You're Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, and your center the last three seasons has been a forward. Senior Andre Hawkins is 6'8" with 240 pounds of heart, and he's good enough to have anchored a team that went 23-9 and reached the NCAA round of 16 last spring, but he's also fouled out 27 times in his career, trying to put the clamp on guys three to four inches taller. So what do you do? You open your office door one day and greet a kid born in Lebanon and schooled in Greece. He's not only bearing gifts—like a 6'10", 230-pound frame—but he also says, "I want to play basketball for you."
Then you show him where to sign. Rony Seikaly (Ronnie SIGH-ka-lee) may or may not become known as Face Job Middle East. For the moment, he's Don't Dribble Rony or Hold The Ball High Rony. But, says Boeheim, on those occasions when he's in the right position, he can dominate. Now Hawkins can move to power forward, and 6'7" junior Rafael Addison, last season's leading scorer (17.7 points per game) ought to be double-teamed far less often. "Last year there were times when, if they stopped me and Dwayne, they won the game," Addison says. "They can't do that anymore." Dwayne, of course, is sophomore Dwayne (Pearl) Washington, and once he learned the ropes, nobody stopped him. Washington electrified a sold-out Madison Square Garden with 27 points and six assists in the Orangemen's 82-71 overtime loss to Georgetown in the Big East tournament final. Pearl is working on the two banes of his existence, defense and academics. "All I have to do is tell him I'll call his mother," says Boeheim. "He'll get up to study at 7 a.m." Why, Halloween night, Washington even missed practice to go to class—sex education, the birth control lecture. Hey, that counts.
Washington will be joined in the backcourt by 6'3" classmate Greg Monroe, and a stronger Wendell Alexis provides sixth-man duty. If Addison and Pearl can improve their performances of a year ago and Seikaly can adjust to American hoops, there could be a bumper crop of Orange in the spring.