Syracuse barely survived an upset loss to Bryant on Friday night in a game that coach Jim Boyheim said he should never have played, prompting a sharp response from his colleague Jared Grasso.
Syracuse had to stop basketball activities after 76-year-old Boyheim contracted the new coronavirus two weeks ago and rust appeared.
“You can’t play basketball when you’re not training,” Boyheim said after the Oranges held a 85-84 victory over the Bulldogs at the Carrier Dome in the new season for both teams. “It’s a fundamental thing that everyone knows. We played really well two weeks ago. Continue for 14 days, the players were in good shape. We practiced yesterday and some boys died. Then we enter a game against a really good team, a smart team, a well-trained team, we can̵
“It simply came to my notice then. We never had to play this game. We had to go back, train, play next week. Bryant couldn’t really reschedule it. So, 100 percent through my fault. “
Grasso, who is in his third season as Bryant’s head coach, tore up Boeheim’s remarks after his team’s big upset offer fell short, saying his school gave them many opportunities to end the game.
“Should I give an honest reaction?” Grasso told Providence. “Let me give an honest reaction – we gave them five opportunities to cancel the game. They wanted to play him. We asked to move the date five times. We felt the same way. They were coming out of quarantine. They wanted to play him. They wanted to play us. We had to defeat them in their place. If that will be their excuse, so be it. Now I was angry because we had this conversation with them a dozen times to move the date.
The 40-year-old Grasso – who was 1-22 in one season as Fordham’s head coach in the 2009-10 season – said he knew he was “nobody” and could get a sharp blow for criticism of the Hall of Fame coach, but he repeated that his version of history was the truth.
“They decided not to move him,” Grasso said. “But the reality is that we tried to change the date and give them the opportunity to change the date. They decided not to do it. Is that why we have to beat them? If they want to use it as an excuse, they can. But we came here and we had to defeat Syracuse in Syracuse. It’s hard for me not to be honest. I apologize. I would like to cancel the game if I were in their place. They did not want to cancel the game. They made that decision. We came here to play and we came here to win and we deserved to win. We didn’t do enough plays to.
“They are a very good team. He is the coach of the Hall of Fame. I have nothing but respect for him. But to say that they want to cancel the game is simply completely untrue. ”
It is possible that Grasso, whose team has just suffered a bitter loss, took the remarks in the wrong way when they were handed to him. Boeheim took the blame for the game, but he may have been clumsy when he said, “Bryant couldn’t really reschedule it.”
In any case, Boyheim can thank his son Buddy and Marek Dolezha for the fact that Syracuse did not suffer an awkward initial loss.
Boeheim made four three-pointers and finished with 23 points, while Dolezaj had 20 points – including two free throws with 22 seconds left – while Syracuse had a 13-point deficit in the second half to reap the rewards.
– with AP