The life of a Syracuse men’s basketball student manager

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 12, 2018 at 4:37 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21 The only student manager who sits on the Syracuse bench during games has one job far more important than the others: get Jim Boeheim his stool and clipboard.An SU senior and head student manager, Ricky Pasternak’s primary duty on game day is to show up on time. It is to ensure Boeheim has his clipboard and stool during timeouts. And it is to complete one other task vital to the routine of Syracuse’s 42-year head coach: hand Boeheim his Pepsi during halftime and after the game.Student managers are rarely credited for their efforts, reacting like a NASCAR pit crew during timeouts to set up chairs and distribute water bottles and towels. That’s just what casual fans might see if they’re paying close enough attention. What they don’t see is the nearly 40-hour weeks that managers log, setting up practices, rebounding, laying out cones, cleaning up, doing laundry and throwing towels on players’ shoulders when they take a breather. They don’t see the managers hauling luggage onto planes and buses in the wee hours, cutting film or running Syracuse’s camps during the summer.“In a way, they’re holding the program together,” said Kip Wellman, SU’s director of basketball operations and Boeheim’s right-hand man.The grunt work, members of the program said, is hardly recognizable, yet it’s what stitches together the whole entity. And unlike just about every other Syracuse student, the managers won’t get time off over spring break. Many of them will remain in Syracuse or travel with the Orange (20-13, 8-10 Atlantic Coast) for its game Wednesday night in the First Four against Arizona State.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textStudent managers are at the low end of the basketball food chain, but they are vital to Syracuse. The menial jobs are coveted. There are about 20 to 30 applicants per year, said CB Garrett, a manager who is a junior at SU. About five each year make the cut, after the other applicants are sifted out via a 15-minute interview. Most students who become managers have their eye on a future career in sports.For many of the 20 or so student managers on this year’s team, becoming a student manager was a dream as early as high school. Garrett said there are already about 10 high school seniors who have contacted SU’s managers inquiring about the application process. Around the first week of classes, interviews are held in the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center, where managers spend much of their time when not in class or on the road with the team.“Before my sophomore or junior year of high school, I knew I wanted to be a basketball manager,” said Garrett, who stopped by the basketball office when he visited SU. “You’re getting kids like me who really want to do it, because you don’t get a ton of sleep on the road and you don’t get to see your family much.”Garrett said he has been home all of three days since the start of the school year in August. That’s not uncommon, given that about four managers travel to road games, while the others assist with game day preparation for home games and daily practices.“If we don’t have class, we’re supposed to be at practice,” said Nick Giancola, a freshman student manager. “We set up the water cart, make sure the basketballs are out, rebound. You name it.”Courtesy of CB GarrettGiancola is Boeheim’s nephew, a relationship he said helped him land the gig at SU. He “really wants to play” college hoops and is “not quite giving up on that dream.” Having access to the Melo Center from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., he said, gives him time to work on his game. He may consider trying to walk-on at Syracuse, like former manager and current SU reserve Patrick Herlihy.For years, Giancola has been interested in sports, ever since he was a little kid growing up in Lexington, Kentucky, and took informal basketball lessons from Wellman. Giancola’s connection with Boeheim and Wellman led to him to be a student manager at Syracuse over Ohio State, he said.One of a manager’s most basic and most important tasks is rebounding. There is an art they must learn. On a single basket before or after practice, three managers, ideally, rebound for a single player: one person in front of the shooter, one under the basket and one guy floating around, judging the trajectory of the shots and anticipating where the rebound may go.“Rebounding, it’s like the No. 1 thing we have to master,” Giancola said.That’s during practice, hardly where the real work begins. Syracuse starts most practices at 4 p.m. But Garrett shows up around 2 p.m. to help set up and he doesn’t leave until 7 p.m. He stays after practice to assists players in getting extra work, or he completes shot charts. On home gamedays, for a 7 p.m. tip, he arrives at Melo around 2 p.m. ahead of a 2:30 team meeting. Then managers head to the Carrier Dome around 3 p.m. and stick around until 10:30 that evening.When SU’s bigs work out, managers play so-called dummy defense. At 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, Garrett said he is the biggest manager at SU, meaning he matches up with the bigs. He’s learned the art of holding a pad to mimic a defender while applying good resistance. He tore the labrum in his right shoulder last summer during a similar drill.Save for access to players and the game, the hidden gem of managing may be pick-up hoops. They can play virtually anytime in Melo with the swipe of their SUID. Three or four days per week, Garrett said a few managers play with assistant coach Gerry McNamara and assistant strength and conditioning coach Eric Devendorf, both former Syracuse standouts. Over winter break, Syracuse commit Buddy Boeheim joined in.But after the fun, after practices and after games, comes one of the more dreaded tasks: laundry duty. A handful of managers have stayed after practice for three or four additional hours to complete several loads of laundry.“Laundry is never the most fun thing,” Garrett said. “Takes almost three hours a day. The worst part is you can’t start until everyone leaves. All the guys, they’ll shoot, go in weight room, then shower. Only after everyone showers can you start the laundry.”Before home games, managers set up the water jugs on a white Gatorade crate on wheels. They prepare cups, tissues and lots of gum. Garrett has lost three jacket buttons trying to reach for water during games. During practice, they almost always have a towel over their shoulder in the case that a player falls. They wipe that spot on the floor to rid the sweat, another way in which managers ensure things run smoothly.“If the program’s a car,” junior point guard Frank Howard said, “they’re like the oil.” Commentslast_img

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