Heyen: Tyus Battle should be remembered for his willingness to take, and make, clutch shots

first_imgSALT LAKE CITY — I may never see Syracuse’s chancellor, Kent Syverud, jump up and down ever again. But three rows in front of my spot on press row on Dec. 8, that’s what I witnessed. Tyus Battle pulled up at the right elbow and buried a game-winning jumper to beat SU’s long-time rival, Georgetown. Syverud hopped in celebration, and Syracuse Director of Athletics John Wildhack lifted both his arms toward the Carrier Dome roof just a row behind Syverud. “I’ve been doing it since I picked up a basketball,” Battle said that day. “I love last-second shots, pressure situations.” Facebook Twitter Google+ It was one of many clutch moments in Battle’s Syracuse career. Multiple reports suggest that his three-year tenure with the Orange may come to an end for the NBA. Whether or not Battle shines in the pros shouldn’t alter perspective at what he accomplished at SU. He should be remembered for all the big-time plays that made Syracuse fans, as Syverud did that December day, jump for joy. “He‘s made a lot of big shots,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said on Dec. 8. “Probably as much or more than anybody we’ve ever had here in late-game situations. He’s right there.”When Battle decommitted from Michigan and chose Syracuse, he was the No. 34 recruit in 247Sports’ composite rankings. Battle told ESPN that SU told him he could have the ball in his hands a lot, and almost from the outset, he did. He moved into the starting lineup by his seventh game and rarely left it after dropping 19 points in his first start.On Feb. 7 of his freshman season, Battle had a quiet game, numbers-wise. He finished with just six points at Clemson. But Tyler Lydon found Battle in the right corner at Littlejohn Coliseum, and Battle drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer. “It was a great shot, big-time play from a freshman,” Battle said that day. Once he became SU’s unquestioned top dog as a sophomore, the clutch moments came fast and furious. A last-minute 3-pointer against Maryland. A late long-ball against Georgetown in D.C. Forcing overtime at Florida State on a career-high 37-point night. A go-ahead trey in the First Four against Arizona State.The clutch gene didn’t just show up in single shots but in second-half comeback charges. Before beating Georgetown in the Dome this year, Battle had scored 19 points after the break to get the Orange within one. Last year, as Syracuse upset Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament, it was behind Battle’s 16 second-half points. And in a sequence of seasons that have been without much postseason joy, Battle’s crunch time performances brought some of the high points. Syracuse wouldn’t have made the Sweet 16 a year ago without Battle lighting up MSU in the second half. There wouldn’t have been the Duke upset, or the comeback against Georgetown, or the thrilling win over Maryland a season ago.“It’s crazy how fast time flies,” Battle said on March 4. “Coming here as a freshman, it’s just amazing. Syracuse has been amazing for me. Just the family atmosphere, I’ve grown up to the man I am today here. I love it here.”Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerPundits seem torn on Battle’s NBA ability. The Athletic spoke with coaches who’ve played Syracuse this season, anonymously, and asked what they thought of Battle’s pro potential. One coach said: “I like Tyus. I like his size. He’s intriguing. Gun to my head, I don’t think he’s quite an NBA player. I don’t know if he has the efficiency and the athleticism to get his game off. He has that it-factor. He wants to take and make big shots. I do think he’s close. But I don’t think he’s a no-brainer right now.”Syracuse players haven’t had a ton of NBA success in recent years. Since Carmelo Anthony, there hasn’t been opportunities for Orange fans to live vicariously through professional success of the players they watched grow as young men on the Carrier Dome floor.But when it comes to Battle, his NBA output shouldn’t change how he’s remembered. Each and every time he stepped into a big shot for the Orange, never lacking the confidence to try to make one, Battle was writing his story.It’s the story of a team’s best player, one who hated to come out of the game, one who always wanted to take the big shot. And whenever Battle took the clutch jumper, it always felt like they’d go in. Because they often did.Billy Heyen is a senior staff writer for The Daily Orange where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected]syr.edu or @Wheyen3. Commentscenter_img Published on March 23, 2019 at 4:28 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3 TYUS BATTLE. Onions. 72-71 SU wth 2.5 to go. pic.twitter.com/BAm8w16Wst— Billy Heyen (@Wheyen3) December 8, 2018AdvertisementThis is placeholder textlast_img read more