The key to Bourama Sidibe’s rim protecting: Catching pigeons

first_img Published on December 3, 2017 at 9:15 pm Contact Matthew: mguti100@syr.edu | @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.” Commentslast_img read more

Badgers take on surging Mavericks in regular season finale

first_imgThis weekend is crunch time in women’s hockey, as the last regular season games are about to begin. Every game counts that much more with playoffs right around the corner, and the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team may have their work cut out for them as they travel to Minnesota to take on conference rival Minnesota State-Mankato for their last series. While Minnesota State has never given UW much trouble, lately the Mavericks have been on fire – one that could prove hard to extinguish.Minnesota State (12-19-1, 7-18-1 WCHA), currently ranked seventh in the WCHA, isn’t known for being an intimidating rival and when looking at the Mavericks’ game results from this year it’s easy to see why – until last weekend. Remember the University of North Dakota women’s hockey team? The one that gave Wisconsin trouble this season, beating them at the beginning of January to become UW’s first opponent to rack up more than two goals in a single game? The one that ended No. 1 ranked University of Minnesota’s 62-game winning streak earlier this year?  Minnesota State swept the series against them last weekend in North Dakota.If there’s ever a time that the Mavericks are going to hit the ice full speed, put up a fight and redefine aggression, this next weekend would be it, when Wisconsin comes to town. Head coach Mark Johnson knows it.“They are healthy now and certainly coming off a big weekend and a sweep in North Dakota,” Johnson said. “It will be senior weekend for them so I am sure there will be a lot of emotions tied to it, they have a large senior class that leads the way. So it will be a good challenge for our team to see how we respond to what happened last week.”While Minnesota State was experiencing a high point of its season last weekend, Wisconsin had a rather disappointing one, losing both games in the series to the University of Minnesota’s Golden Gophers, one night being senior night and the other in front of a sellout crowd of more than 13,000. But as always, the Badgers are trying to see the positives in the situation.“This weekend’s results were disappointing, but we have learned a lot from it,” said senior goaltender Alex Rigsby.  “We have to capitalize on our opportunities and limit our mistakes to prevent them from getting opportunities to score.”Wisconsin has not been a team to allow anyone to slow their momentum. When they lost both games to the Gophers earlier this season, they immediately bounced back, winning the next eight consecutive games. Madison Packer, a senior forward, agrees that the best thing to do at this point is shake off the loss and come out harder.“I mean we obviously wanted to beat the Gophers, but in the grand scheme of things it really didn’t mean anything,” Packer said. “We were behind them by seven points, and beating them twice would have only given us six, so we know it’s rough but we have to learn from it. If there was a good time to lose it was now. We can’t play like that and expect to win games. We are going to learn from our mistakes, watch film, stay positive and ignore some of the negativity.”Some might say attitudes like Packer’s and Rigsby’s can make for the tougher opponent, as they are likely hungry for a win after being swept in a series. On top of that, the Mavericks haven’t seen a win against UW since the 2009-2010 season, and were outscored 8-1 by the Badgers in the most recent weekend series back in October. When you look at the top scorers on each team, Wisconsin’s Brittany Ammerman is sitting at 38 points, 14 higher than Minnesota State’s Nicole Germaine. And while rumor has it that Minnesota State’s penalty kill and power play have been strong lately, Wisconsin still ranks higher in both categories in the WCHA league statistics.This series could end up slowing one team’s momentum and boosting the other’s as playoffs begin, something the Badgers are aware of.“Even though the standings won’t change much, it’s important to get momentum going into the WCHA playoffs next weekend,” Rigsby said. “If we can create some energy and get some girls to score again, that would be huge for our team.”last_img read more