|1968-1969 Syracuse Orangemen|
Coach: Roy Danforth
Roy Danforth took over as the new head coach, and inherited a team that went 11-14 and lost its top four scorers from the previous season. It was a young team with Bob Kouwe the only senior expected to have significant playing time. Wayne Ward was not returning, last year's freshman sensation Bob McDaniel was ineligible to play for the season, and Ernie Austin, the outstanding freshman from two years ago was academically ineligible for the first semester.
The team started out losing its first five games, though the game against Niagara on December 7th was quite memorable. Calvin Murphy was unstoppable scoring 68 points against the Orangemen that night, setting a record for most points scored by a player in a Division I basketball game (later broken by Pete Maravich). Syracuse's sophomore sensation, 6'11" Bill Smith put up 41 points of his own in the loss.
Smith would be inconsistent over the course of the season, though he would end up leading the team in scoring and rebounding. Kouwe was the only steady force on the team. The Orangemen consistently were losing and often losing big. The guards were shooting poorly from the perimeter, and the team was struggling on defense.
Austin returned to the lineup on February 1st against UMass, and within a couple of games the team started playing better. Sophomore Bill Finney started putting up some points from his reserve position, and with Austin running the offense the Orangemen won 5 of their last 7 games. The Orangemen finished 9-16, their worst record since 1962, but there was hope for next season as the team looked to have something to build upon.
© RLYoung 2005, 2007