracuse basketball, Tiana Mangakahia brought heart and passion to the area, the university and the sport and it’s time we recognize this. We need to acknowledge our stars and their accomplishments without waiting 20-30 years, especially someone who did so much during her time with the Orange and deserves our love and support through her battle.

She should see the love and experience it first-hand and with NC State’s history, it’s the perfect time and place to do it.

Keep fighting Tiana and know we love you. Syracuse is grateful for your time on campus and you deserve a thank you and reminder for young women who aspire to be like you. You deserve a celebration of your accomplishments and that jersey in the rafters so you can know we love you, we support you through the tough times and the best times and also a chance to help others in similar circumstances while doing it.

You are an inspiration to many and doing this now and telling your story might help others going through the same battles on and off the court while also giving you the love you deserve. Go Orange!

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