Sunday, July 16, 2017

Perspective on the State of Orange Basketball

Last losing seasons for teams:
Kansas 13-16 in 1982-83, 13-14 in 1981-1982.
Kentucky 14-14 in 1989-90, 13-19 in 1988-1989
Duke 13-18 in 1994-1995, followed by 18-13 in 1995-96
Georgetown 14-18 last year, 15-18 in 2015-16
UConn 16-17 last year
Villanova 13-19 in 2011-12
UCLA 15-17 in 2015-16
Pitt 16-17 last year
North Carolina 8-20 in 2001-02
Louisville 12-19 in 2000-01
Indiana 6-25 in 2008-09, 10-21 in 2009-10, 12-20 in 2010-11
Jim Boeheim
Jim Boeheim: 0 losing season in 41 years, despite always playing in one of the top two toughest conferences in the country. Never worse than 7-9 in conference play (only two losing conference records).
SU hasn’t had a losing season since 1968-1969 when Roy Danforth took over the program from Fred Lewis.
Some fans keep screaming the "the sky is falling, the sky is falling" because the Orange went 19-15 last season, and only 23-14 (and a Final Four) in 2015-2016. They have been two tough seasons for the Orange faithful, though as illustrated earlier, those trying seasons are much better than other teams have experienced in the past years.
The NCAA levied the harshest scholarship reduction penalties in NCAA basketball history on Syracuse, with the intent being to punish the team and hurt its performance on the court.  Despite those penalties, the Orange have still continued to win. 

If the Orange are still struggling in 2-3 seasons, after the penalties have been lifted, then we can fairly discuss whether the program is on the decline.  It simply is not possible at this point in time to make any judgement.  If fact, the evidence would suggest the program is doing quite well in spite of all that has occurred.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Syracuse Basketball All-Transfer Team

There haven't been a lot of transfers in the Jim Boeheim era at Syracuse, though there have been a few more impacful ones than you might remember. Notable transfers in the Boeheim era include Ryan Blackwell, Jason Cipolla, LeRon Ellis, John Gillon, Michael Gbinije, Wesley Johnson, Michael Lloyd, Kris Onganaet, Le Rautins, and Andrew White III. It will be interesting to see how Paschal Chukwu does.
Wesley Johnson
If we look outside the Boeheim era, we would note players such as Wilbur Crisp, Eddie Dollard, Charley Dolley, Gerry McFadden, Chuck Richards and Fred Saunders. Richards was probably the most impactful of that group, teaming with Dave Bing to form a formidable one-two punch. Saunders ended up in the NBA, and Crisp & Dolley were big stars in early years of SU hoops.
If we restrict ourselves to the Boeheim era, who would your starting transfer five be? Leo Rautins and Wesley Johnson are my easiest picks for the starting lineup. Andrew White III was the best shooter to transfer to SU, and he lit up the scoreboard last season. Center would have to be LeRon Ellis. Not a lot of competition there; Ellis did underperform at SU, but he was big time talent and good enough to get some time in the NBA. Toughest decision for me is what to do at the point guard position?
Go with the more traditional point guard in Michael Lloyd, who had one solid season at SU. Or go with Michael Gbinije, who was not a true point guard, but was adequate at the position. Ultimately, I think I would go with G. He was a better defender and a more versatile player than Lloyd. I think Lloyd was a little too much shoot first mentality. Plus with Leo Rautins on the team, I have a point forward, which reduces the pressure on the point guard.
So my starting five would be:
PG Michael Gbinije
SG Andrew White III
SF Wesley Johnson
PF Leo Rautins
C LeRon Ellis
What would your squad be?

Saturday, March 04, 2017

40 for Two Orangemen

Andrew White III capped off his regular season career for Syracuse with a 40 point effort against Georgia Tech on Senior Day.  White was a sharp shooter earlier today making 8 of 9 three point shots, and scoring 29 of his 40 points in the second half of the Orangemen's win.

Andrew White III and John Gillon
Andrew White III and John Gillon
White and fellow fifth year senior transfer John Gillon both had 40+ points in a game this season, making it the first time in school history that two players scored forty or more points in a game in the same season.  There was optimism about the two transfers when they joined the Orange last summer, but no one could have predicted that either of them, much less both of them, would score 40 points in a game.

Consider that prior to this season, the 40 point mark had been reached only ten times by seven players:  Dave Bing (3x), Bill Smith (2x), Gerry McNamara, Pete Chudy, Gene Waldron, Frank Reddout and Ed Miller.  Now Andrew White III and John Gillon can be eighth and ninth players added to that list.

Syracuse has had two forty-plus games in one season before, but that was in 1965-1966 and both efforts were by Dave Bing.

I think it is unusual that only three of the twelve 40+ point efforts occurred in the three point era.  The three point era, of course, allows a player to score more points per possession, and thus a 'hot' player should have more success at high scoring games in this era.  However, only McNamara, Gillon and White have accomplished it with the three point shot in play.

It's an eclectic mix of collegiate talent on the above list.  Bing was an All American, and became a Hall of Fame NBA player.  Bill Smith, Ed Miller and Frank Reddout had short NBA careers.  Gerry McNamara was a legendary collegiate player, who had a short professional career before turning to coaching.  Chudy was the leading scorer on the Orangemen his junior and senior seasons, and had several games with thirty-plus points.  Waldron was a low scoring guard for the Orangemen in the mid 80s, and was a three year starter.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Coach K's Praise of Jim Boeheim

Boeheim and Krzyzewski shake hands
Boeheim and Krzyzewski
The Syracuse Orange beat Duke 78-75 in front of 30,331 Carrier Dome fans on March 22, 2017 with a last second bank shot from John Gillon.  Both Jim Boeheim and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski were complimentary of each other during their press conference.  Below are Krzyzewski’s comments from the post-game press conference:

“Listen it’s always an honor to come up here.  Crowd’s great… people… I love Syracuse, and obviously I love Jim and his family. Congratulations to them.  And you don’t know what a treasure you have in him.  I’ve been with him these eleven years with USA basketball and he’s brilliant, competitive, loyal, and he doesn’t need his ego scratched. In other words he’s humble, as long as we win.  And I love the guy, and I’ll be forever grateful for him for what he did, and the bond that we developed during this so it’s hard for me to thinks of this as a rivalry when I think of Jim or Syracuse, but again  It’s so go that Syracuse, we’ve been in a number of years in the league, it’s amazing to add not just the quality of play but the history of program, the culture, it’s a valued valued asset for the ACC."
I know a lot of fans do not like Coach K. I've always thought he was a very classy individual who runs an outstanding program.  He had rightfully earned all the success that Duke has received, and we as basketball fans have been privileged to have his as part of our college basketball world.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Passing of an Orange Fan

My father, Bill Young, passed away in the early morning of Valentine's day this year.  He had suffered with Pancreatic cancer for the past year. But he battled it well, and was very active up until the end.

My dad was a huge Syracuse sports fan.  He graduated from SU in 1960, and had the fortune of attending Syracuse during both the era of Jim Brown and Ernie Davis.  He was fortunate to be a student when the Orangemen won the National Football championship in 1959.  He got to follow guys like Floyd Little, Jim Nance and Larry Csonka carry on the running back tradition for the Orangemen.

William Young
Bill Young
We were a busy family growing up with a lot of activities, and my parents did an excellent job of managing the household funds.  We didn't go to a ton of Syracuse games because of those constraints, but we normally made at least one football game each year and a couple of basketball games.  The Carrier Classic was something we attended each year, and though that event has passed, I always hold that as something special to me.

My father and I had the privilege of attending a Syracuse/Boston College game in January of my senior year in high school. It was a great game with a lot of action back and forth, a tightly contested event.  Syracuse looked like they were going to lose the game when the Pearl hit his now legendary half court shot to beat the Eagles.  

Dad, myself and my two month old son watched television together to watch Syracuse beat Kansas in the 1996 NCAA tournament. 

Though separated by a few hundred miles, my Dad and I both got to celebrate the Orangemen winning the 2003 National Championship in basketball, perhaps the highlight of both our Syracuse memories.  A lifetime of waiting for that event to occur, one that I thought may never occur, was truly a wonderful moment.

My dad always supported the team. He was a rational man, and never trashed the coaches, or hated the players.  That's not to say he didn't get angry at bad plays, but he was always supportive of his Orangemen.

Jim Boeheim's 1000th victory was an event he was able to get to enjoy. 

I visited him the weekend of the Pitt/Syracuse game. That was a typical Syracuse game, another frustrating loss to the Panthers.  Though I didn't know it, that would be the last game he and I would watch together.

Two nights later he watched the heartbreaking loss in overtime to Louisville, with my mother and sister with him.  He would unexpectedly die a few hours later.

He was a wonderful father, a beacon for me my entire life.  A caring and fair man, with outstanding generosity.  

Thank you Dad, for the lifetime of memories, and for all your love and support. You shall be loved and missed, but never forgotten.

Monday, February 06, 2017

1090, and Counting

The NCAA forbids Syracuse University, Jim Boeheim, or anyone associated with the program with recognizing and/or celebrating his 1,000th win. This despite the fact that those 1,000 wins did occur.

So I suggest that we celebrate ALL the wins that the NCAA does acknowledge, that occurred when Jim Boeheim was associated with the program.

Syracuse was 52-24 when Jim Boeheim was a varsity player for the Orangemen. The team was 139-65 while he was an assistant coach to Roy Danforth.  And the NCAA currently recognized 899 victories for Boeheim.

52+139+899 = 1090!

So congratulations Jim Boeheim on your *1,090th win for Syracuse University (and for those who want to eschew the asterisk, go with 1,191 wins).

Saturday, February 04, 2017


The Orange pulled the upset of #9 Virginia at the Carrier Dome today, helping the Orange continue to improve their chances for post season play.  That was all secondary to the bigger moment, as coach Jim Boeheim won his 1,000th game as an head coach.

It could never be overstated how important this milestone is for Boeheim, the city of Syracuse and its fans. I'm sure there are plenty of fans my age (50 yrs) that are going through the same strong emotions today.  1,000 wins is a lifetime of basketball watching. It's going through the birth and death of the Big East. It's going to five Final Fours, a NCAA National Championship. It's going through six overtime wins.  Numerous heroic comebacks and nailbiters mixed in with easy afternoon wins.

It is also a mixture of heartbreaking losses and near misses over the years.

But it is a milestone, a marker of a time that we, Syracuse fans, have traveled together.  A fantastic journey with many wonderful memories.  And more to come!

Thank you Jim Boeheim for what you have provided to us over these 41 seasons.

Gillon’s 43 points: One for the Ages

John Gillon’s 43 point effort against North Carolina State may have been the best shooting night for a player in Syracuse basketball history.  You surely will not find too many efforts more outstanding.  Add to the fact that the Orange needed all of Gillon’s points to win the game, including his 3 pointer with 2 seconds to go to tie it up, and it was truly an amazing night.

There have been 61 Orangemen to score 30+ points in a game, and they have done it 182 times.  DaveBing accomplished the feat 20 time, Greg Kohls 14 and Billy Owens 10 time.  Eleven times a player has scored 40+ points in a game.  Gillon's 43 point effort was the fourth most in school history.
John Gillon III

There are players who have a higher shooting percentage from the floor when making 30+ points.  Scoring a lot of points typically requires a combination of hot shooting AND taking a lot of shots. Of the 141 30+ point games that I have the shooting records for, the player shot 50% or better from the floor 119 times. 

Rick Dean had the best shooting night ever as the big guy went 13 for 13 from the floor in a win over Colgate back on February 14, 1966.  Dean was also 4-5 from the free throw line that night giving him 30 points even.  Danny Schayes was 11 for 13 in a win over Detroit in 1980, with another 11 for 13 from the line to give him 33 points. 

Dave Bing when 16 for 20 against Bowling Green back in December 1965.  He also went 6-6 from the free throw line, to give himself 38 points. There was no three point line back then, and I have no record of where Bing shot from on the court, but clearly an outstanding shooting night.

Big Bill Smith holds the school record for points in a game with 47.  He hit 17 of 23 shots from the floor against Lafayette, plus 13 of 19 free throw attempts to get to 47.  It was a big night for players on both teams as Tracy Tripucka scored 41 for Lafayette that night.

Gene Waldron, on his surprise 40 point night against Iona, shot 13 for 17 from the floor, along with 14 for 16 from the free throw line. Waldron, like Bing, could have benefited from a three point shot that night.

Gerry McNamara led the Orangemen to victory over BYU with 43 points in the NCAA tournament.
GMac was 11 for 17 from the floor, including 9 for 13 from three point range. A lifetime 90% free throw shooter, he had an off night at the line going only 12 for 16. 

But Gillon’s accuracy was amazing for the game.  Four SU players have hit 9 three point shots in a game: Gillon, Trevor Cooney, McNamara, and James Southerland.  The other three took 12 to 13 shots to get nine threes; Gillon did it on only 10 shots. Gillon was perfect from the free throw line at 14 for 14, and he was 10 for 13 from the floor overall.  Over the course of the game, he made 24 of 27 the different types of shots he took.  Simply amazing.

Some other odds and ends on the 30+ point efforts.  John Wallace had the worst shooting night in reaching 30 points.  Wallace was 9 for 25 against Notre Dame, along with 1 for 2 from three point range. His 13-14 from the free throw line helped a lot.

Carmelo Anthony went 1-7 from three point range, and 12 for 29 from the floor, and 5-13 from the free throw line in scoring 30 points against Georgetown.  Sometimes quantity is all that matters. Hakim Warrick was only 6 for 15 from the floor against Rhode Island in November 2003, but he was 18 for 22 from the free throw line.

Allen Griffin may have had the most unusual 30+ point night against St. Johns in March 2001.  Griffin made 5 of 9 field goals, including 3 of 5 from three point range.  A good night shooting, but nothing spectacular. But he shot 18 for 22 from the free throw line. The result being he scored 31 points on only 9 field goal attempts.

Greg Kohls went 17 for 17 from the free throw line in February 1972 against Fordham, as he got to 31 points for the night.

George Kirchgasser and Bob McDaniel did the difficult task of scoring 30+ points while neither attempted a free throw.  Kirchgasser was the first Orangemen to score 30 points with a big effort over Jenners Prep in November 1904.  Bob McDaniel went 18 for 23 from the floor against LaSalle, scoring 36 points in January 1970.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Limited Opportunities for the Big Upset

The unranked Syracuse Orange pulled a big home upset on Saturday, beating #6 Florida State 82-72.  This was the first time since February 2008 that Syracuse pulled an upset and beat a Top 10 team in the Carrier Dome. 

That seems like a long time and it is; nearly nine seasons.  However, it is not due to multiple failures.  There just are not that many opportunities against Top 10 teams at home during that time span, and even fewer where Syracuse was the underdog.

Sophomore Orange Paul Harris
Paul Harris
Since February 2008, there were nine occasions where a Top 10 team came to the Carrier Dome.  
Syracuse was the underdog in only three of them.  So really, only three opportunities in the past nine seasons, before Saturday, to pull the big upset at home.  Those are rare opportunities.

Syracuse has in part been a victim of their own success.  Six times they met a Top 10 team at home and the Orange were higher ranked.  The Orange went 4-2 in those six games.

Here are the nine games:

January 2016: Unranked SU lost to #6 North Carolina
March 2015: Unranked SU lost to #2 Virginia
February 2015: Unranked SU lost # 4 Duke
December 2013: #2 SU beat #8 Villanova
December 2011: #4 SU beat #10 Florida
January 2011: #3 SU lost # 7 Villanova
February 2010: #4 SU beat # 8 Villanova
January 2010: #4 SU beat #7 Georgetown
January 2009: #8 SU lost to #9 Louisville

So we had to go back to February 2008 to see the Orange upset #8 Georgetown in the Carrier Dome by a score of 77-70. Sophomore Paul Harris led the way for the Orange with 22 points that day.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Inevitable Win

The Orange were destined to beat a top 25 team this season; it simply was a question of when it would occur. The team has a lot of talent, streaks of playing well, and it was just a matter of time before it all came together for the right game.  Florida State, ranked #6 in the country, happened to be that opponent as the Orange took them down 82-72.

Jim Boeheim has been coaching Syracuse for 41 seasons now.  Over that time span, only twice have the Orange failed to beat a top 25 team in the season.  The first time that occurred was way back in 1977-1978, and the reason they did not beat any top 25 teams was that they did not play any.  Hard to fathom isn’t it.  The Orangemen were not in a conference, and none of their traditional rivals were ranked that year, at least not when the Orangemen played them.  The Orange could have played some ranked teams in the NCAA tournament, but they were upset in the first round by Western Kentucky.

The last time Syracuse did not beat a top 25 team was the 1980-1981 season, when the Orangemen went 0-2.  Those were the early years of the Big East, and the conference was only on the rise.  The Orangemen lost to #4 Maryland 83-73, and #3 DePaul 91-69.  The Orangemen would win the Big East Tournament that year, but because the conference had not yet earned an automatic NCAA berth, the team did not get invited to the tournament. They would go on a strong NIT run, and would lose to Tulsa in the NIT Final in overtime 86-84. 

The Orange have also beaten a top 10 team every season since 2006-2007.  The win against the Seminoles yesterday gives the Orange ten consecutive seasons where they have beaten a top 10 team. In 32 of Boeheim’s 41 seasons, Syracuse has beaten at least one top 10 team.  Three times they failed to play a top 10 team, and six times they did but failed to beat one.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Playing With Numbers

The Orange have struggled in the 2016-2017 season, losing their first six games against Power Five Conference (P5) schools, before beating Miami the other other night. The Orange are 9-6 on the season, with Tyler Lydon and Andrew White leading the scoring.

The team win/loss breaks down as follows:
P5 Teams (1-6)
Non-P5 Teams (8-0)
Against Former Big East schools (1-4)

By Day of the Week:
Sundays 0-1
Mondays 1-1
Tuesdays 3-1
Wednesdays 1-1
Thursdays 0-0
Fridays 2-0
Saturdays 2-2

By Month
November 4-2
December 4-3
January 1-1

When Tyler Lydon and Andrew White start the team is 9-6 (they've both started every game)
When starts by:
Frank Howard 8-6
DaJuan Coleman 8-5
Tyler Roberson 4-2
John Gillon 2-2
Taurean Thompson 1-1
Tyus Battle 4-2

When lead in scoring by:
Tyler Lydon  1-3
Andrew White 5-3
Tyler Roberson 1-0
John Gillon 1-0
Tyus Battle 1-0

When Tyler Roberson has 10+ rebounds:  1-1
When Tyler Lydon has 10+ rebounds: 1-2
When DaJuan Coleman has 10+ rebounds: 0-2
When Frank Howard has 10+ assists: 4-0
When Lydon or White score 20+ points: 3-2

Of course none of this really means anything. Just something to muse over.