Friday, November 15, 2013

Bring On Colgate

Saturday will be the 166th game between Colgate and Syracuse on the basketball court, the longest rivalry in Orange basketball history.  Syracuse leads the all-time series 120-45, and it hasn't been a competitive series since the late 1960s, but nevertheless I am happy they still try to meet annually.

The series was not always lopsided.  In fact for the first 60 years of the Syracuse basketball program, Colgate was unquestionably the biggest rival the Orangemen had, and often was THE game of the season. The Colgate game often had the privilege of being the last game of the season, or at least among the last few, giving both teams a season to build up to the game.

The series started in 1902, the second season of Syracuse basketball, and the sixth game the Orangemen ever played. Syracuse would win that inaugural game 33-8, with junior forward Earl Twombley leading the way with 12 points.  Colgate would win three weeks later with a 21-17 victory in Hamilton.

The series almost permanently ended in 1911 following a particularly physical game on March 10th, ending the season. The Orangemen would win 19-14, but several fights broke out in the game. Junior guard Walt Davey reportedly could not finish the game because of the beating he took.  Both schools agreed to sever all athletic ties as a result of the game, not only ending Syracuse's biggest rival in basketball, but also its biggest rival in football.  However, in the off season the schools would reconsider and the rivalry continued February 14, 1912.

The series remained highly competitive up through 1962.  Colgate would beat Syracuse 67-63 on February 24th, 1962, extending Syracuse's then NCAA record losing streak to 27 consecutive games.  Ironically, it would be the last time Colgate would beat Syracuse at basketball.  Carl Vernick was the big gun on those Syracuse teams.

On February 16, 1965 Syracuse played an exciting 93-90 triple overtime game in Hamilton.  The star of the game was legendary Dave Bing, who would score 45 points.

Syracuse would continue to play Colgate twice a year through the 1968-1969 season.  The games while still close at times, were definitely falling in Syracuse's favor.  Colgate was still a late season game until the 1976-1977 season, coinciding with the dawn of the Jim Boeheim coaching era and the Bouie & Louie Show.  Syracuse would beat Colgate in the third game that year, 109-63. Most all of the games since that time have been in the early season (if at all).

A nine year period from the 1984-1985 season to the 1992-1993 season saw no games between the two rivals. The series revived in 1993-1994, and Colgate gave Syracuse a tight game in 1997, with Syracuse winning 78-74 behind Todd Burgan's 19 pts and 10 steals.  The two teams have played every season since 1993-1994.

Good luck to the Colgate Red Raiders on the season; I am glad to see them playing the Orange again this year. 

Let's Go Orange!

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