Niagara Falls’ finest — Paul Harris and Jonny Flynn — haven’t proven they’re too good for college basketball in the vein of Kevin Durant or Michael Beasley. Instead, both players seem destined for full careers with the Syracuse Orange, ones that should be fruitful, given the versatility each has shown.
The 6-foot-5 Harris has played everywhere but center and point guard in less than two years at Syracuse. He probably has the ability to play all five spots in coach Jim Boeheim’s vaunted 2-3 zone.
Flynn, the freshman who dubiously claims to be a 6-footer, established himself as the team’s best point guard by halftime of the first fall scrimmage, and in the 10 games prior to scoring guard Eric Devendorf’s season-ending knee injury, Flynn dished out 64 assists and turned the ball over just 26 times.
That assist/turnover ratio has evened out since Devendorf went down, as Flynn has evolved into ripest Orange scorer.
There are plenty of playmaking point guards in the country — including Niagara’s Anthony Nelson, who boasts the highest assist average of any freshman. Many teams have a primary ball-handler capable of averaging 20 points, too.
Boeheim now knows he has that rare point guard who can create shots for himself as well as others. Flynn has averaged just under 24 points in Syracuse’s last three games, a win over Rutgers and losses to Villanova and Georgetown. His 15.4-point scoring average is better than the first-year efforts from Pearl Washington (14.4) and Gerry McNamara (13.3).
With classmate Donte Greene in a shooting funk, Flynn has been the Orange’s only reliable scoring threat. He’s attempted nearly a third of his team’s field goals during this scoring spree.
Not that he’s unfamiliar with this role.
“He’s just got to be aggressive and play like he did in high school,” Harris said after the Villanova loss.
Flynn showed tremendous scoring ability as a Wolverine. But distributing the ball was his forte with USA Basketball, and it seemed that would remain the biggest part of his college career, at least early on.
So it’s been odd to see Boeheim turn to Flynn for every big shot of late, especially with Harris on the floor. How many coaches ask a freshman to hit the game-winning shot, like Boeheim did Monday?
Those that do, usually know they won’t have that special player much longer.
Starpoint’s Mike Ridge has amped up his production of late at Pitt-Bradford.
Ridge, a sophomore, has started six of the Panthers’ last seven games heading into this week, and is averaging 16.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in his last four starts.
In a Jan. 12 win over Frostburg State, Ridge had a career-high 21 points. He posted double-doubles in Pitt-Bradford’s next two games.
Ridge is now averaging more than seven points and three rebounds this season. He scored 5.6 points per game as a freshman and was named the university’s freshman athlete of the year.
The Panthers host Medaille and Kenmore East graduate Bill Gersitz next week. Earlier this season, they beat the Mavericks 67-64. Pitt-Bradford returns to Western New York on Feb. 20 to face Hilbert.
A pair of locals helped Geneseo’s men’s and women’s swim teams improve to 8-0 over the weekend with wins over RIT.
Maren MacDonald (Lockport) won the 200-yard breast stroke race in two minutes and 35.66 seconds while Russell Sullivan (Niagara-Wheatfield) took the 200 back in 2:14.88.
Courtney DeVille (Kenmore West) had a game-high 15 points for the winless Hilbert Hawks in Monday’s 69-39 loss to Medaille.
Former Niagara coach Pete Lonergan’s Lady Mavs have won 15 straight.
Contact reporter Jonah Bronstein at email@example.com.