Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veterans Day 2015

On this Veterans day, as I have done each year past, I would like to thank all those who have served our country, putting their lives on the line to do those tasks that need to be done. The Orange basketball team has had its share of veterans over the decades. And has been tradition at OrangeHoops, I would like to recognize those former basketball Orangemen who did serve. I acknowledge this is not a complete list; only those I know of (each year I add a few more). I imagine more Orangemen were in the service that I am omitting; if so, please post a recognition here! Also please feel free to recognize any other veterans in the comments.

In World War I, the following served:
Albert Ackley
Bradley Barnard
Ross Bibbens
Meyer Bloom
Jim Casey
Ed Cronauer
John Cronauer
Charles Fasce
Russ Finsterwald
Loyal Greenman
Ken Harris
Ted Huntley
Bernie Kates
Ken Lavin
Nathan Malefski
Danny Martin
Harry Martin
Walter ‘Dutch’ Notman
Walter Peters
Elias Raff
Billy Rafter
Horace Ruffin
Courtland Sanney
Clifford Steele

In World War II, the following served:
Jim Ackerson
Earl Ackley
Lou Alkoff
John Baldwin (Balsavich)
John Balinsky
John Beaulieu
John Beck
Gene Berger
Milton 'Whitey' Bock
Leo Canale
Dick Casey
Larry Crandall
Wilbur Crisp
Dan DiPace
Les Dye
Bud Elford
Alton Elliott
John Emerich
Bill Estoff
Bob Felasco
Paul Ferris
Billy Gabor
Ed Glacken
Joe Glacken
Marc Guley
Mark Haller
LaVerne Hastings
Lew Hayman
Bill Hennemuth
Bill Hoeppel
Tom Huggins
George Jarvis
Ed Jontos
Walter Kiebach
Jim Konstanty
Christian Kouray
Stan Kruse (Kruszewski)
Glenn Loucks
Guy Luciano
Saul Mariaschin
Bob Masterson
Paul McKee
Don McNaughton
Tom McTiernan
Francis Miller
Joe Minsavage
Andy Mogish
Roy Peters
Hank Piro
Paul Podbielski
Edward Pond
Phil Rakov
Joe Rigan
John Schroeder
Bill Schubert
Bob Shaddock
Wilmeth Sidat-Singh
Red Stanton
Mike Stark
Chester Stearns
Bobby Stewart
Joe Sylvestri
Charles Taggart
Ray Tice
Joe Weber
Ray Willmott
Bill Wyrick

In Korea the following served:
Reaves Baysinger, Jr
John Beaulieu
Bernie Eischen
Paul McKee
Paul Podbielski
Fred Serley

In Vietnam, the following served:
Reaves Baysinger, Jr
John Beaulieu
George Crofoot
Rick Dean
Sanford Salz

The following were veterans who served but were fortunate to miss a war era:
Vinnie Albanese
Art Barr
Mel Besdin
Rudy Cosentino
Roy Danforth
Ronnie Kilpatrick
George Koesters
Tom Jockle
Jack Malone
Frank Reddout
Eddie Rosen
Chuck Steveskey

Six of the aforementioned players deserve special note, as they sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.

Wilmeth Sidat-Singh was a member of the Tuskegee Airman, and was killed in a training accident when his plane crashed into Lake Michigan in 1943.

Charles Taggart was a member of the US Navy serving aboard the USS Frederick C. Davis, and was killed when his ship was torpedoed by a German U-Boat on April 24, 1945. Taggart and 115 crew members perished.

John Cronauer was killed in World War I in 1918.

Joe Minsavage was killed in World War II on June 19, 1943 when his ship was attacked and he was lost at sea.

Gene Berger was killed in 1961 during flight maneuvers. He was a Commander in the U.S. Navy and a Naval aviator, and his plane would crash into the Pacific.

Harry Martin was killed in 1923 when his plane crashed during takeoff at Kelley Field, Texas.  He was a Lieutenant and an Army Aviator.  Martin had served in the AEF in France in World War I.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Syracuse All-Star Teams by the State

Syracuse Orange basketball has drawn players from 29states;  14 of those states they have drawn 5 or more players, thus enough to form a basketball team. If you were to form a tournament playing those teams, which would be the best?

New York, by far, has the most players to draw from, with 344 players.  The backcourt would be led by the dynamic Pearl Washington, and Greg Kohls would be his long range shooter by his side.  John Wallace would carry the front line of the team, with Roosevelt Bouie the big man in the middle, and 
Rudy Hackett on the other side. Adrian Autry could back up the Pearl at the point, or play the two guard, as could Dennis DuVal.  The versatile Dale Shackleford would be a key reserve, and Danny Schayes would back up Bouie.  Billy Gabor, Jonny Flynn… a lot of guard talent.   More sharpshooters like Andy Rautins and Marty Headd.  And of course, the greatest Syracuse player from the first half of the 20th century, Vic Hanson, would also be on the team.

The All New Jersey team (44 players) would be a decent squad.  The backcourt would have Tyler Ennis and Dion Waiters, the forwards would be Rafael Addison and Keith Hughes, and Rick Dean would man the center position.  There would be some depth in the backcourt with 50’s stars Jack Kiley and Ed Goldberg, along with forward Terrence Roberts. Newcomer Malachi Richardson may bring some excitement to the line. 

The Pennsylvania team (43 players) would be led by Billy Owens at forward.  Scoop Jardine and Gerry McNamara in the backcourt; Hakeem Warrick would lock down the other forward position and Rakeem Christmas would man the center position.  Rick Jackson would be a versatile backup forward and center on the squad, and Tom Green the backup guard.   If you could stop Scoop from having his Scoop moments, this would be quite a team. The front court of Owens-Warrick-Christmas would be a fantastic combination, and to have Rick Jackson as a reserve is just fantastic.

The Massachusetts team (23 players) star would be Michael Carter-Williams.  Kaleb Joseph would join him in the backcourt.  Paul Harris would play one forward and James Southerland the other.  Center would be tough to fill with probably Tom Stundis and Peter Wynne having to rotate the position. The Massachusetts team would have a tough time scoring with Southerland the only true shooter on the team, and no real size in the front court.

The Connecticut team (17 players) would focus its offense around Dion Waiters (also on the New Jersey team).  Larry Kelley would join him in the backcourt.  Chris McCullough would be the star big man, which is somewhat daunting considering his limited time at Syracuse due to his injury and then going early to the NBA.  Stan Richtmeyer, star in the 1920s, may be the big man with the best career of the bunch, though at 6’1”, he would play guard today, not forward.  Eric Williams and Mark Meaders would have to help fill out the front line, both reserves in their Orangemen careers.  Connecticut is definitely going to have some problems.

The Maryland team (14 players) despite having a small pool to pull from, would be very tough competition.  It would of course start with Carmelo Anthony.  You would have C.J. Fair or Jerami
Grant at the other forward, and Arinze Onuaku at center.  You’d also have Donte Greene to come off the bench for some pure shooting.  The backcourt would have Billy Edelin at the point, with sharp shooting Michael Brown as the shooting guard. And two very capable backup point guards in Michael Lloyd and Ernie Austin; in fact, I might start one of them over Brown.

We could catch a wave and go with the California team (13 players).  There’s some strong defensive backcourt players with Jason Hart and Mike Hopkins; you could use Earl Duncan or Tony Bland if you wanted a little more offense.  The front court would have twin towers in Rich Manning and LeRon Ellis, and the explosive Stephen Thompson would highlight the offense at the small forward position. This would be a strong defensive team with Hart, Hopkins and Thompson all known for strong defensive capabilities and two tall centers.

Team Virginia (11 players) actually has a lot of crossover with other states. They can also claim Carmelo Anthony for one forward position, and Arinze Onuaku at the center.  Billy Edelin would be a guard and silent G Michael Gbinije at the shooting guard position.  Baye Keita would be the third front court player, probably the only weak (relatively) spot on the court.

The Ohio team (10 players) does not have much to draw from. Louis Orr would be the star at forward, and Fred Saunders would hold down the other forward.  J.B. Reafsnyder would be the center. LaSean Howard and Reaves Baysinger are probably the two best guards, and that would be stretch for this team to be competitive in today’s game.

The Michigan team (10 players) would have a backcourt of two Eric’s:  Eric Devendorf and Erich Santifer.  Derrick Coleman would be the star of the team, and obviously could play the power forward or center position.  Todd Burgan and Wesley Johnson would be the other two forwards.  James Thues could be the backup point guard.  The toughest challenge for this team is the lack of a true point guard in the starting five (tough Devo could do it).  It has perimeter shooter with Devo and Johnson, and guys who can drive to the hoop in Devo, Santifer Johnson and Burgan. Coleman could just dominate inside and from 15’ in.

New Hampshire (10 players), because of New Hampton Prep (4 players) becomes competitive.  The top player would be Lawrence Moten, and you could have Chris McCullough and C.J. Fair join him on the front line.  Kaleb Joseph and Ron Patterson would be the backcourt.  If Tylor Lydon ends up playing well, he would be a valuable addition to the squad.

The District of Columbia (8 players) would have perhaps the strongest backcourt among all the states, including New York:  Dave Bing and Sherman Douglas.  Lawrence Moten would be one small forward and Kris Joseph the other.  The weak spot would be center, and football star/basketball reserve Melvin Tuten would have to take that role (all 6’6” 300 lbs of him).  This team would definitely be able to move the ball and run the court, and would be fun to watch play on offense.  Defensively they would have some significant problems, but when you have three of the leading scorers in SU history on the same team (Bing, Douglas and Moten), things are going to happen on offense.

Florida (8 players) could field a team but it would have three true starters and then struggle to complete the lineup.  Preston Shumpert would be the offensive star at guard/forward, and Chris McCullough and Fab Melo would handle the front court.  Reserve guards Brandon Reese, Ray Balukas, Albert Nassar and Andrew Kouwe would have to fight it out for the two guard positions.

Indiana would be the last state that SU could field a team from (6 players).  Kueth Duany would be the best player and would likely play the small forward position.  Ron Patterson would be the point guard, and Chuck Wichman could join him in the backcourt. There would be no center, and Frank Hamblen and Don Degner would have to handle the other frontcourt positions.

If I were to rank the teams that you could build from these 14 states I would go: New York
  1. New York
  2. Pennsylvania
  3.  Michigan
  4.  Maryland
  5. New Jersey
  6. Virginia
  7. District of Columbia
  8. California
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Massachusetts
  11. Connecticut
  12. Ohio
  13. Florida
  14.  Indiana

In a round robin tournament with all 14 teams, I think New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Maryland would all have legitimate chances to win it all.  I’d put my money on New York… just far too much talent to draw from, but the other three would be very strong.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Names Revisited

Back in 2006, I commented on the fact that in the storied history of Syracuse basketball, Mike Jones became the first Orange basketball player by the name of Jones.  Well, in the 2008-09 season, Mookie Jones became the second Jones to join the team.  Mookie would never be a regular, but he was a good shooter who struggled on defense. Mike Jones had opened the floodgates, because in  the 2012-13 season, walk-on Noel Jones joined the squad.

Other common and familiar names joined the team since that time, spanning from 2007 to 2015.
The third Jackson joined Syracuse in 2007-08 when Rick Jackson was a freshman.  Rick followed Luke Jackson (1992-95) and William Jackson (1933).  Two more and we get a Jackson Five.

Two Williams also joined the team in 2007-08, with Sean Williams and Mike Williams (walking on from the football team).    That brings the number of Williams to seven:  Sean & Mike, DeShaun (2000-02), Eric (1998-99), Jeffery (1959), Jimmy (1974-1977), and John (1945-46). Jimmy ‘Bug’ Williams was the best of the bunch, by far, a flashy point guard for Roy Danforth and a young Jim Boeheim.

In 2009-10, a second Triche joined the team when Brandon followed in the footsteps of his uncle Howard.  Wesley Johnson also joined the team that year, bringing the Johnsons up to three:  Wesley, Dave (1989-92), and Derrick (1995).  In in 2013-14, B.J. would be the fourth Johnson. 

In 2012-13, we got our second Coleman with big DaJuan joining Derrick (1987-90), and our second Grant with Jerami joining John (1935-36). 

In that time span we went from having no Mister Josephs, to having two of them, both with the initials K.J.:  Kris Joseph (2009-12) and Kaleb (2015-current). 

We did have our share of unusual names:  Matt Lyde-Cajuste, Matt Tomaszewski, Rakeem Christmas, Michael Gbinije, Baye Keita, Chino Obakuh, and Doyan Akintobi-Adeyeye to name a few.  And a group of Irish sounding names:  Cooney (Trevor), Riley (DaShonte), Reese (Brandon), and McCullough (Chris). 

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Orange Hoops Hall of Fame 2015

In 2007, OrangeHoops inducted its charter class into the OrangeHoops Hall of Fame: Dave BingDerrick ColemanSherman DouglasVic Hanson, and Pearl Washington. The next six years saw the addition of Billy Owens (2008), Billy Gabor (2009), Lawrence Moten (2010), Louis Orr (2011), Roosevelt Bouie (2011)  John Wallace (2012),  Rony Seikaly (2013) and Vinnie Cohen (2014).  So the list now stands at 13. Another year has passed, and now it is time for the 2015 inductee.

I established my rules for the OrangeHoops Hall of Fame back in 2007 and you can catch up on them here. 2015 does have four new eligible candidates (using the fifteen year rule): Jason Hart, Tony Bland, Ryan Blackwell, and Etan Thomas

Jason Hart was a four year starting point guard at Syracuse.  He was an outstanding defensive guard with great quickness.  He was a decent scorer and playmaker though prone to some poor decision making.  He was All Big East First team his senior year, and finished his career as SU's all-time leader in steals and second in assists.

Tony Bland was a shooting guard for Syracuse who played for the Orangemen for two seasons. He was the starter his sophomore year, though he averaged only 20 minutes per game as the Orangemen had a lot of talent at the guard position. He would transfer to San Diego State after his sophomore year where he would then be a two year starter and would lead the Aztecs in scoring his senior year.

Ryan Blackwell was a starting forward for Syracuse for three seasons. He started his career at Illinois but transferred to Syracuse after his freshman year.  He was a good all around player, though stronger on the defensive end of the court than the offensive end.  

Etan Thomas was an outstanding defensive center for Syracuse for four seasons. He played both forward and center his freshman year, and was the starting center his last three years.  Thomas was an outstanding shot blocker and developed into a terrific rebounder.  He was highly efficient on offense, and developed a series of low post moves by his senior year that made him a terrific scorer in Syracuse's slow down offense.  Thomas was the Big East Defensive player two years in a row, and was All Big East First team his senior year.

Two of the candidates from 1999-2000, Hart and Thomas, would make my list of top 10 eligible candidates.
I think this year’s viable top 10 candidates come down to the following, listed chronologically: Lew CastleJoe SchwarzerLew AndreasJon Cincebox, Jimmy Lee, Rudy HackettLeo Rautins, Stephen Thompson, Jason Hart and Etan Thomas.

Castle was a two time All-American at Syracuse, and was captain and leading scorer of Syracuse’s only undefeated team, the 1913-1914 squad that went 12-0.
Schwarzer was a two time All-American, and was captain and leading scorer of the 1917-1918 squad that went 16-1 and was retroactively named the National Champions by the Helms Foundation.
Andreas coached Syracuse basketball for 27 seasons, including the 19-1 1925-1926 squad that was awarded the Helms Foundation National Championship. He had a career record of 358-134, and he was the Syracuse Athletic Director for 28 years (1937-1964).
Cincebox was on the best rebounders in Syracuse history (in an era when rebounding numbers were admittedly high).  He helped Syracuse to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1956-1957, as the dominant big man for the Orangemen.

Lee was a clutch shooter with terrific perimeter range, and outstanding free throw shooting ability. He was able to use his shooting ability to set himself up as a solid passer. Lee's 18 foot jumper with five seconds remaining led the Orangemen to beat heavily favored North Carolina, as the Orangemen eventually moved on to their first NCAA Final Four. Lee would end up making the All-Tournament team for his outstanding performances.

Hackett was a powerful forward who could run the court well. He was a great rebounder and terrific scorer near the hoop.  He led the Orangemen in scoring his senior year and helped lead Syracuse to its first Final Four in 1975.

Rautins was a terrific ball-handling forward with a nice shooting touch, solid rebounding and scoring skills. He is most well known for his game winning tip in basket to win the Big East Championship in triple overtime against Villanova in 1981.  Rautins also recorded two triple-doubles in Big East action.

Thompson was an explosive swingman, with incredible quickness and vertical leap, and excellent defensive skills. He was extremely adept at playing above the basket though he was only about 6'2". He teamed with Sherman Douglas to perfect the alley-oop basket.  Thompson was an extremely proficient scorer, despite the fact he was a terrible perimeter shooter.  

All are worthy players, and tough selections to make.  I designed my selection rules to make it tough; the Hall of Fame should be the 'best of the best', and I would rather have a line of worthy players outside the Hall of Fame, than cheapen it by having lessor players included.

This may be the toughest pick for me in all the years so far.  Ten very good candidates, and a couple of those players are among my all-time personal favorites.  My 2015 inductee is Etan Thomas.  

Thomas is perhaps the best defensive center in Syracuse history, which would give him a nod over Rony Seikaly and Roosevelt Bouie.  He was the anchor on an outstanding defensive Syracuse team for four seasons, and helped them rise to #4 in the polls during the mid season of his senior year.  

Thomas was the 12th overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks.  He would be traded to the Washington Wizards and spend most of his career there. Thomas was a solid reserve player for most his career, and missed the 2007-2008 season due to open heart surgery.

Thomas would also become an author and a poet.

Congratulations to Etan Thomas, the 2015 Inductee into the Orange Hoops Hall of Fame.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Syracuse Offensive Rebounding 2002-2015

Maybe Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim does know a thing or two about coaching.  Ken Pomeroy did an analysis of which NCAA coaches have the best offensive rebounding teams. Pomeroy looked  the 177 head coaches with 10+ years of coaching experience since 2002, and these were the results:

 1 Jim Calhoun   40.0%
 2 Jamie Dixon   39.4%
 3 Roy Williams  39.3%
 4 Rick Barnes   38.3%
 5 John Calipari 38.6%
 6 Blaine Taylor 38.1%
 7 Bob Huggins   37.7%
 8 Jim Boeheim   37.3%
 9 Mick Cronin   37.3%
10 Tubby Smith   37.1%

Boeheim's teams are the 8th best in the country (out of 177) at offensive rebounding.  Clearly there is a correlation between winning basketball games and offensive rebounding as there are several notable coaches on that top 10 list.

During that time span, these are the notable offensive rebounders for the Orange:

Player Season Off. Reb
Rakeem Christmas 2014-2015 97
C.J. Fair 2012-2013 84
Fab Melo 2011-2012 80
Rick Jackson 2010-2011 120
Rick Jackson 2009-2010 94
Arinze Onuaku 2008-2009 108
Paul Harris 2008-2009 89
Arinze Onuaku 2007-2008 114
Paul Harris 2007-2008 99
Darryl Watkins 2006-2007 96
Terrence Roberts 2006-2007 95
Terrence Roberts 2005-2006 104
Darryl Watkins 2005-2006 97
Hakim Warrick 2004-2005 106
Hakim Warrick 2003-2004 98
Hakim Warrick 2002-2003 112
Carmelo Anthony 2002-2003 101

I knew Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku were outstanding offensive rebounders, and I've always thought Paul Harris, despite all his other faults, was an outstanding offensive rebounder.  I did not really realize how good Hakim Warrick was.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

OrangeHoops Team Profiles Completed

I am happy to say that I now have completed all the team profiles  The last four completed were 1971-1972, 1990-1991, 1991-1992, and 1993-1994, in case you have been followig along over the years.  Each profile contains the individual player statistics for that year, along with a recap of the season including the highlights and low points.

OrangeHoops Team Profile PageI am continuing to update the existing profiles as I find new information, and of course, as the years progress new seasons and players get added.  As I had previously posted, I completed all the player profiles on May 2, 2015.

Monday, August 03, 2015

The 1986-1987 Orangemen versus the 2002-2003 Orangemen

It is difficult to compare teams from different eras, as the game of basketball changes in terms of style, rules and size of the players. And yet, it can be an interesting exercise to go through.

The 1986-1987 Orangemen and the 2002-2003 Orangemen both played their National Championship games in New Orleans, with the final results differing. As Syracuse fans vividly know, 2003 was the lone NCAA National Championship, while 1987 was a heart breaking loss on a Keith Smart shot.
The two teams had a lot of similarities.  Both teams improved as the season went along, and were playing their best basketball during the NCAA tournament.  Both teams were of course coached by Jim Boeheim.  Both teams had leads in the NCAA Championship game, and struggled to make their free throws during the last minute. In both cases the star freshman forward (Derrick Coleman and Carmelo Anthony) missed the front end of a one-and-one that could have sealed the win.  In both cases a senior forward (Howard Triche and Kueth Duany) missed the front end of a one-and-one that could have also sealed the win.  The most clear difference in the championship game is that in 2003 Hakim Warrick blocked Michael Lee’s 3 point shot attempt, whereas Howard Triche could not cover Keith Smart’s 2 point shot. 

The two teams, however, were different in many ways. The 1987 team started the season ranked #15 in the country, and would rise to #5. They were 5-6 versus AP Top 20 teams, including three losses to Georgetown (including two classics).  They won the Big East Regular Season title, and lost in the BET Championship to the Hoyas.

The 2003 team started the year unranked and did not crack the top 25 until January 19th; they would actually drop out of the top 25 again, and then return for the rest of the season on January 26th.  The team was 7-2 versus AP Top 25 teams, and beat Georgetown three times. They would not win the Big East regular season title nor make it to the BET Championship game. 

The 1987 team had balanced scoring with five different players averaging 10+ points a game. Those five players also all scored 20 or more points in at least one game, and three of them (Triche, Sherman Douglas and Rony Seikaly) scored 30+ points in a game.  There were a lot of options for who would lead the team in scoring on a given night.

The 2003 team had four players scoring 10+ points a game.  Five different players did score 20 or more points in a game, but make no mistake about it, that Anthony was the alpha dog on scoring, and led the team in scoring most nights.

The 1987 team had more collegiate experience.  The starting five consisted of two seniors, a junior, a sophomore and a freshman.  2003 had one senior, two sophomores and two freshmen.
The 1987 Orangemen played both zone and man-to-man, along with a mix of full court press.  Zone defense was typically used in inbound situations in the half court, whereas man-to-man was used in normal routines.  Syracuse was comfortable pressing a lot utilizing Seikaly as the last line of defense if the press was broken.  The three point shot had just been introduced in 1987, and college teams in general were not geared towards preventing it.  Syracuse did play Providence, a Rick Pitino team that lived-and-died by the three point shot, and the Orangemen did beat them three times.  They did have problems with Steve Alford in the NCAA Championship with Alford hitting 7 of 10 attempts, though a few of those were on fast breaks where he pulled up and took the shot from the arc as the defender back pedaled.

In 2003 Syracuse was playing its vaunted zone defense almost exclusively, and the team played it very well by the season’s end.  Gerry McNamara was very good at picking off passes in the lane, and Duany made an intimidating guard at 6’5” at the top.  The back of the Syracuse zone was tall and long limbed with 6’8” Anthony, 6’8” Warrick and 7’0” Craig Forth.  Jeremy McNeil would offer a change of pace on defense, and was the shot blocking expert in the back line.  The three point shot had been well established by 2003, and the Orangemen were very good at closing out on perimeter shooters.

Offensively the 1987 Orangemen played an up tempo game, and loved to push the pace of the game.  Despite being up tempo, they did a decent job of not being too careless with the ball.  Sherman Douglas had a 2.4 assist to turnover ratio, and his backcourt mate Greg Monroe was even better at 2.9.

The Orangemen loved to score from the inside, relying on Seikaly and Coleman to pound the ball home.  Douglas was the master of the alley oop pass and he would lob the ball over defenses allowing the very athletic Seikaly, Coleman and Stephen Thompson to dunk the ball home.   Monroe was the only real three point threat, and he became very adept at it hitting 44% of his attempts.  Monroe basically camped out on the three point arc, and Douglas would drive and kick the ball back out to him.  Douglas was extremely good at driving the lane and putting up the soft floater, or dish off to the big mean down low.  The team was fortunate to have two pure point guards in Douglas and Monroe.

The 2003 Orangemen ran all of their offense through Carmelo Anthony.  Melo was the most gifted offensive freshman that Syracuse has ever had.  He had good ball handling skills, excellent moves to the hoop with a short jumper and a decent three point shot.  Billy Edelin became more integral into the team as the post season progressed, but the offense was run by Gerry McNamara.  GMac was not a true point guard, but he ran the offense well. He was a sniper with a reputation for making the clutch shots.  Warrick wasn’t a main threat on offense, but he got enough touches to become effective as the third option.  Duany was decent all around, and offered a very good third three point shooting options, behind GMac and Melo.  The team had a decent perimeter attack, and an alpha dog to run the offense through.

Both teams had an Achilles heal with their free throw shooting.  The best free throw shooter on each team was the point guard, which helped in close games.  Douglas hit 74% of his shots, while McNamara hit a blistering 91%.  For 1987, Monroe and Triche were okay, Coleman and Seikaly were marginal, and Thompson and Derek Brower, both from the bench were awful.
For 2003, Anthony was okay from the free throw, while Duany, Warrick and Edelin were marginal.  Forth, Josh Pace and Jeremy McNeil were terrible.

How would the two teams match up? 

Point Guard:  6’ Sherman Douglas versus 6’2” Gerry McNamara. Douglas is definitely the better point guard; we are talking about perhaps the best point guard in Syracuse history, and that’s no disrespect to McNamara.  Douglas was quicker, and would likely be able to drive past GMac.  GMac is clearly the better shooter, and the height advantage over Douglas would help him. The 1987 team, because they played a lot of man defense, may have put Monroe on McNamara.  That could backfire, however, because that meant that 6’ Douglas had to guard 6’5” Duany who was adept at hitting the three.  Stephen Thompson could come off the bench and help shutdown McNamara or Duany, but Thompson wasn’t an integral part of the offense in 1987.  Overall, edge to 1987.

Shooting Guard: 6’3” Greg Monroe versus 6’5” Kueth Duany.  Both were seniors.  Monroe was by far the better shooter and the better ball handler. He was very comfortable at running the offense when needed.  Duany would be the better defender and rebounder, and while Monroe was the better shooter, Duany was not a slouch.  If Billy Edelin came into the game and moved to the point, then Douglas would have had to guard him, and Edelin at 6’4”, who specialized in backing defenders into the paint, may have had a good time against Douglas.  In that scenario, Monroe would have been guarding McNamara.  Tough to call.  I would call it Even.

Small Forward:  6’5” Howard Triche versus 6’8” Carmelo Anthony.  Triche was a senior and a solid all around player, but there is no comparison here. Anthony, one of the greatest freshman players of all time, is significantly better than Triche.  Syracuse would likely have had Derrick Coleman guard Anthony in man defense, and that would have been very interesting.  Coleman was a decent shot blocker and at 6’11”, with a very long reach, Coleman would’ve been a tough matchup for Anthony.  I do think the offensive expertise of Anthony would have won out, but Coleman would have made him work for it.  The 1987 team likely would have had Triche attack the side of the zone that Anthony was on, and that would have pulled Anthony a little further out from the hoop, but not much.  Overall edge, 2003 by a lot.

Power Forward: 6’11” Derrick Coleman versus 6’8” Hakim Warrick.  Coleman was a raw offensive player in 1987, with very good hands and the ability to make the short jumper.  His greatest ability was to crash the boards for rebounds, and run the court.  Warrick was coming into his own by the end of the 2003 season, and had that explosive first step to the hoop.  Warrick would have had a tough time matching Coleman on defense, as Coleman’s height and reach would give him an advantage.  Warrick would have had Triche to beat defensively, and Warrick’s speed and size would have helped him a lot there, especially since Warrick played above the rim.  Overall edge, 1987.

Center: 6’10” Rony Seikaly versus 7’0” Craig Forth and 6’8” Jeremy McNeil.  Forth and McNeil split time at center, so that would give the 2003 Orangemen 10 fouls to use, and two big bodies to keep fresh against Seikaly.  Seikaly was definitely better than either Forth or McNeil. He was much more athletic, could run the court very well, and by the end of 1987 had developed a short jumper and some nice post moves.  Forth likely would have been the tougher assignment for Seikaly as he took up more space, and would make it tough for Seikaly to get to the hoop, whereas McNeil could be pulled out of position on the block attempts.  Seikaly handled centers much better than Forth/McNeil in the 1987 NCAA season run.  Forth and McNeil would offer very little offensive against Seikaly.  They both were limited offensively to begin with, and Seikaly was a premier shot blocker in his era.  The offensive liability of 2003 centers would allow Seikaly to cheat and defend against other 2003 players going to the hoop. Overall edge, 1987 by a lot.

Bench:  The 1987 team really went two players deep. Stephen Thompson was the backup shooting guard and small forwards, and specialized in defense and running out for passes on the fast break, as well as putting back loose balls for easy dunks and layups.  Derek Brower was the reserve big man, and he was a load in the middle. Not much of an offensive threat, but solid defensively.  The 2003 team had Josh Pace, the aforementioned Edelin, and McNeil. Pace would offer a good change of pace for the 2003 team, something that the 1987 team really did not have.  At 6’5” he would have a disadvantage against the tall 1987 front line, and Triche may have been able to take him on.  Overall edge goes to 2003.

Coaching: The 2003 Jim Boeheim was likely a better coach than the 1987 Boeheim.  Boeheim had 10 years of experience in 1987, whereas he had 26 in 2003.  Overall edge goes to 2003.

The big questions would be the following:

·         Could the 1987 team run the ball as much as they would want, or would the 2003 team be able to prevent it? If the 1987 team were able to run the ball, could the 2003 team keep up with them?

·         Could the 1987 team slow down Melo?  If they couldn’t, would they be able to contain the rest of the team enough so that Melo didn’t matter?

·         Could the 2003 team slow down Seikaly?

·         Could the 1987 team guard the three point shooting of the 2003 team?

·         Could the 2003 team handle the full court pressure of the 1987 team? 

In the end, I think the 2003 team would win the game.  I think the 2003 team could handle the full court pressure. Melo would be able to help bring the ball up court, and with him and Duany helping in that area, they would be able to move the ball over the press defense.

The 1987 team would have a tough time covering Duany or Edelin, whomever was playing the other guard position to McNamara.  I don’t think the 1987 team is going to stop Melo; they may slow him down but not enough.  The question would be how much could Seikaly help Coleman on defense.  If he could rotate over, he could have been very effective at stopping Melo.  Seikaly would probably have a big day offensively and defensively, but he would get quite a workout against Forth/McNeil, and lest we forget, Warrick and Anthony could collapse on defense and help double team.

Douglas would be very tough to stop on the penetration, and he would get his points and his assists.  Douglas was able to master the alley oop in the NBA, so he would get the pass off against anyone. 

f the game was close, I would not want to be either squad trying to protect the lead.  I am not one of those fans who believe that Syracuse won the 2003 title only because of Melo. It was a complete team effort throughout the playoffs. But in this hypothetical matchup of 1987 versus 2003, I think he does bring matchup problems, especially with Warrick at the other forward position.  And in the end I think 2002-2003 beats 1986-1987.