NCAA hoops: Syracuse C Onuaku ruled out of tournament opener Friday
By JOHN KEKIS
AP Sports Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y.— Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim didn’t hesitate: Orange center Arinze Onuaku won’t play Friday night against Vermont in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“He’s still very sore,” Boeheim said Thursday. “He’s getting better. He’s being treated. He’s still got pain when he puts pressure on his leg, so we’ve been practicing and playing and thinking that he would not be able to play tomorrow night. Beyond that, we still don’t know.”
Onuaku crashed to the floor with an injured right quadriceps last week in the waning minutes against Georgetown in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.
“The hardest thing is this is my senior year, this is my team,” said Onuaku, the school’s career leader in field-goal percentage (64.9) who averages 10.7 points and 5.2 rebounds. “To not be on the floor with them is tough.”
Onuaku said he is without pain and the swelling has gone down. It was apparent when he walked courtside during the team shootaround at HSBC Arena, laughing and joking with assistant coach Rob Murphy after signing some autographs.
“His presence is going to carry us,” said forward Wes Johnson, the Big East player of the year. “Him being on the sideline and being the leader is going to help us. If we keep winning, he’ll eventually get back.”