Saturday, December 29, 2012

Syracuse Wins Pinstripe Bowl

Congratulations to the Syracuse Orange as they beat traditional rival West Virginia 38-14 in the Pinstripe Bowl.  Syracuse overpowered West Virginia's defense with its running game, and shot down WVU's Geno Smith.
Syracuse had 378 yards of rushing, led by Prince-Tyson Gulley and his 219 rushing yards, and 3 touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 receiving). Jerome Smith also had a big day with 158 yards rushing.
The Syracuse defense held WVU's high powered offense to only 14 points, and twice forced Smith into a safety.
The Orange get to keep the Schwarzewalder Trophy, which they may now have for a long time. It was fortunate the Orange got to meet the Mountaineers in the bowl this year, the 60th time the two teams have met.  With WVU now in the Big 12, and Syracuse moving to the ACC, it may be a long time until they can meet again, which is a terrible shame, and an indictment of the greed the colleges in the NCAA, and the lack of effort by the fans/alumni bases to care otherwise.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Boeheim Wins 900

Congratulations to Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim on this 900th career win.  The coach will profess to not caring about the numbers, but 900 is quite an accomplishment.  Only two other coaches, Bobby Knight and Mike Krzyzewski, have accomplished that feat in Division I Men’s basketball.
Boeheim’s record now stands at 900-304; he has won 74.8% of the games he has coached. He was 52-24 as a player at Syracuse, and 139-65 as an assistant basketball coach.  Syracuse has won 1091 games that Boeheim has been associated with, against 393 losses. 
He is the winningnest coach in Big East History (by far), at 353-185.  He is 547-119 in non-Big East games. 
Boeheim has coached in 261 games against top 25 teams, and has a 130-131 record in those games.  Has has a 69-79 record when coaching against teams ranked higher than Syracuse in the polls (that would include games where Syracuse was not ranked).  He has a 615-158 record against teams ranked lower than Syracuse in the polls (that would include games where the opponent was not ranked).
Boeheim has a 53-64 record against teams ranked in the top 10, and a record of 17-41 against teams in the top 5.
Syracuse University basketball has an all-time record of 1854-821.  Boeheim has accounted for 48.5% of those wins as a coach, and 58.8% as a player/coach.
The worst season in Boeheim’s career was 1981-1982, when Syracuse went 16-13.  Even in that season he went .500 in the Big East, going 9-9. 
Over the past four seasons, Jim Boeheim is 101-16, winning 86.3% of his games. He is 44-10 in the Big East those same four years.
29 players for Jim Boeheim have played in the NBA.
Boeheim has won one National Championship (2003), and been to four Final Fours.  He has won 9 Big East Season Championships, and 5 Big East Tournament Championships.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Special Treatment? Not QuiteThe Benefit You Think

I have seen a lot of chatter about Michael Carter-Williams getting special treatment with the alleged shoplifting incident at Lord & Taylor's, as reported by Mike Waters of the Post-Standard.  Most of the negative chatter is about how Carter-Williams is getting preferential treatment because he is a high profiled Syracuse athlete, implying that the average person would be getting different treatment in this situation.
I would agree that he is indeed getting special treatment, but not to his benefit.  The policy, as reported by Waters is: 

"Lord & Taylor’s store policy dictates how to deal with shoplifters, according to one source. In most cases, the police are not called. Instead, a person who admits to shoplifting must pay a civil fine. The fine is five times the value of the merchandise with a cap at $500. When the fine is paid, the accused is released. Shoplifters are not allowed to keep the merchandise."

The article further states that in most cases the police are never involved, nor even is mall security.
If Carter-Williams was the average Syracuse citizen, he would have paid the fine, the issue would be resolved, and the issue would have no public attention.  Instead, because he is a star athlete, and people recognized him at the mall, he is being persecuted by members of the public.  How is Carter-Williams benefiting in this situation from his celebrity?

I do not condone this alleged shoplifting action.  However it does seem to me that based on the facts presented in the article, he was treated by Lord & Taylor's as if he was the typical Syracuse citizen caught up in the same circumstance.  And that is the way it should be, regarding how it was handled from their end.  No special treatment.

The special treatment he is getting is from the media and the public because of his celebrity.  Mike Waters has to report on this, because ignoring the story would be irresponsible journalism. There is a story that is floating around the community regarding something that impacts Syracuse basketball, and if he has done his diligence and gotten the facts, he should report on them.  

Goodbye to the Big East

It appears that in a couple of years, if not sooner, the Big East will no longer exist, at least in concept, if even in name. Most the major news sites are reporting it official that the seven Catholic schools, all non-football, will spin off to form their own new league. I applaud this move, and am very happy to see it.
I will be forthright with you.  When Syracuse announced it was leaving the Big East for the ACC, I have been secretly hoping the Big East conference would fold before next season began. The idea of a Big East conference without Syracuse sickens me.  I really just want the whole conference to go away.
In reality, the Big East I grew up loving, disappeared a long time ago.  The erosion started with the addition of football schools Miami and Virginia Tech, though that was something that was more of a nuisance.  Adding Notre Dame made some sense as it was a Catholic school, and its profile would match much of the Big East.  I was willing to overlook the geographic anomaly there, but the inclusion of Notre Dame without the inclusion of its football program never made any sense. If you are going to sell you soul to get some new members, you better make sure it is a win/win situation, and I never saw the ‘win’ for the Big East in that move.
Rutgers geographically made sense, though it brought nothing to the basketball table.  It would  have made far more sense to keep Temple in the Big East for football, instead of unceremoniously kicking them out, and then insist the rest of Temple join the Big East; they would have a been a nice addition to the basketball league (though I realize Villanova would not have been happy with that).
West Virginia is a natural rival of Pitt, and since Pitt was in the Big East, bringing in WVU with a solid basketball and football program made sense.   Plus schools like Syracuse had traditional rivalries with the Mountaineers. 
But the league started to get bloated.  Teams no longer had home-and-home games with all the teams in the league.  You start to lose your identity that way.  Boston College left… that was a team that the Eastern schools all had a relationship with, and now that was gone on both the gridiron and the hard court.
The Big East expanded westward, beyond the Ohio state line, and grabbed schools like Louisville and Cincinnati to help with the football league.  Marquette and DePaul were picked up to balance out the basketball.  The league identity was gone. It was no longer a small conference of tough battling teams, but a mega conference.  It was a conference with some dominating basketball and tremendous depth, but no identity. And of course the recent grab of Boise State, Memphis, San Diego State, etc. was just a collection of every desperate program out there.  Thankfully Syracuse would be no part of that.
It bothered me that Syracuse left the Big East, but it made perfect sense. If they did not, they would now be were UConn is; a team with no home.  A great basketball program that needs a place to put its football program. Syracuse made the right move, at the right time.
Syracuse owed nothing to the Big East.  It entered the league as a top regional player, and in the first season of the Big East, which was a partial schedule, the Orange were the #2 team in the country.  They entered the Big East as a top program, they were one of the reasons the basketball league had credibility from the beginning. The Big East obviously helped Syracuse go to the next level, as it did to every other team in the league.  But the benefit to SU was mutual with the benefit to the league.  Syracuse was the only program in the league that remained a contender throughout the history of the league; year in and year out, they were always in the top half of the league.  They were not always the best team, but they were always a recognizable team.  Georgetown, St. Johns and Villanova dropped to some very forgettable and losing seasons.  UConn, Pitt. Providence and Seton Hall took advantage of being in the Big East to build successful programs.
I had discussed with friends during the 90’s that I would have loved to have seen the Big East add Navy, Army, Temple, and gone after Maryland for the Big East.  Those programs would have added to the identity of the league. It may not have been the powerhouse it became in basketball in the 2000s, but it would have had a regional and national identity.  Top to bottom talent doesn’t really matter; how do you think the ACC has gotten by the past 8-9 years with only a few really good basketball programs? Regional identity and historical perception. 
Anyhow, good luck to Georgetown, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Providence, Notre Dame, Marquette and DePaul as you try to return to a respectable format.  I really do wish you the best of luck.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

2011-12 versus 2009-10

The 2011-2012 season ended painfully, with an Elite Eight loss to Ohio State.  The pain of the loss was not so much the particular game, which in itself was horribly officiated on both ends of the court. No, the pain was watching a tremendously accomplished Syracuse team compete without one of its key players in Fab Melo.  That squad was one of the deepest squads in Syracuse history, but the depth at center was not present.  There was a big drop off between Melo and Baye Keita, and there was no real backup to Keita.

I never wrote a recap on this blog about last season, because it was too difficult to do. It also was eerily similar to two seasons prior, the 2009-2010 season, where an equally great team lost its center, Arinze Onuaku, for the post season. That also cost that team in the post season.

Those two teams were great squads on the hill, both achieving #1 rankings at some point in the season, both winning the Big East regular season, and both earning #1 seeds in the NCAA tournament.  They had different paths to those seeds.  The 2009-10 squad started the season unranked, went 8-2 versus top 25 teams, and climbed to #1 by March 2nd.  The 2011-2012 squad started the year with high expectations with a pre-season rank of #5, and never dropped below that all season, rising to #1 by December 17th.  They would go 6-1 versus top 25 teams.

There is no doubt that the 2011-2012 squad accomplished more. They went 34-3, reached the Elite Eight, and tied the Big East season mark with a 17-1 record. The 2009-2010 squad was impressive at 30-5, reaching the Sweet Sixteen and going 15-3 in the Big East. But you have to acknowledge that last year’s squad accomplished more.

The question I want to propose is which team was better? If the two squads were to meet on the court, who would win?

The 2009-10 squad went seven players deep with no other player appearing in half the games.  This was a team with well-defined roles for all the players, and with a lot of NCAA experience.  There were two fifth-year seniors in Andy Rautins and Arinze Onuaku, and a fourth-year junior in Wesley Johnson.  Rick Johnson was a junior, Scoop Jardine a third-year sophomore, and Kris Joseph a sophomore.  Brandon Triche was the only inexperienced player as a true freshman.

This squad was extremely proficient at running the half-court offense with Andy Rautins running most of the offense.  Syracuse’s inside-out game was outstanding, with Onuaku and Jackson pounding the ball inside with high precision (67% and 59% respectively).  Johnson and Joseph were extremely adept at driving to the hoop and skying about the rim.  Rautins, Triche and Jardine were all good ball handlers, and because of Rautins’ adeptness at making the three point shot from deep range, teams had to focus on him on the perimeter and on the big men inside. This gave open shots to Triche, Johnson and Jardine, and Syracuse was extremely good at making the three point shot.  Between those four, they made 41% of their three point shots (202 of 498).   

The team had four good free throw shooters in Rautins, Johnson, Jardine and Joseph.  Rautins was extremely good in making 82% of his charity shots.   The team was prone to some careless turnovers from Jardine, and some overly aggressive passing from Rautins.

However, it was the team’s defense that made them a #1 team.  Their ‘Shut It Down’ defense would clamp down on opposing teams, and prevent them from scoring for 5 to 8 minutes of the game.   Onuaku and Jackson were not especially tall, but they were very wide bodied and took up a lot of space along the baseline at 235 lbs and 265 lbs respectively.  Triche (6’4”) and Rautins (6’5”) were tall and rangy up front, preventing easy looks from opposing players inside.  Johnson and Joseph were explosive from the wings intercepting passes and taking off down the court.   The team was not particularly adept at shot blocking, but very good at maintaining its defensive positioning, and good at rebounding.

Let’s go forward two years to the 2011-2012 team.  Syracuse would go 9-10 players deep each game.  A very explosive backcourt with a four man rotation of Brandon Triche, Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters and Michael Carter-Williams. It was also a very experience backcourt with Triche a junior (and three year starter), Jardine a fifth-year senior, and Waiters a sophomore.  Jardine and Waiters were very adept at tipping passes and running the fast break, something Syracuse did extremely well. 

Kris Joseph provided the interior offensive game with his drives to the hoop, though the lane was not nearly as clear as he had found it two years prior. Syracuse did not have any great three point shooters, but they had five guys who could make about 35% of their shots in Jardine, Triche, Waiters, Joseph and James Southerland. 

The team was extremely good at shot block and altering shots, led by Fab Melo and his three blocks a game. They were also very adept as a team at stealing the ball, and with the ten man rotation, the players were always fresh; Joseph led the team in minutes played and that was about 32/game.   C.J. Fair did a little bit of everything to make sure the job was getting done.

The team did not run its half-court offense very well.  It relied on the fast break to generate most of its points.  However, the guards were very adept at taking their defenders one-on-one and driving into the paint to make things happen, particularly Waiters and Triche. Waiters was extremely explosive, and Triche very strong.  The team had four good free throw shooters in Triche, Waiters, Joseph and Fair.  It hurt that Jardine struggled at the line, since he played the point, but he would often get removed late in the game to prevent that situation.

The two teams would be an interesting matchup.  Up front would be a tough matchup both ways. Up front you would basically have Rautins/Triche/Jardine versus Waiters/Triche/Jardine.  The latter three would be more adept at driving the lane (particularly Waiters), and in pestering offensive players. The former three would be more adept at preventing players from getting into the lane, and in shooting deep (with Rautins).  I would have to give an edge to last year’s squad up front because of Waiters and the more experienced Triche/Jardine combo.  It would not be a huge edge.

The interior play is where I think the 2009-2010 squad would have a big edge. Wesley Johnson was the  Big East player of the year. He was explosive at getting to the hoop, and could pull outside for three.  Onuaku and Jackson were polished interior scorers, and they knew how to get offensive and defensive rebounds.  Joseph was a better player in 2011-12 than in 2009-10, but he struggled last year without other players to open the lane for him.  Christmas and Melo were very limited offensively (as was Keita); Fair would be the only other scoring threat inside, and he would pick up those garbage points. 


I think the size and experience of Jackson and Onuaku would take a lot of advantage over the inexperience of Christmas and Melo.  It’s true Melo would block some shots, but big body players are often good at avoiding the blocks by creating separation and going strong to the hoop. 

Both teams would be able to run the court, and run it well.  I don’t think fatigue would come into play for the 2009-10 squad, because they played their whole season with only 7 players anyhow.  I think the answers to two questions would determine the outcome.

1st – could last year’s squad limit the second and third chance shots that the 2009-2010 team specialized in with its rebounding?

2nd – could last year’s squad generate enough fast break opportunities to limit its exposure in the half court? 

For those who watched last year’s games, you would know that the team struggled all year to get rebounds, and prevent second chances.  I don’t see how the 2009-2010 squad would be any different, and they would probably get their fair share of second shot opportunities.

And I do not think last year’s team would generate enough fast break opportunities to offset  their half-court liabilities against a team that was ‘Shut It Down’ in the half-court defense. Basically, we would have a team that struggled in the half court set (2011-2012) trying to score against a team that specialized in stopping that exact same thing. 

I think 2009-2010 comes out on top. That’s not a knock on last year’s team. I thought the 2009-2010 team was going to win the National Championship. Their teamwork and unselfishness were outstanding (and much of that carried over to last year’s team).  That 2009-2010’s biggest weakness was they had no player outside of their top seven, and that came back to get them. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Southerland for 35

James Southerland led Syracuse to a Big East / SEC Challenge win over Arkansas with a great night of shooting, scoring 35 points for the Orange.  Southerland tied the school record for three point shots in a game, making 9, tying Gerry McNamara and Andy Rautins.  Southerland has always had the shooting touch, and it is nice to see the senior get a chance to show his stuff on national television.
Southerland hit nine out of thirteen three point shots for the game.  He is the first Syracuse Orangeman to score 30 points since Wesley Johnson scored 31 against Gonzaga on March 21st, 2010 in the NCAA Tournament three seasons ago.
His 35 points was the most by an Orangeman since Jonny Flynn scored 35 against Providence on January 28th, 2009, four seasons ago.  Southerland's effort was the most points by a Syracuse bench player ever, and the first time a bench player scored 30+ points in a game since George Hicker did it against West Virginia on February 19th, 1966.
I find it ironic that the last six times a Syracuse player has scored 30 or more points, they have done it on the road.  Southerland was at Arkansas, Johnson in the NCAA against Gonzaga, Flynn at Madison Square Garden against UConn, again Flynn, this time at Providence, and finally Eric Devendorf at Villanova. The last Syracuse player to score 30+ points at home was Demetris Nichols with 37 against St. Johns in February of 2007.
Almost lost in the night was the fact that Michael Carter-Williams fell one assist short of a triple double.  He had 10 rebounds, 17 points and 9 assists.  A collegiate triple double is tough, with only 40 minutes of play. It has been done only nine times in Syracuse history, by five players, the last being Allen Griffin in 2001. That list also includes Derrick Coleman, Lazarus Sims, Leo Rautins (3x) and Dave Bing (3x).  I would bet even money that Carter-Williams will accomplish the feat is his collegiate year, particularly if he stays around through his junior season. He is an assist man, the points come easy, and at 6'6" a big rebounding night is always possible. I do find it ironic that he missed his triple double by the assist, considering he leads the nation in that category.
Brandon Triche once again showed that he is a big moment player, stepping up in the crunch time in the second half, making 10 straight points to stop a late Arkansas surge. Triche has the reputation of making the shot when one is needed, and he did it again.
Congratulations to the Orange on a fine win and to James Southerland on his great night.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Well Traveled

Former Syracuse star forward Hakim Warrick was traded from the New Orleans Hornets to the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday per the Post Standard. He had been traded to New Orleans in the off season, and played only one game with them before moving on to Charlotte. This will be Warrick's 6th team in his 8th NBA season, starting in 2006. He has played for Memphis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Phoenix, New Orleans and now Charlotte.
That is not unusual for NBA players to move around, and particularly not unusual for former Orangemen.  Of the 41 Syracuse basketball players who have played in the NBA, only ten played their entire career for one team, and those were mostly very short careers: Billy Gabor, Donte Greene, Jack Kiley, Andy Rautins, Frank Reddout, Bill Smith, Bob Shaddock, Lou Spicer, Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters.  Joseph and Waiters are of course in their rookie seasons, so who knows what their future holds.  Shaddock has the distinction of the shortest NBA career for an SU alum with 2 games, though Kris Joseph currently has just one game in his very young career. 
Many of the players had short careers of two or three seasons, where they played for two or three teams, hoping to catch on, but never quite getting there.
Others such as Carmelo Anthony made a big switch in free agency, or Dave Bing who wound down his Hall of Fame career with Detroit in two short stays in Washington and Boston.
Damone Brown went four for four; four different teams in a four season career with stints in Philadelphia, Toronto, New Jersey and Washington.
Marty Byrnes showed Brown up by sneaking in five teams in four seasons: Phoenix, New Orleans, the Lakers, Dallas and Indiana.  Byrnes also has the distinction of the only former Orangeman to win an NBA Championship (in 1980 with the Lakers).
John Wallace also made five stops in seven seasons, with the Knicks, Toronto, Detroit, Phoenix and Miami. Wallace liked the Knicks so much he had two tours there.
Sherman Douglas had a good career over 12 seasons. He also covered five franchises during his NBA tour, with Miami, Boston, Milwaukee, New Jersey and the Clippers.
Billy Owens looked destined for stardom until knee injuries derailed his career. He would play for 6 teams over a 10 year career from 1992- 2001 that included Golden State, Miami, Sacramento, Seattle, Philadelphia and Detroit.
Danny Schayes seemed to play for everyone in the NBA. He had the longest career in the NBA for any Syracuse Orangeman with 18 seasons and 1,138 games. Schayes was never a great player, but he was a 7 foot player who could shoot well, make his free throws, handle the ball, and get some rebounds. That made him an ideal back up center, and teams were always in the need for guys like him. Schayes would play from 1982 to 1999 and would call the following seven franchises 'home':  Utah, Denver, Milwaukee, Lakers, Phoenix, Miami and Orlando.
So that brings us to the conclusion. Which former Orangemen played for the most franchises in his NBA career?  That would be Jason Hart who squeezed in 9 teams in a 9 year career from 2001 to 2010. Hart would play for Milwaukee, San Antonio, Charlotte, Sacramento, the Clippers, Utah, Denver, Minnesota, and finally for New Orleans.  Though he played nine seasons, he would play in only 341 games. His best season by far was 2004-2005 where he had career highs in all categories averaging 9.5 points and 5.0 assists per game.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Orange Hoops Hall of Fame 2012

In 2007, OrangeHoops inducted its charter class into the OrangeHoops Hall of Fame: Dave Bing, Derrick Coleman, Sherman Douglas, Vic Hanson, and Pearl Washington. The next four years saw the addition of Billy Owens (2008), Billy Gabor (2009), Lawrence Moten (2010), Louis Orr (2011) and Roosevelt Bouie (2011).  So the list now stands at 10. Another year has passed, and now it is time for the 2012 inductee.

I established my rules for the OrangeHoops Hall of Fame back in 2007 and you can catch up on them here. 2012 does have five new eligible candidates (using the fifteen year rule): Otis Hill, Jason Cipolla, Donovan McNabb, Ramel Lloyd, and Evan Vogel. Hill is the best of the bunch; a solid center who developed a good inside game, and was a good defender. He was a good college player, but not a Hall of Fame player.  Cipolla was a junior college transfer who was good at shooting the three point shot and he made some clutch shots during the 1996 NCAA tournament.  McNabb was a star on the Syracuse football field, and would go onto stardom in the NFL; he was a reserve guard on the basketball team.  Lloyd and Vogel were bench players who would transfer after the 1996-1997 season.
I think this year’s viable top candidates come down to the following eight, listed chronologically: Lew Castle, Joe Schwarzer, Lew Andreas, Vinnie CohenRony Seikaly and John Wallace.

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).
Cohen was an All-American, the first Syracuse player to average 20+ points a game in a season, and led the team to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1956-1957.

Seikaly was an All-American, a standout defensive player whose outstanding play in the 1987 NCAA tournament took Syracuse to the brink of its first tournament championship.

Wallace was a four year starter at Syracuse, carried the team to the National Championship game his senior season in 1995-1996. He graduated Syracuse as the #3 all-time leading scorer and the #3 all-time leader in rebounds, and still holds both distinctions.
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.
I have got to go with John Wallace for the 2012 selection.  Wallace had four solid seasons at Syracuse, and chose to honor his scholarship though the Orangemen would be on probation his freshman year (1992-1993).  He would play and start every game during his career, leading the Orangemen in rebounding each of his four seasons.
Wallace would improve during each of his seasons on the Hill. He had an opportunity to go to the NBA after his junior season, but decided to return his senior year. That was a very fortuitous move for Syracuse, as he would lead the Orangemen to the NCAA National Championship game.  Wallace would average 22.2 points a game for the season, combined with 8.7 rebounds.  He had worked on his perimeter game over the summer, and would hit 42% (37 of 88) of his three point shots. Five times his senior year he would score over 30 points in a game, none bigger than the 30 he put up against Georgia in the NCAA tournament; Wallace hit a game winning 3 point shot in overtime to win that game.  He would score 29 points against Kentucky in the title game, before fouling out late in the game.
Wallace was the 18th pick in the 1996 NBA draft by the New York Knicks.  He would play in the NBA from 1996 to 2004.  Congrats to John Wallace.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A New Carrier Classic

The 2012-2013 Syracuse Basketball season kicked off with some fanfare as the Orange took on the #20 ranked San Diego State Aztecs in the ‘Battle of the Midway’, upon the USS Midway in the Carrier Classic.  Of course, when I hear Carrier Classic, I still have images of Syracuse beating Michigan State and Magic Johnson, or GeneWaldron bombing Iona with 40 points.  But a new era, a new age, and the Orange were able to participate in this new memorable series.
Memorable will be what the game will go down as, even if it was not a well-played game.  An outdoor game with a strong breeze off the bay and strong sunlight in the eyes of the players can wreck some havoc on the games plans of both teams.  The fact that neither team could shoot a perimeter shot on the right side of the court (from the viewing audience) brought some interesting strategy into the game.  One has to wonder why Steve Fisher never instructed his players to stop taking the three point shots, as they finished a horrendous 1 of 18.  Jim Boeheim and the Orange figured it out fairly quickly, only taking four three point shots, all in the first half, and then abandoning that for the rest of the game.
There is not a lot you can take away from this game in terms of how the Orange will play for this season, as the game put limits on what teams could or could not do.  However, there were a few things I observed that made me smile for this upcoming year.
Syracuse was definitely the bigger team with the better inside game. The Orange, however, played the second half of the game shooting into the bad side of the court, where they took no perimeter shots.  Yet, they were consistently able to drive to the hoop from their half court set, despite the fact that the Aztecs knew that was the only offensive play the Orange would be able to run.  Brandon Triche did this two or three times; no one should doubt his athletic ability to get to the hoop.  I am not sure how Boeheim is going to get Trevor Cooney playing time with Michael Carter-Williams and Triche in the backcourt.  Then again, Boeheim was masterfully able to accomplish the four guard rotation last year.
DaJuan Coleman is HUGE.  He looked like a man-child on the court next to the rest of the players.  He will definitely clog up some space in the middle.  I liked the fact that Baye Keita was displaying the aggressive and active form he had most of his freshman season.  Valuable minutes from him will critical at times this upcoming year.
C.J. Fair did a lot of everything, which we all have come to take for granted. I think he pressed a little bit too much in the first half with taking too much of the offense upon himself, but it is a good sign he is asserting himself.  Rakeem Christmas was a defensive force with 5 blocked shots, and pulled down 6 rebounds (I would’ve liked more boards). 
The Orange jumped out to a 17-4 lead, and never let San Diego State back into the game.  They made the free throws when they had to make the free throws. They made the defensive stops when they had to, and they countered with strong offensive play whenever the Aztecs threatened. Those are good signs.
I look forward to the rest of this new season. Go Orange!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Veterans Day 2012

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
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
Clifford Steele

In World War II, the following served:
Jim Ackerson
Earl Ackley
Lou Alkoff
John Balinsky
Leo Canale
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
Joe Weber

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.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Post Standard to Reduce Distribution Days

Advance Publications, owners of the Syracuse Post Standard, along with several other daily newspapers, has decided that the Post Standard will switch to three-day-a-week distribution come January 2013.  This is becoming a common trend in the newspaper industry, particularly with Advance Publications, who swept its mighty sword and slashed the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and several other papers, a few months back. 

As a long time fan of the Post-Standard, along with the long gone Herald Journal, I do find this to be a sad moment. I realize in these days of decling profitability in the newspaper industry coupled with the trend of younger audiences relying solely on the internet for news, that this is in many ways inevitable for many markets.  It is highly condemning of the industry when the Post Standard goes through this type of change as its adult readership is ranked #4 in the United States, based on Scarborough research.

A lot of the information contained in the printed version of the paper is now on, if not all the same information. However, as an invidual who works on a computer all day, I enjoy reading my news in the printed form each morning.  Alas, I know I am part of an ever decreasing minority.

Often these distribution changes also impact the editorial and journalism staffs.  I do hope that the Syracuse Post Standard sports department remains intact, particularly Mike Waters and Donna Dikota, who I enjoy reading regarding Syracuse University basketball.

I do think switching to a reduced number of distribution days is a sure way to destroy the newspaper.  A paper that is distributed only three days a week, forces it readers to use another source the remaining four days a week.  I believe a reader will become comfortable with that other source of news, and will then not bother switching back to the newspaper for the other three days, when the other source provides them the news they need all seven days.  I think a paper has to be 'all in' with seven days of distribution, or just bow out.  Perhaps that is there plan, and this is just an intermediary step to get some money before they close the doors on the printed business.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

You Cannot Play Them All

Jim Boeheim cannot win praise from his detractors, regardless of what he does.   You would think Syracuse was mired in an underperforming season with a record of 20-10 instead of being 33-2, ranked #2 in the country with a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.  Fans love to second guess head coaches, and Syracuse fans are no different.
Historically Boeheim has gone only 7-8 players deep on his roster, preferring to keep his top talent on the court as much as possible.  This season, he has gone 10 players deep most of the season and yet he still gets criticized for not giving some players more playing time.
I like Brandon Triche’s game a lot. He is likely the team’s best three point shooter  and clearly their best free throw shooter.  He is the best rebounding guard on the team, and while not flashy, he is a solid point guard, and he is a three year starter with tons of experience.  Yet he sits a lot, and that is quite reasonable considering the best offensive talent on this team is the backcourt players.  You have to find time for Scoop Jardine and for Dion Waiters; Boeheim does an excellent job of getting them all playing time. 
A faction of the fan base criticize Boeheim because he does not play Michael Carter-Williams more.  MCW plays in most games, about 3-7 minutes of time.  Considering there are three talented guards ahead of him in terms of experience, and current talent level, I think it says a world about how good Boeheim thinks he is by getting him that time.  He is getting some seasoning and experience, and being handled well by being put into situations he can succeed, and being held from situations where he can fail.  I think it will be invaluable for him come next season; and if the need arose this season, he would play more.  My guess is MCW will be a start for Syracuse and in the NBA someday.  Right now, that is not his role.
Other fans question why Boeheim doesn’t play to his strength and run a three guard offense. That is looking at only half the picture.  A three guard offense would definitely help the offense; there is no doubt about it.  However, what is the greatest strength of this team? It’s zone defense, a defense so good that a lot of fans in forums call it the best Syracuse defense they have ever seen.  Syracuse cannot play that zone with three guards; that would require Triche or Waiters to play the wing and guard a forward, which could be disastrous.  Do you really want to take away the best asset of the team, their zone defense, in order to get more playing time for a guard?  And going to man-to-man is not the solution; the team does not practice that well enough to effectively use it and Boeheim and his staff recruit players ideal for zone defense, not for man-to-man.
I have seen many fans question why Trevor Cooney was redshirted, when the team could clearly use his three point shooting.  Boeheim cannot currently find enough time for a talented Michael Carter-Williams on the court, and you want him to find time for Cooney?  Furthermore, we do not even know how good Cooney is with defense or ball handling at this point in his career.  I do not know how you would find reasonable playing time for him, and having him lose a season as the fifth guard makes no sense.
Rakeem Christmas is the interesting player in the mix. I know some fans are looking at Christmas’ Kansas State effort of 11 rebounds and 3 blocked shots as evidence that Boeheim should have played him a lot more.  Those numbers are huge, and should not be taken lightly.  I do think Christmas is far more comfortable at center than forward.  I also think Christmas is a better rebounder than Melo, in fact, much better, and likely a better offensive player.  Christmas has been playing organized basketball for years, where as Melo only a few season, and I think Christmas is more comfortable with the ball in his hands. He is by no means an offensive juggernaut.   Christmas is okay at defense in the center position, but does not have the dominating shot blocking, the body size, nor the zone understanding that Melo does.   So there is a loss of defense without Melo, which would be expected as Melo was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
I think Boeheim and his staff want Christmas to develop into a power forward, a role Christmas is not comfortable with now.  I think Christmas is likely failing his defensive assignments as a forward, and is not the offensive threat that Joseph, Fair or Southerland is, so he is the fourth forward behind  three other veteran forwards.  I would like to see a couple more minutes out of Christmas each game, and he does have a very quick hook from Boeheim.  However, in a best case scenario, Christmas was not going to get too many more playing minutes at the forward position. 
Southerland needed the playing time to open up the Syracuse perimeter game, and he has developed his rebounding and defensive skills.  Fans love C.J. Fair, and Fair usually brings that spark to the table, along with adding in all the statistics stuffing needing to help the team.  Kris Joseph is the best scoring forward on the team, and the most experienced player on the team. 
You could have played Christmas instead of Baye Keita at center, but remember they want to develop Christmas a forward which will help him in his pursuit of a professional career, and Keita can only play center.  Keita needs to develop too, and Syracuse needed Melo on the court as much as they could.
I think minor changes could have been made at various points in the season, but they would have been minor, and with no impact on the season results.  Remember, Syracuse is 33-2. 
Some tidbits of information:
Rakeem Christmas has now started five games at center, and he has had rebound totals of 9, 1, 7, 7 and 11.  Fab Melo averages only 5.8 rebounds a game.  Of course, shot blockers are often out of rebounding position, so you trade off one ability for another.
James Southerland has scored 43 points in the four post season games, shooting 8 of 17 from three point range, and chipping in 24 rebounds, and 8 blocks. 
Where as C.J. Fair disappeared to? The man was a stat sheet stuffer all season.  In the postseason run, Fair is 2-17 from the field, including misses from point blank range, and open 10 foot jumpers.  He has 17 rebounds, but 11 came against UNC Asheville; only 6 in the other three games combined.   This has coincided with him starting, but that cannot be the reason as he did not suffer when he started three games during Melo’s first suspension.
Triche found his shooting touch as the regular season ended, but he has struggled in the post season. He is 1 of 10 from three point range, and surprisingly 4 of 10 from the free throw line.
Dion Waiters struggled for much of the season at the free throw line, but has shot 16 of 18 from the charity stripe in the post season.   He has also made 25 of 45 shots during that time frame, and has had only three turnovers.
Scoop Jardine has made seven of his eight free throw attempts in the post season, and has 17 assists the past three games. However, he has also had 14 turnovers the past three games, which has to stop.
Kris Joseph, who has logged more playing time than any other Syracuse player this post season, has continued his month long shooting problems. Joseph is 8 for 31 in the post season from the field, including 2 for 13 from three point range.  He was held reboundless against Cincinnati and had only one rebound against Kansas State yesterday. 

Recipe for a 33-2 Record

Syracuse is now 33-2, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament.  The Orange had a slight scare in the first round to UNC – Asheville, but I would suggest that while the score was indeed close, the outcome was very consistent with the Syracuse basketball.
The casual Syracuse observer may not be aware of the pattern for the Orange this season, but his is the team’s recipe for winning games:
1 – Let the opposing team jump to a 9-15 point lead early in the game
2 – Then reel them back in, tying up the score towards the end of the first half, or early in the second half.
3 – Pull away from the other team with a 7-8 point lead.
4 – Let the other team get back into the game to keep it close.  Often this is related to a couple of ‘Scoop moments’ or the opposition closing their eyes and banking in a couple of desperation three point shots as the shot clock expires.
5 -  Play shutdown defense the last two minutes of the game, closing the door on the opponent’s ability to get back into the game.
There are variations within that framework, but it surely describes many of the Syracuse games this year.  It has given many Orange fans a bit of anxiety, myself included, and even though I have gotten to the point where I know that is how it is going to play out, it still unnerves me. 
Lost in the midst of the bad call controversy of the UNC Asheville game was the outstanding defense by Syracuse in the last 21 seconds of the game.  The Bulldogs were down by two possessions, and knew they would have to score twice. They came down the court, and Syracuse played such stifling defense that for 10-12 seconds, very precious time, the Bulldogs could not even get a glimpse of the basket.  Finally out of desperation they tried to pass the basket down low, the Orange intercepted the ball, and the game was officially over.
The officiating, while bad, has clearly been proven not to be the determining factor of the outcome of the game.  The officials properly called the lane violation, much to the fans dismay.  And they blew the out of bounds call; they should have called the foul for bumping Triche, sending the Orange’s best free throw shooter to the line.
Even if the calls were bad calls, and even if the officials had called them the other way (i.e. no lane violation, and gave the ball to the Bulldogs on the out of bounds), I would submit the Orange still would have won.  It would have changed the situations in the game in both instances, but the Orange have seemed to win all those close games this year.  They have the knack for causing the crucial turnover, making the clutch shot, and shutting down offenses when they must. 
The Kansas State game followed the same formula, with the difference being that the Orange offense was highly effective and efficient in the second half, and the game became a blowout, so there was no late comeback.
For those who think Syracuse is overrated: they are 33-2.  The object of the game is to win games; they won one of the major conferences easily, won all their big games of the season, and did not lose to anyone they should not have.  They aren’t impressing people with their style points, and they have had many ugly wins mainly because their offense can be downright ugly at times and their defense makes other teams look ugly.  The bottom line is they are winning games.  Even if they were to lose their next game, that does not mean they are overrated; this is the NCAA tournament and upsets will happen, with ultimately only one team winning six in a row.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

All Big East Selections 2012

I cannot complain about the Syracuse All Big East Team selections.  I had guessed three Syracuse players would make the list earlier today, possibly four, and Syracuse ended up with three.
Kris Joseph earned All Big East First Team selection, becoming the 22nd Orangeman to earn that selection.  Scoop Jardine earned Second Team recognition, and Dion Waiters Third Team.
I thought Fab Melo may get a nod as a Third Team or Honorable Mention because of his defensive presence, but with an eighteen team league, and only 21 selections made, that is a lot of competition.
I would hate to be a South Florida fan. Your team is 12-6 in conference, 19-12 overall with an RPI of 43, and you are not considered a lock for the NCAA by the national media experts.  Then you get no players receiving any recognition in the All Big East First, Second, Third or Honorable Mention selections. Meanwhile Pitt (5-13 Big East, 16-15 overall), Villanova (5-13, 12-18), Providence (4-14, 15-16) and DePaul (3-15, 12-18), all land one player on one of the selections. Only Rutgers (6-12, 14-17) was shut out like South Florida.
Syracuse has done historically well in the All Big East selections.  They have 78 selections overall, far more than anyone else, with Connecticut second with 64.  And the Syracuse selections have historically been high recognitions. 35 times a Syracuse player has made first team; Georgetown is next with only 23.  23 times a Syracuse player has made second team; Connecticut is next with 20. 
The selections have been warranted. Syracuse is by far the winningest program in Big East history with 401 victories; Georgetown is next at 374. Syracuse has won 10 Big East Regular Season titles, matched only by UConn.
There have been some notable oversights in history, most recent being last year when Rick Jackson failed to make First Team, despite being the defensive player of the year and leading the conference in scoring.  But all in all, the coaches do well in their selections.

30-1! A Season for the Ages

The Orange wrapped up the regular season in style, sweeping the Louisville Cardinals with a 58-49 victory at the Carrier Dome.  Fittingly, in a season where the team really plays as a team, senior point guard Scoop Jardine was held scoreless, and was happy about it.
Syracuse is 30-1, establishing a new benchmark for wins in a regular season, besting their record of 28 set two years ago. The school record for total wins in a season is 31, set in 1986-1987, and the team should pass that mark with their post season activity.  Their one loss in the regular season is the fewest ever since post season activity began, and regardless of how their season ends, they will finish the year with their fewest losses since at least 1934-1935 when the team went 15-2.
The Orange finished 19-0 at home, only their second undefeated season in the Carrier Dome. The previous effort was from the 2002-2003 national championship team.
The games also marked the 71st time the Carrier Dome has had a crowd in excess of 30,000 fans.  Syracuse has now run their record to 48-23 in those games, including winning 11 of the last 14 big crowd games.
The Big East Tournament looms ahead, and the Orange are fortunate to get the double round bye. We will not know the Orange opponent until the end of day Wednesday. It will certainly be a team that is playing well, and playing for its post season life.  It will be another tough game.
Syracuse completed this season 5-0 against top 25 teams. The Big East was down compared to the past few seasons, and Syracuse has played its fewest top 25 ranked teams since the 2001-2002 season. However, the postseason action will certainly bump that number up a few places.  And though the number of ranked Big East teams was not as high as it has been the past few years, that does not mean the Big East was an easy schedule. Far from it.
First of all, comparing any league to the level the Big East played the past few seasons is a ridiculous standard. Secondly, ask talented teams like Pitt, Villanova and UConn about how difficult they thought this schedule was. If you are not ready to play each and every game, you will end up on the losing side of the ledger.
The Orange are 30-1.  That is absolutely remarkable; I do not care who you play. That record is a testament to the players and to the Syracuse coaching staff.  It speaks well of the leadership of the team leaders Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph. And it speaks well of the character of their teammates who bought into what they were selling.
The Big East post season accolades should be very interesting.  Several factors will come into play with Syracuse players getting consideration: (1) how much do the coaches recognize the top players focusing on the team effort instead of personal glory; (2) how much weight does the 17-1 conference record carry; (3) how much will the deep play of Syracuse and the lack of ‘go to’ players split the votes for Syracuse players?  And of course, in an eighteen team league, it’s tough to get any recognition with that much competition.
I think Jim Boeheim should win the Big East Coach of the Year. The Orange were expected to finish tied atop the Big East, but they greatly exceeded anyone’s expectations on how they did it. If you throw in the backdrop of the Bernie Fine situation, and the short term Fab Melo suspension, you have a coach who won the conference, overcome obstacles, and overachieved. What more can you ask? I know Buzz Williams (Marquette) and Mike Brey (Notre Dame) had outstanding seasons, each with their own story, but Boeheim should win it. He won’t. It will be Brey or Williams.
Syracuse’s zone defense has been the story throughout college basketball all season, and Fab Melo’s importance to that defense was undeniable, as evidenced by the impact on the team when he was missing for three games.  I think the team sacrificed individual offensive glory for the team defense, and I think coaches recognize that. I think Melo does win the Big East defensive player of the year.
If Melo is going to win the defensive player of the year, he has got to be a lock on the Most Improved Player.  The improvement in his game from last season to this season is well documented, and well known.  I would be shocked if he does not get this recognition.
The Big East Sixth man award will be interesting. First of all C.J. Fair and Dion Waiters will split the votes between one another. I personally do not consider Fair a sixth man.  He does not start the game, but he does replace Rakeem Christmas very early in the game, and he keeps that position for the rest of the game.  It is not as if Boeheim uses Fair to give Joseph a breather at any point.  Rather he uses Southerland to give Joseph and Fair a breather.  Fair is really a starter who just does not happen to start. Waiters on the other hand is a sixth man. He splits time at both the point and shooting guard positions, and may partner with either Triche or Jardine on the court. He often plays more minutes than either of them, but not always. I would vote for Waiters as the Sixth Man, and I think he will win it; but the split vote and a perception that he is not really a sixth man could hurt him.
The All Big East Team selections are the biggest mystery to me.  I would suspect that Joseph, Jardine and Waiters will all make selections to one of the teams, and I would hope Jardine and Joseph make first team. Melo might squeak in on the third team. We’ll have to see when results are released this week.
However the post season accolades go, it has been a great regular season, and now it’s time to gear up for some post season fun!
Let’s Go Orange!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What About 27-1?

The Orange are 27-1, reaching lofty heights that no other Syracuse team has ever reached during the regular season, in the post season era.  There are other teams that had fantastic regular seasons, most notably and recently the 2009-2010 squad that went 28-3 before post season action.

For perspective the 2002-2003 National Championship team went ‘only’ 23-4 during the regular season, and did not win either the Big East Season title or Big East Tournament.  The 1999-2000 team went 24-4 winning the Big East Season title behind Jason Hart and Etan Thomas.

Syracuse went 26-4 in 1990-1991 behind Billy Owens winning the Big East Regular season title. The 1988-1989 Orangemen, perhaps the most talented team Syracuse ever had with Sherman Douglas, Stephen Thompson, Billy Owens and Derrick Coleman went a mere 25-6 in the regular season.  The 1986-1987 squad that came within a shot of the National Title was 24-5 winning the Big East Season title.

The Pearl and Raf Addison lead the Orangemen to 23-4 in 1985-1986 earning the Big East Season Title.  In the first year of the Big East, Roosevelt Bouie and Louis Orr led Syracuse to a 24-2 record and the first Big East Season Title.  They were 25-3 in 1978-1979, and 25-3 in 1976-1977.

You would then have to go to the post-War team of 1945-1946 that went 23-3 and got the Orangemen their first post season action in NIT, to find a squad with an impressive in-season record.  Those Orangemen were led by Billy Gabor, Royce Newell and Ed Stickel.

The question becomes how important is the regular season accomplishments compared to the post season? I may find myself in the minority, but the regular season means a lot to me.  I find that I enjoy sports in the day-to-day; each game has meaning, each has potential moments that I may remember forever.  You play to win the games; accolades and titles are just outputs of winning. 

Regardless of how the season plays out, this is a successful year for me. I am enjoying the team, they are winning beyond my expectations. They have been ranked #1 or #2 for most of the year, and along the way gotten ‘some monkeys off their back’ with wins over Pitt and Louisville, and rivalry wins against the Hoyas and Huskies.  The Orange make the nightly highlights with every game they play.  Jim Boeheim is now the #3 winningest coach in NCAA history, and Kris Joseph is the winningest player in SU history.  They are positioning themselves for nice seeds in both post season tournaments. 

Assuming the Orange don’t lose five straight games, this is a very successful season.  I have no need to for them to reach the Final Four for this to be a success.  I want the Final Four, I dream for the Final Four, but there are a lot of hurdles in getting there. Many great teams from many schools have failed to get there.  The NCAA tournament is is a one-and-done deal, and the wrong match up, a cold shooting hand or a hot shooting opponent, a few bad calls or bounces, a key injury or two… all of these things come into play in the post season.  It does not disqualify how well the team did that year, nor how good they were.

Post season action is the gravy to the meal; it makes everything better and it is exciting as heck.  My thanks to Jim Boeheim and the Orange for a great season so far.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What a View at 25-1

I hope the Syracuse fans keep enjoying this season. It has been far above my expectations at this point, with a 25-1 Orange team to cheer for.  The Orange are in first place in the Big East, and have beaten the teams Syracuse fans love to hate: Georgetown, UConn and Pitt.  

Coach Jim Boeheim has reached the impressive milestone of having more wins at one Division I school than any other coach in NCAA men’s basketball, with 881 and growing. He is the #3 winningest coach in NCAA history.  The Syracuse basketball program, and Boeheim, remain the winningest program in Big East history with 350 wins, and counting.  Including Big East Tournament games, Syracuse has won 396 Big East games; number two on the list is Georgetown with 370. Think about that number; when the Orange leave the Big East, it will take roughly two full seasons for another Big East team to potentially break SU’s Big East record for most wins. 

Syracuse fan Bob Stone did some research and Boeheim is 193-116 in basketball games decided by 1-5 points, including 82-49 in games decided by 1-2 points.  Thanks Bob for that info!

Syracuse had its first 30k crowd yesterday in its 85-67 win over UConn.  The Orange are now 47-23 in those 70 games. That was the seventh time the Orange faced UConn in a 30k game; Georgetown leads the way with 16 appearances.

For those that think the game has passed Boeheim by, consider that Syracuse is 82-14 that past three seasons, including an 18-7 record against top 25 teams, a very impressive 9-2 record against top 10 teams, and a 6-1 record against teams ranked higher than Syracuse.

For his career, Boeheim is 69-79 in games against teams ranked higher.  That means that in games where the national experts think Syracuse is the underdog, he wins 47% of the time. That is a lot of upsets. When Syracuse is the higher ranked team, they win 79% of the time.  For his career Boeheim is 53-63 against Top 10 teams.

I do have to laugh at the national pundits who seem to want to punish Syracuse in the rankings using the argument they have not played anyone.  We need to consider that before the basketball season began, the AP voters had Syracuse ranked as the #5 team in the country; that is without playing anyone!  The Orange then go 20-0, and some voters suddenly want to cheapen the Orange season because the ranked teams were not on their schedule.  The AP voters thought they were the fifth best team in the country, they go out there and prove to everyone they can beat everyone put in front of them, and somehow that is not good enough to warrant additional consideration? Should the Orange go out and lose to some other teams just to show they have tough opponents? 

I often think a loss to an unranked team is less costly than a loss to a ranked opponent; people recognize  a loss to an unranked team as a ‘fluke’ whereas a loss to a ranked team is considered more a barometer of how good you really are.  A loss to Georgetown last week would have allowed pundits to say that something like ‘look what happens when Syracuse finally plays a ranked team’, whereas if Syracuse lost to DePaul, it clearly would be recognized as an upset.

You cannot blame, nor punish, Syracuse for the down year for the Big East.  Furthermore, while several of the Big East teams are struggling to get wins, they are still dangerous teams, with tremendous talent, and the ability to have a game where they put it all together. I would not want to face Pitt or UConn in the Big East tournament. Neither is likely to make it to the NCAA, and neither is really capable of putting a long string of wins, I would not want to face them in the post season in a one-and-done scenario.  The rankings may not show it, but Syracuse is still going through a tough gauntlet of games.

Syracuse’s rebounding problems this season are well documented.  The Georgetown game is a good example of that problem. I am not sure how to really evaluate this team as a result of the rebounding problem.  On one hand, the team was slaughtered on the boards 48 to 30, including giving up 20 offensive rebounds.  Some like to point at that stat, and use it as an indicator on how a team like Kentucky might kill Syracuse. 

One the other hand, how can Syracuse rebound any worse than that? Kentucky or North Carolina could not rebound any better; domination on the boards is domination on the boards.  And Syracuse shot only 35% from the floor, and 33% from three point range.

And they won the game, 64-61.  They shot poorly, they got killed on the boards, and they won.  How many teams could do that and win the game?  If Syracuse had shot well in that game, they would have won by double digits against a ranked team that killed them in rebounding. This team has something special about it.

Syracuse has its weaknesses, and rebounding is the most noticeable.  All teams have their weaknesses, and all teams can lose come tournament time.  Syracuse needs to improve the rebounding to improve their chances, and Boeheim is rightful to be concerned.  They also can win a lot of games against very good teams even with that problem.

Regardless, I am just going to continue to enjoy this season.

Let’s Go Orange!