If facing national runner-up Memphis at FedExForum on Saturday night isn’t enough of a challenge, Syracuse may not have the services of its top two scorers.
The University Appeals Board ruled on Friday that senior guard Eric Devendorf has to complete 40 hours of community service and be reinstated to the university before he can suit up with the 11th-ranked Orange (10-1). This decision stems from a Nov. 1 off-campus dispute when the 21-year-old allegedly hit a female student in the jaw with the heel of his hand.
Last Wednesday, a university judicial hearing board ruled that Devendorf violated the Student Code of Conduct and that he should be suspended for the rest of the academic year. Devendorf was playing while he appealed the suspension.
“Eric clearly made a mistake and should be punished,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who took sole possession of ninth place on the Division I all-time wins list with 781 following Wednesday’s 82-60 victory over Canisius. “It is his responsibility to fulfill the requirements of this decision.”
According to the Appeals Board, Devendorf could petition to be readmitted prior to the start of the spring semester on Jan. 12 if he finishes the community service. Devendorf could play on Dec. 30 against Seton Hall if he meets the terms of Friday’s decision.
He is averaging 13.9 points and 3.4 assists this season.
The Orange may be without their entire starting backcourt against No. 23 Memphis (6-2), as leading scorer Jonny Flynn did not practice on Friday after injuring his hip in Wednesday’s win.
Flynn, a sophomore, is averaging 17.5 points and a team-best 4.8 assists this season. He had 12 points and three assists against Canisius before leaving in the opening minutes of the second half.
The Tigers are looking to avoid another performance like Wednesday’s 59-51 win over Arkansas-Little Rock. Memphis did not make a field goal for the final 8:07, nearly losing a 50-32 second-half lead.
“We just weren’t prepared,” said senior Robert Dozier, who had a team-high 15 points and is three shy of 1,000 for his career. “Guys came in during the warmups and the layup line, and you could kind of see it. Guys were just going through the motions or weren’t going hard. We just all around weren’t prepared. We played sloppy.”
Memphis hit just 15 field goals, making 33.3 percent of its attempts. The Tigers are shooting 42.1 percent this season - 237th in the nation—while Syracuse is among the leaders in Division I at 50.2.
Even though they’ve won 65 of 67 at home since the end of the 2004-05 season, the Tigers understand they can’t repeat Wednesday’s effort against a Syracuse team that’s already defeated Florida and Kansas this season.
“We definitely can’t come out and play like this,” Dozier said, “or we’ll be behind 20 at home. They are going to come in here swinging.”
Syracuse and Memphis have each won one game in this series, with both meetings coming at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden. The No. 5 Orange beat the 24th-ranked Tigers 77-62 in the most recent matchup on Nov. 19, 2004.