|1953-1954 Syracuse Orangemen|
Coach: Marc Guley
Syracuse was coming off a losing season, and top scorer big Frank Reddout had graduated. Smooth shooting forward Mel Besdin was now the team captain. Dave Kline, who had played strong down the stretch of the previous season was starting at center, and the athletic Ronnie Kilpatrick was taking the other forward position. Sophomore Manny Breland, who had impressed everyone on the freshman squad, and junior Jack Larned were taking over the backcourt.
Syracuse started the season strong with impressive wins over Ithaca and Canisius. They would struggle against a very good New York University squad, and get blown out by Niagara four nights later. Four games into the season, and the Orangemen were already showing a pattern of inconsistency that would haunt them all year long. The Orangemen upset Cornell on December 30th, and the following night the Princeton Tigers would upset the Orangemen. Kline would fracture his wrist in the Princeton game, forcing him to miss several weeks.
Kilpatrick was having an outstanding season, leading the team in scoring; Besdin was just behind him in scoring. Ronnie Gillespie moved into the starting lineup to replace Kline, and he played admirably.
The team was 7-5 by the end of January. Kilpatrick, who had academic problems in the past, was dropped from the team February 2nd for disciplinary reasons. It would be a loss the Orange could not replace, and they finished the last seven games 3-4. Larned and Breland picked up the scoring that was missing with Kilpatrick's departure, and Besdin was the main gun. However, the Orangemen could not make up the rebounding and defensive loss.
Besdin was becoming the beneficiary of his increased role in the offense, and was seeing a lot of time at the free throw line. He tied the school record with 14 made free throws against Colgate on February 13th. Two games later he would break the record when he went 15 of 16 from the free throw line, in a 33 point effort in a close win over the Penn State Nittany Lions.
The season ended with a huge win over rival Colgate 106-85, in a game where Besdin and Gillespie both scored 25 points. The win also gave the Orange a winning season at 10-9.
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