Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

For Christmas this year, I want for the Syracuse Orange:

Twelve plus Big East Wins
Eleven more years of Boeheim
Ten threes for Andy
Nine blocks for Arinze
Eight wins in January
Seven steals for Jonny
Six NCAA Tourney Wins
Five Final Four Appearances
Four thunder dunks for Paul
Three points at ease
Two good halves of hoops nightly
And a NCAA Championship to go with 03

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to you all. I hope you have a wonderful time with family and friends, and my this be a jolly and blessed time for you all.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Overrated, not!

I have been seeing a lot of posts on Syracuse message boards that the Cleveland State loss showed the Orange are overrated. I would beg to differ; in college basketball, particularly 10-12 games into the season, the rankings are typically ‘earned’ not ‘given’. Syracuse is (was) ranked number 11 because they earned it. They started the season not among the top 25 teams in the country, and clawed their way up.

They beat solid Kansas (7-2) and Florida (7-2) teams in the CBE tournament, and beat an Atlantic Ten foe Richmond (5-5) and an ACC foe Virginia (4-3). Now Kansas and Florida probably were overrated at the time Syracuse played them, and both have dropped out of the top 25 (though they are still hovering around in the ‘also receiving votes’ area). But a single loss, on a half court shot by Cleveland State does not negate the resume Syracuse has put together so far. A few more losses like that would hurt, but the CSU game alone is not going to make a difference.

The Memphis game has loomed big on Syracuse’s schedule since the pre-season, but the Memphis has taken some lumps and is currently 5-2, ranked #23. Ironically, if Syracuse beats Memphis, that team will also likely drop out of the top #25 (leaving Syracuse with no current top 25 victories… ironic, isn’t it?).

The loss of Eric Devendorf to a suspension for six games will hurt the Orangemen; he is definitely the sparkplug on the team. For tonight’s game against Memphis, an injured Jonny Flynn is going to make the competition even that much tougher. One thing is clear, the Orange are going to need several players to step up during the next six games.

On one hand the Devendorf suspension could not have been timed better. The six game suspension will force him to miss the Memphis and Coppin State games, and then the first four Big East games: Seton Hall, South Florida, DePaul, and Rutgers. There is no such thing as an easy Big East game, but the first four games of Syracuse’s schedule is the softest part of their Big East schedule for the year.

The Orange can little afford to lose those first four Big East games; wins in the conference are going to be tough to come by. Devendorf in the lineup would make that task much easier. Syracuse needs Andy Rautins to step up his play, more specifically his shooting. Rautins has been shooting poorly for most of the season, from every point on the court and from the free throw line. And Syracuse really needs to have a ‘sniper’ out there. Rautins has been playing very well in other aspects of the game, with solid ball handling, good defense, and some rebounding. He may be handling the ball (at least in terms of minimizing mistakes) better than anyone on the team; however, the Orange desperately need him to start shooting.

Arinze Onuaku has to start asserting himself. He has the skill and the size to have some 25 point games, and Syracuse could use a few of those, particularly now. Rick Jackson has been playing better lately, and Syracuse needs the play to keep at that level.

Kris Ongenaet has been invisible most of this season. Nobody expected him to put up big offensive numbers, but he’s offering virtually no offense at all. His rebounding and defense have not been the same contributions as last year, and Syracuse needs that.

The freshman Mookie Jones and Kris Joseph are starting to get the experience on the court, and develop the comfort that comes with that. With Devendorf out of the lineup, Jones and Joseph will likely have the opportunity of more playing time, and they need to take advantage of that time. Jones missed some early season action due to injuries, but has been impressively lately. He’s shooting 40% from the three point range in limited attempts (15); let us see if he can have a big night from three point range and bring Syracuse that other perimeter player they desperately need.

Joseph showed early in the season that he has a strong slashing move to the basket, something Syracuse really has missed for a few seasons. I would love to see him and Flynn get some good chemistry together, so that Joseph can move to the hoop without the ball and get the good feed when needed.

Paul Harris has to continue to be a monster on the boards. He still has not learned to temper his athleticism, and frankly scares me every time the ball is in his hands. Syracuse needs him to be strong to the hoop, and get all those rebounds. A gained rebound is just as important as a made basket; it’s another opportunity for Syracuse to score (and one less for the opponent).
Devendorfs suspension ends right before Syracuse begins its the murderous 10 game stretch that is going to make or break their season. If the rest of the Orange can learn to play without Devo for those six games leading up to then, perhaps the Orange will be a stronger team as a result.

Hey, I love the fact that Syracuse is currently 10-1. If you had shown me their schedule and told me they would be 10-1 by December 19th, I would have been ecstatic. 11-0 would have been better, but 10-1 is what I had hoped for.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

9-0 and unstoppable Onuaku

Arinze Onuaku is off to terrific start to his junior campaign. He is averaging 13.3 points a game, with 7.8 rebounds, despite playing only 27 minutes a game (and typically not for foul trouble, but just to get some rest). However, those aren’t his impressive numbers. 79.4% is the number to look at. That is Onuaku’s field goal percentage for the season. When Onuaku gets the ball inside, he is virtually unstoppable, and for his last 17 attempts he has been, making each and every one of them (credit Brent Axeman for noting that one).

At Onuaku’s current pace he would shatter the Syracuse single season field goal percent record. The current record is 65.4% by Roosevelt Bouie in the 1979-1980 season, when he made 189 of 289 attempts. Onuaku’s effort is especially noteworthy because Syracuse has been playing some tough basketball teams this early season. They have not faced any dominant centers like they will in a few games this Big East season, but there are not too many players in the country with Onuaku’s build, so those types of matchups are going to be rare not matter who they play.

That’s not to suggest that Onuaku is Superman. His kryptonite is the free throw line, where he continues to challenge Terrence Roberts for the distinction of being the worst ever for Syracuse. However, I did question earlier this year why Syracuse was not feeding Onuaku the ball more often, instead relying on the three point shot or driving the lane from the perimeter. It would seem to me that you would want to feed Onuaku as much as you could, which should soften up a lot of defenses.

I know there have been some occasions where Onuaku has not played aggressively and has not worked to get open inside. Notably, he took some flak in the Cornell game for getting outhustled down low (though it we need to be fair and report that he was 5-5 from the floor that game). But there are a lot of moments in the game where Syracuse does not appear to be trying to work the ball down low. That comes under the responsibility of the point guard.

Let’s look at the numbers of two Syracuse players this season, both prorated to 40 minutes of playing time.

Player 1:

14.5 points, 5.8 assists, 2.6 turnovers, 2.6 steals, 32% from 3 point range, 70% FT pct.

Player 2:

21.5 points, 5.8 assists, 3.6 turnovers, 1.9 steals, 41% from 3 point range, 74% FT pct.

Which of those players is the point guard, and which is the shooting guard? It’s a little obvious if you’ve been watching Syracuse basketball this year; Jonny Flynn is player #2. A little less obvious is player #1 which is Andy Rautins. However, doesn’t it seem like player one has more of the stats of a point guard? Clearly a better turnover to assist ratio, and more steals, along with a lower scoring average.

I had mentioned earlier this year that I was concerned that Flynn was leading Syracuse is scoring every single game. Don’t get me wrong; Flynn is having an outstanding early season, and is a very special player. He has been making the clutch shots, and Syracuse is 9-0. But Flynn came to Syracuse with a reputation of being a strong playmaker, and I’m not seeing a player like that right now.

I remember the legendary Magic Johnson was always credited with sacrificing his own scoring to make sure his teammates scored. If Magic was on a fast break with an easy layup, he would always dish the ball off to a trailing teammate to reward his teammate for hustling down the court with him. I have not seen that selflessness from Flynn yet. I segued into this earlier by stating I did not think the team was getting the ball to Onuaku down low enough. And that responsibility falls on Flynn.

Flynn had an off shooting night against Long Beach State on Saturday. I have no problem with that; those nights occur. But Flynn ended up with only two assists. I would have expected my team’s point guard to have a big assist night, a big playmaking night in a game where he realized early he wasn’t shooting well. And he did not end up having that night.

Syracuse could go quite far this season, particularly with Flynn playing the way he has been playing. I am just of the belief that the primary job of the point guard is to elevate the play of all his teammates. It does bring concern to me that he is not developing that reputation right now in games that do not require him to score for Syracuse to win. There will be more than one game remaining this season where Syracuse will need Flynn to be the hero to win. Letting his teammates be the hero for some of the other games would pay big dividends down the stretch.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Syracuse has done itself a big favor and virtually guaranteed itself a berth in the NCAA tournament this year, barring a complete collapse by the team. It’s only November, but the wins over top 20 teams Kansas and Florida can not be underestimated in their importance for the total value of the season. These are two neutral court wins (though Kansas was hardly on a neutral court) against ranked teams from major conferences. Add in the win against Richmond, and that is three wins that look good on the ledger come selection time.

More importantly, Syracuse has shown that they have the ability to both hold a lead and to come from behind, a missing element from last season. Florida made a strong run for the lead in Tuesday’s game, and Syracuse withstood that storm. Kansas had Syracuse on the ropes, down by 12, in front of a hostile crowd, and Syracuse came back and won that game. I believe these will go a long way in building confidence for the team.

Here’s three things I really liked about last night’s game:

1) The Orange played some inspired man-to-man defense to get back into the game. They hustled, they stayed focused, and they did not give up. I’d like the players to be less resistant to the zone, so they could be more versatile of a team, but as long as they are playing some defense, it’s an improvement.

2) Arinze Onuaku showed me some defensive hustle last night in the critical moments of the game. I think Onuaku is often too quiet on the court, but his two lightning quick blocks on the Kansas shot and the put back really sent a strong message to Kansas. And 12 rebounds to go along with it.

3) Andy Rautins seems to have found his shooting groove. I believe he can be a 40% shooter from three, and a few more nights like the games he had against Florida and Kansas, and he’ll be set. He also played some inspired defense.

4) Jonnny Flynn has elevated his game to the next level. He still tries to do too much at times, but when the game is on the line, he does have that knack for making the basket.

Now for the bad:
1) Far too many stupid turnovers. Many of these are unforced, and we’re seeing them from everyone. The Orange have got to take better care of the ball.

2) Paul Harris, I love his hustle (when it’s one of those nights he decides to hustle), and there’s nobody I would prefer to have get a crucial rebound than him. His man-to-man defense is spectacular at times. But on the offense, he’s a liability. Harris seems to be a turnover waiting to happen, a bull in a china shop. And Harris has to learn that he is not ‘the guy’ when it comes to crunch time in the game. Syracuse is blessed to have both Eric Devendorf and Jonny Flynn, and Harris is going to have to learn to defer to them. There’s a reason the opposing defenses are leaving Harris open for three during crunch time.

3) Free throws. Yeah, this is Syracuse basketball. No lead is too safe to protect from the Orange woes at the charity stripe. Even our good shooters Flynn and Devendorf are missing the clutch free throws (perhaps they should take a lesson from Onuaku who went 3-3 last night!). Flynn and Devo are good free throw shooters, so make the shots and ice the game

4) The bench looked weak. Rick Jackson looked lost in both the Florida and Kansas games. Kris Joseph looked good against Florida, but like a newbie in the Kansas game. Rautins is playing well, and that’s about it. Nobody else off the bench is getting any real playing time.

And one last thing. Flynn is playing very well right now, and I’m glad to see him step it up. I would feel happier if he wasn’t the leading scorer for each of Syracuse’s first 5 games. He is the point guard, and a few more assists, a few less points, would probably be beneficial to Syracuse in the long run. Flynn needs to make sure his teammates are always involved, and he needs to sacrifice a point here and there to get an easy assist. He’s the floor general and he needs to run that offense and make sure all the parts are running well.

Now, we are 5-0. A much better start than probably most Syracuse fans expected (I must admit I thought the team would need to develop more). It feels very good to be 5-0 at this point, with two very good wins under the belt. 5-0 starts aren’t as easy in recent times as you may think. In the six previous seasons Syracuse has gone 5-0 only twice (see list below). Four times they had lost a game by the fifth game, including the 2002-03 championship season, where they lost the season opener.

The recent trend of an early season loss is rare for Syracuse. From the 1984-85 season to the 2001-02 season, Syracuse went 5-0 14 times; only four times in that 18 year span did they fail to reach that mark. They had matched that failure rate four times in the past six years. And it is not like they played all easy early season games during that 18 year span. They beat teams such as Duke, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Tennessee, Southern California and Boston College, among others, in those first five games. Syracuse used to bring home a lot of trophies in the early season from the pre-season NIT, the Great Alaska Shootout, and the Maui Invitiational. So it is refreshing to see the Orange settle back into familiar country.

Here’s how Syracuse started the first five games for each season from 1984-85 through this year:

1984-85 5-0
1985-86 5-0
1986-87 5-0
1987-88 3-2
1988-89 5-0
1989-90 5-0
1990-91 5-0
1991-92 5-0
1992-93 5-0
1993-94 4-1
1994-95 4-1
1995-96 5-0
1996-97 3-2
1997-98 5-0
1998-99 5-0
1999-00 5-0
2000-01 5-0
2001-02 5-0
2002-03 4-1
2003-04 4-1
2004-05 5-0
2005-06 3-2
2006-07 5-0
2007-08 4-1
2008-09 5-0

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Being a Sport, In College

The following article is courtesy of a guest writer for OrangeHoops.

Being a Sport, in College

I enjoyed my four years at college, and it’s not because of the parties and unlimited fun that most of my peers took great pleasure in. No, I was kind of a misfit in this crowd because of my love for sports; both the kind on TV and that takes place on the field. Yeah, I was a jock, and I was not ashamed of the fact. The fact that my best friend was a cheerleader was proof that opposites do attract, but then, I digress. The point of this essay is to detail the advantages that are open to a woman who loves sports and is raring to try out for most of the teams in college:

· You’re in great shape: You don’t have to force yourself to diet or go anorexic like some of your friends because your natural instinct is to hit the gym to keep in shape for that basketball match next week. And when you enjoy working out and running around on court, exercise becomes something that’s a part and parcel of your life, which means there’s no need to follow that strict diet in order to get into that fabulous dress you and your friends have been eyeing.

· You can hang out with the guys: I don’t know if anyone else would consider this a plus, but I’ve always been the kind of girl who gets along like a house on fire with the opposite sex. My closest friends are guys – I find that I can be myself with them and that they understand me a lot better. And the best part is, when they’re your friends, you don’t get unwanted sexual attention from people you’re not interested in romantically.

· You can skip classes: One aspect I loved about sports in college was that we had legitimate reasons to skip class and hang out on the court. Yeah, I did miss a bunch of lessons, but I’m lucky enough to have been blessed with brains as well as muscles, so I did manage to catch up by cramming during exams.

· You get that adrenaline rush: Say what you will, but playing a sport is the best way to fuel your need to feel high. No amount of drugs (not that I’ve experimented) or alcohol gives you the same kind of rush that a well-fought win in a game brings. And since it’s the good kind of high, you can’t get enough of it.

· Your future husband’s gonna love you: Every guy dreams of the perfect girl, the one who not only lets him spend all of a Sunday on the couch with an unlimited supply of beer and chips and a string of wonderful games on the idiot box, but also joins him and cheers along. Well, I just happen to be that perfect girl, so I can safely assume that I won’t be getting a divorce because I nag too much!

This article is contributed by Sarah Scrafford, who regularly writes on the topic of online university. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

2-0, Many to Go

The Orangemen are off to a 2-0 start. Manhandling LeMoyne was expected, and Richmond was a good early season challenge. I think like a lot of fans, I would have hoped for an easier win; partly because it would have been easier to watch, but also because it would have been an indicator of how much better Syracuse was this season than last.

The expectation clearly would be that the Orange would be better this year. The team lost only one player from last year, 1st round pick Donte’ Greene. Losing the talent of a first round pick can hurt a team. But look at what the Orangemen gained for this season: an extra year of experience and maturity for Jonny Flynn, Paul Harris, Kris Ongenaet, Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson ; the healthy return of Andy Rautins and Eric Devendorf; the arrival of highly tauted freshmen Kris Joseph and Mookie Jones. That’s a lot of significant plusses versus the one minus. So without even playing a game, we could feel confident they were better than last year.
The team is better, but the schedule this year is significantly tougher too. The conference schedule is absurdly difficult, and the non-conference schedule is one that Dick Vitale would not complain about. So Syracuse is going to lose some games this year, and likely some non-conference games.

That is what made the win over Richmond so crucial. Syracuse cannot afford the bad losses this year, and a loss to Richmond, at home, would have been a bad loss . That does not mean that Richmond was not a difficult team to play; they were. Their motion offense can be difficult to handle defensively, and they had some guys who can shoot threes, and Atlantic 10 teams had beaten Syracuse three times in a row.

There were things I was happy to see in the Richmond game. Eric Devendorf played like the Devo we knew pre-injury. He played with emotion, he took and made some crucial shots, and he took over the game at the right moment and time. He also showed the typical Devo careless turnover (seven of them) and some shaky defense at times. His contributions on the court greatly exceeded his errors.

Jonny Flynn showed he can still score and drive the lane. He made some impressive three point shots early on. And 27 points is a good night, no matter who you play. Arinze Onuaku was a stud inside, making every shot with ease in the first half, and most in the second (though missing a few gimmes). Kris Joseph showed some flashes of talent in his time on the court, and Ongenaet provided his usual quiet but necessary rebounding.

However, as nice as all those positives were, there was nothing new… no signs of growth for the team. We’ve seen Devo, Flynn and Onuaku play that way before, routinely. This was a game the team likely would have lost last year, but with Devo and Rautins on the court, we had expected (at least I did) that the meltdowns so prevalent last year would be less likely this year. Now, it is only two games into the year, so there is not a lot to look at for growth; I am just saying that we have not seen any yet.

Syracuse settled for playing on the perimeter far too much, shades of last year. Onuaku was unstoppable inside, and yet Flynn stopped feeding him the ball with about seven minutes to go in the first half. Why?

Devo wore his emotions on his sleeve as he always has, and rose his level of intensity in the second half. But I did not feel it was that contagious to his teammates. I would like to see Onuaku get fired up some time. I realize he could serious injure someone if he were out of control, but how about a scowl or a shout now and then? Paul Harris decided to be ‘no show’ Paul for the Richmond game. He played Jekyll and Hyde last year with his intensity vacillating game to game, and he just wasn’t there that night.

All summer we kept wondering how coach Jim Boeheim was going to spread the playing time at the guard position. We all knew that Jonny Flynn was too tired last year having to play every minute of every game down the stretch. With Rautins and Devo back, Harris able to play the guard, and freshman Mookie Jones also able to play time there, Flynn was clearly going to get his break. Instead, Flynn played 39 of the 40 minutes. Now historically, Boeheim has always ridden his point guards; Sherman Douglas and Pearl Washington almost never left the game. But the constant theme last year was how tired Flynn was, so I expected a change.

Rautins and Devo both got their playing time, with 26 and 31 minutes respectively. Syracuse played a lot of three guard offense, with Rautins taking the forward defensive position. I’m sure we will see a lot of that this season.

Jonny Flynn is a decent free throw shooter, making 78% of his shots last season. But also similar to last season, Flynn missed the crucial free throws down the stretch. Not enough to cost Syracuse the game, but enough to allow Richmond to hang around and have a shot at it. The ball is going to be in Devo, Flynn and Rautin’s hands down the stretch; Flynn’s going to have to starting making those.

Rautins was very cold from the perimeter, going 0-5 from three point range. He was taking the three point shots from long distance, and his shots were consistently long. I’m confident he’ll start making them, but it would have been nice to have seen him make them now.
Syracuse has a very deep bench, and Boeheim only went eight players deep. Freshman Mookie Jones did not even play, and Rick Jackson played only nine minutes. Again, Boeheim almost always goes to a short bench in close games; I am just surprised the Jones did not get into the game in the first half.

Syracuse is lacking a strong scoring presence from the forward position. Harris can score, but he prefers to do it by having the ball in his possession and driving from the perimeter like a guard; Syracuse does not need another guy who can drive from the perimeter. Ongenaet only gets garbage shots. They need a guy who can slash to the hoop without the ball and get the feed, and I have not seen that yet. I’m hoping Kris Joseph will be that guy.

But hey, it is only two games. Syracuse is 2-0; they’ve done what they need to do at this point. The positives we expected were there. There is a lot to build upon and still a lot of potential for the team. I’m very confident the NCAA tournament is in their future, and the team will be a lot of fun to watch.

Let’s go Orange!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day 2008

On this Veterans day, I would like to once again 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
Ed Cronauer
John Cronauer
Charles Fasce
Russ Finsterwald
Ted Huntley
Ken Lavin
Nathan Malefski
Danny Martin
Walter ‘Dutch’ Notman
Elias Raff
Billy Rafter
Courtland Sanney

In World War II, the following served:
Jim Ackerson
John Balinsky
Dick Casey
Larry Crandall
Wilbur Crisp
Dan DiPace
Les Dye
Alton Elliott
John Emerich
Bob Felasco
Paul Ferris
Billy Gabor
Ed Glacken
Joe Glacken
Marc Guley
Lew Hayman
Bill Hennemuth
George Jarvis
Jim Konstanty
Stan Kruse (Kruszewski)
Saul Mariaschin
Tom McTiernan
Francis Miller
Joe Minsavage
Andy Mogish
Roy Peters
Hank Piro
Phil Rakov
John Schroeder
Bob Shaddock
Wilmeth Sidat-Singh
Red Stanton
Mike Stark
Joe Sylvestri
Charles Taggart

In Vietnam, the following served:
Rick Dean

The following were veterans who served but were fortunate to miss a war era:
Art Barr
Roy Danforth
Ronnie Kilpatrick
George Koesters
Jack Malone

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

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.

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.

John Cronauer was killed in World War I in 1918.

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

Sunday, November 09, 2008

2007-2008 Milestone Opportunities

Syracuse has a veteran team on the court this season and thus they have some players who are moving up the all-time lists at Syracuse. Three players have realistic chances of breaking the 1,000 point club at Syracuse.

Junior Eric Devendorf is currently 43rd all time with 1,115 points. He should pass Dave Johnson at #14 on the all-time list, and possibly Rony Seikaly at #13. If Devo has a great scoring year, he should position himself to break Syracuse’s all-time scoring record in his senior season, currently held by Lawrence Moten with 2,334 points. He has a good shot to break the 400 career assist level and should finish the season between #7 and #11 all-time in assists. Devo is currently 11th on the all time 3-point field goal list. He should finish the season somewhere between 3rd and 7th on the all-time list.

Junior Andy Rautins is currently 18th all time on Syracuse’s 3 point field goal list. He should finish the season somewhere around 8th all-time, surpassing Matt Roe, and if a strong season of shooting threes, he would end up at 5th. He should break into the top 100 scorers for Syracuse, and finish the season around 83rd all-time. Both Rautins and Devendorf, as well as Jonny Flynn, can take a shot at Gerry McNamara’s single season three point record of 107.

Junior Paul Harris has 808 points, 534 rebounds, and 174 assists entering his junior season. He needs only 192 points to become the 50th Syracuse player to score 1,000 points. He should finish the season somewhere around #31 all-time in scoring. Harris should finish the season somewhere around #13 all-time in rebounding, and could finish as high as #10th if he averaged double digit rebounds. As phenomenal a rebounder as Harris is at times, he won’t be able to challenge Derrick Coleman’s career record of 1,537. With another solid season of assists, Harris could break SU’s top twenty in assists, needing 121 assists this season to do it.

Junior Arinze Onuaku has 503 career points. He needs 497 points to become the 50th player to score 1,000 career points for Syracuse. He would need to average about 14.2 ppg to do that. He should finish the season around #22 in all-time rebounds, and needs 319 rebounds to get to #20 on the list.

As I mentioned last year, Onuaku is breaking Terrence Roberts' Syracuse free throw record for worst shooter ever (he needs nine more attempt to get to 200 attempts making it ‘official’). Onuaku is now 85-191 for his career or 44.5%; Roberts was 176-367 for his career for 48%. Onuak likely has two seasons to get his career average above Roberts 48%. I'm hoping he can exceed that.

Sophomore Jonny Flynn enters his sophomore season with 548 career points. He needs only 452 points to be the 50th player to score 1,000 points, or about 12.9 ppg. Flynn should finish the season around #42 all-time in scoring for Syracuse. Flynn needs 83 three point field goals to make the top 10 for Syracuse (though with Devo and Rautins also likely moving into the top ten, that standard will change).

Head Coach Jim Boeheim needs 29 wins to reach the 800 win plateau. He reached his 300th Big East win last season.

Trivia Notes: the last four players to lead Syracuse in scoring for the season left school after the season: Donte' Greene in 2008, Demetris Nichols in 2007, Gerry McNamara in 2006 and Hakim Warrick in 2005.

No Syracuse player scored 30+ points in a game last season. The last to do it was Eric Devendorf on March 14, 2007 vs South Alabama in the NIT. The last Orangeman to average double digit rebound was Carmelo Anthony with 10.0 in 2002-2003. The last Orangeman to average 20+ ppg was Hakim Warrick in 2004-2005 with 21.4 ppg.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

2008-2009 - What's in Store

The 2008-2009 season will be a very interesting season to watch play out. Coach Jim Boeheim has a killer schedule, an overabundance of talent at guard, and a team that could not close games last season.

Syracuse lost two players from last season’s team: leading scorer Donte’ Greene jumped to the NBA, and reserve guard Scoop Jardine will miss the season due to a stress fracture. But in return, Boeheim gets back two healthy junior guards in Eric Devendorf, perhaps the best player on the team, and sharp shooter Andy Rautins, the best shooter on the team. The Orange also get two highly rate freshman in Mookie Jones and Kris Joseph. That’s four talented guys joining the team.

More importantly, the rest of the team has aged and matured one more year, so Paul Harris is now a junior along with Arizne Onuaku. Kris Ongenaet is now a senior, and Jonny Flynn a sophomore. Syracuse went from a young team with no experience last year to a team with a lot of veteran players, particularly by today’s standards. When you have a senior, four juniors and a sophomore as your top six players, you have some experience.

Syracuse has a schedule that will test the mettle of the team. Eleven of Syracuse’s thirty one scheduled games are against pre-season top 25 teams; if they meet Kansas in the CBE Classic, that would be twelve games against top 25. Four of those games are against the #2, #3, #6 and #9 teams in the country. Six of those games are on the road, two are at neutral sites, and four are at home. They also play solid out of conference games against Richmond and Virginia. The schedule makers did not do Syracuse any favors.

Then they have the much talked about streak of 10 games from January 14th through February 22nd. That will cover 39 days in which Syracuse will play eight games against top 25 teams (four on the road, four at home). They’ll play four top 25 teams over a 12 day period to start that streak, and they’ll play four top 25 teams over the last 16 days to end that streak; they’ll face 4 top 10 teams in that same 39 game stretch. They get a ‘breather’, if you can call it that, with a road game at Providence, and a home game against West Virginia sandwiched in between.

Syracuse’s schedule breaks down this way. They have 13 out of conference games, three against top 25 teams, two against solid teams, and eight against teams they should beat. They have 18 conference games, with 9 against top 25 teams, and 9 against the rest of the league.

They cannot afford to lose any of the eight games they should win out-of-conference. Any losses there will negate any big wins elsewhere. Even with this difficult schedule, I think they need to win 20 games prior to the Big East tournament to lock in a bid. Anything less puts them on the bubble (other than a BET run), and we know how poorly that has turned out for Syracuse in recent years. If they can go 10-3 in the out-of-conference games (which means win one of the top 25 games, and one of the two against Richmond / Virginia), then they would need to go 10-8 in the Big East. To be taken serious in the post season, they’ll need to go at least 4-5 against the top 25 teams in the conference, giving, them the opportunity to go 6-3 against the rest of the conference. That would put the Orange at 20-11 going into the Big East tournament, with a 5-7 record against top 25 teams. That’s a lock for the NCAA.

A couple of big keys this year will be if Syracuse can win some of those top 25 games on the road; Memphis, Louisville, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Villanova and Pitt are all going to give them a chance. If Syracuse can win two of those games (and those teams don’t slump!), their resume will jump greatly come March.

The Orangemen can definitely do it. The big question hanging over this team, for me, is where the late game collapses last year more a function of the fatigue of the players, or a function of the mindset / caliber of the players on the court? If it was due to fatigue, then this year should be no problem. Boeheim is going to find it tough enough to find playing time for his trio of guards; rest won’t be a problem. If it was due to the mental makeup of the guys on the court last year, guys like Flynn and Harris, then it will be interesting. The advantage this year is that Devendorf and Rautins are around to step in, and we know they play with poise down the stretch.

All in all, it looks to be a very good year for the Orange. They likely won’t be going 25-6 in the regular season; but a 22-9 season would be outstanding for them, and 20-11 very good.

Let’s go Orange.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Best Backcourts Ever

Syracuse has an overabundance of talent at the guard position entering the 2008-2009 season. The starting backcourt at the end of the 2006-2007 season has returned from a season off due to injury (Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins), and the backcourt from last season returns (Jonny Flynn, Paul Harris and Scoop Jardine). Jardine appears to be heading for a medical redshirt for this season, which will remove some of the clutter, and Harris will likely play his natural small forward position. A remaining backcourt of Flynn, Devendorf and Rautins is still an impressive trio.

How will this year’s backcourt compare to those of Syracuse’s past? The Orange have a long history of outstanding backcourts, and outstanding individuals in those backcourts. Back in October 2006, I had addressed my top five front courts of all time for Syracuse, but I must admit I held off on the backcourts because I found it quite challenging. As a general rule I tried to avoid considering a backcourt with one or two players from another season, but of course, rules are made to be broken. And if three players rotated through the backcourt, I counted them all. That having been said, here is my top 10 Syracuse backcourts, in reverse order:

At number 10 I have the 1978-1979 triumvirate of Hal Cohen, Marty Headd and Eddie Moss. This trio played together for two seasons, but I chose their first season together as their best effort. Eddie Moss was a good playmaker and a great defensive player, Cohen a solid playmaker with a nice jump shot and Headd a tremendous mid range jump shooter. This tri did not do a ton of scoring, but still had decent numbers with Cohen at 8.1 ppg, Headd 12.4 and Moss 6.6 ppg. But they did not need to score much when the front court was loaded with Roosevelt Bouie, Louis Orr, Dale Shackleford and Danny Schayes. This team would go to a 26-4 record.

At number 9 is the 1973-1974 duo of Dennis DuVal and Jimmy Lee. This team ran a ‘showtime’ style offense at coach Roy Danforth’s request, with DuVal putting the ‘flash’ on things, averaging 20.6 points a game with 3.4 assists. Lee was the perfect compliment, a clutch perimeter shooter with 13.7 ppg along with 4.1 assists; Lee was deadly at the free throw line making 81.3% of his charity shots. I would have ranked this duo higher, but Syracuse finished at 19-7, and the sum of the parts of the whole team did not seem to match that of the individuals.

At number 8 is the 1993-1994 backcourts of Adrian Autry and Lawrence Moten. This was one of my favorite backcourts to watch with the big (6’4”) steady Autry at the point, and the smooth all-around terrific play of ‘Poetry in ‘ Moten at the two guard. Both Autry and Moten could score (16.7 ppg and 20.5 ppg respectively), and both were decent rebounders. Moten’s perimeter shooting suffered that year, though he led the team in 3 point shots made, and Autry hit 37% of this perimeter shots. There was nothing dynamic about this duo, just good solid basketball, and they both racked up a few 30 point games that year.

Number 7 is the 1985-1986 backcourt of Pearl Washington and Rafael Addison. Jim Boeheim had moved the underrated Addison from forward to the backcourt to get Howard Triche into the starting lineup, giving Syracuse tremendous talent in the backcourt. The Pearl was spectacular in what would be his last season on the hill, scoring 17.3 ppg and averaging 7.8 assists, and continuing to prove that he one man press breaker. Addison had a solid season with 15 ppg, 4.2 assists, and 5.6 rebounds, but was hampered by a leg injury during the second half of the season, affecting both his and the team’s play.

Number 6 is the 1965-1966 backcourt of Dave Bing, Jim Boeheim and Sam Penceal. Coach Fred Lewis employed a three guard offense most the season with Bing playing more the small forward than guard position. However, this backcourt makes the list purely on his talent along. Penceal was an outstanding defensive player who was called up to stop the opposing team’s leading scorer (he did an outstanding job on Bill Bradley one year). Boeheim was a stead guard averaging 14.6 ppg, and making almost 57% of his shots. But Bing was the star, averaging a school record 28.4 ppg, along with 6.6 assists and 10.8 rebounds. This Syracuse squad was the first NCAA team to average 100 ppg for the regular season (their average dropped below that in the post season), as the Orangemen went on to a 22-6 record.

At number 5 was the 1971-1972 backcourt of Dennis DuVal and Greg Kohls. This was probably the most spectacular scoring backcourt of Syracuse history, with the flashy DuVal averaging 15.8 points a game driving to the hoop, and Kohls launching shots from all locations long and far, averaging an amazing 26.7 points a game (keeping in mind, there was no three point basket). Kohls was one of the greatest free throw shooters in Syracuse history, hitting 86.4% of his attempts that year (and he knew how to draw the foul getting 257 attempts). This was ‘Roys Runts’ where Syracuse had four starters 6’1” or shorter, and a center at 6’5”. Yet, they were able to go 22-6 in part to a scrappy team persona, and in part to this tremendous backcourt.

At number 4 was the 1930-1931 Reindeer Five backcourt of Ev Katz and Dan Fogarty. The duo played together for three seasons, and this was their third and final year. Katz was one of the leading scorers on the team, averaging nearly 10 points a game, and was tremendous as the one handed set shot. Fogarty was the best defensive player on the team and was counted upon to shut down the leading scorer of the other team, regardless of the position he played. Both were extremely fast players, and the Orangemen would go 16-4 that year (after going 11-4 and 18-2 in their first two years together).

Number 3 is the 1933-1934 backcourt of Elmer ‘Elky’ Maister and Ronnie Phillips. Maister and Phillips were considered by many to be the best backcourt in Syracuse for the first half of the century. The duo started together for three years, with Maister being the team’s defensive specialist and Phillips the team’s deadeye shooter. Phillips would lead the team in scoring their senior year at 8 ½ points a game, as the Orangemen would go 15-2, 12-0 at home.

At number 2 is the 2002-2003 trio of Gerry McNamara, Kueth Duany and Billy Edelin. McNamara was the surprise point guard because Edelin was suspended for the first semester. This trio provided coach Boeheim with a perfect compliment of tools. McNamara turned out to be very adept at the point, and was as clutch a three point shooter as ever that season, on his way to 13.3 ppg. McNamara was also the schools best free throw shooter ever, icing games down the stretch with his 90.9% charity shooting. Duany was the perfect zone defender with a long lanky 6’4” body and great athleticism, plus the experience of being a 23 year old senior. Duany also was a decent three point shooter and rebounder, providing valuable contributions in both areas. Edelin was a big point guard (6’4”) able to pass over the zone, and to dribble penetrate down to the low post for the easy layup or dish off for nice pass. The trio helped Syracuse to the National Championship that season, each with their clutch performances along the way.

The top backcourt of all time would have to be the 1986-1987 duo of Sherman Douglas and Greg Monroe. Monroe had come to Syracuse as a point guard, but spent his first three seasons as a backup to the Pearl. Douglas backed up the Pearl his freshman year. Both got the chance to start this season with the Pearl and Addison gone, and they did not disappoint. Douglas picked up where Washington left off, running the Syracuse offense on high octane, and introducing the alley-oop pass as a staple play in the Syracuse playbook. Douglas could seem to make an assist pass from anywhere on the court, and down the stretch he had no problems stepping up and being ‘the guy’ to take the crucial shots. Monroe provided the steady hand in the backcourt, providing more playmaking, and outstanding three point shooting. Monroe developed the technique of camping outside the three point line and waiting for Douglas to kick back a pass to him for an open three (which Monroe hit 43.9% of during the season). The duo would help the Orangemen win the Big East Regular Season title, and would help the team to within a basket of winning the 1987 National Championship.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Breaking that Glass Ceiling

When Mike Jones played his first basketball game for Syracuse back in November 2006, he become the first player named Jones to play basketball for the Orangemen. Though his stay at Syracuse was short lived as he quit Syracuse at the December break, Mike Jones seems to have broken the name barrier. Two season’s later, Mookie Jones joins the Orangemen (and I’m hoping will have a much longer stay on the Hill).

There is a strange trend on Syracuse’s basketball team this year, regarding the players names. The Orangemen do have an Ongenaet and an Onuaku on the roster to confuse some of the national broadcasters. A Devendorf, Jardine, and Presutti to spice things up.

But the rest of the roster is about as commonplace in regards to last names as you can get:


The Orange have two legacy names in Rautins (Andy son of Leo) and Drew (Kevin son of Bill), making them common in the Orange world.

For those counting at home, in this history of Syracuse basketball there have been three Jacksons, three Thomases, three Johnsons, three Harrises, two Flynns, one Joseph, six Williams, two Jones, two Drews, two Rautins, one Ongenaet, one Onuaku, one Devendorf, one Jardine, and one Presutti.

The Williams (DeShaun, Eric, Jimmy, Mike, Sean, and ?) lead the way, with the Starks (John, Lou, Lou, Mike and Pat) and Lees (Charlie, Jimmy, David, Matt, and Mike) right behind with five.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

2008 Orange Hoops Hall of Fame Inductee

In 2007, OrangeHoops inducted its charter class into the OrangeHoops Hall of Fame: Dave Bing, Derrick Coleman, Sherman Douglas, Vic Hanson, and Pearl Washington. A year has passed, and now it is time for the 2008 inductee. I won’t bother you with all the rules for eligibility (you can catch up on them here).

2008 does have 5 new eligible candidates: Mike Hopkins, Conrad MacRae, Glenn Sekunda, Dave Siock, and Michael Edwards. None, based on their current resumes, would warrant consideration for this year’s vote.

I think this year’s viable top candidates come down to the following seven, listed chronologically: Lew Castle, Joe Schwarzer, Billy Gabor, Vinnie Cohen, Roosevelt Bouie, Rony Seikaly and Billy Owens.

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.

Schwarzer was a two time All-American, and was captain and leading scorer of the 1917-1918 squad that went 16-1 and was retroactively named the National Champions by the Helms Foundation.

Gabor was a two time All-American, was a prolific scorer, becoming the first Syracuse player to score 1,000 points and led Syracuse to their first post-season tournament in 1945-1946 with the NIT Tournament.

Cohen was an All-American, the first Syracuse player to average 20+ points a game in a season, and led the team to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1956-1957.

Bouie was a two time All-American, a standout defensive player who led Syracuse to a 100-18 record in his four years.

Seikaly was an All-American, a standout defensive player whose outstanding play in the 1987 NCAA tournament took Syracuse to the brink of its first tournament championship.

Owens was a two time All-American, an outstanding all around player who carried Syracuse to a Big East regular season championship in 1990-1991 and three NCAA tournaments.

Strong arguments could be made for each player. However, the 2008 Orange Hoops Hall of Fame inductee is Billy Owens.

Owens came to Syracuse as an outstanding all-around player having won four basketball state championships in Pennsylvania. His unselfish play helped him easily fit into the loaded Syracuse team his freshman year, alongside stars Sherman Douglas, Derrick Coleman and Stephen Thompson. Despite deferring to the upper classmen, Owens still managed 13 points a game that season and 6.9 rebounds.

With the graduation of Douglas, Owens would take on a more prominent role with the team his sophomore season, leading the team in scoring with 18.2 points a game. Owens helped take the pressure off of freshman point guard Michael Edwards, and much of the offense was funneled through Owens, who had 4.6 assists to go with his leading scoring and 8.4 rebounds a game.

Syracuse lost both Thompson and Douglas, and Owens would be the central player for Syracuse his junior season. He would not disappoint anyone with 23.2 points a game, becoming the first player under coach Jim Boeheim to score 20+ points a game. He added 11.6 rebounds a game and 3.5 assists. Owens carried the Syracuse team for most the season, allowing classmate Dave Johnson to be open and to blossom as a scoring threat. Syracuse would finish the regular season at 26-4, ranked #6 in the country, and still impressed the NCAA committee enough to get a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament, despite a huge upset loss in the first round of the Big East tournament. Unfortunately, Owens and the Orangemen were snake bitten, as they were upset by Richmond in the first round of the tournament.

Owens would be the third pick in the 1991 NBA draft, and would play 10 seasons, though injuries his first couple of seasons would hamper him throughout his NBA career.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

2000 Point Club

How difficult is it to score 2,000 career points in collegiate basketball? Statistically speaking, it's very difficult. Of the nearly 700 athletes who have played basketball for the Syracuse Orangemen, only six have accomplished it, or about 0.9%.

Those six are familiar to all Syracuse fans: Lawrence Moten, Derrick Coleman, John Wallace, Gerry McNamara, Hakim Warrick and Sherman Douglas.

There are a combination of factors that are needed to reach 2,000 career points.

First, you have to play enough games. Dave Bing averaged 24.8 points a game for his career, yet he only played in 76 games. Teams only played about 25 games a year in Bing’s era, and more importantly, freshman could not play, so he had only three years of eligibility.

I think there are 5 players at Syracuse who didn’t play four years of varsity basketball, and I think would have scored 2,000 points with the extra season(s). Bing only needed 117 points from a freshman season, and barring injury, he clearly would have scored that many.

Billy Owens skipped his senior season, where he needed only 160 points to scored 2,000. Again, barring injury, Owens would have easily broken that barrier.

Pearl Washington needed 516 more points, when he skipped his senior season. He was the ‘go to’ guy on offense, and scored 554 points his junior season, so its only natural to assume that barring any minor injuries, he would’ve progressed and gotten to 2,000 points.

Carmelo Anthony, if he could have stayed through his junior season, likely would have reached 2,000 points during that season. He scored 778 points his freshman season, and barring injury, seems a lock to have done it. Of course, Melo was never going to stay for three seasons. Two possibly (the championship nixed that), but three was never going to happen.

Donte’ Greene, like Anthony, easily would have scored 2000+ points if he had stayed. In Greene’s case, four years may have been necessary. But with 620 points his freshman year, barring injury, he would have accomplished the feat. Then again, Greene was never staying four seasons, and anything more than two was very unlikely.

The extra season would not have helped all the guys barred from playing their freshman year. Dennis DuVal averaged 18.6 points a game for his career, and needed ‘only’ 496 points in a freshman season to get to 2,000. But considering DuVal only had 442 points his sophomore season, its logical to assume he would not have gotten the necessary points. Vinnie Cohen and Bill Smith, also big time scorers, also would never have scored enough points as a freshman to reach that level.

The second factor important to reaching 2,000 points is to be a prominent scorer early in your career. The number of games alone won’t get you there. Ask Craig Forth, who started all of the 136 games of his career, and did not even break 1,000 points (643 total to be exact). Even dominant scorers like Stephen Thompson, Rony Seikaly, and Erich Santifer played in several games, but they did not put up big enough numbers early in their career to catch up to the level at the end.

Now here’s the thing I find most interesting about the six players who did all score 2,000 points. They are grouped into pairs of three, where each pair spent the majority of their careers together (three seasons overlapping in each case): Douglas and Coleman, Moten and Wallace, and Warrick and McNamara.

Douglas and Coleman took Jim Boeheim to his first national championship game, and gave Syracuse three exciting years as one of the top teams in the country. They came within a basket of winning the national championship in 1987, and would go 87-24 during their three seasons together. Their Big East action would see them go 33-15, with the Big East regular season title in 1987, and the Big East Tournament title in 1988. Considering that Stephen Thompson, Rony Seikaly, and Billy Owens all came close to 2,000 points, and this era clearly had the best collection of Syracuse players ever.

Moten and Wallace played together from 1993-1995. This era started with Syracuse being banned from post season play for recruiting violations, and this duo helped keep the Syracuse program from dying, and actually resurrected it back to prominence (Wallace would lead the Orange to the championship game the year after Moten left). The Orangemen went 63-26 during their time together, 35-19 in Big East play.

The final duo was McNamara and Warrick. Of course, this duo was highly recognizable for their significant contributions in the 2003 National Championship game. GMac had his 6 three point shots in the first half to give Syracuse a big first half lead, and Hak sealed the deal with the block that will remain in Orange Fans memories forever. The duo would go 80-20 in their career, 45-11 in Big East action, including a Big East Championship in 2005. Of course, they had Melo in 2003, and he was the key player on the championship team. However, as I have always contended, Melo alone did not win that team. Having a couple of players talented enough to score 2,000 career points on that same roster was another key component.

Of the current team, there are three players on track for 2,000 career points. Eric Devendorf is over half way there with two more years to go. Jonny Flynn only needs to duplicate his freshman effort each season for four years to get to the mark. Paul Harris would need to step up his pace, but with 808 points after two years, he would have to average 596 points for two seasons… not unreasonable. Of course, getting all these seasons from these players may be unlikely. But you never know. And it does seem that the members of the 2000 club come in pairs.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Winning the Big Games

There are a lot of ‘knee jerk’ comments by fans and commentators that tend to irk me over time, and more often than not they are just extensions of an unfounded myth, as opposed to fact. One comment that always irks me is a label applied to coaches with impressive records but a label the ‘coach can’t win the big games’, and the comment is meant to imply the coach chokes in the big games.

Marv Levy, formerly of the Buffalo Bills, wears such a label unjustly. You’ll hear the comment that Levy cannot win the big games based purely on the fact that his teams went 0-4 in the Super Bowl. But those aren’t the only ‘big’ games that Levy coached. What about the four AFC Championship games in each of those seasons? He went 4-0 in those games, and I’d say those were pretty big games. And there were several regular season games of significance that Levy’s teams had to win in order to position themselves for the playoffs. There were a lot of big games a coach has to win in order to get to that ultimate championship.

Now, the phrase that Levy ‘cannot win the biggest game or the Super Bowl’ would be a more accurate statement. That phrase would factually be correct, but also has different implications.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has often been a victim of the “he can’t win the big game’ comment. The facts indicate otherwise.

As all Syracuse fans know, the Orangemen won the National Championship in 2003, the biggest game for college basketball. Boeheim did not need to win that game to remove that label, though it did quiet a lot of detractors. The fact he had made it to three National Championship games in itself means he won a lot of ‘big games’ along the way.

The two losses Boeheim suffered in the championship games were highly competitive. Syracuse was both a Keith Smart missed basket or a Derrick Coleman made free throw of winning the 1987 championship. In 1996, Kentucky was heavily favored, and Syracuse was within four points of the game with just over two minutes to play. John Wallace fouled out at that point, and Kentucky pulled away, but the game was highly competitive despite predictions otherwise.

Jim Boeheim is 3-0 in Final Four games. Those are very high pressured games, with huge implications. They do not get much bigger, and he is 3-0 in those games. And those games were not even close, winning 77-63 over Providence in 1987, 77-69 over Mississippi State in 1996, and 95-84 over Texas in 2003.

Boeheim was won 5 Big East tournament championships, and has appeared in 13 of them overall. He has lost 8 tournament championships, but clearly he had to win some big games to get to the finals. His Syracuse teams have gone 42-24 in the Big East tournament, winning 64% of their games.

He does not win all his games against cupcake teams. Syracuse is 300-168 in Big East regular season play, winning 64% of his games. That’s his record year-in year-out against one of the most competitive conferences in the country.

He is 49-20 in national post season play, going 39-24 in the NCAA, and 10-6 in the NIT. He’s had his heartbreakers with losses to Richmond and Vermont in the first round. But those don’t count as big games; and if they do, then you have to count all the first round wins he has had as big game too, and he’s had far more first round victories than losses.

Boeheim is 380-66 in non-conference play. This includes championships and strong showings in tournaments like the pre-season NIT, Coaches vs. Cancer, Great Alaska Shootout and Maui Invitational.

Now Jim Boeheim gets to add an Olympic Gold Medal to his resume, for his participation as an assistant coach in the 2008 Beijing Olympics with the ‘Redeem Team’.

Boeheim does win his share of easy non-conference games (as any respectable coach should win), and he has had his share of upsets and disappointing finishes. When you coach 1,049 games you are going to have memorable upsets and losses. And when you are favored more often than not, you will have more opportunities for upset losses than upset wins. But, to be favored that often, you have to have won a lot of big games, and Boeheim has done that.

He’s not a flawless coach. He does make mistakes, and some losses occur we would rather not see. But to say he cannot win the ‘big games’ is a fallacy.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Greene goes 28th

Congratulations to Donte' Greene for being selected in the 1st round of the NBA draft last Thursday, by the Memphis Grizzlies. His time in Memphis was very short, as he ended up being traded to the Houston Rockets overnight.

Greene was probably somewhat disappointed as he did not end up being a lottery selection, as was originally projected by many back mid season. Yet, being a first round pick is going to put some nice change in his pocket, so I don’t think he will be too disappointed.

Greene is the 15th former Orangemen to be selected in the 1st round of the NBA draft, the 51st Orangemen ever drafted, and the first Orangeman drafted in the first round since Hakim Warrick was the 19th pick in 2005 by the same Memphis Grizzlies. With the assumption that Greene does make the NBA roster and play next year for Houston (or any other NBA team), he will be the 36th former Syracuse player to play in the NBA.

The first were Bob Shaddock and Lew Spicer in 1947; Shaddock would play a mere two games with the Syracuse Nationals, and Spicer four with the Providence Steamrollers. The first Syracuse player to be a regular in the NBA was Bullet Billy Gabor in 1949. Gabor would make an impact in the NBA being named to the all rookie team his first season, make the NBA All-Star team in 1953, and win the NBA Championship with the Nationals in 1955.

The greatest Syracuse player in NBA history is Hall of Famer Dave Bing, who was the 2nd overall pick in the 1966 draft by the Detroit Pistons. Bing would score 18,327 points in his 12 year NBA career, averaging 20.3 ppg and 6.0 assists per game, and play in seven NBA All-Star games.

Danny Schayes played more games than any former Orangemen in NBA history with 1,138 games over 18 seasons. Schayes started for a few seasons, but really found a solid role as a reserve center, with his ability to play smart basketball, make the free throws and jump shots, and grab rebounds as needed.

Derrick Coleman is the only Orangemen drafted number 1 overall in the NBA draft, going to the New Jersey Nets in 1990. Now Coleman was a bust as a number one pick; he never reached the stardom predicted for him, and he had the talent and ability to be a great NBA player. That is not to say Coleman was a bust in the NBA. He did have a solid fifteen year career, averaging 16.5 ppg and 9.3 rebounds a game. Those aren’t bad numbers, and he was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 1991, and on the All-Star team in 1994. They’re just not the numbers expected from the number one overall pick.

Other Orangemen have gone on to productive NBA careers. Sherman Douglas played 12 years, averaging 11.0 ppg and 5.9 assists per game, showing that he could master the alley-oop pass in the professional leagues as well as he did at college.

Louis Orr played 8 seasons averaging 9.8 ppg, Billy Owens played 11 seasons averaging 11.7 ppg, though injuries hounded him throughout his career. Rony Seikaly played a solid eleven seasons scoring 14.7 ppg, along with 9.5 rebounds a game. And John Wallace played 7 seasons, averaging 7.6 ppg.

Greene is going to join 6 current Orangemen who are in the NBA (or at least on the fringes of it). Carmelo Anthony is starring out in Denver, and barring injury, will easily be Syracuse’s second best NBA player ever, and possibly even the best (time will tell).

Jason Hart is going into his eighth season, now with the Utah Jazz. Etan Thomas as been a solid player for the Washington Wizards, and should be back from his injury this year. Hakim Warrick almost had Greene as a teammate down in Memphis; instead Warrick will need to battle a slew of new players brought in by draft day trades. Darryl Watkins and Demetris Nichols are both struggling to stay on NBA teams; Watkins played nine games last season, and Nichols played 14.

It will be interesting to see how Donte' Greene’s ends up. He is clearly not ready today, and NBA scouts took note as his stoke dropped as draft day approached and his workouts were not as impressive as other players. A few months ago I suggested that going professional was perhaps not a bad idea for Greene, since he risked having his stock plummet with another season at Syracuse if he did not learn to rebound or play defense. Considering that his stock dropped anyhow, I would have to recant that, and say that Greene would definitely have been better off staying at Syracuse one more year, and improved his overall draft position.

Donte', thank you for your time at Syracuse, and good luck in the NBA.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Impactful Orangemen

Syracuse has been blessed with several talented young men who have allowed Orange fans to enjoy many joyful moments over the years associated with the basketball program. Names like Dave Bing, Pearl Washington, Derrick Coleman, Sherman Douglas and Billy Owens are only a few of the names to have shined on the Hill.

There are some players, whether it was happenstance by being in the right place at the right time, or through their own presence, had a profound positive impact on Syracuse basketball, not only when they played, but over the years that followed.

The following is not a list of the ten best players in Syracuse basketball players (though it surely does contain some of the best), but rather those players who had a significant and lasting impact on the Orange basketball.

Roosevelt Bouie and Louis Orr starts out the list at number 10. The talented duo helped transform the Syracuse basketball program into a perennial top 10 program under rookie head coach Jim Boeheim. The Bouie & Louie Show drew national attention to the Syracuse program as the team went 100-18 over their four years. Post season success would not be obtained by the team, though four straight NCAA berths were secured. The arrival of the duo elevated Syracuse to a national program with an identity.

Art Powell was the leader of the Syracuse basketball team from 1904 through 1907, playing both center and guard. The Syracuse basketball program was fledgling before Powell arrived. Powell was immediately the star of the team. He had been highly an successful AAU player in Masden Park (Buffalo) for the Buffalo Germans before coming to Syracuse, and he convinced three of his teammates, George Kirchgasser, George Redlein and Max Riehl to come to Syracuse. These four players helped Syracuse build and sustain a successful basketball program in the early years.

At number eight is Vinnie Cohen. Cohen, more than any other player, was responsible for the successful integration of the Syracuse basketball program. Cohen wasn’t the first African American at Syracuse; Wilmeth Sidat-Singh was first, almost sixteen years earlier. But Syracuse did not have another African American player after Singh until the early 1950s. Cohen wasn’t even the first in his era, as Manny Breland and Ronnie Kilpatrick preceded him. However, Cohen was undoubtedly the star of the team his first year on the court (1954-1955), and would lead the Orangemen in scoring all three seasons. Cohen was a scholar athlete, eschewing opportunities to play professional basketball in order to obtain a law degree. He would elevate the Syracuse program from a 10-9 program (in 1954) to the school’s first NCAA bid and an elite eight appearance in the 1957 season. In a decade where Syracuse football was dominant, Cohen kept Syracuse basketball relevant and he proved that African American players were not only capable of playing on the team, but carrying it to the next level.

The Lee Brothers come in at number seven. Mike was an undersized forward with a solid shooting touch and outstanding hustle and determination on the court. Jimmy, two years his junior, was a sweet shooting guard, with a knack of hitting clutch jump shots. Both were fundamentally solid players with excellent free throw shooting and ball handling skills. Syracuse went 11-14, 9-16 and 12-12 before Mike Lee arrive. When Mike arrived for the 1970-1971 season, until Jimmy graduated in the 1974-1975 season, the Orange would go to the postseason every year, capping it with a strong underdog run to the NCAA Final Four in 1975. Syracuse had better players than the Lee’s when the arrived, and during their tenure, but the brothers the skill set and determination that help Roy Danforth build a solid program.

Vic Hanson is number six on the list. Hanson would turn Syracuse into the dominant team on the east coast, and would help launch the highly successful year of rookie head coach Lew Andreas. Syracuse went 8-12 and 8-10 the year before Hanson stepped on the varsity court; the Orange would go 15-2 his sophomore year, 19-1 his junior year, and 15-4 his senior year. Hanson’s junior year Syracuse was recognized as the #1 team in the nation by the Helms Foundation. Syracuse would maintain success after Hanson, and was a solid team throughout the 1930s. Hanson would coach basketball and football, and help recruit players for the Orange, remaining active with the program.

At number five comes the man who saved the Syracuse basketball program in the early 1990s. Syracuse was under scrutiny from the NCAA for rules violations, and the program was waiting for the punishment to be handed down. Syracuse recruiting was suffering as a result. Meanwhile, freshman Lawrence Moten came out of no where his freshman season to score 18.2 points a game. Moten was a fundamentally solid player, a quiet man who let his actions do his talking. He played with the confidence and maturity of a senior as a freshman, never forcing the action, and yet somehow always ending up with his 20 points at the end of the night. Syracuse would go on probation Moten’s sophomore year, but he the program never missed a beat as it continued to keep winning. A couple years after Moten left the Orange were back in the NCAA Final Four, and the impact of the NCAA probation was barely noticed.

Carmelo Anthony comes in at number 4. All Melo did was lead the Orangemen to their first NCAA National Championship in 2003, his lone season on the campus. Anthony averaged 22.2 points a game and 10.0 rebounds a game that season, and the team flowed offensively through him. He had a lot of help that championship season, particularly from Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara, but Anthony was the icon and leader. The season prior to Anthony, the team had imploded upon itself, and Anthony helped wipe away memories of that season. His presence in the spotlight, and continued success in the NBA, has helped Syracuse continue to recruit top flight talent. The program hasn’t built on Anthony’s success, which is keeping him lower on this list… but the championship alone is a significant impact.

Dwayne ‘The Pearl’ Washington is number three on the list. The Pearl was a highly recruited guard out of Brooklyn, with name recognition prior to coming to Syracuse. He came to the Hill, and was as good as advertised. The Pearl dazzled fans with his style of play, and immediately helped the Orangemen become competitive in the Big East, at a time when legendary players like Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin and Eddie Pinkney were leading other teams. Syracuse started to draw 30,000+ fans to the Carrier Dome to see the Pearl play, and Syracuse became one of the teams you had to watch on television. The Pearl brought exposure to the program that had never been seen before, and coach Jim Boeheim was able to recruit top talent such as Derrick Coleman, Stephen Thompson and Billy Owens as a result. The Pearl also helped an unknown guard Sherman Douglass learn the ropes during rough practice sessions, which delivered dividends for the Orange very shortly after the Pearl left.

Dave Bing is number two on the list. To say that the Syracuse basketball program was bad before Bing would be an understatement. Syracuse was 4-19, 2-22, and 8-13 before Dave Bing stepped on the varsity court, and Syracuse football was at its pinnacle of power. The basketball program could have faded into obscurity (if it in fact was not already there). As a freshman, more fans would flock to see the freshman team to watch Bing play than would watch the varsity. Bing would step on the court and take the Orange to the NIT Tournament his sophomore season, averaging 22.2 points a game and 8.2 rebounds. The team struggled early his junior season on the way to a disappointing 13-10 record, but would go to the NCAA Tournament his senior year with a 22-6 record, averaging a school record 28.4 points a game. The Orange barely missed averaging 100 points a game during the regular season, setting a new NCAA standard, this despite the fact that Bing was the only player who would end up in the NBA.

Bing would go on to have a Hall of Fame NBA career, and become a very successful businessman in Detroit. Bing would have further influence on the Syracuse program as he mentored a young Detroit kid named Derrick Coleman, and helped guide him to Syracuse. Bing would probably have made #1 on my list if the program had remained solid after his departure, but it dropped shortly afterwards until resurrection in the early 1970s.

The number one player on this list was Bing’s roommate at Syracuse. Jim Boeheim was a walk-on at Syracuse, eventually earning a scholarship, and teaming with Dave Bing in the backcourt. Boeheim’s impact of course, was not as a player. However, as a player he developed relationships with the school that would allow him to be the assistant basketball coach, helping to recruit for the Orange in the early 70s. When Roy Danforth stepped down, Boeheim jumped at the chance to be the head coach, and the university immediately saw dividends. Boeheim’s first recruit was Louis Orr, and the Orange rose to the #6 team in the nation in Boeheim’s rookie year. Thirty two seasons later, Boeheim has 771 wins, 3 Final Fours, 1 National Championship, 25 NCAA bids, 6 NIT bids, 5 Big East Championships, 13 appearances in the Big East Finals and 300 Big East wins. Boeheim took Syracuse to the national level, gaining tremendous exposure. He’s consistently recruited top players, had a keen eye for finding the great unknown players, and developed a reputation as the best zone defense coach in the country. The impact of Jim Boeheim on the program is undeniable, and Syracuse fans have been blessed that he has always considered Syracuse his dream job.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Orange Basketball Schedule - One Man's Preference

If I were czar of Men’s NCAA basketball day, and I could make changes that would be irreversible, one of things I would address is setting up the basketball schedule for the Syracuse Orange. I am going to assume 30 games as the regular season schedule.

There are three things I would want to accomplish with my schedule. First, playing a schedule that would be rich in tradition for Syracuse and its fans. Second, playing teams that geographically will help the Orange in recruiting on an ongoing basis. Third, playing teams that routinely would help Syracuse with the ever-so-popular RPI. And fourth, playing teams that would permanently prevent the media from hyping how ‘Syracuse never leaves New York state’.

As I mentioned several months back, I have no problem with Syracuse playing the in-state teams. In fact, I think there is an obligation of sorts. Keep in mind that the national media carries a bias. They want to have games between big name teams on every night of the season, from the very first tip off through the national championship. It builds for better ratings, and frankly, it makes the job easier for the ‘talking heads’ as there are fewer teams they have to truly study up on. But I digress.

As NCAA czar, I am not going to kick any teams out of the Big East conference. I think those types of actions are bush league. All teams contribute, all deserve to belong. However, a balanced schedule of any format is not really possible with 16 teams, not if you want any type of non-conference schedule. So I’m setting Syracuse up with a 20 game conference schedule, where they will play five teams twice a year, and the other ten teams once each season. I am not going to rotate this schedule; it would be permanent. So every season, Syracuse would have the same five teams for home-and-home, and they would alternate the home/away with the other ten.

The five home-and-home teams are Georgetown, Pittsburgh, St. Johns, UConn, and Villanova. The Hoyas and Huskies are hated rivals, and Syracuse has to play them at home each season. Enough said there. Syracuse needs to play at least one game a year in Madison Square Garden during the regular season, so you’ve got to have a home-and-home with the Red Storm to get that. Syracuse needs one road game in Philadelphia each year, so that gives you Nova on the home and home. And Syracuse has been playing Pittsburgh since both teams started playing hoops (a total of 96 times with the Orange holding a 61-35 lead over Pitt to date). Plus exposure in Western Pennsylvania helps with the Midwest.

That leaves one game a year with Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, South Florida, and West Virginia. Notre Dame and WVU are the only two I briefly considered for home-and-home, but I could find no reason for one of them over the other five. This brings Syracuse up to 20 games.

I would have the Orange play in one pre-season tournament each year, with a guaranteed two games. We could rotate the preseason NIT, Great Alaska Shootout, Maui Invitational and Coaches vs. Cancer. If the Orange did well, they may pick up an additional two or three games, but the two guaranteed are what matter. So we’re at 22 games.

I would schedule one game a season against both Colgate and Cornell. Colgate and Syracuse used to have a bitter rivalry with many close games, and they have met each other 160 times. The Orange have had the upper hand for 40+ years now, and hold a 115-45 lead. If you’re going to have some easy games (and you are), they might as well mean something. Same with Cornell. Syracuse and Cornell have a long series with 115 games, Syracuse leading 84-31, and there was even some fighting during the Derrick Coleman era. So we’re at 24 games.

I’d have two more games each year against two of the following four teams: Niagara, Canisius, St. Bonaventure and Buffalo. If Syracuse wants to throw in Albany, Binghamton, and other New York schools, I’m not going to argue it. I just want two more New York schools into the preseason schedule. Niagara with 81 games and Canisius with 67 are the most common opponents of Syracuse, but any would do. That gets us to 26 games.

I’d have Syracuse play one of the following three Big 10 teams each season: Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan. I think Ohio State and Michigan bring a consistently competitive program and the opportunity to get exposure in Ohio and Michigan that could help Syracuse. Penn State is a long time rivalry that should be restarted in some format, though I’m not willing to commit to it on a regular basis, particularly since it helps Penn State far more than Syracuse. But Penn State is Big 10, so this rotation of three gives Syracuse a non-conference Big 10 game.

I would rotate playing Southern California (USC) and UCLA. A road trip to Los Angeles every other season would not be too trying on the Orange, and it would help revitalize a dormant West Coast pipeline (that current assistant Mike Hopkins should be able to take advantage of). Plus it gives the Orange a Pac 10 game. That gets us to 28 games.

The last two games I would have permanently on the schedule as a rotating home/away series. I would want Boston College on the schedule every year. They used to be a great rivalry for the Orange, and it’s time to bury the hatchet from the ACC defection. Plus the BC game now counts as a non-conference games against a big name conference. The second game would be having Maryland on the schedule every season. It’s hard to believe that Syracuse has only played the Terrapins seven times. Maryland is in a hot bed of Syracuse recruiting for the past 25 years, and it is such a logical team for the Orange to play (honestly, Maryland should have been a Big East school many years back... it would’ve helped football and basketball). Plus Maryland is an ACC team, so that helps the non-conference schedule.

So there’s my schedule. You end up with 20 Big East Conference games, 2 ACC games, 1 Big 10 game, 1 Pac 10 game, and four second tier New York State teams. Plus you get two more games in a preseason tournament which will garner more exposure, and with a little success in those tournaments get you games against other top flight teams. With the exception of the years the Penn State gets into the rotation, you have 4 games against solid major college schools each non-conference season (not counting those tournament games). There are no games against the so-called mid-majors… Syracuse won’t get burned by any of them having a bad season, or by any of them pulling the upset.

I would have liked to have had a rotation with the other four Big 5 schools of Philadelphia (Drexel, St. Josephs, Temple and LaSalle); and I would have liked one game against the MAC. But the bloated Big East took up my remaining slots, and I was not going to drop a Big East team.

The weakness in my schedule is that it will force the Orange to leave the Dome for a few non-conference games, which will hurt the financial status of the program. The four games against the major conference teams would all be home/away series, so two of those games each season would be away instead of home. The four NY state games would be home… so Syracuse would get six home games, and four road games in its non-conference schedule each year. I know coach Jim Boeheim would prefer more of a 8-2 ratio there, and so would I, but in order to rotate the major conference teams, the Orange are going to have to play some games on the road.
To recap, the games would be:


  • Colgate (home)
  • Cornell (home)
  • Rotation of first of Niagara, Canisius, Buffalo, St. Bonaventure (home)
  • Rotation of second of Niagara, Canisius, Buffalo, St. Bonaventure (home)
  • Maryland: ACC (alternating home/away)
  • Boston College: ACC (alternating home/away)
  • Rotation of Big 10: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State (alternating home/away)
  • Rotation of Pac 10: UCLA, USC (alternating home/away)
  • Pre-season tourney game #1
  • Pre-season tourney game #2

Conference Games

  • Georgetown (home)
  • Georgetown (away)
  • UConn (home)
  • UConn (away)
  • Pitt (home)
  • Pitt (away)
  • St. Johns (home)
  • St. Johns (away)
  • Villanova (home)
  • Villanova (away)
  • West Virginia (alternating home/away)
  • Rutgers (alternating home/away)
  • Seton Hall (alternating home/away)
  • Providence (alternating home/away)
  • Notre Dame (alternating home/away)
  • Marquette (alternating home/away)
  • DePaul (alternating home/away)
  • Louisville (alternating home/away)
  • Cincinnati (alternating home/away)
  • South Florida (alternating home/away)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Syracuse Lacrosse Wins #10!

Though this blog covers Syracuse basketball, there needs to be an acknowledgment of the Syracuse Orange Lacrosse team winning its 10th National Championship today 13-10 over Johns Hopkins. For those not familiar with lacrosse, Syracuse meeting Johns Hopkins in the finals is similar to Kansas vs UCLA in the college hoops, or the Yankees / Dodgers in the World Series, or the Celtics / Lakers in the NBA Finals. It doesn't get more legendary than that.

Only seven colleges have won the Division I National Championship in Lacrosse:
  1. Syracuse - 10
  2. Johns Hopkins - 9
  3. Princeton - 6
  4. North Carolina - 4
  5. Virginia - 4
  6. Cornell - 3
  7. Maryland - 2

If you cared to know, the most Division II championships go to:

  1. Adelphi - 7
  2. NYIT - 4
  3. LeMoyne - 3
  4. Hobart - 2
  5. Limestone - 2
  6. Towson State - 1
  7. UMBC - 1
  8. C.W. Post - 1
  9. Roanoke - 1
  10. Cortland - 1
  11. Springfield - 1

And the most Division III championships of all time:

  1. Hobart - 13
  2. Salisbury - 8
  3. Nazareth - 3
  4. Middlebury - 3
  5. Cortland - 1
  6. Washington (MD) - 1

Enjoy your Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Syracuse Top Freshman - Revised

In September I posed the question, who was the greatest freshman basketball player in Syracuse basketball history? At the time I gave the nod to Carmelo Anthony, barely edging out Billy Owens. My top ten were:

1. Carmelo Anthony
2. Billy Owens
3. Lawrence Moten
4. Pearl Washington
5. Derrick Coleman
6. Gerry McNamara
7. Dale Shackleford
8. Roosevelt Bouie
9. Eric Devendorf
10. Adrian Autry

The past season, 2007-2008, could be called the ‘Year of the Freshman’ for Syracuse because of the impact four freshman had on the time and their overall playing time. Rick Jackson and Scoop Jardine were valuable backups. Jonny Flynn and Donte´ Greene were starters all year and definitely among the top players on the team. Where do Flynn and Greene rank in the all-time Orange freshman?

Jonny Flynn is a tough call. He played a solid point guard position all season long, starting out with 28 points in his freshman debut, and finishing the year with 15.7 points per game, 5.3 assists a game, and 2.7 rebounds a game. He shot nearly 78% from the free throw line, 35% from three point range with 56 three point shots made. Statistically, he’s definitely in the top 10 for SU freshman.

Flynn had a 1.9 assist to turnover ratio, with 2.7 turnovers a game. Those are not great ball handling numbers, but I’m nitpicking a little here. Statistics only tell part of the game. Flynn played virtually every minute of every Big East game because of injuries on the Orange squad, and really no one to back him up. He showed the ability to defer to his teammates as a playmaker first, and take the big shots when they were needed.

Flynn showed patience on the court. It was clear in many games that he wanted to speed up the tempo, run the fast break, only to find that he had no teammates running down the court with him. More often than not, Flynn would make the wise choice and pull up, waiting for his teammates to support him. Flynn’s freshman season was definitely better than Shackleford, Bouie, Devendorf and Autry, and he wasn’t as good as Anthony, Owens, Moten, or the Pearl. So where does he fall in the Coleman / McNamara ranking?

Comparing Coleman and Flynn is very difficult as they played different positions and had vastly different responsibilities. Coleman had to play stellar inside defense, provide as much rebounding as possible, and provide some inside scoring presence. Flynn had to run the team, and because of lack of teammates, provide more scoring. Coleman was clearly surrounded by better players than Flynn, and has more experienced players around him. Having said that Coleman was instrumental in Syracuse winning the Big East regular season title, and coming within a basket of the national championship. Flynn, though not necessarily his fault, was pressed to get Syracuse to .500 in the Big East season, and the Orange were NIT bound. I have to go with Coleman over Flynn in this case.

Flynn compared to McNamara is a more straight forward. Flynn was a point guard asked to take on some of the perimeter shooting requirements because of injuries. McNamara was a shooting guard asked to play the point guard position because of the suspension of Billy Edelin. Both were asked to play with a freshman forward with aspirations of going to the NBA after one season, and both were asked to take on significant responsibilities and burdens for the team.

Flynn was a better playmaker, better ball handler. McNamara a better shooter, particularly from the free throw line. McNamara understood Boeheim’s zone defense better, and was more adept at creating turnovers from that scheme than Flynn. The two players actually played surprisingly similar minutes (35.3/g for McNamara, 35.5/g for Flynn). I’m going to give the edge to McNamara here on the basis that he had more big plays, more game winning moments than Flynn. McNamara seemed to always put the Orange in the position to win games (admittedly Anthony had a lot to do with that). McNamara’s team had a reputation of repeatedly coming from behind to win games. Flynn’s team had a reputation for repeatedly blowing large leads.

So that puts Flynn as # 7 on my all time Syracuse freshman list.

Where does Donte´ Greene belong? I think most would agree that Flynn was the better freshman player than Greene. I know that’s a position I’ve consistently written in this blog. Greene did have an outstanding freshman season. He scored 17.7 points a game, and averaged 7.2 rebounds a game. He shot 90 three point shots, a school record for freshman, breaking McNamara’s record. He had moments in games where he would dominate the court for a short period of time.

Greene’s weaknesses are pretty well known by Syracuse fans. He played poor defense on a regular basis. He did not like to play inside and take advantage of his height, instead preferring to take the perimeter shot. He refused to fake the perimeter shot and drive to the hoop. He often took ill advised shots that he rushed to get off, despite plenty of time for the offense to operate. He turned the ball over a lot (91 times) for a player who was not the primary ball handler. Basically, he was a very talented freshman who made a lot of freshman mistakes.

I think Greene falls somewhere around Roosevelt Bouie. Bouie was a raw freshman talent, with a strong defensive reputation and limited offensive skills. Bouie didn’t disappoint anyone with his defense as he proved he was a strong intimidator inside, and a solid rebounder. Bouie didn’t have the great offensive skills but still scored 10 points a game by showing he could run with the fast break, and take advantage of the dunks near the hoop. As flashy as Greene’s offensive numbers were, I would take Bouie’s freshman defense over Greene’s offense, and Bouie was not a liability on offense where Greene was on defense. Greene was more polished than Bouie, but he also had bigger holes in his game.

So my top ten, with the two new freshman on it, is now:

1. Anthony
2. Owens
3. Moten
4. Washington
5. Coleman
6. McNamara
7. Flynn
8. Shackleford
9. Bouie
10. Greene

Eric Devendorf and Red Autry had solid freshman seasons, but it’s an impressive list of freshman ahead of them. What's your opinion? Feel free to leave a comment or vote in the ranking at