Published on December 3, 2017 at 9:15 pm Contact Matthew: firstname.lastname@example.org | @MatthewGut21 Facebook Twitter Google+ Bourama Sidibe has the art of catching birds down pat. He locates a pigeon and makes a hard jab step, which usually scares the bird. When it opens up its wing to fly away, Sidibe makes his move. He pounces to snatch the bird in midair with his outstretched arms. He cuffs it.“When he did it for the first time, we all said, ‘Wow,’” said Sidibe’s coach in Spain, Santi Lopez. “His technique is incredible. He knows the right moment to catch the bird on the fly. It’s really difficult, but I saw it several times. He never missed.”Sidibe, a 6-foot-10 Syracuse freshman originally from Mali in Africa, brings a physical presence to the SU frontcourt, the Orange’s most unproven area. In just more than 18 minutes per game, he averages 4.6 rebounds and just more than one block per game for the Orange (6-1). His ability to alter shots and rebound, despite his thin, 205-pound frame, is rooted not only in basketball training, but in his experience catching birds. Not just any birds, either. Specifically, pigeons.Sidibe said he caught them for years, though he could not pinpoint exactly when he started. It was sometime before he turned 13, back home in Mali, where he grew up. Pigeons are common in North Africa, and Sidibe began catching them near his house to keep them as pets. He said he had a separate birdhouse for them. By that time, he was already taller than 6 feet and quick with his feet. That was important, he said, because adult pigeons are about 35 centimeters (13.78 inches) long, have 70-centimeter (27.56 inch) wingspans and can fly at average speeds up to 77.6 miles per hour, according to the Pigeon Control Resource Center.“When they’re about to take off, I get close to them,” Sidibe said. “Maybe a couple of feet from them. I let them fly up and then I catch them.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAlexandra Moreo | Photo EditorSidibe said he doesn’t know how many pigeons he has caught.“A lot,” he said.The last bird Sidibe caught was a couple of years ago in North Jersey. While walking to get a haircut near St. Benedict’s High School, where former SU first-round NBA Draft pick Tyler Ennis graduated, Sidibe spotted one on the side of the road. He told a teammate he would grab it for fun, then release it.“My friend said, ‘Oh no you can’t,’” Sidibe recalled. “Then I caught it.”Lopez, who lived with Sidibe in Spain, said he has seen the freshman catch several birds near buildings in Spain, on the street or near open areas, including a nearby park. Teammates would bet that Sidibe couldn’t catch the birds. Yet he would do it anyway. They’d pepper him with questions as to how he could possibly catch a pigeon so easily. He said he would just smile.Andy Mendes | Digital Design EditorSidibe uses a similar technique while catching birds and blocking shots. He said he lets pigeons take flight, then he makes his move. On the court, Sidibe tempts shooters to get in the lane before he rises up for the block.The arc a pigeon makes when it takes off is not much different from a floater in the lane, he said. Both have a natural trajectory that can be anticipated and timed. Junior center Paschal Chukwu said he works with Sidibe every day on the timing of how to block shots, Sidibe’s greatest strength.“Bourama has very good instincts, and he’s quick,” said Mark Taylor, his coach at St. Benedict’s. “When you’ve got those two, you can be really good, especially in the zone. You start to see a lot of things happening where you can step up and make some good blocks.”Sidibe said his bird-catching abilities help him resist guards who drive in the paint. The skills he picked up in timing birds help him alter shots on the interior and clear rebounding lanes, too.“He has great timing,” sophomore guard Tyus Battle said. “He times the ball, he sees the ball and where it’s going to go up.”Sidibe said he has yet to catch a bird in Syracuse, though he hasn’t ruled out the possibility. For now, he’s focused on altering shots in the frontcourt.“I love catching birds,” Sidibe said, “and I love blocking shots.” Comments
“We were bad, honestly,” Rivers said. “We didn’t play very good defense tonight.”The Clippers did play Wednesday, the eighth and final day of the five-game trip. The legs may not quite have been there, Rivers said. “I didn’t think anybody played super, to me, on our team,” said Rivers, whose team will next play the Lakers on Sunday. “I thought we wanted to. I thought a lot of our shots were short. … We ran out of miracles.”The Clippers shot a respectable 42.9 percent from the field, but just 22.2 percent (6 of 27) from 3-point range.Rivers was asked about an hour-and-a-half before tip-off if his players appear to have a magical playoff run in them based on what they have done since Feb. 23, when they beat Oklahoma City to begin the 17 of 19 run. He seemed to not want to really go there because this is the regular season and the post-season is another animal.“Oh, I don’t know, I’ll let you talk about that stuff,” he said. “I have no clue. I just think we’re a good team and we have to be a better team in the playoffs. I don’t buy into that fate stuff.”It’s not fate if the team is doing what it’s doing, Rivers was reminded.“Just because we did it last night, that doesn’t impress Dallas tonight,” he said. “Whoever we play in the first round (of the playoffs), they’re not going to be talking about it. But what it does for us, I guess, is we believe when you’re down that you can still win a game.“That’s the way you should be anyway. But I think you’ve got to have it a couple of times and we’ve done that a couple of times, and I think that does help our psyche.” Dirk Nowitzki made two free throws with 17.9 seconds left and then Shawn Marion followed that with two of his own to seal the Clippers’ fate.Blake Griffin led L.A. (54-23) with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Collison scored 22 points, DeAndre Jordan had 21 points and 15 rebounds and Chris Paul scored 17 points and doled out nine assists. Redick had 12 points off the bench in his first game in two months.Nowitzki scored 26 points for Dallas, Jose Calderon had 19 and Vince Carter 16. Dallas (45-31) entered the game in a three-way tie with Phoenix and Memphis for seventh place in the Western Conference standings with time winding down in the regular season. What really stuck out to Rivers was the defense, or lack of, by his team. Dallas shot 50 percent from the field and 48.3 (14 of 29) from 3-point range. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The Clippers are having an extraordinary season. Ahead of Thursday’s game against the visiting Dallas Mavericks, they had won 17 of 19 and four of five on their just-concluded road trip.Clippers coach Doc Rivers tried to downplay all that success just a bit before the game began, basically saying it may not mean much once the playoffs arrive. His team then went out and showed it is human when it could not make another comeback like the one it made in Wednesday’s victory at Phoenix.The game was tied 89-89 with 8:44 to play, but the Mavericks — a team hungry to secure a playoff berth — went on a 10-0 run and defeated the Clippers 113-107 before a sellout crowd of 19,222.The Clippers (54-23) almost had another amazing comeback, however. Trailing 109-97 with about three minutes to play, they outscored the Mavericks (45-31) 10-0 to pull within 109-107. The crowd was going wild. That was as close as they would get, though, as both J.J. Redick and Darren Collison missed shots that would have either tied the game or put the Clippers ahead.