Saturday, October 06, 2018

Orange Hoops Hall of Fame 2018

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 ten years saw the addition of Billy Owens (2008), Billy Gabor (2009), Lawrence Moten (2010), Louis Orr (2011), Roosevelt Bouie (2011)  John Wallace (2012),  Rony Seikaly (2013), Vinnie Cohen (2014), Etan Thomas (2015), Joe Schwarzer (2016) and Lew Andreas (2017).  So the list now stands at 16. Another year has passed, and now it is time for the 2018 inductee.

I established my rules for the OrangeHoops Hall of Fame back in 2007 and you can catch up on them here. 2018 does have three new eligible candidates (using the fifteen year rule): Tyrone Albright, Carmelo Anthony, and Ronneil Herron.

Tyrone Albright was a walk-on guard for Syracuse for one season.  He had not played high school basketball, and worked for four years following high school before enrolling in Onondaga Community College.  He would play basketball for OCC, and after some success there he enrolled at Syracuse.  He would play in seven games in the 2002-03 season with 20 minutes, but failing to score. He did have one assist, two rebounds and two steals.

Carmelo Anthony would have one of the most successful freshman seasons in NCAA basketball history.  Melo would lead the team in scoring and rebounding, with 22.2 ppg and 10.0 rpg, while leading the school to its first NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.  Melo was a terrific scorer and a solid teammate on the court.  He would score 30+ points in a game three times, including a career high 33 against Texas in the Final Four.  Anthony would leave Syracuse after his freshman year, and go on to a Hall of Fame caliber career in the NBA.  

Ronneil Herron was a four year walk-on guard for Syracuse.  He would score 24 points in his career.  He was known as a solid three throw shooter, and during his senior year he was inserted late into a game against Michigan State because of his free throw ability.  He would be fouled by the Spartans and make both of his free throws down the stretch in a 96-83 SU win.

Of this year’s candidates, Carmelo Anthony would make my top 10 list of candidates.

I think this year’s viable top 10 candidates come down to the following, listed chronologically: Lew Castle, Jon Cincebox, Jimmy Lee, Rudy Hackett, Leo Rautins, Rafael Addison, Stephen Thompson, Jason Hart, Preston Shumpert and Carmelo Anthony.

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.

Cincebox was on the best rebounders in Syracuse history (in an era when rebounding numbers were admittedly high).  He helped Syracuse to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1956-1957, as the dominant big man for the Orangemen.

Lee was a clutch shooter with terrific perimeter range, and outstanding free throw shooting ability. He was able to use his shooting ability to set himself up as a solid passer. Lee's 18 foot jumper with five seconds remaining led the Orangemen to beat heavily favored North Carolina, as the Orangemen eventually moved on to their first NCAA Final Four. Lee would end up making the All-Tournament team for his outstanding performances.

Hackett was a powerful forward who could run the court well. He was a great rebounder and terrific scorer near the hoop.  He led the Orangemen in scoring his senior year and helped lead Syracuse to its first Final Four in 1975.

Rautins was a terrific ball-handling forward with a nice shooting touch, solid rebounding and scoring skills. He is most well-known for his game winning tip in basket to win the Big East Championship in triple overtime against Villanova in 1981.  Rautins also recorded two triple-doubles in Big East action.

Addison was a gangly small forward who earned a reputation for being one of the most underrated players in the country.  He possessed an excellent mid range jump shot, was decent passing the ball, and was a solid free throw shooter. He led the team in scoring his sophomore and junior seasons.  He moved to shooting guard his senior year, and his 6’7” height helped with the mismatches. Unfortunately a leg injury impacted his effectiveness the second half of the season.

Thompson was an explosive swingman, with incredible quickness and vertical leap, and excellent defensive skills. He was extremely adept at playing above the basket though he was only about 6'2". He teamed with Sherman Douglas to perfect the alley-oop basket.  Thompson was an extremely proficient scorer, despite the fact he was a terrible perimeter shooter. 

Hart was a speedy defensive point guard, and a four year starter.  He was a decent ball handler, and finished his career as the number two assist man all time at Syracuse. He was much better on the defensive end, and would finish as SU's all-time leader in steals.  Hart would have a 9 year career in the NBA, mostly as a backup guard.

Shumpert was one of the best three point shooters in Syracuse history, with terrific range.  He was a streaky shooter and carried the Orangemen to many victories, seven times in his career scoring 30+ points in a game.  He would be named to the Big East First Team both his junior and senior seasons, averaging 20.7 points per game his senior year.  He was not a strong defensive player, and there were questions about his temperament, particularly related to issues with DeShaun Williams.  Shumpert is currently the 8th all time leading scorer at SU.

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.

Ten very good candidates, and a couple of those players are among my all-time personal favorites.  However, the 2018 selection is very easy; it is Carmelo Anthony.

Melo is one of the greatest players in Syracuse basketball history; many would argue the greatest.  He could score, rebound, pass the ball, shoot well from the perimeter and the free throw line. He was a clutch player, the 'go to' guy on offense.  He was the biggest part in the Orangemen winning the 2003 National Championship.    The Orangemen were 30-5 in his one season at SU, 13-3 in the Big East. 

His 22.2 ppg and 10.0 rpg are both Syracuse freshman records, and he is one of only six players to averaged 20+ points under Jim Boeheim.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Redshirting is Rare

Our friends over at TNIAAM overheard Jim Boeheim state on the Daniel Baldwin show that he has no intention of redshirting any players for the upcoming 2018-2019 season.  This led to a lot of healthy discussion on whether this was the right move or not.  A lot of people seem to think that redshirting Buddy Boeheim is a no-brainer.  But redshirting in college basketball is rare.

Trevor Cooney
I think that’s something that is getting overlooked. Yes, Trevor Cooney did it recently, but most players don’t redshirt, even when their prospects of playing time is limited. It’s also not something solely at the coach’s discretion; it is mutually agreed upon by the player and the coach. A coach cannot force a player to redshirt. Obviously, the Buddy situation is a little different, as Jim Boeheim is both the father/family and coach, so there’s a bit more sway there.

An awful lot of players who have sat out a year talk about how tough it is to be away from the competitive games for a year. Even if they aren’t playing much, they are still playing, and they have the psychological hope of possibly playing. If they announce they are red-shirting, they know they are walking away from competitive games for a year.

Since 2000-2001, here is the list of players who red-shirted for non-medical / non-transfer reasons:

Matt Gorman 2004-05
Trevor Cooney 2011-12
Matthew Moyer 2016-17 (arguably it was an injury move)

I may have missed someone in that span… but even if I did, it’s not a big list. There’s a lot of guys who didn’t redshirt and didn’t get a lot of playing time.

I’m not saying Buddy’s redshirt status is the right or the wrong move, but I think we are putting this situation under the spotlight because he is Jim Boeheim's son. What I am saying is that its not unusual for no player to redshirt.

Consider that the typical roster has 12-13 scholarship players, and is normally going to be comprised on 4-5 guards, 4-5 forwards, 2-3 centers. Most seasons don’t have a redshirt player, so there is almost always a 4th/5th player deep at a position that chooses to play rather than redshirt.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Orange Basketball Players who made the Major Leagues

Two sport athletes are a disappearing phenomenon in Division I sports.  Syracuse used to have many superstar athletes who dominated in more than one sport, with the legendary JimBrown and Vic Hanson leading the way.

A decade ago I wrote about the Syracuse football players who starred on the basketball team.  There have not been any football stars on the hoops team since then. That could change if wide receiver Trishton Jackson gets his wish and is granted permission to play on the basketball team.  We'll have to wait and see.

There used to be several baseball stars who also played on the basketball team.  Four of those baseball stars would go onto Major League baseball success.  Ironically, all would be pitchers.

Jim Konstanty
Jim Konstanty was the first Orangemen basketball player to play major league baseball and he may perhaps be the most famous.  Konstanty played basketball, baseball, soccer and boxing at Syracuse university, lettering in all four sports.  He would go onto baseball fame as one of the first prominent relief pitchers, starring for the Philadelphia Phillies. In 1950 he would win the National League MVP award as he won 16 games versus 7 losses, with a then-league-record 74 games pitched and 22 saves.  Konstanty would have a 66-48 career record with 74 saves.

Dave Giusti was second, playing baseball and basketball at Syracuse.  He would help the Orangemen earn a bid to the 1961 college world series as a shortstop and a pitcher.  Giusti would pitch for 16 seasons in the major leagues, most significantly as a starter for the Houston Colt 45’s and a reliever for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He would help the Pirates to a World Championship in 1971 with a 5-6 record and 30 saves.

Billy Connors was next, playing basketball and baseball at Syracuse. Like Giusti, he would help the Orangemen earn a bid to the 1961 college world series.  Connors would have a brief major league career, pitching in 26 games over three seasons with an 0-2 record.  He would go onto greater baseball success as a pitching coach in the minor leagues, and later in the major leagues (1980 to 2000).  Connors passed away in June of 2018.

The final Syracuse basketball player to play in the major leagues was Mike Barlow.  Barlow came to Syracuse on a basketball scholarship, but would find more success at the school as a pitcher on the baseball team.  Barlow would pitch in the major leagues for 7 seasons with a 10-6 record in 133 games.

Syracuse University no longer has a baseball team, so it is highly unlikely any future Orange stars make it to the Major Leagues.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

New Boeheim Book

Donald Staffo has written a new book about Jim Boeheim entitled In the Zone: Jim Boeheim and Syracuse BasketballThe book is scheduled for release November 6, 2018.

Below is a synopsis of the book, provided by the author.

In the Zone Book Cover
In the Zone: Jim Boeheim and Syracuse Basketball is the most comprehensive book covering the legendary SU basketball coach and the elite program that he built. Rising to become second on the all-time NCAA Division I wins list and notching 1,004 on-the-court victories, Boeheim has established himself among the coaching greats. The success enjoyed by Boeheim as well as his considerable charitable work cannot be denied. Unlike a typical narrative, the book in several instances “paints a picture” that takes the reader behind the scenes and with appropriate detail “brings to life” certain players and various situations so that the reader can relate and “relive” events.

The book begins with highlights from Boeheim’s career- winning the 2003 national championship, his induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and his somewhat unique experience as a member of the coaching staff of three U.S. Olympic gold-medal winning basketball teams and the accolades that he received from top coaching colleagues for his career accomplishments. The second chapter depicts Boeheim’s formative years in Lyons, N.Y. where he developed his intense competitive spirit. The book then progresses chronologically with descriptive accounts of his biggest wins, such as the six-overtime win over Connecticut and Syracuse-Duke I and Syracuse-Duke II games that became instant classics. The book analyzes the Syracuse-Georgetown and Syracuse-UConn rivalries and how the Big East Conference and Carrier Dome catapulted Syracuse and Boeheim to fame. In the Zone describes several “Syracuse Moments” that are unique to the powerhouse program and separates Syracuse from other programs. The success enjoyed by Boeheim as well as his considerable charitable work cannot be denied, nor can the program’s off-the-court discretions.
The people who know him best, from his youth through his hall-of-fame career to the present, describe in detail Boeheim the player, coach and person. Dave Bing, Boeheim’s college roommate, SU All-American, NBA Hall of Famer and former Mayor of Detroit, contributed the Foreward that states in part, “In the Zone is an outstanding book. I give it my stamp of approval.” Another former teammate and lifelong friend, Richie Duffy stated, “It’s a terrific book. Don Staffo nailed it. It’s all true.” Dick Vitale stated, “If you are a big fan of college basketball and specifically Syracuse, you will love (the book)…the detailed description of the legendary hall-of-fame coach is unique and a must read for Syracuse fans.”
 I look forward to reading the book once it is released.  It could be a nice gift for under my tree (hint hint to my family)

Friday, July 06, 2018

Career and Season Records from 2017-2018

Syracuse fielded a young squad in 2017-2018 with juniors Frank Howard and Paschal Chukwu, sophomore Tyus Battle, and freshmen Matthew Moyer and Oshae Brissett the starters.  Fellow freshman Marek Dolezaj, Bourama Sidibe and Howard Washington completed the bulk of the playing time.

A young squad is unlikely to have many players moving up significantly in the all-time career categories, but there were some things to note.

Tyus Battle
Tyus Battle became the 62nd player to score 1,000 career points; how now has 1,097 points.  He is 55th all-time. If he scored 700 points again next year he could move up to 13th and surpass Rony Seikaly.  Frank Howard entered the top 100, and is now 93rd all-time with 734 points.  Barring injury he should easily get to 1,000 points next season.

Ohae Brissett’s outstanding rebounding effort his freshman year put him well into the top 100 career rebounders at Syracuse. He is tied for 70th all-time with Andy Rautins with 327 rebounds.  Paschal Chukwu is also in the top 100, with 281 career rebounds, placing him 85th all-time.

Frank Howard has moved himself up the charts, and is now 18thall-time in assists with 351.  He needs only 88 assists to move all the way up to 8th all-time.  Battle is also in the top 100, at 71st on the list with 134 assists.

Battle is 17th all-time in three point shots made with 137 made shots.  He should move up to around 5th all-time next year.  Howard is 29th with 87 shots made, and Brissett is 37th with 55.  Considering any player who has ever made a three point shot makes the top 100 list, Geno Thorpe comes in 75th (with 4), Adrian Autry Jr, Marek Dolezaj and Howard Washington are tied at 83rd (with 2), and Matthew Moyer is tied at 92nd (with 1).

Paschal Chukwu is 21st all-time in blocked shots with 105.  Brissett is 56th with 29, Dolezaj 58th with 28, Bourama Sidibe 74th with 20, Howard 76th with 19, and Battle 81st with 15.
Frank Howard is 38th all-time in steals with 123.  Battle is 51st with 98, Brissett 87th with 43, Dolezaj 95th with 30, and Chukwu 96th with 29.

Battle is currently the 6th best career freethrow shooter with 82.6%.  Brissett is 18th at 78.7%. 
The Orange also had several notable individual season accomplishments.

Battle’s 712 points and 19.2 ppg were the most since Hakim Warrick scored 726 with 21.4 ppg in 2004-2005. 

Brissett’s 327 rebounds were the most since Rick Jackson had 360 in 2010-2011. Brissett’s 8.8 rpg was topped by Rakem Christmas in 2014-2015 with 9.1

Chukwu’s 91 blocked shots were the most since Darryl Watkins had 112 in 2006-2007.  His 2.5 blocks per game was equaled by Rakem Christmas in 2014-2015.

Brissett’s 174 made free throws were a freshman record, and the most by any Orangeman since Jonny Flynn made 180 in 2008-2009.

Tyus Battle set a school record for minutes played with 1,443;  Howard has the 2nd most all-time with 1,422 and Brissett is 4th all-time with 1,411.  Jonny held the previous record with 1,418 in 2008-2009.

On the downside, Oshae Brissett led the Orange with a 33.1% three point shooting percentage. That was the lowest percentage ever for a team leader, breaking the mark set by Lawrence Moten back in 1992-1993 with 33.6%.  Brisstt's effort was the 60th best 3 point shooting season for Syracuse out of 74 players who qualified.  Howard was 63rd and Battle 64th.  

Tyus Battle is only the third Syracuse player to be named All-ACC First Team. The other two were Rakeem Christmas in 2015 and C.J. Fair in 2014.

A few oddities too about the 2017-2018 Orangemen. They were widely reported throughout the season to have the tallest team in the NCAA. The starting five:  Howard 6’4”, Battle 6’5”, Moyer 6’8”, Brissett 6’8”, and Chukwu 7’2”.  Reserves Dolezaj 6’9” and Sidibe 6’10” definitely helped that average.  The shortest regular player on the squad was Washington at 6’3”.

Coach Jim Boeheim won his 1,027 game as a head coach for Syracuse, and was involved in 1,218 wins for Syracuse basketball as a player, assistant coach and head coach.  He won his 50th ACC game.  He coached in his 33rd NCAA tournament.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Rivalries Come and Go

Rivalries can be transitory.  We tend to envision them lasting forever, but many are relevant only within a context of time.  Syracuse and Georgetown were a mighty rivalry.  From the 1979-1980 season to 2012-2013, when the original Big East conference disbanded, the two teams had a 36-36 record against each other.  The two teams were in the Big East for 34 seasons, and met each other 14 times in the Big East tournament, splitting the games 7-7.  Syracuse would win 9 regular season titles and 5 Big East tournament titles; Georgetown would win 10 regular season titles and 7 Big East tournament titles. 

The two teams have played three times since Syracuse left the Big East, and they will play a fourth time this coming December.  But the game has lost some luster; it is played in the non-conference schedule and the game has no significance is overall standings. 

It may be hard for fans to realize it, but Colgate used to be the biggest rival for Syracuse in all sports.  The rivalry was fierce; there were instances of brawls on the court and field.  Often the basketball game was the last one of the season to give it the honor to close out the year.  From the early 1900s to probably the mid 1930s, it was the top game.  The series still had competitive games through the 1960s. Today the Orangemen and Raiders have met more times than any other SU opponent, with 170 games.  But the two teams have gone different directions, and other than being a annual game at the Dome early each season, the game has little significance.

Which brings me back to the transitory nature of rivals such as Georgetown.  Big East fans would of course point to the Orangemen and Hoyas as one of the top rivalries in the conference, if not the top. But the two teams were hardly rivals prior to the Big East.  They had played 17 times prior to the conference being formed, and most of those games where from 1937 to 1943.  The last scheduled game was in 1967; they met in 1974 in an early season tournament, and in 1979 in the ECAC playoffs.  The Big East built their rivalry, and frankly with the Big East gone, the rivalry will dissipate.

Surprisingly, the Orangemen did not have a rivalry with most of the original Big East teams prior to the formation of the conference.  Of the original 9 teams in the Big East (*note I count Pitt and Villanova as originals even though they didn’t join the first season), only three were rivals of the Orangemen.

Syracuse had played the Pitt Panthers 44 times from 1914 to 1979, and they played the Panthers basically every year from 1952 to 1979.  The 113 games against Pitt is third all-time on the Syracuse opponent list.  Surprisingly, Pitt isn’t really viewed as a big time rival, despite the long time history and meaningful games they played later in the Big East conference.
Syracuse and St. John’s played each other 29 times from 1912 to 1979, and played each year from 1969 to 1979.  In the 50s and 60s St. John’s routinely beat the Orangemen, but the tables were turned in the 70s as the Orangmen routinely beat the Redmen.

Connecticut is the third team from the Big East who was a rival prior to conference play.  It wasn’t an early rival as the two teams did not meet until 1956.  But from 1956 to 1979 they played 21 times, almost every season.  Syracuse led the series 17-4 before conference play.  UConn was not a contender in the early years of the Big East, and so UConn did not get the same prestige to Orange fans as Georgetown, St. John’s or Villanova.  But once Jim Calhoun arrived in 1987, things started to heat up.

As mentioned earlier, the rest of the teams in the Big East were relatively newcomers to the Orangemen.  Georgetown was only 17 games, and very few recent, as previously discussed.

Syracuse and Boston College played 12 times, all between 1959 and 1978.  

The Orangemen only met the Seton Hall Pirates three times, in 1948, 1949 and 1951.  The two squads had not met in 29 years prior to the conference play. 

Syracuse and Villanova only played three times, in 1946, 1966 and 1979, the latter two both being tournaments. 

Syracuse and Providence had played only twice, in 1969 and 1974.

So it is not like Syracuse had big rivalries prior to the Big East for most the schools. The nature of the conference, and the routine playing built those rivalries.

Who were the most common Orangemen foes prior to conference play?  We had already discussed Pitt, UConn and St. Johns, as well as Colgate.

These were the other top teams the Orangemen had played:

Penn State 103 games from 1902 to 1979 (we’ve only played twice since)
Cornell 96 games from 1901 to 1979
Niagara 77 games from 1910 to 1979 (four times since)
Rochester 64 games from 1902 to 1974 (none since)
Canisius 53 games from 1945 to 1979 (seventeen times since)
Penn 46 games from 1902 to 1979 (once since)
Fordham 39 games from 1928 to 1979 (only five times since)
St. Lawrence 34 games from 1901 to 1947 (none since)
Buffalo 29 games, from 1918 to 1979 (four times since)
Army, 30 games from 1912 to 1974 (no games since)
LaSalle 28 games, from 1954 to 1978 (three games since)
Princeton 28 games, from 1905 to 1964 (six games since)
West Virginia 26 games, every year from 1961 to 1979
Temple 26 games, from 1942 to 1979 (four times since)
Manhattan 25 games from 1913 to 1979 (five times since)
Holy Cross 23 games, from 1949 to 1973 (four times since)
Dartmouth 22 games, from 1904 to 1956 (none since)
NYU 21 games, from 1910 to 1964 (none since)
Rutgers 20 games, every year from 1971 to 1979

Some of these teams dropped off the schedule as they de-emphasized basketball, or moved to a different level.  Others simply became a logistics problem once the Big East conference began. 
If Syracuse were to have joined a Basketball-Only conference in 1979-1980 that was composed of our top ‘rivals’ at that time, and keeping a marketing perspective in mind, thus avoiding smaller schools in small cities and nearby proximity to Syracuse, the basketball conference probably would have looked like this:

West Virginia
Penn State
St. Johns

Obviously the Big East conference built the rivalries we now know.  But rivals come and go.  The ACC currently has some very long-standing rivalries; as it should, it is a well established conference and many of the incumbent teams have long histories with each other. It will take quite a while for the Orangemen to be a true rival with those schools, though I think Virginia may start getting a feeling of a rivalry based on recent games.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Oshae Brissett's Freshman Year

Oshae Brissett had quite an impact on the Orange his freshman season.  He was the 2017 All-Canadian High School Player of the Year, but even with that distinction, he was not that heralded, nationally, when he came to Syracuse.

Super frosh Oshae Brissett
He showed early on that he had a nose for the ball pulling 10+ rebounds in five of the first eight games.  He would have season high 25 point games in a win over Buffalo and a loss to North Carolina State. In the NCAA tournament he would lead the Orange with 23 point and 10 rebounds in the First Four victory over Arizona State.

Brissett would lead the Orange in rebounds, 3 pt %, and led the ACC conference in free throw attempts. He was second on the team in scoring with 14.9 points per game.

I think some of his accomplishments went unnoticed, at least from a historical context. The Orange players had to be ironmen in 2017-2018 due to a reduced roster. Brissett would play 1,411 minutes, for a 38.1 minutes per game average.  Both are by far records for a Syracuse freshman.  The previous records were 1,274 minutes with a 36.4 mpg average, both set by Carmelo Anthony back in 2002-2003.

Brissett made 174 free throws, the most ever by a Syracuse freshman, again eclipsing the mark of 167 set by Anthony.  His 221 free throw attempts were second only to Anthony’s 238. 
Carmelo /Anthony
Brissett’s 327 rebounds were third most ever by a Syracuse freshman, trailing Anthony’s 349 and Derrick Coleman’s 333.  His 8.8 rpg average was tied for second best, again trailing Anthony, and tying Coleman.

Brissett scored the fourth most points ever by a Syracuse freshman with 553. He trailed Anthony’s  His 14.9 points per game is fifth all-time, trailing Anthony 22.2, Moten 18.2, Greene 17.7 and Jonny Flynn 15.7.    He scored more points per game as a freshman than stellar freshman Pearl Washington (14.4), Gerry McNamara (13.3), Billy Owens (13.0), Derrick Coleman (11.9), and Tyler Ennis (12.9).
778, Donte Greene with 620, and Lawrence Moten with 583.

His 37 games played trailed only Derrick Coleman and Billy Owens' 38 games.

Brissett was not the best freshman ever at Syracuse.  Carmelo Anthony rightfully earns that designation. Some of the other aforementioned freshman also had better seasons than Brissett. But it is notable that Brissett did have an excellent freshman year, and he can be mentioned with some of the greatest freshman to play for the Orange.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father and Son Duos for Syracuse Basketball

Happy Father’s Day!  In honor of the day, I wanted to recognize the father/son combinations that have played and/or coached for Syracuse basketball.  This fall, Jim and Buddy Boeheim will become the seventh such combination for the Orange.  Below are the father/son combination in chronological order.

The Baysingers (Reaves ‘Ribs’ and Reaves Jr).  The Baysingers were the first father/son combination in Syracuse basketball history.  Ribs was a solid reserve on the 1921-1922 team playing both center and guard, and starting a handful of games.  He would play only his sophomore year.  He was a star on the football field at both guard and end, as well as an outfielder on the baseball team for three years.  Reaves Jr was a reserve center on the Syracuse basketball team for one season. He was a gifted football player like his father, and played quarterback for the football team in 1944.  Reaves Jr would enroll in the Naval Academy as a result of World War II, and would end up a star quarterback for the Navy football team.

The Suprunowicz (Dick and Bill). Dick was a defensive stalwart on the Syracuse basketball team for three seasons, helping guide the Orangemen to their first NIT appearance in 1950.  Dick would score 526 points in his career with 6.7 ppg.  Bill was a reserve guard on the basketball team for three seasons, from 1972 to 1974. He would score 30 points in 20 games.

Vinnie Cohen
The Cohens (Vinnie and Vinnie Jr).  Vinnie Cohen was the best Syracuse basketball player of the 1950’s, a star forward for three seasons.  He would lead the Orangemen to their first NCAA berth in 1957, taking the team to the Elite Eight.  Cohen would be the first Orangemen to score 20+ ppg, with 24.2 ppg, and had a career average of 19.7 ppg.  Vinne Jr. was a walk-on for the basketball team for two seasons, scoring six points in nine games.

The Danforths (Roy and Mike). Roy was the Syracuse head coach from 1969 to 1976, with a 148-70 record. He led the team to its first Final Four in 1975, along with 3 other NCAA berths, and 2 NIT berths.  He brought an entertaining style of basketball to Manley Field House, and helped build a winning program, before heading off to be the basketball coach at Tulane.   Mike was a reserve on the 1975-1976 team playing in seven games and scoring two points.  He would transfer to Tulane when his father became the coach there.

Leo Rautins
The Rautins (Leo and Andy).  The Rautins were probably the best father/son combination at Syracuse University.  Leo was a versatile forward for the Orangemen from 1981 to 1983, scoring 1,031 points. He was an exceptionally skill passer for a forward, averaging 12.1 ppg, 6.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists. He would be drafted in the first round of the 1983 NBA draft.  Leo had three triple doubles at Syracuse.  Andy was a prolific three point shooting guard for the Orange from 2006 to 2010, and was an exceptional passing shooting guard.  He would score 1,121 points, averaging 8.8 ppg, 2.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists.  Andy was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 NBA draft.  Andy is the only son on this list to outscore his father.

The Autrys (Adrian ‘Red’ and Adrian Jr).  Red was a star starting point guard for Syracuse for four seasons, averaging 12.7 ppg and 5.2 assists.  He helped guide the Orangemen to a Big East Tournament Championship (1991), a Big East Regular Season Championship (1992), and three NCAA tournaments.  He has been an assistant coach for Syracuse since the 2011-2012 season, and in March of 2017 was named the Associate Head Coach.  His son Adrian Jr has been a walk-on player the past three seasons, and has scored 10 points in 19 career games.  Red is  the first father to coach basketball to his son at Syracuse.

The Boeheims (Jim and Buddy).  Jim is the 2nd winningest coach of all-time in men’s Division I basketball, with a record of 1027-371.  He has led the Orange to one National Championship, five Final Fours, and 33 NCAA tournaments.  He was also a solid guard for the Orangemen for three seasons in the 1960s, scoring 745 career points with a 9.8 ppg average.  Buddy is a freshman for the upcoming season, and has a reputation as being a terrific perimeter shooter.

Jim Boeheim has ties to many of the other individuals on this list.  He was the head coach for Vinnie Cohen Jr, Leo  & Andy Rautins, Red Autry & Adrian Autry Jr.  He was an assistant coach under Roy Danforth, and for Mike Danforth and Bill Suprunowicz.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Orange Scoring Troubles Historic for 2017-2018

The Syracuse Orange basketball team struggled mightily to score the past season, especially from the supporting positions.  I had written about the struggles earlier in the season, focusing on the fact that the team was centered around only three scorers.  I had expected the team to expand beyond those three as the season progressed, and while there was some development, there was not much.  Injuries played a part of that, as did departures from the team.
Marek Dolezaj
We did see Marek Dolezaj improve during the tail end of the season and into the NCAA tournament. This is a hopeful stepping stone for him in 2018-2019. Dolezaj scored a career high 20 points in a home win against Wake Forest. In the NCAA tournament, he scored 17 against TCU and 13 against Duke. 

Dolezaj was the fourth best scorer for the Orange in the 2018-2019 season, but he averaged only 5.8 points per game.  He was accurate in his shooting, making 54% of his shots.  The fifth leading scorer was Paschal Chukwu, and he scored 5.4 ppg on 66% shooting. The problem was not their accuracy, but the ability to put them into positions where they could or would take shots.

As I indicated back in December, it has been quite a long time since the fourth leading scorer on the Orange scored that few points per game. 

I have to go back to 2004-05 to find a team where the fourth leading scorer was even remotely close to that low, and that was Terrence Roberts with 7.2 ppg.  Fourth leading scorer on the 2001-02 team was Hakim Warrick with 6.1 ppg.  Fourth leading scored on the 1989-90 team was Dave Johnson with 6.5 ppg.  You would have to go all the way back to 1948-1949 to find a Syracuse team where the fourth leading scorer averaged 5.4 ppg or less.

Of note, the 1963-1964 squad’s fourth leading scorer averaged 6.6 ppg, and it’s fifth leading scorer was a sophomore named Jim Boeheim, who averaged 5.2 ppg.  That team was lead by Dave Bing with 22.2 ppg and Chuck Richards with 22.0 ppg, so while there was not depth in scoring, the top one-two punch of Bing and Richards was quite potent.

The 1961-1962 team was probably the worst team in Syracuse basketball history, taking part in 27 consecutive losses and completing the season 2-22.  The fourth leading scorer on that team was Bob Murray, and he managed 6.3 ppg, better than Dolezaj’s 5.8 ppg.

No, we still have to go back to the 1948-1949 team to find a case where the fourth leading scorer put up less than Syracuse had in 2017-2018.

The return of the entire starting lineup from last season will almost certainly rectify that by itself. Natural improvement of each player will make a difference. Add in the incoming freshman class, and we should definitely see more scoring from the fourth and fifth players on offense. 

The odds of the Orange getting historically low production from that position on offense is highly unlikely to occur again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Jordan vs. James

Normally, I only discuss Syracuse basketball, but I'll deviate today just for a topical opinion.  Like many fans, I’ve been fortunate enough to watch Michael Jordan and LeBron James both play in their primes.  They are both great players, and I really cannot tell you who is better. They are different style players in different eras; they are wired differently and approach the game differently on and off the court.

Detractors will point out that LeBron is only 3-6 in the NBA finals, while Jordan was 6-0.  LeBron’s teams have been the underdog in 7 of the 9 series they’ve played; Jordan’s teams were the favorite in all six finals.

LeBron carried teams to the finals that had no business being in the finals. At 22 years old he took the Cavaliers to their first NBA finals.  Jordan was injured most of his season when he was 22; his team was only 40-42 when he was 23.

LeBron played in two finals at age 22 and 26, before Jordan ever played in one.
Both players left a team and then returned to that same team.  We can see a clear impact each player had on his team, and what caliber player surrounded him. 

LeBron’s Cav’s were 61-21 in 2009-10.  He left the team for four years, and they went 19-63, 21-45, 24-58, and 33-49.  That was the worst record in the NBA for those four years, and they didn’t sniff the playoffs. LeBron returns and the team immediately goes to the NBA finals with a 53-29 record.
Jordan’s Bulls were 57-25 in 1992-93.  He left the team for two years, and they went 55-27, and 47-35. Note, in that second year, Jordan came back at the end of the season, the Bulls went 13-4; they were 34-31 without him.

Jordan’s teammates were good enough to make the playoffs with almost the identical record without him in 1993-94.  That’s not a knock on Jordan; that’s a comment on how good the teammates around him were.  They couldn’t produce in the playoffs without MJ; he was sorely missed for sure.  LeBron’s team was the worst in the NBA without him, and immediately went back to champion caliber upon his return.

Jordan’s teams won it all when he had great talent around him.  The fair knock on LeBron is that his ‘super team’ in Miami didn’t win it all every year; they only went 2-2 in the finals (though they did make the finals all four years).  Jordan never elevated a mediocre team to the finals.

LeBron has made the finals 8 years in a row, and is now 33 years old. Jordan, after three straight finals, walked away from the game at age 30, citing he was tired of the game.  Whether MJ walked away from the game on his own, or he was nudged out as a suspension for gambling is a matter of debate, but if you take MJ’s story at its face… he tired of it.  You can’t assume MJ would’ve won titles in those two years he walked away from the game, or for that matter, what if he had stayed… would he have been burned out before the second three peat era?

MJ played 41,011 minutes in his career; LeBron has 44,298 in his career, and is still going strong. 

Haters are always going to look for a way to tear down one or the other of the two players. Personally, I think Bill Russell, Kareem, and Wilt all deserve more consideration than they get. But I digress.  I just enjoy watching Jordan and James play.  Revel in their individual greatness, and the unique gifts to the game.

As a side note, Jordan probably played with better NBA talent his junior year at NC (Sam Perkins, Brad Daugherty, Kenny Smith), than LeBron played with when he went to the finals in 2007 (Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas)

Monday, June 11, 2018

Syracuse Opponents They Have A Losing Record Against

Syracuse has played 288 different teams in the history of the program.  They have a winning record against 235 of those teams, and a split record against 24.  There are only 29 teams that the Orange have a lifetime losing record against.  Five of those teams are non-collegiate programs that they will never play again:  Schenectady Company “E” (0-2), Crescent Athletic Club (1-2), St. John’s Military Academy (1-2), East Liverpool Athletic Club (0-1) and Williston Seminary (0-1).

That leaves 25 collegiate basketball programs that have winning records against the Orange. 16 of those teams have a one game margin over the Orange. Those include:

  •     Virginia (5-6)
  •      Maryland (4-5)
  •      Clemson (3-4)
  •      Oklahoma State (2-3)
  •      Wisconsin (2-3)
  •      Eastern Kentucky (1-2)
  •      Illinois (1-2)
  •      Iowa (1-2)
  •      Austin Peay (0-1)
  •      Baldwin-Wallace (0-1)
  •      Cleveland State (0-1)
  •      Denison (0-1)
  •      Mississippi (0-1)
  •      Oral Roberts (0-1)
  •      Tulsa (0-1)

Virginia and Clemson are current ACC conference foes, so the one game margin there will be up for play for the foreseeable future.

There are nine teams that have a two game or greater margin against he Orange. They are:

Bradley (1-3): The Braves are in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Orange have played them four times, always on a neutral court or in a tournament.  The two teams last met in 1982 when Bradley beat the Orangemen in the NIT.

Duke (5-7):  The Blue Devils are now a familiar foe in the ACC, and the Orange will see them at least once every year.  The Orange are 3-4 against Duke in ACC play, and last lost to them in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen last year.

Ohio State (2-5): The Buckeyes are part of the Big 10.  The Orange have played OSU twice in the NCAA tournament, both times with painful losses, twice on neutral courts, twice at OSU and once at home.  The Orange last played the Buckeyes in the 2012 Elite Eight with the Buckeyes winning 77-70.

City College of New York (5-8): The Beavers were a powerhouse NCAA program in the 1940s.  They were caught in a point shaving scandal in 1950-1951, and that destroyed the program. They dropped down to Division III and have remained there ever since.  Former Orangeman Tom Green is currently the head coach of the Beavers.  Syracuse last played CCNY in 1950, and that is unlikely to change.

New York University (9-12):  The Violets are now Division III and part of the UAA conference.  The Orange and Violets met frequently from 1940 to 1964.  The last time they met was in 1964, with NYU beating SU in the NIT tournament, despite Dave Bing’s 31 points. 

Kentucky (3-8):  The Wildcats are in the SEC, and are one of the blue bloods of college basketball. The Orange have met them sporadically over history, facing many of their famous coaches: Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, Eddie Sutton, Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith.  The two teams met in the 1996 NCAA Championship game with the Wildcats winning 76-67.  They last met in 2000 with the Orange beating the Wildcats in the 2nd round 52-50.

North Carolina (4-11):  The Tar Heels are now a conference rival in the ACC.  Despite the legendary status of the program, the Orange held their own and were 4-4 over the first eight games against the Tar Heels.  The Orangemen upset NC in the 1975 NCAA tournament and again in the 1987 NCAA tournament, both times advancing to the Final Four.  The two teams met in the Final Four in 2016, and North Carolina beat the underdog Orange.  The Tar Heels have won the last seven games in the series.

Louisville (9-18):  Louisville is now a conference rival in the ACC, and a former rival in the Big East.  Louisville has a winning record over the Orange, and has the distinction of the widest margin (9 games), and the most games giving the Orange a losing record (27 games played).  The Orange have won 6 of the past 11 games, so they are on an upswing.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Returning Starting Lineups

Tyus Battle has announced he will be returning to Syracuse for his junior season.  As a result, the Syracuse Orange will be returning their entire starting basketball lineup for the 2018-2019 season.  The Orange will suit up Battle, Frank Howard, Oshae Brissett, Marek Dolezaj, and Paschal Chukwu.  This is a very rare occurrence in Syracuse basketball history, having only occurred four previous times.

In 1999-2000, the entire starting lineup from the previous year returned, but Allen Griffin lost his starting position to Tony Bland, and did not start a single game for the season. The 1998-1999 starting lineup was Jason Hart, Allen Griffin, Damone Brown, Ryan Blackwell, and Etan Thomas.  The squad would improve from 21-12 (10-8 Big East) to 26-6 (13-3 Big East), and was the Big East regular season champion. The team would be ranked as high as #4 in the country in early February, before finishing the year at #16.  They would lose in the NCAA tournament to Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen.

The 1982-1983 squad saw Gene Waldron, Erich Santifer, Tony Bruin, Leo Rautins and Andre Hawkins all return from a 16-13 (7-7 Big East) team.  The previous season was one of the least successful teams in Jim Boeheim history. The 1982-1983 squad saw an improvement to 21-10 (9-7 Big East), including wins over #9 Houston, and #4 Villanova. The team would lose in the 2nd round of the NCAA to Ohio State.

The 1933-1934 team returned Elmer Maister, Ronnie Phillips, Lou Alkoff, Johnny DeYoung and Skids Sanford. The 1932-1933 team was an impressive 14-2, and won their last 12 games of the season, including going undefeated against the Eastern basketball teams.  The 1933-1934 team would go 15-2, one win better, but did lose to Eastern foes Colgate (on the road) and Penn (on the road).  The season was deemed very successful, despite the 1932-1933 leading scorer Johnny DeYoung injuring his leg and missing playing time as a result. They would conclude their season with a very lopsided home win over Colgate.

Reindeer Five
The 1930-1931 team returned the famed Reindeer Five squad of Ev Katz, Dan Fogarty, Ken Beagle, Tuppy Hayman and Slim Elliott.  The 1929-1930 team went 18-2 with big road wins over Michigan State and Penn, and would go 15-1 against Eastern basketball team. The team was known for its speed on the court, balanced scoring, and did not have too many close games.  The 1939-1931 team would drop to 16-4, still an impressive record.  The highlight of the season was three consecutive road wins against Penn State, Penn and Colgate.

It makes sense that starting lineups rarely return intact.  Most teams have at least one senior in the starting lineup, which means graduation impacts the ability to return the squad.  Academic issues and transfers also come into play. In the modern era, early departure to the NBA definitely impacts the ability of a team to retain starters.  The 2008-2009 squad has no seniors in the starting lineup, but Paul Harris and Eric Devendorf both left school a year early to pursue pro careers.  Same thing with the 2007-2008 squad, as Donte’ Greene would leave after his freshman year.  The 2003-2004 squad lost Billy Edelin to academic issues mid-season, which prevented that squad from returning all its starters.