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Remembering No. 55

Jim Boeheim and Louis Orr, a head coach at Seton Hall at the time, chatting before facing off against one another in 2003.
Jim Boeheim and Louis Orr, a head coach at Seton Hall at the time, chatting before facing off against one another in 2003.

After a 15-point win against Cornell on Saturday, Jim Boeheim addressed the media. He took no questions, but told a story about one of his former players.

“Two weeks after I took this job, I went to Cincinnati, Ohio because a friend of mine said a friend of his had a player out there,” Boeheim said. “I got on a plane, went to Cincinnati, and watched this kid.”

That kid was 6’8, and “maybe” 160 pounds. It was a kid that took some bumps and bruises, when the then-first year head coach at Syracuse was in the building.

“He got knocked down six times in five minutes,” Boeheim said. “But the interesting thing is he got up every time and made a basket or got a rebound.”

That kid was no stranger. It was Louis Orr, who was a part of Boeheim’s first recruiting class in 1976. Orr died of cancer on Thursday at the age of 64.

“When I got the news, it brought me to tears,” Georgetown head coach and former New York Knicks teammate Patrick Ewing said. “I could vent to him about [Georgetown’s] losing streak, I could vent to him about life, we could talk religion. He was a man that was steady in his faith.”

Orr was teammates with Roosevelt Bouie, a duo that rocked Syracuse for four years, and was a tandem known as “Louie and Bouie.”

“When I talked to Louis, I was like, ‘Holy smokes, this kid knows basketball,” Bouie said. “It took a very short time. I found people that knew basketball, and I watched everybody.”

Orr was someone that credited Bouie for helping him in his success when playing at SU. The Cincinnati native scored 1,487 rebounds and tallied 881 rebounds. Plus, the duo was a part of all of Boeheim’s first 100 wins as a head coach.

“I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had a lot of great players,” Boeheim said. “Louis Orr was a great player. Make no mistake about it. He was a great player.”

Even with all the success, Orr put the team first, even decades after his collegiate career.

“We just were a very good team,” Orr said. “We played together. That was one thing with Coach [Boeheim]. He got everybody involved.”

As great as they were athletes, Boeheim remembered them as good kids. Kids that you would want on your team.

“They went to every class. They were late every practice,” Boeheim said. “They never did anything wrong. Ever. I mean, ever.

Boeheim and Orr’s connection was strong. Not only did one recruit the other, but the two coached against each other, when Orr was the head coach at Seton Hall and an assistant under Ewing at Georgetown. But Orr’s marriage to basketball came in Central New York, at Manley Field House, with Boeheim leading the way.

“It’s just been a great instrument in my life,” Orr said. “It really started to develop and grow when I got to Syracuse.”

Four phenomenal years in Syracuse; eight seasons in the NBA; and over 30 years of coaching at the college level. It all began at SU.

“He’s the best,” Boeheim said. “That any program has ever had.”

Orr had his number 55 retired in the Dome back in February of 2015, where his number will remain forever.