Wednesday, September 29, 2021

OrangeHoops Hall of Fame 2021

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), Lew Andreas (2017), Carmelo Anthony (2018), Stephen Thompson (2019), and Hakim Warrick (2020).  So the list now stands at 19. Another year has passed, and now it is time for the 2021 inductee.

I established my rules for the OrangeHoops Hall of Fame back in 2007 and you can catch up on them here. 2021 does have three new eligible candidates (using the fifteen year rule): J.J. Bedle, Louie McCroskey, and Gerry McNamara.

J.J. Bedle was a wide receiver on the Syracuse football team.  He would play as a walk-on guard for the basketball team his freshman year, playing in only one game and failing to score. Bedle would transfer to Delaware State after his freshman year.  He died tragically young at the age of 21 in 2007.

Louie McCroskey was a three year swingman for the Orange.  He was a starter for part of his sophomore season.  McCroskey was a strong defender, but never flourished offensively for the Orange.  He would transfer to Marist College after his senior season.

Gerry McNamara was one of the most popular players in Syracuse basketball history.  The four year starter was the most prolific three point shooter in Syracuse history.  He made six three point shots in the Syracuse championship win over Kansas during his freshman year.  'GMac' would set the Syracuse career records for most three point baskets and highest free throw percentage.   He finished as the fourth all-time leading scorer in school history, as well as third in assists, and second in steals.  He scored 43 points against Brigham Young in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.  He lifted the Orange to the 2006 Big East Championship, earning the tournament MVP with heroics in each of the four games the Orange played.  

Gerry McNamara would make my top 10 list of eligible candidates.

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

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.

DuVal was a flashy point guard for Syracuse in the early 70s.  When he graduated from Syracuse he was only second to Dave Bing in career points scored.  He was a three year started and averaged 18.6 ppg.  DuVal was a third team All-American his senior year

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.

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.  The 2021 inductee is easily Gerry McNamara.

McNamara, as mentioned above, was highly accoladed while at Syracuse, and was a crowd favorite.  His resume of game heroics is lengthy over his four season career.  GMac returned to Syracuse as a graduate assistant coach in 2009, and was elevated to an assistant coach in 2011.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

A Rule Change to Steal from TBT

The Basketball Tournament (TBT) has done an admirable job of creating a fun basketball tournament during mid-summer.   The Elam ending ensures a game winning basket for every game.  Boeheim's Army was fortunate enough to have six game winning baskets last summer on the way to its first TBT championship.

I am not, however, a fan of taking the Elam ending for college basketball. It is a great gimmick for TBT, but forcing a game winning shot for every game waters down the "game winning shot".  With an Elam ending you have no half court shot buzzer beaters; the Pearl shot never occurs, nor does the Ennis heroics over Pitt.  With an Elam ending, dramatic overtime victories do not  happen. No memorable six game overtime victory over UConn.  

The Elam ending is not the concept I want to steal from TBT.  I do want college basketball to take the concept of a team in the bonus getting one free throw and possession of the ball when fouled in a non-shooting act.  This greatly discourages an opposing team from fouling in order to stop the clock and get possession back. They would have to play good defense, and hope they can stop the opposing team cleanly.  They could foul on a shot attempt, but that gives the opposing team two free throws, and of course you always risk a team making the shot attempt and getting the plus one.

I would also add an addendum to the rule, and allow a team the option of one free throw and possession, OR two free throws and give up possession.  I assume the latter option would seldom be chosen, but it would eliminate the scenario of a team deliberating fouling a non-shooter with seconds left on the clock, to prevent a team from getting a shot off in a two point game. 

Teams would have a difficult time deliberately fouling themselves back into the game.  This would keep the pace of the ending of a game flowing freely, and I think greatly reduce the long drag a foul fest can have.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Congratulations to Boeheim's Army 2021 TBT Champions

Boeheim's Army, the team comprised of six Syracuse alumni and four guests, won the The Basketball Tournament (TBT) last night with a dramatic 69-67 win over Team 23.  Keifer Sykes hit the game winning three point shot in the Elam ending to give Boeheim's Army the win. Boeheim's Army beat out 63 other teams to win the $1 million prize.

The game was a fun, tight affair for most the night, with a lot of aggressive defense and some clutch shooting.  

It was truly a magical Syracuse affair as four members of the Boeheim family were in attendance:  Jim,  Juli, Jimmy Jr, and Buddy.  All three Syracuse assistant coaches were also there:  Adrian Autry, Gerry McNamara, and Allen Griffin.  Syracuse booster and Boeheim's Army chairman of operations Adam Weitsman pledged $1 million donation to local Syracuse charities in honor of the win.

Tyrese Rice led all of BA's scorers with 86 points and 18 assists.  Chris McCullough was right behind him with 81 points, and a team leading 42 rebounds.  D.J. Kennedy, the TBT's all-time leading scorer, and 5-time tournament champion, had 35 points and 42 rebounds.

Keifer Sykes was the hottest shooter for Boeheim's Army hitting 50% of his three point attempts in the tournament, with 11 baskets in 22 attempts.  Eric Devendorf also hit 50%, making 4 of 8.

C.J. Fair has the best +/- for BA in the tournament with a +38, despite playing in the third fewest minutes, and half of what the leaders played.

A special thanks for the memories to Eric Devendorf and Tyler Lydon, who both have announced that they are retiring from professional basketball after last night.

Below is the composite scoring for all of Boeheim's Army over the six game tournament.

Sunday, August 01, 2021

Boeheim's Army Combined Stats after 5 games

 Boeheim's Army has made the TBT Championship game, to be played this Tuesday night against Team 23.  

Here are the total stats of the Boeheim Army's players after five games:

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Statistics of Note From 2020-2021

The Orange Men's basketball team wrapped up its season last week with the Sweet Sixteen loss to the Houston Cougars.  The team finished the season 18-10, with a winning percentage of 64.5%.  This is the best won/loss percentage since the 2013-2014 season when the team went  28-6.

Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding the program this year, the men's basketball team has made 11 of the past 12 NCAA tournaments.  The team has not bee seeded as high as fans are accustomed to, but it is not a case of the team not going to the dance.  In seven of those eleven appearances, the Orange have advanced to at least the Sweet Sixteen.

The 2020-2021 team set the school record for the best team free throw shooting percentage, making 78.2% of their free throws.  This shattered the school record of 75.1% set in 1983-1984.

The team averaged 15 assists per game.  That is the third highest average per game in the past nine seasons.  

The team shot 35.0% from three point range.  That is the team's third highest percentage in the past ten seasons.

Buddy Boeheim led the team with 17.8 points per game.  That may not seem high considering the previous four seasons had scoring leaders average more (Andrew White, Tyus Battle twice, and Elijah Hughes).   But consider that no Orange player averaged that amount of points for the nine seasons from 2007-2008 through 2015-2016.  That included Donte' Greene, Jonny Flynn, Wesley Johnson, Kris Joseph (twice), C.J. Fair (twice), Rakeem Christmas, and Michael Gbinije as scoring leaders.

Alan Griffin's free throw percentage of 89.7% is the highest since Gerry McNamara in 2005-2006.

Alan Griffin is the first small forward to lead the team in blocked shots.  He had more this year than Bourama Sidibe did last year.

 Buddy Boeheim's 14 three point field goals in the NCAA tournament were the third most ever by an  Orange player in the tournament.  Gerry McNamara's 18 in 2003 is tops.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Back to Back 30+ games

Buddy Boeheim just put together back to back 30+ point games.  The last time that happened for Syracuse was in 2005. Hakim Warrick had 35 against St. John’s and then 36 against Providence.

And unless I missed one, the previous time to that was Billy Owens who had back-to-backs in 1991. Rudy Hackett did it in 1975, Dennis DuVal in 1973, Greg Kohls in 1972.

Dave Bing did four in a row in 1966. He also had two in a row two other times that season, as well as one time in 1965.

Pete Chudy had 3 in a row in 1961, and early in the year he had 2 in a row.

Vinnie Cohen back-to-back in 1957, the first Orangeman to do back-to-back 30+ games.

Hopefully I didn’t miss any… with my tired eyes.

Of course none of them did it in the post season, like Mr. Boeheim did tonight.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Looking Forward to the Syracuse - San Diego State Game

I’m glad I get to see this year’s team continue to play. I’ve enjoyed the season, watching the players develop and grow, and to get to know the team’s personality as well as that of the individual players.  It was nice to see Buddy Boeheim get his shooting stroke back.  For a player like Marek Dolezaj the NCAA tournament gives him the opportunity to showcase what he brings to the table, a guy who always puts the "team first".

It would be great to see either Alan Griffin or Joe Girard get their shot back, and for Quincy Guerrier to be explosive for the whole game.  Hopefully Kadary Richmond's knee is comfortable enough for him to display some of his defensive wizardry.  And I hope both Robert Braswell and Jesse Edwards get some moments to shine.

The NCAA tournament is designed to give heartbreak to 67 out of 68 teams. I think we all know that, but we all don’t accept that. The key to me is for the Orange to play well, represent themselves well, and see where things fall.

Hopefully the Orange picked up no rust with their week off, and they can remember the game flow nuances that help them on both ends of the court.  

I have no idea how tonight's game will go.  This season has shown that anybody can beat anyone by any margin on a given night.  I hope the Orange bring their 'A' game tonight.  That is all I can ask.

Go Orange!