Back in September it was revealed that former Syracuse guard Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, who was not only one of the program’s greatest players but also a key figure in the growth of the Big East during its infancy, was undergoing treatment for a malignant brain tumor. The full process has been understandably difficult for Washington and his family, not only physically and emotionally but financially as well.
With that in mind a GoFundMe campaign was started by Washington’s longtime friend Brandon Steiner to help the family with the rising medical costs, which included Washington needing a nurse’s aide for 24-hour supervision according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. The campaign has raised nearly $39,000 to this point, with a goal of $93,000 being set.
Before the team’s basketball game against Notre Dame Thursday night players took to the Carrier Dome court for warmups in special T-shirts honoring Washington, with his nickname in the same cursive print used on Syracuse’s uniforms during Pearl’s time at the school.
In the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, Syracuse and Connecticut met for the first time since the programs left the Big East in 2013. Of course the game, which the Orange won, made many nostalgic for the days when that game would be a conference matchup with far higher stakes. And apparently, fans may not have to wait too long for the next meeting between the two programs.
Obviously UConn head coach Kevin Ollie used the word “hopefully” when discussing the possibility of there being a UConn/Syracuse matchup on next season’s schedule, so nothing’s set in stone. But hopefully the two sides can some to an agreement…maybe a home and home with a neutral site meeting at Madison Square Garden?
That wouldn’t be a bad deal at all, especially when considering the number of important meetings in the series. Both programs have made efforts to get former conference foes on their respective non-conference schedules, with Syracuse having already played Georgetown, St. John’s and Villanova since their move to the ACC.
UConn will play the first game in its home and home series with Georgetown this weekend, and adding another former Big East to the mix would help their non-conference résumé in future years given the strength of the American Athletic Conference compared to its last conference home.
Saturday marks the renewal of one of the sport’s best rivalries, as former Big East foes Syracuse and Georgetown will meet in the nation’s capital. Unfortunately, one of the most influential figures in this rivalry won’t be present.
Thursday morning the NCAA announced that Jim Boeheim’s nine-game suspension as part of the sanctions handed down for NCAA rules violations will begin with Saturday’s game. This is a change from the initial ruling that Boeheim would have to sit out the Orange’s first nine ACC games. That decision did not fall in line with the penalty handed down to SMU’s Larry Brown, who’s in the midst of his own nine-game suspension.
With that being the case the NCAA decided that like Brown, Boeheim’s suspension should not have been limited to conference games. While the fact that he’ll only miss three conference games can be viewed as a positive, the short notice of this ruling isn’t particularly fair to Boeheim or his program.
That being said, one could also make that argument in regards to the school’s timing for announcing their self-imposed postseason ban last February.
Assistant coach and head coach designate Mike Hopkins will take the reigns for Syracuse, and the earliest Boeheim can return to coaching in games will be for the Orange’s game against North Carolina January 9. During the suspension Boeheim is prohibited from having any contact with his players or coaches.