Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pinstripe Bowl Champs 2010

Congratulations to the Syracuse Orange football team for beating Kansas State 36-34 and winning the Pinstripe Bowl, finishing the year at 8-5. Quite an amazing turnaround for the program, and recognition to Doug Marrone for the job well done.

Delone Carter ended his Orange career with a bang with 202 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ryan Nassib put together a solid effort with 240 yards and 3 touchdowns, no interceptions.

And junior Marcus Sales had his coming out party with 5 receptions for 172 yards and 3 touchdowns. This from a receiver who began the day with 242 yards receiving for the entire season with 1 touchdown (and only five tds for his career).

This will be a nice way to spend the winter, watching Syracuse hoops, and actually anticipating Syracuse football next fall.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Keep Grabbing the Boards

Rick Jackson pulled down another 17 rebounds last evening in the Orange’s win over Providence. Jackson now has 171 rebounds in the first 14 games this year, for an average of 12.2 rebounds per game.

How good is Jackson’s rebounding this year? The last Orangeman to have 10+ rpg was Carmelo Anthony in 2002-2003 when the fab frosh had 349 rebounds in 35 games for a 10.0 rpg average. Prior to Anthony, was Billy Owens in 1990-1991. [Click here for list of Syracuse rebounding leaders]

Jon Cincebox holds the Syracuse record for the best rebounds per game with an impressive 16.4 in the 1957-1958 season. Cincebox had 345 rebounds in 21 games that year. He would return his senior year for 365 rebounds in 23 games for a 15.9 average.

Cincebox’s rebounding average will likely never be challenged by a player in the ‘modern’ era unless the nature of the game changes. In the 1950s the shooting percentage was a lot lower, so there were a lot more rebounds to get. Teams also tended to have a couple of big guys do all the rebounding, so the rebounds were not being shared around as much.

Derrick Coleman holds the Syracuse record for most rebounds in a season with 422 in his junior season, 1988-1989, for 11.1 rpg. He would have 12.1 rpg his senior year, but the Orangemen would only have 33 games that year, so his total was a little lower at 398 rebounds.

As I’ve commented in previous articles, Coleman’s rebounding efforts are really impressive when you consider that he spent his entire career having to fight for rebounds with the likes of great rebounders such as Rony Seikaly, Stephen Thompson and Billy Owens.

Jackson is finally playing hard and focused each and every game. I criticized him the past two years for his inconsistent play, but that has not been the case this year. His off season dedication is paying off, as is the 25 lb weight loss.

Jackson has a good chance at the Syracuse single rebounding record set by Coleman. Syracuse has 31 scheduled games this year, and we can safely assume they will have at least four post season games (two Big East, two NCAA), so at least 35 games. Jackson’s current pace of 12.2 would give him a total of 427 rebounds, just breaking Coleman’s mark. If Syracuse were to make any post season run in the Big East Tournament or NCAA, they may have 38-39 games, which would require Jackson to average only 10.9 rpg for the season, and only a 10.0 rpg for the remaining games of the season.

The Big East will be tougher for Jackson, but if he remains focused and healthy, he has a good shot at it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

AP Top 10 Ranking Streaks

Syracuse is in the midst of a streak of 44 straight games where they have been ranked in the top 10 of the AP’s Polls. Mike Waters brought this up in his Q&A this week, and it is the longest streak in Syracuse basketball history, by far. Syracuse entered the top 10 on November 24, 2009 and are still there, currently at number 5.

The Orange have had 12 streaks in their history where they have been in the top 10 for 10 or more games in a row, all of them occurring in the Jim Boeheim era.

The first streak occurred in the 1978-1979 season, starting on February 7, 1979 and ending March 16, 1979, the end of the season. That was the Louie & Bouie era, and it would cover 10 games.

The next season the Orangemen would start its first long streak covering 26 games from December 15, 1979 through the end of the season, March 14, 1980. This was Roosevelt Bouie and Louis Orr’s senior season and the team finished 26-4.

It would be a dry spell for a few years until the Orangemen hit the top 10 again, and Pearl Washington was a big reason for it. The Pearl, Rafael Addison and Wendell Alexis started the 1985 season (November 23) in the top 10 and remained there for 17 games until January 25th, 1986.

The top 10 would be home to the Orangemen for the next few seasons, with Sherman Douglas, Derrick Coleman, Rony Seikaly, Stevie Thompson and Billy Owens leading the way.

They would be in the top 10 for 13 straight games from December 26, 1986 to January 31st, 1987. They would then go 26 straight games from March 1987 through January 18,1988.

Later in 1988, they would start another 20 game streak from March 17th to January 16th, 1989. A couple weeks later they would start the teams second longest streak ever with 29 games from February 11, 1989 through January 20, 1990. And finally, the last long streak of that era would be Billy Owens junior year where the Orangemen spent the last 29 games of the year (December 1, 1990 through March 14,1991) in the top 10.

It was quite a run for the Orangemen, but the threat of probation, and then finally probation itself, would derail the Orangemen for a few season.

Lawrence Moten and John Wallace would bring the Orangemen back to the top 10 with a 12 game stay from January 3, 1995 through February 12, 1995. The Orangemen would lose in overtime to Arkansas in the NCAA tournament that year. Ironically, the following season the Orangemen would never crack the top 10, yet would play for the National Championship against Kentucky (a close game they would eventually lose).

The Orangemen would have another dry spell, until December 22, 1999 when the defensive minded team of Etan Thomas, Jason Hart and Ryan Blackwell would lead them on a 17 game streak. The streak ended February 19, 2010.

The Orangemen would not make the top ten consistently again until 2004. Keep in mind, that the would include the 2002-2003 Orangemen, who would win the NCAA Championship, but never rise any higher than 12 in the AP polls.

From November 11, 2004 to February 19, 2005, Hakim Warrik and Gerry McNamara led the Orange to a 27 game streak in the top 10.

Which brings us back to the current SU squad at 44 games and counting. I don’t think the Orange are better than all the squads mentioned above, but their streak is quite impressive. And they have definitely been playing some of the best defense in Syracuse basketball history the past couple of seasons.

Tonight against Providence is the start of the Big East season for the Orange. Each and every game will be a battle, and it will be interesting to see how this squad responds each game.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ho Hum. 10-0 (again)

Syracuse is now 10-0 this season, joining an elite group of Syracuse teams that have started out 10-0 or better. This year’s team is now the 17th team to accomplish the feat. For those of us with short memories, last season’s team also started out 10-0; in fact they would go 13-0 before losing their first game, on their way to a 30-5 season.

This team has a long ways to go to equal the best start in school history. The 1999-2000 squad started out 19-0. Perfection has occurred only once on the Hill, with the 1913-1914 squad going 12-0.

This year’s team is terribly flawed with an inconsistent, if not weak, perimeter game and generally poor free throw shooting. It relies on four freshman in key roles. These factors can spell a loss when the Orange face a hot shooting opponent.

The one thing this team has is an outstanding defense, carrying over from last season. I have seen some fans mention they think this year’s team defense is the best ever for Syracuse. I think that is a very short term memory; last year’s defense was outstanding, and was ‘Shut it Down’. But, having a defense this year that you may be tempted to compare to last year’s defense is quite a lot of praise in itself. Great defense stops the opposition from scoring, and provides high percentage shots on offense, something this year’s team greatly needs.

Until the past two games, this year’s team had a very difficult time separating itself from any of its opponents, regardless of the level of competition. But they have won them all, and that is what matters. The last two games have been spectacular defensive efforts. They pulled away from a highly rated Michigan State team early in the game, and pretty much kept the Spartans down the whole game. And then they had an outstanding defensive effort against a weak Colgate team for the most lopsided win in the Boeheim era. Now the MSU game is slightly tarnished by the fact that the Spartans almost lost to Oakland a few nights later, but make no mistake that MSU is very good.

Syracuse has three more non-conference games before the Big East season begins. They could lose any of those three, but they will be favored to win each. So they have a very good chance to be 13-0. They start Big East action on December 28th versus Providence; at that point, each game will be a dog fight. To go 19-0, the Orange would have to beat Providence, #23 Notre Dame, Seton Hall, St. Johns, Cincinnati, and #8 Pitt at the Pederson Center. 20-0 would require a win against #11 Villanova.

I’m fairly certain 19-0 will not occur. But where will that first loss come?
By the way, for those of you not paying attention, Jim Boeheim is currently 45-5 for his last two seasons, including 9-2 versus top 25 teams, and 7-0 against top 10 teams. Too bad he doesn't ever play anyone.