Saturday, March 14, 2015

444,444 Thanks!

This morning at 10:56:33 EDT, the 444,444 tracked visitor visited  My thanks to all the guests to the site over the years! I hope you have enjoyed the site.

OrangeHoops Visitors
44 holds a special meaning for Syracuse fans, and thus three 44s is just extra special!

In reality guest 444,444 would have appeared several months back. OrangeHoops was launched in March 2005, and moved to this specific URL in August 2005. I did not start tracking visitors until November 29, 2006, so there is a lot of lost data.

But we can celebrate what we can!

I have completed all but sixteen player profiles, and there are five seasons remaining that I need to complete the written summary for.

Last year I launched a new section showing the competitive history for all schools against Syracuse. If you have not checked it out, please do.

I appreciate the information sent to me over the years by fans, former player, and families of former players.

There are no plans for the site to stop growing, and I have other ideas for more pages to add, so keep visiting!

Let's go Orange!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Response to NCAA Violations

It has been a week since the NCAA handed down its sanctions on the Syracuse basketball team. During that time I have been spending a lot of time with fellow Syracuse fans on various message boards discussing the penalties.  I wanted to let time pass before I commented here on those sanctions.

To recap, these are the sanctions as they currently stand

  • Syracuse has to give up 12 scholarships overs the next four seasons.
  • Coach Jim Boeheim has to be suspended for the first 9 ACC games for the 2015-2016 season.
  •  The university has to pay back significant money it earned from the Big East participation in the NCAA tournament
  •  Syracuse has to vacate 108 wins from its record book.
  • Syracuse self-imposed a ban on the ACC & NCAA post-season this year.
  • Limited and reduced recruiting visits

Syracuse has been found guilty primarily of three things:
  •  Ignoring its own University based drug policy and having athletes who had violated those policies remain eligible to play, and failure to contact the players’ families.
  •   Altering the grade of Fab Melo so that he would retain eligibility to play.
  •  Five football and basketball players receiving a total of $8000 from the Oneida YMCA.

These are indeed violations and there needs to be a punishment of form for these violations.  I agree with that.

And these violations did occur.  Syracuse University does not dispute that they occurred. In fact, Syracuse University reported all of these violations to the NCAA shortly after each had occurred. 
The NCAA, after an eight year investigation, found little evidence of any other wrongdoing by the University. It took the NCAA eight years to confirm what Syracuse told them.

My stance is that Syracuse University and coach Jim Boeheim are being significantly punished by excessive sanctions.  The investigation feels more like a vendetta than an actual investigation.

Academic Fraud

Coach Jim Boeheim recognized that he needed help in making sure that the players remained academically eligible to play for the basketball team. He hired a Director of Basketball Operations named Stan Kissel.  Kissel’s responsibility was to make sure the players were getting the proper tutoring, and that they were remaining eligible to play. 

NCAA rules prohibit coaches from knowing the specific academics for players on their teams.  All they are permitted to know is if a player is eligible to play or not.  This is important to remember.

In January of 2012 it was announced that Melo was no longer academically eligible to play.  This is a huge mistake by Kissel, as it was his job to be on top of situations like this.  Dr. Darryl Gross, 

Syracuse’s Athletic Director, called a meeting with several administrators and staff to see what could be done to get Melo’s grade issue resolved.  Jim Boeheim was not invited to this meeting. This is important to remember.

It was determined that a professor from a previous semester would be willing to give Melo a better grade if he successfully completed a paper.  This is where the fraud comes into play as Kissel and his receptionist did the paper for Melo, and submitted it.  Melo’s grade was raised, and he was eligible to play.

Later in the semester, the University found out what happened, suspended Melo for the remainder of the season, and reported it to the NCAA.  This suspension of Melo likely cost Syracuse a Final Four berth and a very good shot at the NCAA championship.  Kissel and the receptionist were both terminated from the University.

The NCAA has punished Jim Boeheim for this action.  How can they?  He recognized there could be a problem so he hired personnel to monitor the situations. He was not privy to any of the actions that took place to get Melo’s grade changed. The NCAA, through their investigation could find no evidence that Boeheim knew anything.  The NCAA rules prohibit Boeheim from knowing anything about the specifics of the grade.

So NOW they want to hold him accountable for it?  He’s supposed to be accountable for something he is not allowed to know?

Darryl Gross has some questions he needs to answer, and his employment should be in question.  The individuals who actually did the fraud were dismissed.   The university already sacrificed the 2012 post season for this.

There should have been scholarship reduction implications related to this.  The games were already sacrificed.

Drug Policy

The NCAA, amazingly enough, has no drug policy. The rule is that if a University has a drug policy, then the University must enforce its drug policy. Syracuse has one, and they failed to enforce it. Apparently a few players over the years failed their drug tests due to marijuana usage, and they should have been suspended. They were not.

Furthermore, those players’ families should have been contacted by Boeheim. They were not.
This is a black eye for the University, but hardly a major one.

YMCA Boosters

The YMCA apparently paid $8000 to five football and basketball players. This is an action that took place outside of Syracuse University, and one that the University really did not have a way of knowing about.  The YMCA is disputing this occurred. There is really nothing Syracuse can say about it because it is something outside their control.  $8000 is worthy of a penalty, but hardly earth shattering.

Scholarship Reduction

The NCAA is requiring Syracuse to eliminate 12 scholarships over four years, three for each year. Syracuse is allowed to push that penalty back one year to accommodate the incoming class, which Syracuse will do. Syracuse will have 13 scholarship players in 2015-2016.

Twelve scholarships is a very large number, and four years is a long period of time.  The NCAA makes a big issue that they are for the student athletes and they would never remove a scholarship from an existing player.  However, the mathematics of the situation state that Syracuse could indeed be forced to take a scholarship away from an existing player. 

Syracuse has 13 scholarship players in 2015-2016. Two players are scheduled to graduate (Michael Gbinije & Trevor Cooney).  That leaves Syracuse with 11 players on scholarship for the 2016-2017 season, which is one over the limit.  It is likely that someone from Syracuse could jump early for the NBA, or could transfer which would fix the situation. But what if nobody does?  Does the NCAA really want Syracuse to remove the scholarship from a player?

My guess is the NCAA plans to reduce the scholarship reductions from 3 to 2, and possibly from four years to three years. They wanted to make headlines with their over-the-top sanctions, and they wanted to have room to negotiate down.

They got their headlines.

The shame is that most fans across the country do not know the details of the situation. So Jim Boeheim is labeled a cheater.  There is no evidence he cheated.  The university did make some mistakes and so there are some things the university should be stained with. 

But the University did NOT have any recruiting violations.  NONE.   That is major cheating.

There was NOT systemic academic fraud. There was a major case involving a big name player, and there are some other issues with tutors and mentor semantics, that may lead to other minor issues. 

There was NO systemic paying of players, and the players who were paid were given a small sum by a booster that the University had no way of preventing.

Look, the NCAA took its sweet time over eight years covering everything with a fine tooth comb. The things we are certain about is that there were NO other issues out there. The NCAA surely would have found them. 

The self-imposed post season ban for this year seems like it was justified for ‘lack of institutional control’.  A restriction of one or two scholarships made some sense, for a two or three year period.
I would not be surprised to see many of the sanctions reduced / eliminated. Then again, I would not be surprised if they remain close to where they currently are.  

The NCAA is inconsistent, tyrannical, and a joke of an organization. It fails to accomplish what it needs to accomplish.  If it has finished its original investigation in 2-3 years, many of these issues may NEVER have occurred.  And taken in the context of small intervals of time, none of the violations in themselves are significant.  Stretch out a time period long enough, pile enough items into the basket, and you can make is sound far worse than it was.

They got their pound of flesh.

Here is the lesson that Syracuse University learned, as did all the other universities out there. Do NOT self-report your issues, and do not cooperate fully with the NCAA.  Despite the fact that Syracuse systemically reported issues as they occurred, AS THEY SHOULD HAVE, they were punished for it as if they had not.  They would be far better off not saying anything and hoping the NCAA never came across it.  Like all the other schools that have skeletons in their closet that they have not yet reported (and now never will).

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Year Ago Today

Coach Boeheim, thank you for the memory.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Another Winning Season

The Syracuse win over Boston College was an enjoyable game, and different than what Orange fans have become accustomed to.  Syracuse has not had too many walk-away wins this year, and this game really was never in doubt over the last 6-7 minutes with the Orange winning 70-56.

The game did have a historical perspective to it.  The win moves the Orange record to 16-8 for the year, and with only seven games left on the schedule because of the post-season ban, it guarantees the Orange another winning season.  

We take winning for granted in Syracuse, as the Orange have not had a losing season since 1968-1969 when the team went 8-16.   That is 46 seasons of winning basketball.  The school has only had sixteen losing seasons ever, and the program started in 1900-1901.  I am not sure which basketball program has the longest streak right now for consecutive winning seasons, but 46 is very impressive. 

For perspective, remember that Duke, one of the best programs out there, had a losing season in 1994-1995.  Mike Krzyzewski also had losing seasons in 1981-1982 and 1982-1983 with Duke.  Kansas was 13-16 in 1982-1983.  North Carolina was 8-20 in 2001-2002.  Georgetown was 13-15 in 2003-2004.  UConn was 9-19 in 1986-1987. Kentucky was 13-19 in 1988-1989.  

Kaleb Joseph had a coming out party tonight!  He was aggressive to the hoop, and went 7 for 7 from the floor for 14 points.  Welcome Kaleb!

B.J. Johnson also got some significant playing time and made some three point shots. He hit four of twelve, on his way for 12 points for the night.  That shooting is not going to break any records, but considering how poorly he has been shooting, that was very nice to see.

Michael Gbinije continues to play at a very high level.  8 of 11 from the floor for 21 points, coupled with 7 rebounds and 4 assists.  Gbinije has been extremely impressive as of late.

Rak Christmas was handcuffed tonight by several double and triple teams, and he ended up with only 7 points, though he did get 10 rebounds and 3 nice blocks.

Let’s go Orange!

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Syracuse Self Imposes Ban for 2015 Post Season

Syracuse University announced today that it is self-imposing a ban on all post season activity for its men's basketball program for this year.  The ban includes the NCAA, NIT and the ACC tournament.

It is a shame that the current roster of players has to suffer for the misdeeds done in the past.  I do not know all the details of this particular investigation, though I have been flustered by what I already know.  Syracuse self-reported academic violations by Feb Melo and James Southerland at the time they occurred.  Melo was suspended first by the university and then later in the season by the NCAA.  The Melo suspension in 2012 was extremely impactful on the Orange as the team was ranked #2 in the country, and one of the top favorites to win the tourney. Without Melo they were talented enough to make a run to the Elite Eight.

Part of me feels like there is double jeopardy in this situation. The punishment was handed out, and the program suffered at the time.

Again, there are probably more issues at hand than what I am aware of.  I will be curious to see what those may be.

The self-imposed ban from the ACC tournament seems excessive.  When Syracuse was banned in 1993 by the NCAA, it was still permitted to play in the Big East Tournament.  So the Syracuse administration is dolling out a very stiff penalty on itself.

The move is definitely self-serving by the university; I am not naive to that. This year's team was not going to have a strong post season, and they are hoping that sacrificing this year will allow the team not to be impacted for next year, nor have any lingering impact on recruiting.   The 1992-1993 ban took a couple of years to get announced, and there were recruits the Orangemen lost as a result.

I do find the NCAA to be a capricious and inconsistent organization.  There does not seem to be any predictable pattern to penalties they dole out, nor which institutions get investigated in the first place.  It seems clear that some programs are cheating academically because practically it seems illogical that they types of players that revolve through their program could not possible maintain proper academic standing, yet they do. 

Anyhow, good luck to the Orange on their remaining nine games this year.  Particularly sad is the relevance to Rakeem Christmas, who is having a tremendous senior season, and will have no opportunity to showcase his talents.  The greatest irony being that Christmas is one of the best student athletes Syracuse has ever had, completing his four year degree in only three years (no redshirt year).

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Free Throws Do Matter (Again)

It was a shame to watch the Orange fight back gallantly against the Hurricanes yesterday, and see them fall up short.   The Orange played hard, and they never gave up despite two prolonged scoreless stretches in each half that let Miami pull out ahead.

The shame was the poor free throw shooting by the Syracuse players. This issue has been a thorn in the Orange side for years; it seems the Orange are having a collective freeze on their free throw shooting right now.  The Orange hit only 8 of 19 free throws against the Hurricanes, missing the front end of some crucial one-and-ones, and missing some critical free throws in the last couple of minutes that would have allowed them to win the game.  The Orange made some clutch jump shots, some clutch rebounding (thanks Tyler Roberson!), and some nice defensive stops.  But they have to make some of their free throws.

Michael Gbinije is the worst culprit. Yesterday's loss dropped his season average to 48.9% (23 for 47).  Gbinije was not terrific before this year, but 64.6% last season was bearable.  He is now 11-23 in conference play.  For a player that Jim Boeheim wants to be running the offense in clutch moments, that is just not tolerable.  You can see that Gbinije is a total mess right now, with different forms on his free throw attempts each time to the line.

Trevor Cooney is a terrific free throw shooter.  Yet, he is in a funk in conference play making only 21 of 34 free throws for 61.8%.  Several of his misses over the past few games have been in crunch time.

Rakeem Christmas had been a rock and clutch player at the charity stripe. Yesterday, he bombed making only 5 of 11 attempts. 

Ron Patterson has not shot much in his career. He does not give much glimmer of hope as he has made only 2 of 8 attempts for the season.  At least Patterson does have the humorous quote of the season mentioning earlier in the year that his free throws were 'close'.

By comparison, Tyler Roberson is shooting well from the line. In conference play, he has made 71.4% of his shots, hitting 10 of 14 attempts.

A dilemma for Boeheim could be what to do with Kaleb Joseph.  His play has improved during the game, and his turnovers have cut down, but he was very rocky earlier this year when under pressure.  Joseph, however, has made 16 of 19 free throw attempts in conference play, for 84.2%.   He  has not shown the ability to shoot from the perimeter, and defenses are leaving him wide open.  He still makes big mistakes on defensive positioning.  But he has been making his free throws.  

I have got to imagine that Boeheim rides Cooney and Christmas down the stretch of games, hoping they can revert to form, and he keeps the ball out of Gbinije's hands during obvious fouling situations.  I'm not sure he wants to give up all the positives that Gbinije brings during crunch time to give some time to Joseph, but it will be something he is surely evaluating.

Also noteworthy in the game was that Syracuse played only six players during the contest.  Four of those players (Christmas, Roberson, Cooney and Gbinije) played the entire game.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Elusive Triple Double

Triple Doubles are a rare commodity in college basketball.  There have only been nine triple doubles recorded in Syracuse Orange history; the last one occurred 14 seasons ago when Allen Griffin accomplished it against Pitt with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.  Lazarus Sims, Derrick Coleman, Leo Rautins (3 times) and Dave Bing (3 times) are the only other Orangemen to accomplish the feat.  

Michael Carter-Williams was the perfect type of player to get a triple double.  A tall point guard who liked to drive the lane, and was strong at offensive rebounding.  It seemed destined he would complete the feat after some near misses, but he never did.  The other style of player to get a triple double is a forward who is adept at passing  (ala Leo Rautins), but the Orange have not had a player of that style for a while.

Michael Gbinije
Michael Gbinije
Michael Gbinije might be able to get the triple double, if the stars align correctly.  Gbinije is Syracuse's starting small forward, but he spends a lot of time running the offense at the point.  In two of the last three games, Gbinije has had double digit rebounding efforts.  The Wake Forest game is the closest he has come to a triple double when he had 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 17 points.  

Gbinije's career high in assists is 8, which he did against Long Beach State earlier this year. He had 6 rebounds and 24 points in that game.

10 assists will be tough for Gbinije to get. Syracuse is not a high scoring team, and therefore there is a smaller potential for assists to begin with.   If he had a good night of feeding Trevor Cooney and Rakeem Christmas, and they both had big scoring nights, that could help him a lot. But right now there really are only three scoring threats on the Orange: Cooney, Christmas, and Gbinije, and Gbinije cannot get an assist to himself.  A big game by Tyler Roberson or another Orange player would help.

Gbinije is more likely to get 5-6 rebounds in a game than 10, but he does have that potential.

I do not think he will accomplish the feat.  He does get the playing time, but I think the assists will be out of his reach.  But I will be rooting for him to do it.