Monday, November 29, 2010

Getting to Know the Horned Frogs

Texas Christian University (TCU) is now officially entering the Big East, effective July 2012. Football is the reason, and the only reason, that TCU is being added to the conference, and short term the decision is wise, though I think long term other solutions may have been more prudent. Whether or not the Big East could have lasted until ‘long term’ came into fruition is a debate for another day, another time.

What does TCU bring to the table for Big East basketball? The TCU Horned Frogs have been playing basketball since 1908-1909, and have an overall record of 1091-1250 (entering the 2010-2011 season). Football clearly has been a focus for TCU over the years, not basketball. It is in Texas, so that focus is not a surprise. The Big East did have to make a move to bolster its football presence, and it was inevitable that whatever team they brought it was likely going to not include a solid basketball program.

TCU has been to the NCAA tournament seven times and only twice in the last 25 years: 1952, 1953, 1959, 1968, 1971, 1987 and 1998. They have not had a winning record since the 2004-2005 season when they went 21-14. Their record in each of the past nine seasons has been:

2001-02: 16-15
2002-03: 9-19
2003-04: 12-17
2005-06: 21-14
2005-06: 6-25
2006-07: 13-17
2007-08: 14-16
2008-09: 14-17
2009-10: 13-19

Current coach Jim Christian is now entering this third year with the program. Syracuse is 4-0 all time against TCU.

Notable athletes who are alumni of TCU include: Sammy Baugh, Jamie Dixon (Pitt’s current basketball coach), Bob Lilly, Mike Renfro, and LaDainian Tomlinson. TCU has had 8 All-Americans play basketball for their program: Ad Dietzel (1931), Wallace Myers (1934), George McLeod (1952), Dick O’Neal (1955, 1956, 1957), H.E. Kirchner (1959), Kurt Thomas (1995), Lee Nailon (1998) and Mike Jones (1998).

If you would like more information about TCU’s basketball program, here’s a link to their program guide.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

2010-2011 Milestones

Syracuse has a younger team in 2010-2011 than in the past few years, but that does not mean the squad does not have a chance to reach some significant milestones.

Jim Boeheim entered the season with 828 wins and #6 all-time on the Division I All-Time Win list. He’s moved up to #5 passing Jim Phelan’s 830 wins. He won’t be moving any higher up this list this year with Mike Krzyzewski active and at #4 with 868 (start of year), Adolph Rupp at #3 with 876, Dean Smith at #2 with 879, and Bob Knight at #1 with 902. Krzyzewski, on the other hand, it going to move up to #2 this year, easily passing Rupp & Smith.

I show the university currently having 1788 wins. 12 more will give the institution 1800.

Entering this season, Rick Jackson has 786 points, needing 214 to hit the 1000 point plateau. He should pass that around mid-season, and finish around #33 all-time at Syracuse.

Jackson has 570 career rebounds, plus 42 already this season, moving him up to 612, #28 all-time. If he averages just 10 rebounds a game this year, he should move to #8 passing Billy Owens. If he stayed at his current pace of 14 rpg (which he won’t), he would finish around #3 all-time.

Scoop Jardine has 499 career points. He needs 501 to reach 1,000 which is not out of reach. If he scored around 14.4 points a game this year, he would get there. Kris Joseph is in the same situation with 495 career points, needing 504 this year.

Jardine started the year with 233 assists and is currently at 253 putting him at #33 on the all-time list. He could finish the year somewhere around 480 assists all-time, putting him at #7 all-time. Two solid back-to-back seasons would give him a shot at being #2, surpassing Jason Hart. Sherman Douglas’ record of 960 should be safe.

Brandon Triche has 32 three point field goals after his freshman year. If keeps his current pace of 70 for this year, he will be #15 all-time at Syracuse. If he averaged 70 a year for the next three years, he would finish around #3 all-time at Syracuse. The Syracuse single season mark is 107 set by Gerry McNamara.

Four freshman have the potential to see significant playing time, so some freshman records should be observed. I do not think any of these will be broken, but they could. Blocked shots is something that Fab Melo and Baye Moussa Keita both do well, and both could move into the freshman top 10:

Freshman blocks:
91 Roosevelt Bouie
68 Derrick Coleman
65 Craig Forth
64 Jeremy McNeil
59 Rony Seikaly
57 Donte Greene
48 Etan Thomas
44 Rick Jackson
42 Otis Hill
39 John Wallace

Most points by a freshman is 778 by Carmelo Anthony, and that is not going to be broken this year.

The SU record for most fouls by a freshman is a 120 set by Derrick Coleman. Melo could take a run at that one. The all-time Syracuse record for fouls was by Otis Hill who as a junior had 134 fouls. That may also be possible.

The SU record for foul disqualifications for a freshman is 11 set by Rony Seikaly (this is also the all-class record). Melo already has 2 this year, so he could make a good run at that mark (hopefully not).

The freshman assist record is 199 by Pearl Washington. With none of the freshman taking on the role of point guard, and Syracuse two deep with Jardine and Triche, that is not going to be broken.

The freshman rebound record is 349 by Carmelo Anthony. That would require about 10 rebounds a game. If Keita had enough playing time and enough big 15 rebound games, he could challenge it, but I think he’ll play about 20 minutes a game, and be luck to average 5-6 rebounds a game.

The Syracuse all-time season field goal percentage is 66.8% set by Arinze Onuaku last year. There are guys on this team who in theory could challenge that mark: Jackson, Melo or Keita if they get enough chances. But my guess is no one will come close.

The SU record for rebounds in a season is 422 set by Derrick Coleman. If Jackson remains committed to rebounding, he could take a run at it. Jackson is averaging 14 rebounds a game right now, which would obliterate the record; however, that number is unrealistically high, with his 22 rebound performance skewing that. Nevertheless, an average of about 12.1 rebounds a game would give him a shot at the season record.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Three Down

Jim Boeheim is going to have his work cut out for him this season. Rick Jackson has historically been an inconsistent player, and is suddenly your most consistent player, that may raise some concern. Jackson had an outstanding night against Detroit with 22 rebounds, following a very solid 13 rebound effort against Canisius. A consistent strong effort from Jackson each game will go a long way in making the Orange a strong winner.

Scoop Jardine was the hero of the night with an effort very much like Sherman Douglas; 27 pts, 8 assists, 5 steals and only 3 turnovers. I criticized Jardine the other night because I thought he was taking too much shots, and I think in the first two games that was true. However, last night, excellent job by Jardine in recognizing that he had to do the scoring, and then in following through on it. And the eight assists shows that he did not give up on his teammates.

Boeheim loved how Baye Moussa Keita played during his time on the court, despite the stats, and I'm glad to hear it. At least we know three guys came to play last night. The rest of the squad, I'm not going to waste time talking about their lack of performance, and hopefully it will all clear up in a game or so. It had better.

Meanwhile, some great quotes from Boeheim in his post game press conference. This is a pot shot at himself, referring to his own criticism of the Orange:
"We're better than this. Whoever said we are overrated... you know, you can't listen to those people anyways. Most of those people are idiots anyways".
We all knew Boeheim bled Orange. Nice to see him close his comments with some pep for the football team.
"Saturday night, let's get out there. Let's beat Connecticut. Let's beat those guys, alright."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

2010 Results After Two

Congratulations to Coach Jim Boeheim for this 831st career winning, giving him sole possession of the title of 5th all-time winningnest NCAA Div I basketball coach.

And congrats to the Syracuse football team for its 7th win, making the team bowl eligible for the first time since 2004, and guaranteeing their first winning season since 2001. All of this with two games left on the schedule.

Syracuse basketball is 2-0, and the team is starting to show its character for the year, with a solid win over a good mid-major program (Northern Iowa) and a win over one of its easier local teams (Canisius). Both games involved a tight first half, with a solid defensive effort throughout the game, and a explosive run to start the second half.

Rick Jackson showed us today the reminder of how well he can play when focused with a 17 point, 13 rebound effort againt Canisius. We do have to remember that he has shown that ability before and then disappeared, but it is a good early sign. Brandon Triche seems to be fitting in comfortable with his shooting guard role, hitting 4 of 9 three point shots. And I always like having a shooting guard who can also play the point.

Scoop Jardine had 8 assists today which puts a smile on my face; I wish he had taken less than 19 shots from the field in the first two games. I always like the point guard to pass first, shoot later, particularly early in the game as to involve his teammates. 12 assists and only three turnovers so far is excellent news.

C.J. Fair and Dion Waiters are showing signs they will be pushing for their share of playing time, and Mookie Jones and James Southerland look like they want to both earn the title as designated three point shooter off the bench. So there may be some good depth, though I think it may be situational.

The Orange have also shown that they are staying committed to executing the Syracuse zone defense. I think that may be the most positive of all the good news so far.

The center position is going to be interesting. Fab Melo is having a ton of foul problems early in this season, having fouled out of both games after a combined playing time of 31 minutes. Fouling out in 13 minutes against a much smaller Canisius is something that I hope is a good learning experience for the freshman. It is tough to tell really how good he may be with the limited playing time.

Baye Moussa Keita has played rather impressively in his reserve role. The freshman pulled down 15 rebounds against the Griffins earlier today, in only 17 minutes of play. That is the most rebounds by an Orangeman since Paul Harris had 16 rebounds against Stephen F. Austin in the 2009 NCAA tournament. Keita did manage to foul out of the Northern Iowa opener in 18 minutes of play, a rather impressive feat for both SU centers to pull in the same game. But I am impressed with the early showing of Keita, and having some early signs of strong potential for him is excellent news as it looks like Melo will definitely be getting some bench time this season due to his foul troubles. Bernie Fine is definitely going to have his work cut out for him. I had hoped to find an early career parallel with Rony Seikaly. But Seikaly, even as foul prone has he was as a freshman, managed to not foul out of either of his first two games, against two quality opponents, Georgia Tech and DePaul. Seikaly played 32 minutes with 3 fouls in his first game, and 29 minutes with 4 fouls in his second.

This is the type of season where the non-conference schedule becomes vitally important for the Syracuse freshman to learn how to play the college game, make the adjustments to the officiating and to the speed of the game.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

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
Meyer Bloom
Jim Casey
Ed Cronauer
John Cronauer
Charles Fasce
Russ Finsterwald
Ken Harris
Ted Huntley
Bernie Kates
Ken Lavin
Nathan Malefski
Danny Martin
Walter ‘Dutch’ Notman
Walter Peters
Elias Raff
Billy Rafter
Horace Ruffin
Courtland Sanney

In World War II, the following served:
Jim Ackerson
Lou Alkoff
John Balinsky
Dick Casey
Larry Crandall
Wilbur Crisp
Dan DiPace
Les Dye
Alton Elliott
John Emerich
Bob Felasco
Paul Ferris
Billy Gabor
Ed Glacken
Joe Glacken
Marc Guley
Mark Haller
Lew Hayman
Bill Hennemuth
Tom Huggins
George Jarvis
Jim Konstanty
Stan Kruse (Kruszewski)
Glenn Loucks
Guy Luciano
Saul Mariaschin
Tom McTiernan
Francis Miller
Joe Minsavage
Andy Mogish
Roy Peters
Hank Piro
Phil Rakov
John Schroeder
Bill Schubert
Bob Shaddock
Wilmeth Sidat-Singh
Red Stanton
Mike Stark
Bobby Stewart
Joe Sylvestri
Charles Taggart
Ray Tice

In Korea the following served:
Reaves Baysinger, Jr

In Vietnam, the following served:
Reaves Baysinger, Jr
George Crofoot
Rick Dean

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

Four 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.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Freshman Centers on the Hill

Freshman have been eligible to play NCAA Division I basketball since the 1973-1974 season. The first freshman center to start for Syracuse was in Coach Jim Boeheim’s first season 1976-1977. It was a notable freshman center with Roosevelt Bouie starting all 30 games that season, and Syracuse running to a remarkable 26-4 record, before bowing out of the NCAA tournament in the 2nd round.

In the Boeheim era, there have been six freshman who were the starting centers the majority of their first year on the Hill. In chronological order they are Bouie, Andre Hawkins, Rony Seikaly, Otis Hill, Jeremy McNeil and Craig Forth. Fab Melo looks to be number seven on that list.

The results for those first year freshman centers is mixed. All have been unpolished offensive players, to a variety of different degrees. Some were strong defensive presences their first season with their shot block ability, while others looked to plug a hole.

Bouie was by far the best freshman center at Syracuse, and at 6’11” he was highly recognizable on the court. Although he was not a solid offensive player, he could run the court and score inside, making 54% of his shots. He was not adept at drawing fouls that season, getting to the line only 55 times, but he made a remarkable 84% of his attempts (remarkable because he would be a career 66% free throw shooter). Bouie would struggle with fouls all four years at Syracuse, but he managed to play 25 minutes a game his freshman year, and had a respectable 10.9 ppg and 8.1 rpg. His big difference on the court was his 91 blocked shots, which set a defensive tone for the Orangemen, on their way to a 26-4 record.

Andre Hawkins would be the next freshman center at Syracuse. At 6’6”, 240 lbs, Hawkins was counted on to plug the hole in the middle resulting from the graduation of Danny Schayes. Hawkins was a bruiser inside, but he had limited offensive skills, and with no height was not much of a defensive threat. Hawkins would make 62% of his limited shots, for a 5.6 ppg average, and had only 3.9 rpg. Hawk struggled with fouls all season, and the Orangemen struggled to their worst season under Coach Boeheim at 16-13.

Rony Seikaly came onto the scene in 1984-1985, and at 6’10”, 235 lbs, he made his defensive presence know immediately. Seikaly would have 59 blocked shots his freshman year, score 8.1 ppg, and pull down 6.4 rpg. His offensive skills were limited to a tomahawk dunk, and he made about 54% of his shot attempts. Seikaly did redshirt his true freshman year, so he had one season of practice under his belt when he did start. He struggled with fouls, being disqualified from 11 of the 31 games he would play, averaging 25 minutes per game. Seikaly was important enough to the squad that his presence moved senior Andre Hawkins from center to power forward. Syracuse would finish 22-9 and go to the NCAA tournament.

Otis Hill was the next freshman center in 1993-1994. Hill was built like Hawkins, though a little bit bigger at 6’8”, 235 lbs. Hill was very foul prone, fouling out of 10 games, and averaging 24 minutes per game. When he did play, he managed 7.9 ppg, along with 5.6 rpg, and had 42 blocked shots. Hill was a bruiser inside, but also had some passing skills with 36 assists. He did beat out sophomore J.B. Reafsnyder for the starting position. Syracuse would go 23-7 that season; it didn’t hurt that the Orangemen had the talented Lawrence Moten and John Wallace on the squad.

Next was Jeremy McNeil in 2000-2001. McNeil was probably the least skilled offensive player of the six mentioned, with all of his shots being dunk attempts or put-backs near the hoop. He would make 65% of his shots from the close proximity. McNeil at 6’8”, 257 lbs, loved to block shots, and was extremely foul prone while trying to do that. He would end up with 65 blocked shots, but also play only 16 minutes a game with 103 fouls and 10 disqualifications. McNeil would average only 2.5 ppg along with 3.2 rpg, and junior Billy Celuck spent a lot of time relieving him.

Craig Forth would arrive on the scene the next season (2001-2002) and would replace McNeil as the starting center. Forth, at 7’, was a completely different style of player from McNeil. Forth was a very passive natured player, whereas McNeil was ultra-aggressive. Forth was good at passing the ball (41 assists), and unlike most of the freshman centers for Syracuse, did not mind stepping away from the hoop (he made only 44% of his field goal attempts). Forth was adept at using his wide body to fill up the middle of the zone, and box out apposing offensive players, which made him far more attractive to Coach Jim Boeheim and his zone defense. Forth would average only 4.6 ppg, along with 4.5 rpg, as Syracuse went 23-13 and lost in the NIT Final Four.

There were some other notable freshman centers. Danny Schayes, in 1977-1978, was a decent offensive player in terms of basic skills. He unfortunately had to sit behind sophomore Roosevelt Bouie. Schayes would average 4.7 ppg and 4.0 rpg that year.

Richie Manning was a decent freshman player in 1988-1989, who may have started for a lot of teams. But he entered an extremely talented squad that saw junior All-American Derrick Coleman shift to center so that freshman sensation Billy Owens could make the starting lineup. There were not too many minutes for Manning to pick up, but in the 10 minutes a game he go, he did average 3.4 ppg and 1.8 rpg. Manning, at 6’11”, 253 lbs, was a solid offensive player, who needed more work on the defensive end of the court. Despite playing only 10 minutes a game, he picked up 61 fouls, or one every 5.7 minutes of play.

Etan Thomas is the other freshman center of note. Thomas sat behind senior Otis Hill and sophomore Elvir Ovcina, yet due to injuries on the team, and his own improved play, he would start 12 games and average 16 minutes a game. Thomas was an excellent shot blocker getting 48 blocks in his limited playing time, and scoring 5.7 ppg with 4.2 rpg. The team would struggle going 19-13, and went 8-4 in the 12 games he started.

2010-2011 has Syracuse looking at starting 7’ freshman phenom Fab Melo. DaShonte Riley may have fought him for that position originally, but with Riley’s injury, it looks like Melo will be the seventh freshman center for Syracuse. Like all the other freshman centers, he is a raw offensive talent, with a lot of defensive potential. Like Bouie, Seikaly and McNeil, he will be counted on at times to alter a game with his shot blocking skills. Melo is probably the most highly touted center coming to Syracuse since Roosevelt Bouie, which puts him in very good company. Then again, there is a lot for a freshman to learn.

Syracuse did very well with Bouie at center, but he is the exception. The other teams with freshman centers have been average Syracuse NCAA caliber squads, to NIT quality squads. Freshman basketball players have a lot to learn, and centers are usually far less polished than guards and forwards. Their size does allow them to make some immediate contributions, but history also tells us that they struggle to stay on the court because of a tendency to be in foul trouble. On a Syracuse team that will not have a lot of depth at center, that could be bad news. Senior Rick Jackson will surely move from his forward positions at times and play center giving Melo a breather, as will fellow freshman Baye Moussa Keita.

I am hoping Melo is the next Bouie. Even a Seikaly level season would be good for this squad which will have talent and experience in other positions. It is tough to tell how good Melo will be. As many of you know, I am not one to jump on the recruiting hype machine, rather waiting to see what develops. I am eager to see how it all plays out.