Dajuan Coleman, Syracuse Stallions hope to draw crowds in busy entertainment market

first_img Published on December 3, 2018 at 1:06 am Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21 UPDATED: Dec. 3, 2018 at 1:00 p.m.When Evan Dourdas heard his dad was assembling a semi-pro team, he knew whom to ask: one of his closest friends, former Syracuse center Dajuan Coleman. The big man hadn’t played competitive basketball at full health in three years, and his once-promising Syracuse career ended prematurely due to knee surgeries to repair a torn meniscus and cartilage damage.Coleman wasn’t sure if he’d be healthy enough to return to basketball this year. But a quality summer playing in Utica injected confidence in him to get back on the court. He couldn’t resist.“I’m ready to get back to myself and grow,” Coleman said, who wants to create a new highlight tape for prospective pro teams overseas.Evan’s father, Peter, is confident that Coleman helps the Syracuse Stallions, a semi-professional basketball team, grow, too. Dourdas is the head coach of the new basketball team in the city, currently in its first season. They’re hoping to draw a large number of fans to their games at Manlius Pebble Hill School in DeWitt. They’re also betting that the Stallions will be sustainable long term.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThere have been more than a dozen attempts at starting semi-professional basketball in Syracuse, with financial backing and community support being the largest barriers, Dourdas said. Plus, the Stallions entered a crowded marketplace: Central New York already has a number of sports entertainment options, from hockey to baseball to college sports, including a big-time college basketball program in Syracuse that routinely attracts more than 20,000 fans per game.The Stallions offer players out of college a chance to play, make some side money and keep their larger basketball ambitions alive. It’s not the NBA, but it could help pay the bills: Players make less than $200 per game, Dourdas said. The Stallions have jumped off to a hot start in their first few weeks, undefeated in their first six games. They rank third in the most recent American Basketball Association power rankings.Dourdas, a Syracuse native, local wealth manager and basketball trainer has trained Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim, plus about one dozen other Syracuse stars. Dourdas played professionally overseas himself and brings a run-and-gun, fast-break approach.“This is a platform for high-caliber players who have a dream to play overseas,” Dourdas said. “We’re serious about this. We will play good basketball.”For decades, minor league basketball organizations have struggled financially. A Rowan University study entitled, “Minor league basketball organizations: making them work,” found many small-market minor league teams don’t succeed because they don’t benefit from the TV contract and sponsorship revenue that the NBA does. Most minor league basketball teams are not profitable, the study found, and they don’t have deep enough talent pools from which to pull players.“In the NBA, that’s the highest level of basketball in the world,” Dan Panaggio, the former head coach of Quad City, said in the study. “But when it comes to the minor leagues no one really identifies with the team, and on a cold winter night, it finds itself competing with a college or an NBA team on television.”The study offers a few suggestions for minor league teams hoping to last. Having owners who offer financial support is a good start, and maintaining a strong foothold in the community through off-court events can help market teams and their players. Local players with a following is a plus.Susie Teuscher | Digital Design EditorMost of the Stallions are from central New York. A jam-packed schedule is common for team members, many of whom work a full-time day job and other part-time jobs to rack in extra cash. Take Nick Perioli, who rolls out of bed around 5:30 every morning to teach in the Phoenix Central School District. After school, he works out for an hour by himself before coaching the boy’s varsity team at Phoenix. Then, Perioli drives to the Manlius Pebble Hill gym for Stallions practices from 7 to 9 p.m.Perioli, and many of his Stallion teammates, played college basketball before moving on to other ventures. Perioli played overseas in six countries, while teammates played for teams across the U.S as well as overseas. Some stopped playing competitive basketball altogether to get a full-time job and settle in one place.But the Stallions piqued the interest of many players in Syracuse because they could stay home.“Just being able to look up at the crowd and see the faces that are there to see me,” Perioli said. “It gives you an extra push.”Perioli said he plays for free, as does 23-year-old forward Lloyd Parkmond, who works full-time at DeStefano Contracting, a home-improvement construction company. Parkmond received a Facebook message from general manager Mike Sugamosto about trying out for the team. A few weeks later, he was on the court with 137 other hopeful players for a tryout. At first, he was offered a spot as a reserve, which Parkmond accepted. Three days later, the Stallions signed him.Cornelius Vines, a 6-foot-2 Stallions guard, played at several colleges, including Hofstra. He won a championship for a pro team in Uruguay. But around 2014, after a stint in Canada, Vines was involved in a bad car accident. He hurt his back and suffered a herniated disk.“Basketball was over from there,” Vines said. “I didn’t know what to do once basketball stopped. I just started coaching from there.”Now, Vines is recovered and back in competitive basketball with the Stallions, who play near Henninger High School, which he attended. When the Stallions returned for their home game on Dec. 2, he and Perioli said they’d look into the stands and see familiar faces. Perioli said he’d see his family, friends and the players he coaches at Phoenix. When he played abroad, no one could watch him play. He was on his own.“Everything I was looking for was finally in my hometown,” Perioli said. “Over the summer, I had six offers to go back to Europe, and I turned them all down just so I can stay home and start a life here.”CLARIFICATION: In a previous version of this post, players on the Syracuse Stallions were incorrectly said to make about $200 per game.  Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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