Former walk-on Braedon Bayer steadies SU in closing minutes of 55-53 win over MSU

first_imgTwo years ago, Bayer watched Syracuse’s Final Four run from his bed in his South Campus apartment. Before that, he worked out every day at 6 a.m. for six weeks with former SU star and NBA draft pick Tyler Lydon and Autry. He was sleeping on Lydon’s couch because he had nowhere else to stay. He wanted to play at Syracuse after a season and a half at D-III Grinnell College.By that May, Lydon told former Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins that Bayer “wasn’t just going to be a typical walk-on that’s just on the team. He said I could actually help,” Bayer recalled. Hopkins trusted Lydon’s word and didn’t ask for a second of film. In the summer of 2016, Boeheim nonchalantly told Hopkins and Lydon that Bayer had earned a spot on the team as a walk-on.On Sunday, he was called on in place of Howard, the second-most improved player in the ACC this season. After the game, Bayer was the one to place Syracuse’s sticker on its portable bracket, with the whole team rallying around him.“Now it’s kind of sinking in,” Bayer said. “I never thought I’d be playing in this stage at all. Just thought I’d be watching it from the bench.“I’ve worked my whole life for this.” Comments DETROIT — On Sunday morning, before Braedon Bayer replaced Syracuse starting point guard Frank Howard with the season on the line, before he picked up a steal and block in the closing minutes, Greg Bayer sent his son a short text from his Phoenix hotel.“I texted him the mantra he’s known all year,” Greg Bayer, Braedon’s father, said: “Stay ready.”“You know I always am,” Braedon texted back.Around the Syracuse locker room, players and coaches echoed variations of the same phrase: “Stay ready,” for months. Bayer was caught in the in-between, being told his time could come at any moment but rarely seeing it come to fruition. The phrase became a running joke on the team, because he’d be told to “stay ready” before nearly every game, then he’d ride the bench.Not on Sunday. When Howard fouled out with 6:29 left, the 11th-seeded Orange (23-13, 8-10 Atlantic Coast) trailed by four points and a potent third-seeded Michigan State (30-5, 16-2 Big Ten) attack was on the verge of pulling away at a loud Little Caesars Arena, full of nearly all green and white.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEnter Bayer, a former walk-on who spent six weeks on then-SU star Tyler Lydon’s couch when he was trying out for the team. The 6-foot-4 guard, who was playing Division-III hoops in Iowa just over two years ago, recorded a key block on MSU star and likely NBA lottery selection Miles Bridges in the 55-53 victory.Bayer added a steal and forced two jump balls over the final six minutes of the game, preserving the Orange’s season and setting up a matchup with No. 2 seed Duke on Friday in Omaha, Nebraska.“To be put in that position, to stay focused and keep this team going, that was phenomenal,” Syracuse associate head coach Adrian Autry said. “He had an unbelievable hustle play at the end not to five up two points and help us win.”Anna Henderson | Digital Design EditorWith Syracuse up 50-49 and 1:38 locked on the clock, Bayer darted to the low block and met Bridges at full speed. He got a hand on MSU’s star, who scored 11 points. The Syracuse sideline erupted in unison. Then, Bayer stole the ball from Joshua Langford after a missed tip-in with eight seconds left.All the while, he altered a pair of shots at the top of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone alongside sophomore guard Tyus Battle, who led the Orange with 17 points. Bayer, for all the minutes he sat on the bench and didn’t come in, shined in the biggest moments of Syracuse’s season.Out in Phoenix, Bayer’s father was at a conference for the wealth management firm he founded. He was alongside his wife, Crystal, with about 35 other people at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.Downstairs, at Frank & Albert’s bar, Bayer’s parents watched the game from a TV. When Howard was called with his fourth foul, they looked at each other to confirm the situation: Braedon may just go in the game. The possibility that he would play grew closer and closer to reality.The Bayers jumped up from their seats when head coach Jim Boeheim motioned for him to run to the scorer’s table, Greg Bayer said in a brief phone conversation after the game. Howard Washington, Syracuse’s freshman guard out for the year due to an injury, walked up to Bayer before he walked on the court.In a way, Washington said that he could relate to Bayer. Before his injury, Washington was similarly riding the bench for the majority of games as his superiors, Battle and Howard, carried SU offensively. So Washington put his arms around Bayer.“You’ve been preparing for this, practicing all year for this,” Washington told Bayer during the embrace. “Go in there, take your time, play your game, play hard.”“And that block at the end?” Washington added postgame. “He’s made that play all of the time in practice. The ‘stay ready’ thing, coach (Boeheim) would say it every game and (Bayer) wouldn’t get in. Braedon was kind of like, ‘Well, coach is just saying this.’ But he brought it every day in practice and was huge today.”An hour after the final horn sounded, Bayer’s father looked back on his son’s rise to this stage, from overlooked high school player to Division III standout to a walk-on for a Power 5 team, to SU’s last scholarship player.To Syracuse late-game contributor.“Braedon came in, hadn’t played much the entire year, stepped up and played some great defense,” Battle said. “And it’s just the heart of this team. It’s amazing. It’s amazing.” Published on March 18, 2018 at 8:11 pm Contact Matthew: mguti100@syr.edu | @MatthewGut21center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

In a first, sportspersons receive national honours virtually

first_img Press Trust Of India First Published: 29th August, 2020 13:59 IST Last Updated: 29th August, 2020 13:59 IST In A First, Sportspersons Receive National Honours Virtually India’s sporting heroes were bestowed the annual national awards in an unparalleled online ceremony amid the COVID-19 pandemic during which athletes logged in from multiple cities to be honoured by President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday SUBSCRIBE TO US Written By COMMENTcenter_img LIVE TV India’s sporting heroes were bestowed the annual national awards in an unparalleled online ceremony amid the COVID-19 pandemic during which athletes logged in from multiple cities to be honoured by President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday.This year a whopping 74 winners were picked for the national honours, including an unprecedented five Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratnas and 27 Arjuna awardees. Of these, 60 attended the virtual ceremony conducted across 11 Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres in various cities.Cricketers Rohit Sharma (Khel Ratna) and Ishant Sharma (Arjuna) missed out due to their IPL commitments in the UAE, while star wrestler Vinesh Phogat (Khel Ratna) and badminton player Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (Arjuna) had to pull out of the ceremony after testing positive for the dreaded virus.The other three Khel Ratna winners — TT player Manika Batra, Paralympic gold-medallist Mariyappan Thangavelu and women’s hockey captain Rani Rampal — attended the ceremony.While Batra logged in from Pune, Thangavelu and Rampal joined from Bengaluru.President Kovind applauded as names of the attending awardees were called out and their achievements were cited as is the convention. Missing, however, was the grandeur of the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s Durbar Hall.”This is the first awards ceremony in COVID times during which the President has participated,” Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said at the beginning of the ceremony.The athletes can look forward to enhanced cash awards this year. The prize money for the Khel Ratna was increased to Rs 25 lakh from the previous amount of Rs 7.5 lakh this morning.Arjuna awardees, 22 of who attended the ceremony, were given Rs 15 lakh, which is Rs 10 lakh more than the previous sum.The Dhronacharya (Lifetime) awardees, who were earlier given Rs 5 lakh, were awarded Rs 15 lakh, while the regular Dhronacharya came with Rs 10 lakh instead of Rs 5 lakh per awardee.Dhyanchand Awardees were given Rs 10 lakh instead of Rs 5 lakh.The strict COVID-19 protocol meant that for the first time in 44 years’ history of the awards, the winners, guests and dignitaries did not gather at the Durbar Hall to be recognised for their excellence.President Kovind congratulated all the winners and exuded confidence that India can achieve its goal of finishing among top-10 countries in the 2028 Paris Olympics.”My heartiest congratulations to all the award winners! All of you, through your performance, have provided unforgettable moments of collective success to all Indians,” Kovind said in his address during the ceremony, which lasted little more than hour.”I am confident that with the collective efforts made on the strength of everyone’s participation, India will emerge as a sporting superpower.”Our goal is to be in the top-10 podium finisher countries in the 2028 Olympic Games. We will definitely achieve this goal.” Kovind said India needs to develop a sporting culture and everyone should work towards achieving that.He said the entire sporting world has been affected by the pandemic, but hoped athletes will come out stronger from this experience.”COVID-19 also has a huge impact on the sports world. Olympic Games have been postponed…In our country too, all sports activities have been affected. Players and coaches may be less motivated by practice and competition stops,” he said.”I believe that the people of sports will come out of this test with more mental strength and will create new history of achievements.” The top Arjuna awardees this year included star sprinter Dutee Chand, woman cricketer Deepti Sharma, golfer Aditi Ashok and men’s hockey team striker Akashdeep Singh.The Dronacharya award in the life-time category was bestowed on eight coaches, the prominent among them being archery coach Dharmendra Tiwary, Naresh Kumar (tennis), Shiv Singh (boxing) and Romesh Pathania (hockey).In regular category, there were five recipients of the Dronacharya, including hockey coach Jude Felix and shooting coach Jaspal Rana among others.In a tragic turn of events of Friday, a Dronacharya (Lifetime) winner, athletics coach Purushottam Rai, died in Bengaluru after suffering a heart attack.The Dhyan Chand award this year was given to 15 individuals, including Sukhvinder Singh Sandhu (football), Trupti Murgunde (badminton) and Nandan Bal (tennis) among others.Golfer Aditi Ashok and former footballer Sukhwinder Singh Sandhu did not attend the award function as they are out of the country.All health and safety protocols, keeping with the guidelines of the Health Ministry, were followed at the venues where dignitaries and awardees were present.In fact, awardees were seen clad in PPE kits as they made their way to the ceremony venues.As per the direction of the Sports Ministry, every award winner had to undergo a COVID-19 test before reporting to the ceremony venue.Image credits: SAIMedia / Twitter WATCH US LIVE FOLLOW USlast_img read more