That’s right. Devo’s back. But, of course, it’s not his back most of us are worried about. It’s his Anterior Cruciate Ligament. It turns out that we had reason to be concerned about the Sports Illustrated cover jinx after all. Devo busted himself up during a fast break against Tennessee State in the tenth game of last season. Fortunately for SU fans, Devo was sailing the college basketball seas on a vessel called Hard Ship. The hardship clause of the NCAA bylaws allows for a player to gain an additional year of eligibility as long as the season-ending injury occurs within the first third of the season. This means, assuming Devo stays as long as he is eligible, he’ll have played for SU for four years and ten games. Hate on, haters!
Now we celebrate Devo’s comeback.
Sportscasters in Syracuse seem to doubt that Devo is back to 100%, (“he says he is, I don’t know if we can completely believe him”). And he HAS been sporting a bionic leg… er, I mean, leg brace. But Eric “education is important, especially in college” Devendorf spent last season upping his basketball IQ and his “coaching game stepped up a couple notches.”
Last February, Josh posted practice videos from the Post-Standard, which showed Devendorf on an exercise bike, rocking an ipod (probably classical music) and looking his normal sleepy self. He also practiced launching shots from a sitting position under the basket, a move I look forward to seeing in action. Let’s hope all that is what it takes to rehab from a torn ACL in less than a year.
So what does Devendorf’s return mean for SU? Let’s just say SU diversified their bonds. Roster flexibility, son! Devo is capable of playing the two-guard or point. It’s going to be fun to watch teams try to guard Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf when they are on the court at the same time since they can switch roles at will?
Syracuse is getting a player back who scored 1,115 points in college before he got hurt. And with Devo and Rautins returning, ‘Cuse will have an outside game again. Eric was averaging 17 points a game against the early season competition last season and averaged 12.2 and 14.8 the years before that, shooting 37.6 and 35.3% from 3-point range.
But just because we’re getting two injured players back doesn’t mean new players haven’t been coming in. there’s always the worry that back-ups are going to be frustrated with a lack of playing time. But this year Jimmy B expects to play 9 guys. He says it’s going to be like the Summer Olympic team, where Dwyane Wade knew he was going to play just 20 minutes and hustled his balls off the whole time. Imagine being a college player with a coach who can say, “Like I was telling Lebron James and my friend ‘Melo this summer….” Shoot, I’d listen to whatever that man told me.
The more scoring threats the better. Give J Flynn plenty of people to dish the ball to. Chemistry could end up being a factor this year. Devo, who is trying to replicate Gerry McNamara’s leadership style of producing results on the court, could be the guy to spark this team with bursts of passion.