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!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Perspective on Regular Season Games

I am a big fan of regular season games.  I enjoy the ebbs and flows of the season, and watching the team develop and mature, find its identity.  Every Syracuse team has its own identity.  There are commonalities among them, as it has been the same head coach for the past forty five years, but the players are different, the leaders are different, and the styles are varied.

The current season has been frustrating at times, but it has also had some highlight memories that I'll remember fondly.  The Orange still have three (or four) regular season games to go, and hopefully some more fond memories will arise.

I saw Syracuse trail Buffalo by sixteen points in the second half.  They put on a full court press, and Alan Griffin made a game saving block on a Bulls' layup as time expired to send the game into overtime. Syracuse would go on to win 107-96.

The Orange set a school record 16 three point shots made against Boston College in a 101-63 victory against the Eagles.  The 38 point margin is the largest winning margin by Syracuse in ACC play.  

Yesterday afternoon I saw the Orange erase a twenty point second half deficit to beat Notre Dame 75-67.  The Orange utilized a full court press to disrupt an efficient Fighting Irish offense, and Buddy Boeheim scored 20 of his 29 points in the second half to lead Syracuse.  Quincy Guerrier had ten of his fourteen rebounds in the second half, and Marek Dolezaj had another one of his well rounded games.

There are memories like these for every season. The conference tournaments bring their share of fond memories, as does the NCAA tournament.  They are all relevant to me and all cherished.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Build a Syracuse team using 1919-1920 rules

 The rules of college basketball have changed dramatically over the years. In many ways the game we play today is very different from the game Dr. James Naismith invented in 1892. The game did not suddenly change, but rather slowly evolved over time.

These were some of the rules differing from today for college basketball in the 1919-1920 season:

  • Any player on the court can take the free throw, not just the player who was fouled
  • There was no charging foul
  • There was a jump ball after every made basket
  • There is no shot clock, nor no 10 second mid-court violation
  • There is no three second lane violation
  • A player may not re-enter the game
  • Coaches are not permitted to speak to players during the game
  • A jump ball exists after every held ball
  • There is no three point basket
  • Traveling is a foul, not just a violation
  • Players are disqualified after 4 fouls
  • No Euro-step is permitted
Given these are the rules, what would be your all-time Syracuse squad to play in those conditions? Who are your starting five, and who are on your bench (we'll stick to 13 man roster if you want to have the complete roster).

I am definitely going to want some free throw shooters, and one needs to be on the court at all times. Fortunately poor shooting big men won’t matter, so guys like Rony Seikaly, Arinze Onuaku, and Stephen Thompson suddenly become more valuable.

I’m definitely have Gerry McNamara on my starting five, and Jimmy Lee and Greg Kohls off my bench in the event GMac ever fouls out or gets hurt.

Derrick Coleman is my starting center. He can camp out in the paint, and his low post moves and size would be tremendous. Plus he is a solid shot blocker, and with no goal tending restriction that would be amazing. And he is going to help a lot with the frequent jump balls. Rony Seikaly, Etan Thomas, and Roosevelt Bouie come off my bench. I’m going deep with centers off the bench because of possible foul problems.

You aren’t going to need three point shooters, but you are going to need mid range and perimeter shooters as the paint is going to be very crowded.

Carmelo Anthony is a no brainer, and I’ll add Billy Owens to the other wing. With Coleman, Anthony and Owens on the court, I’m going to have no problem bringing the ball up the court.

The impeccable Dave Bing is going to run the point for my team. I do want guys who can get the ball to the low post, so on the bench I'll have Sherman Douglas. I think his alley oop passes are a way to get around the openness on goaltending. With goal tending not being a rule, guys like the Pearl may have a bit tougher time.

I also think guys who have a strong low post game with a lot of dunking ability will thrive. So I’ve got to put Hakim Warrick on the squad, coming off the bench. His drop step dunk, especially with no charge calls, would be incredibly tough to stop.

And I want to fill out my roster with a great perimeter shooter who can pass the ball well. So Andy Rautins, welcome aboard.

So my squad is:
G: Dave Bing
G: Gerry McNamara
F: Carmelo Anthony
F: Billy Owens
C: Derrick Coleman

G: Greg Kohls
G: Jimmy Lee
G: Sherman Douglas
F/G: Andy Rautins
F: Hakim Warrick
C: Rony Seikaly
C: Etan Thomas
C: Roosevelt Bouie

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Syracuse Player Improvements

The Orange are now 6-1 after their first seven games.  While all the games have not been pretty, I think overall as fans we are happy with that record.  The team's offense is clearly improved from what we witnessed over the past few seasons, and the defense is struggling.  

Recent history with the basketball program has been frustrating as players we hoped would make that 'leap' forward in their skill development, failed to do so.  Th

Quincy Guerrier Syracuse forward
Quincy Guerrier

is season we are blessed to have several players who have shown growth or are better than we expected.

Quincy Guerrier, Alan Griffin, Kadary Richmond and Woody Newton are pleasant surprises this season.

Guerrier is leading the way with a new focus on his interior game and it is paying off big dividends for himself and the Orange.  The Buffalo game was his latest and greatest effort with 27 points and 11 rebounds.  He has been doing that all season, and quite efficiently.  Guerrier is currently averaging 18.0 ppg along with 10 rebounds per game, all done with 66% shooting from the floor and 43.8% from three.  He already has four double-doubles this season, exceeding last season's total by one.  Last year he was content on hanging out on the perimeter, and this year he is doing the hard work down low.

We knew Alan Griffin could shoot when he transferred to Syracuse from Illinois, and he had a nose for rebounding.  He has been better than advertised, with athletic availability that his paying big dividends for the Orange.  He has been erratic and inconsistent with his effort on both ends of the court.  The Northeastern game was the low water mark when he was held scoreless and seemed disinterested on both ends of the court, resulting in him not playing down the stretch of the game.  On the other hand, he has had four games where he has scored 20+ points, and three double-doubles.  The Buffalo game showed his top value to the Orange when he had 24 points and 10 rebounds, including a game saving block on a Buffalo layup as time was expiring.  And though Griffin struggled from three for the game, he made seven of eight shots inside the arc, as well as seven of eight free throws

Coach Jim Boeheim raved about Kadary Richmond in the pre-season, and the young man has looked very promising.  He is using his length, speed and ballhandling to contribute in many different ways, and has earned himself as steady part of the guard rotation.  After seven games Richmond is averaging 26 minutes a game.  He has 4.1 assists a game, along with 4.4 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, and 2.6 steals.  He is not a perimeter shooter, but has shown very adept at getting into the paint, and is making 47% of his field goal attempts.

Woody Newton was flying under the radar, and based on some comments from Jim Boeheim, I think he is playing better than even the coaches thought he would at this point.  While Newton isn't playing a lot of minutes, he is part of the 'Boeheim rotation' and gets into every game.  He's made 42% of this three point shots despite not having a reputation as being a perimeter shooter, and he has shown some athleticism on getting to the hoop.

Marek Dolezaj and Buddy Boeheim are delivering what I think we would expect, with some minor improvements.  Dolezaj has had to move over to the center position to replace the injured Bourama Sidibe. While the defense isn't as proficient with him there, the offense is benefiting greatly.  Dolezaj is being used to facilitate the offense with his playmaking, and he is showing off his ability to get to the hoop for short range shots.  Dolezaj is hitting 55% of this field goals, and leads he team with 4.3 assists.  Also importantly, he has avoided foul trouble for the most part. It is clear that when the ball flows through Dolezaj's hands, good things happen.

Buddy Boeheim missed three games and roughly a month of practice due to Covid-19 safety precautions.  It has had an impact on his shooting touch for sure. However, the junior continues to add to his offensive skills and has really made a focus on scoring within the paint.  Good things are happening when he gets inside.  Even when he does not make the shot, the defense does collapse on him, and the SU forwards are able to crash the glass and get the rebounds from the soft touch shots. Boeheim is averaging 15.5 ppg despite hitting only 26% of his three point shots.

Joe Girard and Bobby Braswell are two players who are struggling this year.  Like Boeheim, Girard's shooting touch as been off for most the games this year, and some of the competition has figured out ways of taking Girard out of his game.  He is going to have to learn to make the proper adjustments.  This year when he struggles, Coach Boeheim does have the luxury of a third guard, and he makes the player adjustments accordingly.  Girard has been rebounding well, and twice he has scored 21 points.  Syracuse likely does not beat Northeastern without Girard's six steals, four rebounds and three assists.

Bobby Braswell was thought to be a player that Boeheim was going to have to find playing time for.  Instead he has struggled on the court with rushed shots, and he has fallen behind Woody Newton on the depth chart.  

Bourama Sidibe got injured four minutes into the season opener, and has not played since. He had surgery on this knee and is expected back soon.  A healthy return would provide some big dividends to the defense, though it will be interesting on how the offensive scheme would work once he is available.  He definitely would have been of value against Rutgers and Buffalo, both teams who dominated with big mean inside the paint.

The other disappointment on the team has been the three young centers: Jesse Edwards, John Bol Ajak and Frank Anselem. Despite the need for center help, none of the three have demonstrated enough to  Coach Boeheim to get consistent playing time.  Having said that, Ajak is surprising in that the perception was that he was the biggest project of the three, and yet he is the first one off the bench when Boeheim does bring in a reserve center.  

Overall, the Orange have already provided several entertaining moments for us this season.  Some of the wins haven't been as easy or pretty as we would like, but the team is 6-1.  Hard to dislike that.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Top Competition by the Decade

The Syracuse Orange have played the Colgate Raiders 172 times, by far the most games against any other school. The series stopped being competitive in the late sixties, though I imagine some fans would be surprised to know it was still a competitive series in the Dave Bing/Jim Boeheim era. The two teams played a triple overtime game in 1965, that the Orange eventually won 93-90 behind Bing's 45 points. That was probably the end of the competitive era for the two teams; there have been the occasional close game since then, but overall, nothing too noteworthy. Colgate and Syracuse used to be the biggest rivalry on the schedule, and for the first thirty years or so, the game was often one of the last games on the schedule in order to close the season out with a big game. 

Cornell is next on the list with 125 games, and Pittsburgh is third with 118. Given that Syracuse typically plays Pitt twice a year, we can expect Pitt to overtake Cornell within 7 seasons, if not sooner. 

The top teams that Syracuse has played each decade has changed over the years. Syracuse was not in a conference until the 1979-1980 season, so prior to that their games were against a lot of Eastern schools, but no set schedule. Since 1979-1980, the Big East dictated a good portion of their schedule, and subsequently the ACC has since the Orange changed conferences. 

 I've put a list together of the top 5 teams the Orange played each decade, and you can see those results if you look at the decade information

 Here is the leader for each decade:

There are probably no big surprises on that list.  The 27 games against Georgetown in the eighties helps to explain the rivalry a lot. They played nineteen games during the regular season, and eight more in that decade in the Big East Tournament. When two teams meet routinely in a post season tournament, there are going to be a lot of 'big games' in your history.