Sunday, December 16, 2018

Where to Rank Tyus Battle?

I honestly don’t know where to rank Tyus Battle in terms of all time Syracuse players.  Fortunately, there still a majority of this season to be played out.  Right now, I think he’s been a very good player on an offensively challenged team, and that has inflated some of his statistics.

Tyus Battle Syracuse Orange
Tyus Battle
Syracuse has played a lot of close games the past three years, and therefore a lot of opportunities for game winning heroics have existed.  And to Battle’s credit, he has taken advantage of most of those opportunities and succeeded.  That’s a plus for him.  

Battle is very good at isolation offense, and that has helped Syracuse when the offense has stagnated.   He is decent in the zone defense at Syracuse; not outstanding, but definitely up to the task of playing the position well and there’s not much to criticize there.   He does have only 9 steals so far this year… which is an anomaly for him, and very low for a SU guard after 10 games.  Looking back over recent history, Brandon Triche was the last guard to average that few steals, and he played about 2/3 the minutes of Battle.

He is not a solid three point shooter, he doesn’t rebound as well as you would like a 2-guard to rebound, and he has low assist totals for a guy who plays 40 minute almost every game.  He does not play well when there is poor point guard play, indicating his is dependent on his teammates to help him out. At the same time, I’ve always thought great players elevated those around them, and I’m not sure I see any of his teammates improve because of his presence on the court.  

If you compare him to a guy like Andy Rautins, the contrasts are obvious.  Battle has an NBA style of game and athleticism, so he may get a shot at the NBA, whereas Rautins was really never going to make that league.  But as collegiate players, Rautins had a better rounded game as a senior than Battle does as a junior.  Rautins made nearly 41% of this three point shots, averaged 4.9 assists per game, 3.4 rebounds per game, and had 2 steals a game.  Rautins couldn’t beat his man off the dribble and get into the lane like Battle can.  But he definitely improved the game of those around him, and he was outstanding at playing the top of the SU Zone.  

Back in 1961-1962 a sophomore guard name Carl Vernick led the Orangmen in scoring, by far, with 16.5 ppg.  He has 5.4 rebounds a game, and had a couple of games with 30+ points.  Vernick, while the best offensive player on that team, was an okay college player.  He looked much better because he had to step up compared to his teammates. That Orangemen team was 2-22 for the season, the worst in SU history.

New SU head coach Fred Lewis came aboard and started recruiting better players.  Vernick’s numbers started to drop, and by his senior year he averaged 2.6 ppg.  Players like Dave Bing, Chuck Richards, Norm Goldsmith and Jim Boeheim were simply better than him.  

I’m not suggesting Tyus Battle is Carl Vernick.  I just wanted to use Vernick as an illustration for a basketball player’s stats being highly influenced by the context of the team he is in and the players around him.  Vernick is an extreme example.

Battle is also not a Billy Owens, Carmelo Anthony or Lawrence Moten. Those guys took teams with young or little talent, and rose them to a very successful level.  SU’s teams with Battle have been borderline NCAA teams.  Owens carried the 1990-91 Orangemen to a 26-6 overall record, a 12-4 Big East season, with 23.2 ppg, 3.5 apg, and 11.6 rpg.  That team was 26-4 going into post season play.  Dave Johnson stepped up beside Owens to help with the offense, but make no mistake about how dominating Owens was.

Battle has shown moments of being able to dominate games; the second half of the recent Georgetown game is such an example.  It was amazing how he dominated the Hoyas in the second half; it was disappointing that as a junior guard, that it required being called out by his head coach at half time in order for him to step up. 

Battle is going to end up a top 15 scorer for Syracuse by the end of this year; if he stayed around another year he would move to #2 in scoring and have a shot at #1.    I don’t think it he is one of the best 15 players ever for the Orange; at least not on what I have seen yet.

Yet, he is going to leave us with many memorable game winning plays, a career full of heroic moments.  And I’m grateful for that.  

Thursday, December 13, 2018


My friends over at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician (TNIAAM) are running a fundraiser to help financially disadvantaged kids attend the Camping World Bowl to see the Syracuse Orangemen take on the West Virginia Mountaineers.  

The goal is to get to $14,444.  TNIAAM is working with Sports 4 the Kids, which provides sports and recreational opportunities for Central Florida’s financially disadvantaged youth.

If you would like to contribute to the donations,  you can go to the GoFundMe Fundraiser for the event.

Please consider making a donation.  Most fans are donating $44 in honor of the Syracuse 44 Tradition, but any amount is appreciated.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Triple Overtime vs Colgate

Syracuse is currently on a 52 game winning streak against Colgate.  Most the recent games have not been close. During that streak, the closest game the two teams have played was a triple overtime game 53 years ago on Feb 16, 1965 in Hamilton, NY. The Orangemen won 93-90, with Dave Bing leading the way with 45 points.  His totalch was a school record until Bing scored 46 against Vanderbilt the following season.  Bill Smith would set the current record in 1971 with 47 against Lafayette. .Bing had 19 field goals, and 7 free throws in that game against Colgate.
Syracuse Orangeman Dave Bing
Dave Bing
The triple overtime game was Bing and Jim Boeheim’s junior year at Syracuse.  The Orangemen got off to a very poor start that season, losing six in a row and going 2-8. They would finish with an overall record of 13-10, going 11-2 down the stretch.
In the six games Bing played against Colgate he scored 24, 29, 23, 45, 35 and 31 points for an average of 31.2 ppg.
Syracuse last lost to Colgate on February 24, 1962 in a close 67-63 game.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

0-2 at Madison Square Garden - A rarity indeed

The Orange basketball team had high hopes for this season, returning all five starters from last year, plus adding some new recruits.  The season has a long way to go, but the results from Madison Square Garden this week were disappointing.

Syracuse Basketball Coach Roy Danforth
Roy Danforth
The Orange played in the 2K Empire Classic this week, and lost to former rival UConn 83-76 and #13 Oregon 80-65.  This is the first time in the Jim Boeheim era that the Orange have lost two games in a preseason tournament.  The last time the Orange lost two in a tournament was December 1968 at the Far West Basketball Classic in Portland, Oregon.  The Orangemen would lose to Washington State 86-67 on December 27th, and they would lose to Arizona State 93-77 on December 28th.  Syracuse's top returning player, Ernie Austin, was ineligible to play the first semester, and thus missed both these games.  .

1968-1969 was coach Roy Danforth's first season at Syracuse.  The team would finish the year 9-16, after starting out 4-14.  The team did finish strong winning five of the last seven games.   This is the last time the Syracuse men's basketball team had a losing season.  John Suder, Gerry McFadden, Bob Kouwe, Bill Case and Bill Smith were the starters that season.  Smith would lead the team in scoring with 19 ppg along with 11.6 rebounds a game.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veteran's Day 2018

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
Charles Fasce
Russ Finsterwald
Loyal Greenman
Ken Harris
Ted Huntley
Bernie Kates
Ken Lavin
Nathan Malefski
Danny Martin
Harry 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 Baldwin (Balsavich)
John Balinsky
John Beaulieu
John Beck
Gene Berger
Milton 'Whitey' Bock
Leo Canale
Dick Casey
Larry Crandall
Wilbur Crisp
Dan DiPace
Les Dye
Bud Elford
Alton Elliott
John Emerich
Bill Estoff
Bob Felasco
Paul Ferris
Billy Gabor
Ed Glacken
Joe Glacken
Marc Guley
Mark Haller
LaVerne Hastings
Lew Hayman
Bill Hennemuth
Bill Hoeppel
Tom Huggins
George Jarvis
Ed Jontos
Walter Kiebach
Jim Konstanty
Christian Kouray
Stan Kruse (Kruszewski)
Glenn Loucks
Guy Luciano
Saul Mariaschin
Bob Masterson
Paul McKee
Don McNaughton
Tom McTiernan
Francis Miller
Joe Minsavage
Andy Mogish
Roy Peters
Hank Piro
Paul Podbielski
Edward Pond
Robert Popp
Phil Rakov
Joe Rigan
John Schroeder
Bill Schubert
Bob Shaddock
Wilmeth Sidat-Singh
Red Stanton
Mike Stark
Chester Stearns
Bobby Stewart
Joe Sylvestri
Charles Taggart
Ray Tice
Joe Weber
Ray Willmott
Bill Wyrick

In Korea the following served:

Reaves Baysinger, Jr
John Beaulieu
Bernie Eischen
Paul McKee
Paul Podbielski
Fred Serley

In Vietnam, the following served:

Reaves Baysinger, Jr
John Beaulieu
George Crofoot
Rick Dean
Sanford Salz

The following were veterans who served but were fortunate to miss a war era:

Vinnie Albanese
Art Barr
Mel Besdin
Rudy Cosentino
Roy Danforth
Ronnie Kilpatrick
George Koesters
Tom Jockle
Jack Malone
Frank Reddout
Eddie Rosen
Lou Stark Chuck Steveskey

Five of the aforementioned players deserve special note, as they sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.

Harry Martin was killed in 1923 when his plane crashed during takeoff at Kelley Field, Texas.  He was a Lieutenant and an Army Aviator.  Martin had served in the AEF in France in World War I.

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.

Joe Minsavage was killed in World War II on June 19, 1943 when his ship was attacked and he was lost at sea.

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.

Gene Berger was killed in 1961 during flight maneuvers. He was a Commander in the U.S. Navy and a Naval aviator, and his plane would crash into the Pacific.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Syracuse Basketball - Influx of International Players

The Syracuse Orange will have a school record six international players on the basketball team this season.  This will include four scholarship players with sophomore Oshae Brissett (Canada), senior Paschal Chukwu (Nigeria), sophomore Marek Dolezaj (Slovakia), and sophomore Bourama Sidibe (Mali), plus two walk on players with senior Ky Feldman (Israel) and senior Antonio Balandi (Burkina Faso).

Syracuse Basketball Oshae Brissett
Oshae Brissett
This breaks the previous school record of five, which was only last season 2017-2018, with the aforementioned players minus Balandi.

Previous to the recent history, the school record had been three international players, which occurred six times, starting with 1984-1985 (Joel Katz, George Papadokas, Rony Seikaly), 1995-1996 (Marius Janulis, Elvir Ovcina, David Patrick), 2007-2008 (Devin Brennan-McBride, Donte' Greene, Kristof Onganaet), 2010-2011 (Kris Joseph, Baye Moussa Keita, Fab Melo), 2011-2012 (Joseph, Keita, Melo), and 2015-2016 (Chukwu, Feldman and Chino Obokoh).

The game continues to be more international and so it really should be no surprise to the increased influx of players with international backgrounds. 

Back in 2015, I had named my Syracuse all-international team. With the influx of talent the past couple of seasons, I may revise it as follows, moving Brissett onto my first team:

PG Tyler Ennis
SG Kueth Duany
SF Leo Rautins
PF Oshae Brissett
C  Rony Seikaly

G  Marius Janulis
F  Donte' Greene
C  Fab Melo
C  Baye Moussa Keita
F  Kris Joseph

Dolezaj and Chukwu are knocking on the door.  A solid season from Chuckwu would likely supplant him for Keita.  I don't think Dolezaj could move into the list this year, but as he is only a sophomore, I expect big things down the road could make the difference.

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.