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.