Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Thank You Pearl

Pearl Washington
The Pearl

I don't think anyone can ever underestimate the importance of Dwayne 'Pearl' Washington to Syracuse basketball, and the outpouring of affection and remembrances from the community is testament to that.

The Pearl played basketball with a different style than those before him.  The younger fans today may be jaded by the performance of the numerous NBA players who patterned part of their game style after the Pearl, making some of the things he did more commonplace today.  But he was an original.

The Pearl was not the most athletic player on the court. He was not exceptionally fast, and he could not jump or leap very well.  He wasn't even a great perimeter shooter.  But he could do four things, routinely on the court:

  1. Simply score.  He was able to drive to the hoop against anyone, and when he got to the basket he simply made the layup, or had a floater over a defender.  I'm not sure if he could even dunk the ball... not that it mattered.  And it did not matter who defended him; the Pearl made defenders look foolish. His triple fake against Georgetown's Gene Smith in the Big East tourney is well known.
  2. Great passer.  The Pearl was the school's all time assist man when he left, despite playing only three years.  He had great court vision, was very good with wrap around passed and no look touch passes. 
  3. Great teammate.  The Pearl could score, but he focused on making his teammates better.  The guys around him were better players because of him.  As fans we took for granted how much he surpressed his scoring ability. It became apparent how great a scorer he truly was when Raf Addison was hampered down the stretch of Pearl's last season, and the Pearl went on a tremendous scoring spree over the last 12 games or so, stepping up and doing the scoring now that the team's leading scorer (Raf) was unavailable.
  4. Amazing Everyone.  Pearl was electric on the court.  Fans wanted to see him play, and they flocked to see him.  I'm sure opposing players had to be in awe at times; Jim Boeheim in his press conference earlier today admitted he caught himself at times watching the Pearl play, instead of focusing on coaching. He was mesmerizing.
Boeheim mentioned in his press conference earlier today how humble the Pearl was.  He was electrifying on the court, and you would have assumed that persona carried off the court.  But, for all accounts, that was just his basketball style. Off the court, Pearl was a good friend, teammate and humble.

My favorite memory of the Pearl?  I didn't have a lot of opportunities to go to Syracuse games when I was younger.  We used to go to one or two games a year.  My senior year in high school, my father and I went to see the Orangemen play Boston College on January 24, 1984.  It was a great game, with a lot of back and forth action.  It looked like the Orangemen were going to lose the game when BC's Martin Clark was fouled with a few seconds left on the clock and the Eagles down by one.  Clark made the first free throw to tie the game. He missed the second free throw; the ball ended up in the hands of the Pearl, who raced down the court, and just before mid court he launched a half court shot. Of course, as all Orange fans know, the ball swished through the hoop and the Orangemen won.   In true Pearl style, after Washington released the shot he kept running down the court and when the ball went through, and the crowd erupted, the Pearl kept running straight into the Syracuse locker room.  As if he knew he had made the shot the whole time.

Pearl, God bless you and your family.  

Thursday, March 31, 2016

OrangeHoops Reaches 1/2 Million

My thanks to all the Syracuse basketball fans who have visited over the years.  On March 30, 2016, the site had its 500,000th visitor.  

OrangeHoops was launched in March 2005 as an effort to share information that I had been gathering for years.  I was frustrated by the lack of information I could find on my beloved Orangemen, and though the internet has millions of records of information, it had surprisingly little on Syracuse basketball.  Especially for the details I was always curious about.

I hope you have enjoyed the site, and continue to visit it. It is a non-revenue venture, and one I hope to keep continuing. I am eager to see how long it takes for the second 1/2 million visitors to arrive. is by no means a prolific site, with an average of  about 45,000 visitors a year, but I do hope they are all meaningful visits.  [Note that I didn't start tracking visitors until November 2005, so a few months of data is missing]

Again, my thanks to all the visitors.

Let's Go Orange!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Boeheim's Hall of Fame Speech

In honor of Syracuse's Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boeheim, I wanted to share the video of his induction speech.  It is full of the sarcasm and wit that Syracuse fans have come to expect from the legendary coach.

Hard to believe that since his induction, Boeheim has reached two more Final Fours, bringing his current total to five.  

Let's go Orange!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Where's The Slipper?

The Orange have made the Elite 8 as a #10 seed.  Yet, they have failed to reach Cinderella team status in the national media nor in social media. They in fact are vilified and treated as a pariah.  The Orange have knocked off Dayton, Middle Tennessee State and Gonzaga on their path to the Elite 8.  It's by no means a murderers row, but it is also a group of teams good enough to knock #6 Seton Hall, #3 Utah and #2 Michigan State out of the tournament.

I understand that some people think that Syracuse should not be in the tournament.  They look at the overall record of the Orange, look at the cheap and flawed RPI rating, and make their assumptions from there.  If they looked at what the Orange's record was comprised of, and looked at all the non-RPI metrics (such as, they would easily see the Orange deserved to be in, especially compared to the bubble teams.  Ironically, Syracuse, by the NCAA committee's own admission, wasn't even a bubble team... there were 6 other at-large teams seeded lower than the Orange in the tournament.  You would be very hard pressed to find 7 teams who didn't make the NCAA who were more deserving that Syracuse.  

Syracuse has all the makings of a Cinderella team.  Consider:

Two fifth year graduate students starting in their backcourt with Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney.  Both could have left under Graduate student transfer rules, and played for schools that were not hampered by NCAA penalties, yet both chose to stay.  And both are fine students.

Michael Gbinije... perhaps the most underrated player in the country.  And quite the gentleman.  When asked whether all the poor talk about Syracuse was bothering him, his succinct response was 'Thank you for the motivation'.  And then after a long pause 'that's all I have to say on that'. 

DaJuan Coleman's recovery from two devastating knee injuries and an 18 month absence from the game.

Three freshman in Tylor Lydon, Malachi Richardson and Frank Howard with unique styles and refreshing energy.

Starting the tournament as a #10 seed.  No #10 seed has ever made the Final Four.  Three #11's have done it, but no #10.  

A team hampered by scholarship reductions to have only a 9 player squad.

The 30 day suspension of Coach Jim Boeheim which was a devastating blow to the team both directly on the court with the team going 4-5 in his absence, and off the court regarding retarding the team's development and progression through the season.

If the slipper fits, then one is Cinderella.  Where's our Ball?

The Cooney File

Last 11 games from the floor:

That is 33 for 100, 33%; 14-46 from 3 pt range, or 30%. Only two games where he shot better than 40% from the floor. At least 6 missed shots in every game.
Such a selfish player… he should be ashamed of himself. The stats don’t lie.
Ooops, my mistake. Those are Malachi Richardson's stats for the past 11 games not Trevor Cooney’s. Yeah but…. the eye test shows that Malachi is good enough to possibly declare for the NBAthis year, so stats aren’t everything.
Hey, you can’t use stats to crucify Cooney and discount the eye test for those who believe Cooney plays outstanding defense in the zone scheme, and then ignore those same stats and rely upon the eye test to praise Malachi.
Cooney is an okay three point shooter; he is shooting 35% for the season which is okay… by no means great. But its on par with a Donte Greene, Gerry McNamara, Jason Cipolla, Dion Waiters, and Tyler Ennis.
Some people on this site believe Cooney is a bad player. He’s far from being a bad player… he’s an average player who does some things very well, and some things poorly. The guy can’t buy a layup to save himself… we as fans criticized him prior to this season for never driving to the hoop; he’s been doing it a lot this year, which helps diversify his game and the teams offense… he’s just not very good at it.
He has shot 10-20 from three point range the past four games, hitting 40% or more of his 3 point shots in all four games… his own little hot streak. He’s playing solid D in the Orange zone, as he does game in and game out.
He is who he is. It’s a shame he’s never been able to hit that shot. He’s had a few opportunities this year, but none have fallen. He did have the opportunity to steal a win with his defense, something many of us praise him for. I’m sorry if that hurts your narrative.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Boeheim on Zone Defense

I simply love Jim Boeheim's statement in the Georgia Tech press conference regarding Syracuse's zone defense.  The highlight of the quote is:

 "It's not some freaking magic trick here."

The full context of the quote is:

"People overlook defense, Trevor (Cooney) and Mike (Gbinije) are so good on defense. It's all overlooked because we play zone defense. You have to play defense in a zone. It's not some freaking magic trick here. You have to work at it and you have to play it."

Link to the SU article in the Post-Standard.

Later in the same press conference, Boeheim talked about Cooney and Gbinije's effort and execution on zone defense, and leading the way for the Orange to shutdown Georgia Tech during crunch time.

"Trevor and Mike are so good at the guard spot, They did such a good job on Hunt and Smith at the end that I can't tell you. They couldn't even get a shot. It was as good a defensive effort at the end as I've ever seen."

Friday, January 29, 2016

Cooney the Irish Killer?

Before Thursday night's game there was a strong perception that senior shooting guard Trevor Cooney plays very well against Notre Dame, that he has monster games and dominates the Fighting Irish.  He definitely had a strong ending to the 2015 game, and he lit up Notre Dame his sophomore year for 33 points.

He broke Notre Dame fans' hearts in 2014 when he hit two clutch baskets 80 seconds apart to propel the Orange to an upset win. But other than those two clutch shots, Cooney wasn’t outstanding in his freshman or junior games.
His freshman year he shot 2-6 from the floor, with 2-5 from three, with no rebounds or assists totaling 6 points.
Trevor Cooney
His sophomore year he shot 11-15 from the floor, with 9-12 from three, with 2 rebounds and 2 assists totaling 33 points.
His junior year he shot 5-11 from the floor, with 1-6 from three, with 3 rebounds and 2 assists totaling 11 points.
His freshman & junior games combined he shot 7-17, 3-11 form three, with 3 rebounds and 17 points, or 27.2% from three, and 8.5 ppg. Not killer stuff, and well below his career average. His monster game his sophomore year greatly distorted his three game average coming into last night’s game.
He did have a good game his senior year, but even last night wasn’t a killer night; it was a good solid night of play, with a strong first half of play.
His senior year he shot 7-17 from the floor, with 3-8 from three, with 3 rebounds and 2 assists totaling 22 points.
After last night's game, it would be safe to say that he had memorable moments in three of the four Notre Dame games.  His sophomore game stands on its own.  His junior year he was clutch down the stretch in an upset, and his senor year he lit up Notre Dame in the first half with 15 points to launch the Orange to an upset victory. 
I would have to say it is safe to call him an 'Irish Killer'.  Not because he statistically dominated against the Fighting Irish, but rather because he was able to have the big moments necessary to win games.