Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Early Season Dominance

Syracuse is off to a 12-0, the best start since the school went 19-0 in the 1999-2000 season. They are the 10th Orangemen squad to start out the season with twelve wins. I covered all the fast starts in Syracuse basketball a few years ago, so I won’t readdress the issue now. As I had mentioned a few days ago, I was in the process of putting together new information on OrangeHoops.org regarding Syracuse’s performance against ranked teams, and that is now completed.

I’m sure it seems Syracuse is always off to a fast start under Jim Boeheim. And that is not an illusion. With Syracuse’s win tonight against Oakland, the Orangemen are 308-38 in November and December under Boeheim. That’s an 89% winning percentage.

Boeheim’s critics will point out that as evidence of how inflated his record is. It is true that Syracuse does play its share of ‘easy’ games in November and December, just like every other major Division I school. However, it is not true that Boeheim’s winning percentage in these two months is solely the result of playing the easier competition. Syracuse has an outstanding record against ranked teams in November and December. The Orangemen are 22-13 versus top 25 teams in those two months; since the 1988-89 season he is 20-7 versus top 25 teams in the first two months.

Folks, that’s an outstanding number. If you are winning half of your games against Top 25 teams on a regular basis, you are doing an outstanding job. Syracuse has been 11-4 in November, and 11-9 in December against the Top 25. The fact is the Orange win in November and December, regardless of who they play. They have some aberrations (a Cleveland State here, a Drexel there). But you get the point.

Now I realize it is only what you accomplish in March that really matters. But Boeheim does have a National Championship and three Final Fours under his belt. Few coaches have that. And in his three championship games he coached against Bobby Knight, Rick Pitino and Roy Williams. That’s a trio of Hall of Famers he met in the title game.

Overall, Boeheim is 111-123 versus Top 25 teams. Against the best teams in the country, he’s winning 47% of his games. The Orangemen are 46-61 against the Top 10 teams in the Boeheim era. They are winning 43% of their games against the best 10 teams in the country. The Orangemen in that same time span are 17-39 against the Top 5 teams in the country. So when a Boeheim coached team plays one of the five best teams in the country, they’ll win 30% of the time. Basically, they have a one in three chance against the best of the best. I think you have to be pretty good to win at that level.

Boeheim coached teams are 65-78 versus teams ranked higher than the Orangemen (since 1986-87 they are 55-58 against that group). They are winning 45% of the games, on a regular basis, against teams reportedly ranked better than the Orangemen (and this includes when the Orange weren’t ranked and their opposition was). So Jim Boeheim teams are almost even money in games against the better team.

Overall, Jim Boeheim has coached against 287 Top 25 teams. His squad has been ranked in 676 games of the 1099 games he has coached.

Look, Boeheim has his coaching flaws. And his teams have lost some games we thought they were locks in. But they have also won several games they were not supposed to win.

As a side note, I thought there was some interesting ranking information regarding all four of Syracuse’s Final Fours. The 1974-75 squad was never ranked during the regular season; the AP named them #20 during the first round of the NCAA tournament. The 1986-87 team started the season out at #15; they were #10 entering the NCAA tournament. They would be #2 ranked North Carolina in the tournament, and lost eventually by a basket to the #3 ranked Indiana Hoosiers.

The 2005-2006 Orangemen were not ranked to start the season, and reach the Top 25 on December 15th. They would beat #4 ranked Kansas in the tournament, and lose to #2 ranked Kentucky in the final.

The 2002-2003 Orangemen were not ranked to start the season, and would not enter the Top 25 until January 18th. They would beat #3 Oklahoma, #5 Texas and #6 Kansas to win the National Championship.

So being unranked in November, like this year, can lead to a nice ending. Let’s hope so.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Feature @ OrangeHoops on Ranked Teams

I have been working recently on a new feature at OrangeHoops that will show Syracuse’s all-time record versus AP Ranked Teams and each Syracuse coach’s individual record. I am also updating the game results pages of OrangeHoops to show the ranking of Syracuse and their opponent for each game.

I have not finished this feature yet; it is a somewhat slow process of getting the data, and updating each page as I translate the results. However, I wanted to announce this early as I have been receiving a lot of questions from loyal Syracuse fans (and readers!) on Syracuse’s performance with regards to ranked teams. I’ve completed the data from the 1948-1949 season through the 1995-1996 season. As a footnote, AP weekly voting did not start until 1948-49.

Once I’ve finished this ‘small’ project, I’ll do some of my customary analysis and commentary. But I wanted to get some of this information out to you all now, as the existing data will help answer many questions.

Just to wet your appetite, here are some highlights in Syracuse basketball history regarding ranked teams:

Syracuse first played a ranked team on February 9, 1949 when they played #20 Duquesne. Syracuse beat the Dukes 65-58 that day. Jack Kiley would lead Syracuse with 21 points.

Syracuse first played the #1 ranked team on March 13th, 1950 versus Bradley in the NIT. Bradley would win that game 78-66, and that would be the last game coached by Lew Andreas who retired after 25 years. As a side note, if you have ever wondered why there are references to the NIT once being as important as the NCAA, take note that Syracuse was playing the #1 team in the country in the post-season NIT. In other words, the #1 ranked team was not even in the NCAA tournament in 1950.

Syracuse’s first win against a Top 10 team occurred the next year, as Syracuse beat #8 Bradley 76-75 on March 31, 1951 to win the National Campus Tournament Championship (a third post season tournament that only hung around for a couple of years). Syracuse would trail in that game 18-0, before making a remarkable comeback. Jack Kiley would lead Syracuse with 12 points.

Syracuse’s first win against a Top 5 team did not occur until March 1, 1983 against Villanova, when the Orangemen beat the #4 Wildcats 79-70 at the Carrier Dome. Erich Santifer would lead the Orangemen with 21 pts.

Syracuse’s first win against a #1 Team was on January 28, 1985 against Georgetown. Syracuse beat the Hoyas 65-63. Rafael Addison would lead the Orangemen with 26 points.

The first time Syracuse was ranked #1 was the 1987-1988 preseason ranking. Syracuse would play #3 ranked North Carolina in the Tip Off classic, and lose a close one 96-93. Rony Seikaly would lead the Orangemen in scoring with 23 points.

The Orangemen were ranked #1 for 11 games over 6 weeks in 1989-1990, from November 27th until January 8th. They started that year at #3 in the preseason poll, but moved to #1 before playing any games as #1 Missouri and #2 LSU lost early November games. Their last game as a #1 ranked team was on January 6th, 1990 versus the unranked Villanova Wildcats. The Orangemen lost that game 93-74.

The last time Syracuse beat a #1 team was on March 7, 2006 when the beat Connecticut on their historic Big East Title run, with the Orangemen winning four games in four days to take the title by Gerry McNamara’s MVP performance.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Win over Florida

The Orange are now 9-0, having knocked off their third top 15 team of the season. The Orange should go to 12-0 before the start of the Big East season on December 29th, but of course, upsets do happen. It was only a year ago that a 9-0 Syracuse team did lose to Cleveland State, at home.

I had mentioned three years ago that there were fifteen teams in Syracuse history to start a season 10-0. A win over St. Francis will make this year’s squad the 16th to accomplish that feat. Brandon Triche’s cousin Jason Hart was the starting point guard on the last Syracuse squad to win its first ten games, the 1999-2000 squad. That team would eventually go 19-0 before losing its first game.

Brandon Triche’s uncle, Howard, would help the Orangemen start out 15-0 in the 1986-1987 season. Only a jump shot by Keith Smart in the final seconds prevented the Orangemen from winning the National Championship that year. And Andy Rautins' father, Leo, help lead the 1982-1983 Orangemen to an 11-0 start.

Speaking of Andy Rautins, he is simply putting up some amazing statistics early in this season, despite playing only about 24 minutes a game. Rautins now has 49 assists and 19 turnovers after the first nine games of the season. Now keep in mind that Andy Rautins is a shooting guard, a guy who many thought was too slow and too weak to play major Division I basketball. He is on pace for roughly 200 assists for the season, with 80 turnovers, a 2.6 assist to turnover ratio. If Rautins were playing 39-40 minutes a game, he would be averaging about 9 assists a game. Jonny Flynn last season, playing 39-40 minutes a game, had 6.7 assists per game, and a turnover/assist ratio around 2.0.

Rautins is shooting 48% from three point range, 25-52, after having an off-night going 2-7 against Florida. He had no steals, which was unusual for this season for him; Rautins has 30 steals for the season. Jonny Flynn led the Orange last season with 54 steals, for the entire 38 game season. Rautins current pace puts him at around 120 steals for the year. The Syracuse record is 101 by James Thues in 2001-02. And keep in mind, that Rautins is only playing 24 minutes a game right now.

I don’t anticipate those numbers to hold up all season, but it really points out how well Rautins has been doing.

Rick Jackson had an outstanding first half last night. I love the fact that Syracuse is feeding the ball inside to Jackson and Onuaku this year. Good things happen when you offensively get the ball near the hoop. Offensive rebounds happen (Syracuse had 16 last night), opposing defensive players get in foul trouble, and the perimeter shooters get open looks. I like how Kris Joseph is defining his own role as the fast wing player who plays when the Orange need speed over size (Onuaku, sit down). Another stellar night by Wes Johnson (17 pts, 10 rebounds).

The Orange are fun to watch this year. They are playing a good brand of team basketball right now, and I hope that attitude stays with the squad all season long.

By the way, the Florida game is a neutral court game as it was part of the SEC/Big East Challenge, and was played on neither school’s home court. It’s not like the University of Florida is anywhere near Tampa; it’s a massive 132 miles away, a 2 hour 6 minute drive. Syracuse is 1144 miles away (an 18 hour 30 minute drive). Then again, I’m sure Dick Vitale and company would point out that Florida had to drive the whole 132 miles, while Syracuse simply had to drive about 12 minutes to the Hancock Airport, then fly to Tampa, and then drive a few miles to the Tampa arena. Definitely no home court advantage for Florida in this one, unlike Syracuse which has Madison Square Garden in its back yard (it’s very big back yard). All sarcasm aside, I don't mind this game being a neutral court game; it was on a 'neutral' court. Just remember to give Syracuse the same respect about its other two 'neutral' court games at Madison Square Garden.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Geography 101

The Syracuse Orange are now 6-0, after putting away Columbia in the second half of Friday night’s game at the Carrier Dome. Wesley Johnson was exciting on offense, Andy Rautins had his usual stellar defensive effort, and Jim Boeheim moved in to sole possession of 7th place on the all-time win list with win # 805.

I would like to take a break, to educate all the youth of America who are being educated by Professor Dick Vitale on the proximity of Madison Square Garden to Syracuse University. He likes to reiterate each and every year that Syracuse ‘never’ leaves NY state before the Big East season, as if that is a tremendous home field for Syracuse. I will of course agree that the following statement is indeed correct:

“Syracuse and Madison Square Garden are indeed both in New York State”

For those unfamiliar with the geography of New York, that is about the only thing in common with New York city and Syracuse. Syracuse University is 249 miles driving distance from Madison Square Garden (per MapQuest). It is a 4 hours 22 minutes away.

Syracuse is not on a subway line from New York City. Many people from Syracuse have never been to New York City. I had never visited New York City until I was 20 years old. Roughly 27% of the Syracuse city area is covered by trees, and the city receives more snowfall than any other major US city with 115 inches of snow a year. The immediate areas surrounding Syracuse are known for apple orchards, wineries, and dairy farms.

Syracuse is closer to the states of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut than it is to New York City. It is closer to Canada, than it is to the Big Apple.

Of the original 8 Big East Schools, guess which university is the furthest from Madison Square Garden? Yes, the answer is indeed Syracuse. Here’s the list with their Mapquest driving distance.

St. John’s – 0 miles (The Red Storm play some home games at MSG)
Seton Hall – 19 miles
Villanova – 96 miles
UConn – 142 miles
Providence – 180 miles
Boston College – 216 miles
Georgetown - 229 miles
Syracuse – 249 miles

In the new Big East alignment, Rutgers is added to the above list at only 14 miles. And just for the heck of it, here are three non-Big East schools of note: Temple is 96 miles, University of Maryland is 222 miles and Penn State University is 239 miles away.

Syracuse is closer to Toronto, Ontario at 245 miles. It is virtually the same distance to Montreal, Quebec at 252 miles. And Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 245 miles. And Hartford, Connecticut at 256 miles. Erie, Pennsylvania, at the far western corner of the state of Pennsylvania is 238 miles away.

Anyhow, I hope you all get the point. Yes, Syracuse is in New York State. But unless you count all the cities just mentioned as 'home' games for Syracuse, then please don't apply the same standard to Madison Square Garden. That goes to you too Mr. Vitale.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

#804 for Boeheim behind Balanced Scoring

The Orange moved to 5-0 with a hard earned victory over Cornell. Syracuse grabbed control of the game in the second half and made the final score one sided, but Cornell shot the lights out in the first half, and made the Orange work for this one. This was Jim Boeheim’s 804th career victory, tying him for 7th all time with Eddie Sutton.

The Orange have not yet played a game that has been close in the final two minutes, so there are many questions on how those types of games will go for Syracuse. Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf were the ‘go to’ guys in the past couple of years. There may not be ‘the guy’ to go to this year, at least not in the classical sense of the big scorer. I suspect as the season goes on that one of the guards will become the playmaker that you want the ball in the hands of, and he’ll make the right decision. And I think Wesley Johnson and Andy Rautins, depending on the scenario will be the guys who end up taking those last minutes shots more often than not. But we will have to wait and see.

Syracuse has a statistical anomaly after the first five games. Five different players have led the Orange in scoring this season: Arinze Onuaku, Andy Rautins, Scoop Jardine, Wesley Johnson and Brandon Triche. This year’s team is a selfless team, as a few of the players have already stated, and so far the scoring indicates that. It will be interesting how that plays out over the course of the year.

When was the last time the Orangemen had 5 different players lead them in scoring in the first five games? If you go back to the 2003-2004 season, they had four players do it in the first five games: Gerry McNamara, Hakim Warrick, Billy Edelin and Terrence Roberts.

You could go back to 1980-1981 where Tony Bruin, Leo Rautins, Erich Santifer, Danny Schayes and Marty Headd all led the team in scoring in the first five games. But I would not really count this one, as Headd and Rautins tied for the lead in scoring in one game, and Schayes led it two other games.

The last time that five different players led the team in scoring for each of the five games was 34 years ago back in 1976-1977, Jim Boeheim’s first year (and victories #1 through #4). Larry Kelley, Roosevelt Bouie, Dale Shackleford, Marty Byrnes and Ross Kindel all had a hand in leading the team in scoring. That team would end up 26-4. Noteworthy is that Louis Orr was on that team, and was not one of those five players.

Three other times in school history this pattern has emerged. In 1935-1936, Ollie Scott, Norm Leavitt, Jack Curran, Edgar Sonderman and Johnny Simonaitus each had the honor. The squad would finish the year 12-5.

In 1922-1923, the Orangemen struggled to find a consistent leader, and had six different players lead them in scoring in the first six games: George Fisher, George Noakes, Pete MacRae, Bernie Kates, Pep Fasce, and John Gallivan. This team struggled to 9-11. Ironically, they started out 5-0.

And back in 1918-1919, the Orangemen had Jimmy Kernan, Bob Marcus, John Barsha, Nick Paul and Danny Martin all take the honors in the first five games. That squad would finish 13-3. Ironically, the team’s second leading scorer Charley Dolley, would not take scoring honors until the 7th game of the season; Dolley was also the team’s clutch shooter that year winning three games with last minute baskets.

We'll have to wait and see if Syracuse can pull a sixth top scorer for the Columbia game this coming Friday. Perhaps Rick Jackson or Kris Joseph will get the honor.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Orange Win 2k Sports Classic

Wow. I would be lying if I told you I thought the Orange would be 4-0 at this point of this season. I would have been pleased with 3-1. The team lost its top three scorers from last season, including Jonny Flynn who basically controlled every aspect of the offense last year.

Syracuse easily beat Robert Morris and Albany. I had hope and optimism from those two games because the Orange not only beat those teams, but they beat them easily, something that Syracuse really has not done for the past decade. Even in the famous 2002-2003 season, the Orange won a lot of close games, and really never blew too many teams out of the building.

But this year’s Orangemen have taken this a step even further. The not only beat easily the teams they should beat, they took on #12 California and #4 North Carolina, and easily dismantled those teams. That’s the North Carolina Tar Heels, the defending national champion. Yes, the Tar Heels lost four starters from last year, but they still have a ton of talent, a Hall of Fame coach, and they were ranked #4. That was Syracuse 87, North Carolina 71.

I have no idea how good this Syracuse team is, but it is clearly not the #6 team in the Big East. Wesley Johnson is one of those rare situations where he is better than advertised. Johnson had 25 points and 8 rebounds against a big Tar Heel front line. He was 10-17 from the floor and 4-8 from three point range.

Andy Rautins has clearly grabbed the leadership of this team, and his teammates are behind him. Rautins defense in the zone has been simply superb this year. He had seven steals this evening, to go along with his seven rebounds and seven assists. Oh yeah, he did make a few threes going 3-8. Rautins is showing all the poise, guile and maturity of a fifth year senior, and that time on the Canadian National Team is surely helping him. And those passes Rautins is throwing? I hope his teammates are icing down their hands because he is blistering them.

Scoop Jardine is making us almost want to say “Johnny who?”. Jardine is not the scorer Flynn was, but he surely is showing he can run an offense. And he is backing up Brandon Triche. I’ll be really excited to see what happens when these two actually learn how to run this team.

Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku are just eating up the inside. And unlike the past two seasons, their teammates are getting the ball inside to them.

Of course the real success to this team is their defense, which has been outstanding. Extremely active, very active. They have long bodies on the court, but it’s the mental attitude that is making the difference. These guys really buy into the Jim Boeheim defense, and are giving a clinic on how to run it.

We can temper our expectations with a few realities. The team is flat awful at free throw shooting. If another team can get them into a close game, it will be tough for the Orange to pull it out. It some aspects it reminds me of the Orangemen in the Coleman-Douglas-Owens era. Those guys would run most opponents off the court; when they lost a game it was a close one where the free throws did matter.

The Orangemen are also making a lot of turnovers, though they did well against California. Part of that is being overly aggressive, and part is being youthful at some positions. Those types of turnovers can hurt you down the road. This is something that can be corrected (unlike the free throws which will be an albatross this year).

It is going to be a long season. One with many ups and downs as the team learns. But right now they are definitely on an up. Hard to believe this is the same squad who played LeMoyne a few weeks ago. Time for the Orange fans to really enjoy this.

I know I am eager to see what this team can do over the long haul. Let’s go Orange!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Let's Play Two

“Let’s play two”, was what the legendary Ernie Banks was attributed to saying. The Orange faithful can all remember back to the memorable 6 Overtime game against UConn on March 12th, 2009 at the Big East Tournament. It surely seemed like Syracuse played two that day. And technically, they did as when the game ended at 1:40 am EDT, they went to bed, woke up and played West Virginia that night (and of course, that game went into overtime too). I doubt we’ll ever see another team play 195 minutes of basketball in the Big East tournament, even if they expand to another round.

The other thing we are likely never to see again is a scheduled doubleheader of basketball. Who would be crazy enough to do that? Well, former Syracuse coach and athletic director Lew Andreas did just that to kick off the 1948-1949 season. Syracuse played the University of Toronto on the afternoon of December 4th, 1948 at the Syracuse Coliseum, and later that evening came back and played the Ithaca College. Syracuse would win both games easily, beating Toronto 81-41, and Ithaca 76-34. Jack Kiley and Ed Stickel would lead the scoring for the day, both having a combined 25 points for each game.

Of course, Syracuse did have some advantages in those games, especially when compared to the Syracuse/UConn 6OT game. First of all, the competition was far less intense, as the final scores indicated. Second of all, there was a couple of hours break between the two games. And third, and most importantly, was how deep Andreas went into his bench for each game.

In terms of playing his reserve players, Andreas was the anti-Boeheim. 19 different Orangemen would play against Toronto in the first game, 17 players would play in the second game. Coach Andreas was notorious for making wholesale substitutions during his coaching career on the hill, and often had a First Team, Second Team, Third Team, that he would send in as a whole group. In some games, he would start his second team, and then bring his first team in.

The 19 players that Andreas played in the Ithaca game were not a school record. On January 14, 1939, Syracuse played Fordham at Archbold Gymnasium. The Orangemen routed the Rams 57-22. Andreas would play 21 different players that day; the local news that day questioned if that was possibly a collegiate record (I don’t know the answer to that even now).

To put 21 players into perspective, Jim Boeheim has only played 20 different players the past two seasons combined, and 25 different players the past three seasons combined.

Anyhow, let’s play two!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day 2009

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
Meyer Bloom
Jim Casey
Ed Cronauer
John Cronauer
Charles Fasce
Russ Finsterwald
Ken Harris
Ted Huntley
Bernie Kates
Ken Lavin
Nathan Malefski
Danny Martin
Walter ‘Dutch’ Notman
Walter Peters
Elias Raff
Billy Rafter
Horace Ruffin
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
Tom Huggins
George Jarvis
Jim Konstanty
Stan Kruse (Kruszewski)
Guy Luciano
Saul Mariaschin
Tom McTiernan
Francis Miller
Joe Minsavage
Andy Mogish
Roy Peters
Hank Piro
Phil Rakov
John Schroeder
Bill Schubert
Bob Shaddock
Wilmeth Sidat-Singh
Red Stanton
Mike Stark
Joe Sylvestri
Charles Taggart
Ray Tice

In Korea the following served:

Reaves Baysinger, Jr

In Vietnam, the following served:

Reaves Baysinger, Jr
George Crofoot
Rick Dean

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

Art Barr
Mel Besdin
Rudy Cosentino
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.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Win #800

Congratulations to Jim Boeheim on his career win #800. It was an inevitable win for a coach who routinely wins twenty games a year. If the win did not come against the Great Danes of Albany (it did 75-43), it was going to happen. It seems like only yesterday that Boeheim won game #700; in fact it was a lopsided win over Providence at the Dome on February 26, 2005, with Hakim Warrick leading the way with 36 points.

Syracuse University has now won 1756 games, fifth all time for NCAA Division I basketball (only Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas and Duke have more). Jim Boeheim hasn’t coached all those games, it just seems that way. He has however won 45.5% of the games the Orange have won. As a player, Syracuse was 52-24, as varsity assistant coach, Syracuse was 139-65. So all combined, he has been involved with 991 wins for Syracuse basketball. Think about the magnitude of that number… 991. He has been involved with 56% of the wins for Syracuse basketball.

The 2008-09 season should be an interesting one to watch. It would have been a different season had Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris all stayed. There is no doubt about that. A team with a ton of experience and talent, a rare combination in today’s NCAA. And definitely a team that could have challenged for the NCAA tournament, even though it had some weaknesses. However, I think this year’s team, as currently comprised will be an NCAA tournament team, one that will be much better in March than it is in November. It is a young team in some aspects, but it is a team with some fifth year seniors (Andy Rautins and Arinze Onuaku), and a some great potential in young players.

Let’s go Orange.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Best to Transfer to the Orange

The 2009-2010 basketball season is soon upon us. The Albany game on November 11th is quickly approaching. This should be a very interesting season, and despite losing four significant players in Jonny Flynn, Paul Harris, Eric Devendorf and Kris Onganaet. There was a lot of talent still remaining on the team, and the incoming freshmen are highly taugted. But the most interesting player for this upcoming season may be Wesley Johnson.

Johnson was a strong player as a freshman and sophomore at Iowa State, averaging 12.3 points a game and 6.1 rebounds. He has been described as a fantastic rebounder in practice, and based on his both is resume and his build, I do not see a reason to doubt that he can indeed rebound. The Big 12 is a highly reputable conference, and those were decent numbers for a young player in that conference.

We will not know what to expect until the games actually begin. How well does Johnson transition from the Big 12 to the Big East will remain to be seen, as does how he gels with his new teammates (whom he has been fortunate to be practicing with during his redshirt transfer year).

There really have been seven notably successful transfers to Syracuse since 1940, and if Johnson can fall into the upper half of this group, Syracuse will be in good shape. For purposes of discussion, I excluded transfers pre-1940; college transfer and eligibility rules were different a while back, and it just made a mess to evaluate them.

#7 of the best transfers for Syracuse is Michael Lloyd. Lloyd scored 1,871 points in two years of junior college at San Jacinto College, and he did not disappoint at Syracuse. He replaced the graduating Adrian Autry, and Lloyd helped Syracuse to a 12-6 Big East record, 20-10 overall. Lloyd would play only one year because of an academic disqualification of his San Jacinto credits. But he helped guide a team with Lawrence Moten and John Wallace.

#6 is Fred Saunders. Saunders came to Syracuse from Southwest Louisiana, and would only be eligible for the second semester of his senior year. Saunders was an NBA style forward, capable of running the court well and a strong rebounder. Syracuse started the 1973-74 season at 7-3, but would finish 12-4 after Saunders joined the lineup. Saunders ‘only’ averaged 9.8 points a game; but scoring wasn’t what the Orangemen needed. His 9.8 rebounds helped Rudy Hackett up front and the Orange would make the NCAA tournament with their strong finish.

#5 is LeRon Ellis. Ellis had an outstanding sophomore season for the University of Kentucky, averaging 16 ppg and 5.5 rebounds. Kentucky was nailed with recruiting violations and the NCAA allowed any player who was not part of the scandal to transfer and play immediately at any other school, so Syracuse was the beneficiary of Ellis’ transfer.

Ellis may be better than I am crediting him for. He did end up being a first round NBA pick. But while Ellis was a physically gifted player with a nice soft shot, he was not a strong inside presence, and was ‘soft’ by Big East standards. He did allow Derrick Coleman to move back to the forward position, and Ellis did have to split time with Rich Manning his first year (Manning would transfer). Ellis improved a lot his senior year, both in scoring and rebounding. And he provided some crucial senior leadership in 1991 as the lone scholarship senior.

#4 is Jason Cipolla, the junior college transfer from Tallahassee Community College. Cipolla was a New York kid, a tough player on the court who provided some critical perimeter shooting on the 1996 Final Four team. He’d split a lot of time that year with Marius Janulis, and the duo were a three point shooting monster. Cipolla would be part of a ‘smaller’ Syracuse team in 1997, a team that had more three point shooters than is the Orange norm. He would score 13 points a game and make 85% of his free throws.

3 Ryan Blackwell 30 g, 118 pts, 3.9 ppg

#3 is Ryan Blackwell, who transferred to Syracuse from Illinois. Blackwell was unhappy with his playing time at Illinois, averaging 3.9 ppg. He made an immediate impact at Syracuse, helping to upgrade the strength on the front line and doing yeoman’s work as a rebounder. He would average 7.8 rebounds a game in his three years at Syracuse; while not outstanding numbers, they are very respectable. Add in his 11.8 points a game, along with is solid defense, and two NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances, and his impact is noticeable.

#2 is the seldom mentioned, perhaps obscure, Chuck Richards. Richards transferred from West Point to Syracuse. At 6’9”, 220 lbs he provided the big man that Fred Lewis needed for his Orangemen. The Orangemen went from 8-13 to 17-8 and the NIT Tournament in Richards first year on the hill. A large part of that of course was the arrival of a great sophomore class led by the legendary Dave Bing, who had 22.2 ppg and 8.2 rebounds. But Richards took advantage of teams focusing on Bing, and scored 22 points a game himself, along with 9.5 rebounds. Hard to knock those numbers, regardless of the situation. Richards’ numbers would decrease his senior year as a result of injuries and the presence of other players taking possessions away, but he still had a respectable 14.7 ppg and 8.5 rpg.

#1 in my opinion, is no contest. The best transfer at Syracuse has been Leo Rautins. Rautins played for Minnesota his freshman year, and put up solid numbers of 8.3 ppg, to go along with 106 assists and 110 rebounds. He was second in the Big 10 with assists, as a freshman, to some sophomore named Magic Johnson. As a sophomore Rautins showed his versatility, helping run the Syracuse offense, scoring 9.4 ppg with 3.6 assists and 5.4 rebounds. He would cap off his sophomore season with the dramatic tip in basket in triple overtime to allow Syracuse to beat Villanova and win the Big East Championship.

Rautins would help lead Syracuse to a Second Big East Championship in 1982. He would lead the team in assists and rebounds, and averaged 13.3 ppg. His senior year he continued to improve, increasing his scoring to 14.2 ppg, along with 6.2 apg, and 7.3 rpg. He shot 75% from the free throw line, 52% from the floor, and he’d finish his collegiate career with three triple doubles. Rautins would also be a first round NBA pick.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

High Schools of Note to the Syracuse Landscape

You sometimes hear that a college has a “pipeline” with a particular high school, a school where they seem to get a lot of their top talent from. I do not think those situations are as prominent as some may suggest, at least not in the past few decades, though there are clearly situations where a school as obtained two or three good players in a short period of time from one high school.

I’ve started working recently on my OrangeHoops website, putting together a listing of all the high schools and prep schools that Syracuse players have attended. It’s by no means a complete list, and admittedly, since I am short of all the data, there could be some significant contributing schools that I am missing. Nevertheless, I do have some opinions on which schools have helped Syracuse basketball the most over its 110 year history.

Top of mind will be Jamesville-Dewitt High School, who already sent Danny Schayes and Andy Rautins to the Orangemen. With Brandon Triche joining the Orange this year, it will be interesting to see how he does; if he has an outstanding collegiate career, J-D will definitely move up my list. I think it is interesting that the three most significant Orangemen basketball players from J-D are all related to notable Syracuse basketball players. Danny was the son of NBA Legend Dolph Schayes of the Syracuse Nationals, Andy of course the son of Leo Rautins, and Brandon the nephew of former Syracuse captain Howard Triche.

Now when ranking the impact the schools have had on Syracuse, it is both a combination of the greatness of the players and how many players. Towson Catholic gave Syracuse Carmelo Anthony and Donte Greene, but that is only two players, both who only played one year at Syracuse. Admittedly, two of the best freshman seasons on the hill ever, but not enough to make the top 5.

Dunbar High School (Baltimore) gave us some players in the 1980s & 90s, Masten Park (Buffalo) basically formed the team in the early 1900s, Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) has sprinkled in some players over the years, and Lansingburg (Troy, NY) gave the Orange some solid players in the 1920s. Tiny Norwich was a big impact on the Orange in the first quarter century, and the Manlius Military Academy had its moments before it closed down.

However, these are my top five:

Binghamton Central (Binghamton, NY). Binghamton gave Syracuse a four sport letterman in Joe Vavra in the 1930s; he would be more successful in boxing than in the other sports, but nevertheless was a valuable member of the basketball team. It was when Bullet Billy Gabor stepped on the court in 1942 that Binghamton Central became important; Gabor was the first thousand point man for Syracuse. In the 1950s two more BC guys came, Ted Parke, and Jon Cincebox. Cincebox is from a statistical perspective the best rebounder Syracuse has ever had (based on rebounds per game).

Springarn High School (Washington, DC). This is the exception to the rule, but what an exception. Only three players to Syracuse, but when two of them are Dave Bing and Sherman Douglas, arguably the two best guards Syracuse has ever had, it’s tough to overlook the school. Add in Gerry McFadden who transferred to Syracuse in the late 1960s, and you have three starters from this D.C. school.

The top three schools are miles ahead of the rest, and were difficult to sort through. At number three I have Mont Pleasant High School (Schenectady, NY). This school was indeed a pipeline for the Orangemen, starting in the 1930s and going into the late 1950s. John Gorecki, Paul Podbielski, Don MacNaughton, Stan Kruse, Chris Koray, Roy Peters, Dick Suprunowicz, Bill Manikis, Jack Larnad, Larry Loudis, Bruce Kollath, and Chaundu Carey all came from Mont Pleasant. While this school was not producing superstar players for the Orange, it was producing solid everyday players, the type of players who start for two or three seasons, or do the dirty work of a sixth or seventh man.

Number two is Central High School, of Syracuse, now long closed. In the 1920s Central was the pipeline for Syracuse University, and was one of the best basketball programs in New York State. Central did not have a basketball team until shortly before 1920. Syracuse basketball players George Noakes and Herman Brickman, though both alumni of Central, likely played basketball for the Syracuse YMCA rather than at Central. But basketball was becoming a popular sport, and individuals such as Dave Brodsky championed to have the programs at their high schools.

That would lead to players such as Brodsky, Gordon Mahley and Phil Rakov playing together in high school, and then together for the Orangemen. More importantly, a young man named Vic Hanson also played basketball with them at Central. Hanson, of course, would lead Syracuse to the 1927 Helms Foundation National Championship, along with earning himself recognition in the College Basketball Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.

Brodsky, upon graduation at Syracuse, would go back to Central and coach the basketball team for several years. He would win several district championships and some state championships while there. All which would lead to Brodsky as being recognized as the “father of Syracuse high school basketball”. Along the way, talented players such as Ken Beagle, Ronnie Phillips, George Armstrong and Warren Stevens would play for him. Later players such as Adam Markowski, the wonderfully talented Manny Breland, and crew legend Bill Sanford would attend Central.

Which brings us to the top high school for Syracuse basketball. Surprisingly, it is not a Syracuse area high school, though it is a New York school. Brooklyn Boys & Girls School (formerly Brooklyn Boys) has been the source of more impact players than any other high school for Syracuse basketball. In the mid 1910’s, Syracuse saw the arrival of Charley Dolley and John Barsha. Dolley was a great shooter, and developed a reputation at Syracuse for his game winning shots. Barsha was an outstanding defensive player, and a critical part of the 1918 Syracuse Helms Foundation National Champions. Barsha would also earn All-American status in football. Fellow gridiron star Herm Sawyer would also play hoops.

In the 1950’s Brooklyn Boys & Girls would send the talented Vinnie Cohen to the Hill. Cohen would lead Syracuse to its first NCAA berth, and a final position in the Elite eight, along with being the first Syracuse player to average twenty points a game in a season. The 1960s saw Sam Penceal arrive with his strong defensive play (good enough to shut down the multi-talented Bill Bradley). Later in the decade, Vaughn Harper brought his tremendous leaping ability and rebounding skills to the Orangemen. And last, but certainly not least, in 1983 Boy & Girls sent the much publicized Pearl Washington to the Dome, where the Pearl electrified the crowds, and helped make 30k-plus crowds a true ‘happening’ in the Carrier Dome.

Who knows? Perhaps the success of Jonny Flynn and Paul Harris will revitalize the Buffalo connection. Or Kris Joseph will help the Baltimore/D.C. pipeline, or the Canadian express line. But the schools above, definitely helped sculpt the landscape of Syracuse basketball.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

2009 Orange Hoops Hall of Fame

In 2007, OrangeHoops inducted its charter class into the OrangeHoops Hall of Fame: Dave Bing, Derrick Coleman, Sherman Douglas, Vic Hanson, and Pearl Washington. In 2008 Billy Owens was added to that list, bringing the total to 6. Another year has passed, and now it is time for the 2009 inductee.

I won’t bother you with all the rules for eligibility (you can catch up on them here). 2009 does have six new eligible candidates (using the fifteen year rule): Adrian Autry, Scott McCorkle, Charlie Lockwood, Jason Gluck, Kris Aaron, and Mike Begovich. None, based on their current resumes, would warrant consideration for this year’s vote, and Autry was the only starter among the bunch.

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

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.

Lew Andreas coached Syracuse basketball for 27 seasons, including the 19-1 1925-1926 squad that was awarded the Helms Foundation National Championship. He had a career record of 358-134, and he was the Syracuse Athletic Director for 28 years (1937-1964).

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.

Tough choices again this year. However, the 2009 Orange Hoops Hall of Fame inductee is Billy 'The Bullet' Gabor.

Gabor came to Syracuse in the midst of World War II, during the 1942-1943 season. Because of the war, freshman were allowed to start on the varsity. Gabor would quickly earn a starting berth on the team, and would lead the Orangemen in scoring with 12.1 ppg. He would set the Syracuse single game scoring mark of 28 points on Feb 24, 1943 versus West Virginia, breaking the school record set by Paul Kartluke (Bob Shaddock would break Gabor’s record three days later with 33 points against Colgate).

Gabor would miss the last game of the season as he was called into active service for the military. He would serve in the war as a bombardier for the U.S. Army Air Corps.

After the war, Gabor returned to Syracuse for the 1945-1946 season, and would lead the Orangemen to their first postseason action ever, with a 23-4 record, and an NIT berth. Gabor would lead the Orangemen in scoring, averaging 15.2 ppg, and would again break the school single game scoring record with 36 points against Oswego on December 8, 1945.

Gabor was known as ‘The Bullet’ for he was exceptionally fast on the court. He would again lead the Orangemen in scoring his junior and senior seasons. He would finish his career as Syracuse’s all time leading scorer with 1,344 points, a mark that would stand for 18 seasons until Dave Bing broke it I 1966. Gabor was the first Orangeman to score 400 points in a season, was named an All-American twice, and scored 30+ points in a game 5x.

He was drafted by the Syracuse Nationals of the NBA, and would make the NBA All Rookie team in 1949. In 1953 he made the NBA All-Star team, and in 1955 he helped the Nationals win the NBA Championshp. Gabor would retire from the NBA after that season.

His uniform #17 was retired by Syracuse in February 2009.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

All in the Family

Brandon Triche comes to the Syracuse basketball team this fall, and it will be interesting on how he does. He has big shoes to fill with Jonny Flynn leaving early for the NBA, but Triche has been under the spotlight for several years now. As it is well known, his uncle Howard Triche, was a starting forward on the 1987 team that lost the NCAA Title to Indiana by a shot.

The pairing of Brandon and Howard Triche would be the 19th pairing of relatives in Syracuse basketball history. I must admit there may be some relatives I’ve missed… the nineteen are the only ones I could verify so far.

Ironically, this will not even be the first time that Howard Triche makes the list. His cousin was Jason Hart, and Hart played quite successfully for the Orangemen, and has had a lengthy NBA career.

I won’t go through the entire list; you can check it out yourself. However, there have been some notable family combinations for the Orangemen.

First, let me start with the combination that is not on the list, but I think deserves some mention: the Thompson brothers. Billy Thompson was a solid player for Syracuse in the late 1930s, a three year starter and high scorer for his era. His brother Bobby, was an outstanding high school player in the early 1920s, and the star of the Syracuse Freshman team. Bobby Thompson was considered one of the top upcoming basketball players in the country, but was sidelined by poor health, and would never play for the Orange varsity. I thought they deserved a mention.

I think there were six prolific family combination in Syracuse history. The first was the Riehl Brothers, Max and Albert. Max was a three year starter for the Orangemen, playing from 1905-08. He was part of the famed Buffalo German AAU team, and helped bring the Orange basketball program to promise. Albert played for Syracuse for three years, 1911-1913, and while not nearly as good as his older brother, he was a starter his senior year.

Next came the Lee brothers of Newark, NY (don’t get them confused with their 1970s counterparts). David Lee played for Syracuse from 1906-1907 and his younger brother Matt would play from 1908-1910. David was a solid forward, and a good score. Matt would essentially replace David when he graduated, and Matt would be a three year starter, a prolific scorer; he would lead his team in scoring in every game but one his senior year.

Syracuse would have to wait almost forty years for the next prominent family connection. There were some potential strong unions in between: the aforementioned Thompson brothers, the Katz brothers of the 30s, Maister brothers of the 30s, Glacken brothers of the 40s. But either injury, or academic ineligibility, or World War II, would disrupt things.

After World War II, the Stark brothers would make their appearance. Mike, Pat and Lou were all outstanding athletes, and would all have some time on the hardwood. Mike was a four year player; a small player, but very fast, and a sparkplug on the court from 1946-1950. Pat was the star quarterback of the football team; during the off season he would put some time into the basketball team in 1952 and 1953, and would be a starter for the portion of the 1953 team, averaging 9.7 points a game. Lou would be a reserve on the 1955 and 1956 teams.

The 1970s saw the emergence of the Lee brothers from Kirkwood, NY, and Syracuse would resurge under their leadership. Mike was a short forward at 6’3”, but a good rebounder and a terrific shooter both from the perimeter and the free throw line. The Orangemen would go to the postseason all three years of Mike’s career (a first for the school), and when younger brother Jimmy joined the team in 1973, the team would get to the NCAA tournament.

Jimmy played shooting guard, and was one of the best clutch shooters in Syracuse history. Mike was an outstanding free throw shooter, and Jimmy was even better. Jimmy would team up with Rudy Hackett, and give the Orangemen a Cinderella story run to the Final Four in 1975.

The Lee brothers would score a combined 2,516 points at Syracuse, and shot 606 of 744 (81%) from the free throw line. They were easily the best brother combination in Syracuse history.

In the early 1980s, the Rautins family legacy began at Syracuse when Leo transferred from Minnesota. Leo Rautins was an outstanding passing power forward, who often played at the top of the key. He would score 12.1 points a game in his three year career (1981-1983), along with 5.0 assists and 6.1 rebounds. Leo is best known for his game winning tip in to win the 1981 Big East tournament in triple overtime. He would be a first round draft pick, and would play for the Philadelphia 76’ers a few years before injuries kept him out of the league.

Leo’s son Andy is quite familiar to Syracuse fans these days as the teams three point shooting threat. Andy did not play much his freshman year, but has been a solid starter/sixth man ever since, and is entering his senior season. Rautins has been a regular on the Canadian National Team the past three seasons (which Leo has coached). The Rautins have scored a combined 1,728 points for Syracuse, and counting.

Finally, we get to the Triche/Hart family. Howard Triche barely played his first two seasons, before becoming a solid starter his junior and senior years. He would score 748 points in his career. Jason Hart was the starting point guard for Syracuse for four seasons (1997-2000), and has been in the NBA for the past 8 years. Hart was a tremendous defensive guard, with good scoring ability, and average point guard ability. Triche/Hart would score a combined 2,251 points for the Orangemen.

If I had to pick family as the top, I’d go with the Rautins duo, giving a nod to the Kirkwood Lees.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Checking Past Rankings

Mid summer, I figure it is a good time to catch up on the All Time Greatest Rankings, to see what ‘the fans’ think, based on rankings/polls I created at a site Rankopedia.

The most popular Syracuse basketball poll yet has been The Greatest Syracuse Orangeman Basketball Player Ever.

Dave Bing leads the way as he should, with the input of 54 voters. Out of 54 votes, Bing has 24 1st place votes, 11 2nd place votes, and 5 3rd place votes. Inexplicably, nine voters did not put Bing in their top ten, but that’s their prerogative, I guess. Melo has 14 1st place votes, and Coleman 5.

With 35 votes in, Roosevelt Bouie leads the Most Underrated Syracuse Basketball Player of All-Time with 15 first place votes.

Stevie Thompson, one of my all time favorite players is a distant second, while Vinnie Cohen, my vote for the most underrated, is a distant third.

Melo is the Greatest Syracuse Freshman Basketball Player Ever.

Really, was there any doubt? Great statistics and a National Championship to boot. He has 18 first place votes (out of 22). The Pearl is a distance second, with GMac in third. I think Billy Owens at number 6 and Lawrence Moten at number 7 are being slighted, but that’s where they fall today.

The Greatest Syracuse University Basketball Coach goes to Jim Boeheim, by a landslide (though only 11 votes so far total). Boeheim has all 11 first place votes.

Actually, I think that ranking, one to seven, is fairly accurate.

The Greatest Syracuse Orangemen Basketball Guard falls to Dave Bing who has 6 first place votes out of a low 8 votes cast (strangely, two voters did not put Mr. Bing in their top 10). Lawrence Moten and Jonny Flynn pick up the other two guard first place votes.

I wouldn’t put Flynn ahead of the Pearl or Douglas.

The Best Syracuse Basketball Player of the Decade 2000-2009 goes to Carmelo Anthony, who has 7 first place votes out of 12.

Anthony’s lead isn’t that great over Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick, who are at 2nd and 3rd respectively.

There are other rankings that could be of Syracuse Fans interest:

Greatest Big East Men's Basketball Program in History of League, has UConn just a shade ahead of Syracuse.

UConn has 7 first place votes and 15 second place votes, out of 33 cast. Syracuse 17 first place votes, but only 2 second place votes out of 33 (the Orange were left off of 8 ballots; of the 25 who voted for them, nobody had them lower than 4th, and that was only 1 person).

Greatest Player in History of Big East Men's Basketball has Pat Ewing at number one and Chris Mullin at number two. That’s how I would put it too.

Syracuse players are doing well towards the top of the list, with the Pearl at number three, Lawrence Moten at number five, Derrick Coleman at number seven, Melo at number eight, Sherman Douglas at nine, Owens at fourteen, and Warrick at eighteen. I think a little bit too much Syracuse bias, but then again, I’m all for it! So keep stuffing that box.

The Greatest All-Time Men's College Basketball Program has UCLA well out in front with Kentucky and North Carolina in a close battle for second and third. That’s how I would see it too.
The Orangemen come in seventh; no complaints from me… I have them at sixth myself.

So if you like to vote, feel free to go to the links above. You have to be a member at Rankopedia to vote, but membership is free (and there are no catches).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Flynn Goes Sixth in NBA Draft

Congratulations to Jonny Flynn, who became the 52nd Syracuse Orange basketball player to be drafted by the NBA. Flynn was the 6th overall player taken tonight when the Minnesota Timberwolves took him in the first round.

Flynn is the highest drafted player from Syracuse since Carmelo Anthony was drafted as the third overall player in the 2003 NBA Draft. Derrick Coleman holds the distinction of being the only Orangeman drafted with the top pick of the draft, when the New Jersey Nets took him in 2003. Flynn is the 15th Orangeman taken in the first round of the draft.

Flynn also earns the distinction of being the second highest drafted guard in Syracuse history. Dave Bing went to Detroit with the second overall pick in 1966.

Dave Bing 2nd (1966)
Pearl Washington 13th (1986)
Jack Kiley 13th (1951)
Sherman Douglas 28th (1989)
Dennis Duval 30th (1974)
Lawrence Moten 36th (1995)
Jason Hart 49th (2000)
Erich Santifer 55th (1983)
Jimmy Lee 79th (1975)
Greg Kohls 99th (1972)
Eddie Moss 50th (1981)
Marty Headd 198th (1981)

There’s some notable names on that list, especially Washington and Douglas. Of course, success in college does not necessarily translate to success in the NBA, and draft picks often reflect what NBA coaches think of that potential, but still it is very high accolade for Flynn to be sixth overall.

Despite the fact that Syracuse had some ‘down’ years in the mid 2000s, the NBA draft still liked the Orange. This decade saw the following:

Etan Thomas 12th (2000)
Jason Hart 49th (2000)
Damone Brown 44th (2001)
Carmelo Anthony 3rd (2003)
Hakim Warrick 19th (2005)
Demetris Nichols 53rd (2007)
Donte’ Green 28th (2008
Jonny Flynn 6th (2009)

The number of players drafted from 2000-2009 may not jump out at you, but look at the number of Syracuse players drafted in the first two rounds, for each decade:

1950s – 1 player
1960s – 1 player
1970s – 3 players
1980s – 8 players
1990s – 7 players
2000s – 8 players

If we narrow that to just the first round:
1950s – None
1960s – 1 player
1970s – 1 player
1980s – 4 players
1990s – 5 players
2000s – 4 players

So the 2000s are looking very kindly, from an historical perspective to the Orange who have been drafted.

Now, if we look at the period of 1986-1996, what are really the ‘glory days’ of the Boeheim era, the numbers do change a little bit. There were 11 players drafted in the first two rounds during that period, including seven in the first round, and Coleman as the number one pick overall. Other college teams can boast bigger numbers (Duke once had five first round picks in one year), but from an Orange perspective that was the best era.

But back to Flynn. Congratulations, and best of luck in the NBA.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Orangeman Saves Woman From Drowning

Kudos to former Orangemen and current Sacramento King Donte' Greene, who peformed from off-the-court heroics over Memorial Day weekend. KHTK Radio in Sacremento first broke the story, and Mike Waters/Donna Ditota relayed the information in their Post Standard blog.

It appears that a woman, who did not know how to swim, fell out of a boat. Greene saw her struggling, jumped into the water and pulled her to safety. Whatever accolades Greene may receive for his past and future basketball endeavors, nothing there will be more significant than the life he had saved.

My hat is off to you Donte'.

Last summer I had come across an old newspaper article from August 12, 1918 from the Syracuse Herald. Our Mr. Greene was not the first former Orangemen to perform lifesaving heroics.

Herman Brickman was the top reserve forward on the Syracuse 1917-1918 National Champion basketball team, and also a tackle on the Syracuse football team. He would later become a successful labor lawyer.

But in the summer of 1918, Brickman saw a Mr. Stack struggling in the water in Raritan Bay, New Jersey. Stack was 3/4 of a mile off shore, and Brickman swam out to save him. Panicking, Stack would not cooperate with Brickman as he tried to bring him back in, struggling with him for 20 minutes in the water. Brickman eventually got him close enough to the shore, where others could help.

Brickman collapsed himself from the struggles, and it took an hour for the local physicians to revive him.

I thought Brickman deserved some recognition these 91 years later, in honor of the heroics of Donte' Greene.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Goodbye to a Big Threesome

Syracuse finished the season strong, and with the entire starting squad slated to return along with most of the bench and some talented incoming freshman, Syracuse was looking very good for the 2009-2010 season. Some experts had Syracuse projected as a top 5 team for next season. That quickly changed as the weeks following the season rolled by as the three top scoring players and starters Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris all declared themselves eligible for the NBA draft. Syracuse went from a league favorite to a possible rebuilding season.

I don’t harbor any of the three players ill will and wish them the best of luck in the professional endeavors. Flynn’s value was probably never going to be higher than it was at the end of this season, and he has some favorable projections for his NBA draft position.

Devendorf would have been a fifth year senior, and considering his penchant for getting into trouble off the court, I can see him wanting to get out while the going is good. I understand that Harris has a family already, and the lure of a professional contract, even non-NBA, is better than no paycheck as a college student.

I have heard a portion of fans saying that Syracuse is going to be better off next year without these guys, and that is nonsense. There’s a reason that Flynn played more minutes this season than any player in Syracuse basketball history; there was not a worthy point guard replacement on the team. Yes, next year Scoop Jardine will be around and Brandon Triche arrives on campus, but neither are proven players. Furthermore Flynn was the best point guard since the Pearl / Douglas era.

Devo had his problems on the court (too many turnovers, no defense, no rebounding) but he was a clutch shooter, an emotional plus on the court, and had the ability to generate his own offense. That’s a tough commodity to replace.

Harris was the team’s leading rebounder, despite the fact that he was maddingly inconsistent in his effort. There is no doubt that Syracuse played better basketball when Harris played well. He was always a turnover away from making me shake my head, or a blown defensive assignment away from being pulled off the court by coach Jim Boeheim. But he was nevertheless a strong presence on the court.

I would love to have any of these guys back. That’s 43.1 points per game the Orange are losing, along with nine seasons of experience (never to be overrated), and the three best free throw shooters.

Now all is not doom and gloom. There is a lot of talent returning in veterans Andy Rautins, Rick Jackson, Arinze Onuaku, along with the return of Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph, and Mookie Jones, and the arrival of Wesley Johnson, James Sutherland, and Brandon Triche. And of course, Jim Boeheim always seems to do well with the unproven teams.

Just for exercise (and for those who are curious), I checked on some notable teams that lost some significant players: the 1973-1974 squad, 1985-1986, 1994-1995 and 2001-2002. For those of you who are astute enough, you’ve already realized those were the squads the seasons before Syracuse when to each of it’s Final Fours.

The 1973-74 squad was led by senior point guard sensation Dennis DuVal with his 20.6 points a game, and 3.4 assists per game. Senior Fred Saunders would score 9.8 ppg along with 9.8 rebounds per game, and senior center Bob Dooms would add 4.7 ppg and 5.0 rpg. The Orangemen would also lose some important role players with Scott Stapleton and Tom Stundis.

Now the cupboards were not bare for the Orangemen that year. The teams best shooter Jimmy Lee was returning, and the team’s best player Rudy Hackett would also be back. Sophomore Jimmy Williams would emerge as a solid point guard and Chris Sease would play admirably in the other forward position. And it was not like the 1974-1975 team was dominant; it wasn’t. It was a good team, that got very hot during the NCAA tournament, made the clutch shots, and miraculously found itself in the Final Four.

The 2001-2002 team had a ton of talent, but imploded after being ranking #7 in the nation, and failed to make the NCAA tournament. Preston Shumpert was incredibly talented, but problems between him and the talented but troubled DeShaun Williams would tear the team apart. The Orangemen would lose it’s top two scorers and 36.6 ppg, along with staring point guard James Thues (he transferred). So coming off an NIT season, and losing three starters is not a good sign.

But of course, 2002-2003 was no ordinary season. The arrival of three very talented freshman (Carmelo Anthony, Gerry McNamara, and Billy Edelin) and the growth of Hakim Warrick made the team one of the most formidable squads the Orangemen ever had. And of course, a National Championship occurred.

The 1994-1995 squad was one with some high expectations, that lost in overtime in the NCAA tournament. The Syracuse backcourt had the talented Michael Lloyd (12.5 ppg, 5.2 apg), along with the effortless Lawrence ‘Poetry in ‘ Moten (19.6 ppg, 3.3 apg, 4.2 rpg). Senior Luke Jackson played small forward and brought another 11.2 ppg and 4.2 rpg. That’s a total of 43.1 ppg lost.

Syracuse did have John Wallace foregoing the NBA draft and coming back for his senior year, and Big John would carry the Orangemen to the title game with 22.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg, and 42% three point range shooting. The emergence of Todd Burgan was not unexpected, he had shown flashes of his talent his freshman year as one of the top reserves, and junior college transfer Jason Cipolla teamed with sophomore Marius Janulis to provide some excellent perimeter shooting. The real key was the emergence of fifth year senior Lazarus Sims as the dominant point guard. Sims did not score a lot (only 6.3 ppg), but he was a great ballhandler and play maker, with 7.4 apg.

But the most comparable situation for the current Syracuse squad was the 1985-1986 squad. The Orangemen were led by Pearl Washington with 17.3 ppg, 7.8 apg, and 2.5 rpg. The Pearl was dynamic on the court, and had the special quality of being able to create plays for his teammates, and also able to generate his own offense. If you compare Flynn and the Pearl, statistically they’ll be very similar, with Pearl better assist totals. Clearly too great college point guards; Pearl was better, but that is no knock on Flynn.

The Orangemen had Rafael Addison at shooting guard. As much as the loss of Devo may hurt the Orange, the loss of Raf was a bigger one for the Orangemen. Addison scored as many points as Devo, but without a three point shot. Raf was deadly from the 16-18 foot jump shot, and I’m sure he would’ve made his share of threes. Both Raf and Devo shot about 79% from the free throw line, but Raf played defense and rebounded, and was actually better at handling the ball. Devo was better at making his own plays on offense, but if you have a great point guard on the court (which both did), you don’t have to make your own plays too often. Raf’s scoring was down his senior year due to a leg injury at mid season, so both guys struggled with a bum leg of some sort. At 6’7” Raf had a few inches over Devo at 6’3”.

The third Orangemen to leave the 1985-86 squad was Wendell Alexis. Alexis was quiet on the court, but he pulled down 7.4 rpg, and scored 15.2 ppg, second on the squad. He was a terrific free throw shooter at 81% and was pretty good at running the court. Harris was a better rebounder, but Alexis was a better all around player, and was rarely a liability on the court.

So you pull three starters off the 1985-86 team, including your top three scorers, so it’s tough to predict what will happen the next season. Well, what happened was an unknown sophomore Sherman Douglas emerged as an outstanding point guard, fourth year senior Greg Monroe stepped into the starting lineup and provided excellent perimeter shooting, ball handling and leadership, and a skinny freshman Derrick Coleman showed that he could pull down a rebound or two (or more). Center Rony Seikaly, who had always been inconsistent (remind you of a current center?) developed some consistency and in the post season he stepped his game up several notches to be a dominating inside player. The Orangemen would come within a Keith Smart shot of winning the national title (Hakim Warrick was only 4 at the time and unable to block the shot).

So, who knows what to expect for 2009-2010? I have no idea. It is disappointing to lose the three big scorers from this season (along with Kris Onganaet and his hustle), but the Orange do have some talent returning, and a lot of experience, and a coach who has seen a game or two. It should be a fun year.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Syracuse All Decade Team 2000-2009

By now most Syracuse fans are aware that Jonny Flynn is going to bypass his final two years of college eligibility to go for the money and fame of the NBA. I am not going to comment in length on Flynn’s decision. As a fan I wish he would stay; next year’s team with Flynn would clearly be better than next year’s team without him. I think Flynn also has a lot of room to improve at the college game; he played the point position very well down the stretch this season, but I would like to have seen him play that way for a season and raise his game another notch. However, he is staring at the opportunity to earn millions, he is reportedly getting props by the likes of LeBron James (per the Axeman), and the NBA is the opportunity to play against the best. And the only reason Flynn came to college was to go to the NBA, so when that opportunity is there, I cannot blame him for taking it.

Flynn leaves Syracuse as probably the third best point guard in the Jim Boeheim era. The top two are clearly Pearl Washington and Sherman Douglas, in some order. Flynn comes in ahead of guys like Red Autry, Gerry McNamara, Jason Hart , Lazarus Sims and Eddie Moss.

Anyways, the decade from 2000-2009 has ended, and I have been compiling ‘All Decade’ Teams for every decade of Syracuse basketball, along with a player of the decade for each decade. [Note: for purposes of determining best player of a decade, I restrict consideration to only their activity during that decade. I realize this is unfair to the players who cross over two decades, but such as it is].

Most decades have been easy. The 1900s had Art Powell, the 1910s Joe Schwarzer, the 1920s Vic Hanson, the 1930s Ed Sonderman, the 1940s Billy Gabor, the 1950s Vinnie Cohen, and the 1960s Dave Bing.

The choices got more difficult starting with the 1970s. I narrowed it down to Rudy Hackett, Roosevelt Bouie, Louis Orr, and Dennis DuVal. DuVal was an electrifying and outstanding player, and Hackett led Syracuse to its first Final Four, but both of their impact was dwarfed by the dominance of the Bouie ‘N Louie era. So the choice came down to Louis Orr and Roosevelt Bouie. Considering the defensive dominance of Bouie that allowed a young Jim Boeheim to anchor a team around, I had to go with Roosevelt Bouie for the 1970s.

The 1980s was the best decade of Syracuse basketball, and as such there were some dominant players to select from. The top three were clearly Pearl Washington, Derrick Coleman and Sherman Douglas. Coleman was the best player of the three, but his senior season was in the 1990s, and so we’re comparing his first three seasons to the three years of Washington and four of Douglas. I think the point guard duo have an edge as a result. It then comes down to Washington and Douglas. I think Douglas was the better point guard, and the guy I want running my team. But the Pearl was an outstanding point guard himself, and a one-man press breaking machine. Honestly, I would not argue with anyone who chose opposite to me on this, but in the end I took the Pearl because of his impact on the program.

The 1990s had three outstanding players: Billy Owens, Lawrence Moten and John Wallace. Owens was the best player of the three, but Syracuse had only two seasons of him in the 1990s, and Owens has to be downgraded somewhat for his failure to win a Big East game or NCAA tournament game his last season at Syracuse. I mean, that’s half the seasons he had in the 1990s. Moten and Wallace were both four year men. Moten was the better four year player; he was a much better player than Wallace was as a freshman and sophomore. And I had written a while back that Moten’s significance in the 90s cannot be understated… he came to the program at the time of the probation period, and helped Syracuse be a winner despite the NCAA penalties, and the program kept going as a result. Moten is one of my all time favorite Syracuse players, but I gave John Wallace the nod as the top player of the 90s. He was a better player as a junior and senior than Moten was those two years, and Wallace carried the team to the NCAA Championship game his senior season.

As tough as I found the last three decades to be for selections, I found this past decade (2000-2009) to be the toughest. One of the difficulties is the presence of Carmelo Anthony, who played only one year, but clearly had the best single season of the decade and led Syracuse to its first NCAA Tournament Championship. Then you have Hak & Mac attack with Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara, and the ironman Jonny Flynn.

First, I will be quite clear that I have a tough time naming any player the greatest career player, or player of a decade, when his contribution to the school was only one season. That pretty much makes it very difficult for me to select Anthony. Yes, Anthony had the best single season, and he did win a National Championship. But Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara both also won a National Championship, in which both were significant impact players (remember ‘the block’ and ‘six threes’?).

Consider that Warrick scored over 2000 points during the decade, was the team’s leading rebounder for the decade, played in three NCAA tournaments, won a Big East Championship his senior season, and was named the Big East Player of the Year his Senior year, and all Big East first team two times.

Gerry McNamara led the school in scoring and assists for the decade, played in four NCAA tournaments (the only Orangeman to do that in the 2000s), won two Big East tournaments (including perhaps the gutsiest four series effort by a player in the history of that tournament). GMac was of course a fan favorite.

And recently we have all had the pleasure of watching Jonny Flynn and his ironman efforts on the court, and his own heroic Big East tournament efforts this season.

Gerry McNamara came away with the most hardware for the decade, but the other three were better players. Flynn was fun to watch the last two years, but Warrick and Anthony were better. So it comes down to Anthony and Warrick. Warrick was Anthony’s wingman in 2003. But as I mentioned earlier, Anthony only played one year, and he won a National Title (but so did Warrick). Anthony never won a Big East title, and he was never the Big East Player of the Year (I know that politics played into that, but nevertheless it is a fact). If Warrick had played two years and Anthony one, I could go with Anthony. But Warrick played four years; Anthony only one. Warrick had impact on 40% of the decade, Anthony only 10%. Warrick played in 3 NCAA tournaments, Anthony one. Warrick won a Big East Title, Anthony none. Warrick was on the Big East First team 2x, Anthony only once. Warrick was the Big East Player of the Year, Anthony never won that distinction.

We could play the ‘yeah, but’ game with Anthony. If Anthony had stayed four years, he likely would’ve bettered all of Warrick’s accomplishments. But Anthony made a choice to leave Syracuse and go pro; Warrick chose to stay four years. I am not going to make a decision based on what could have happened, but instead on what actually did happen. And based on that, I choose Mr. Warrick.

As for the All Decade team, that a bit easier. I came down to a backcourt of Jonny Flynn and Gerry McNamara, and a front court of Carmelo Anthony, Hakim Warrick and Arinze Onuaku. I would have a three man bench, and this bench would help the Orange shoot the lights out: Preston Shumpert, Eric Devendorf, and Demetris Nichols. Of course, the coach of the decade would be the only coach this decade, Jim Boehim.

Agree or disagree with the Player of the Decade decision? I’ve set up a ranking on Rankopedia for you to make your own vote. And if you want to comment on any of the previous decade selections, feel free to leave me a comment.

It’s a long time until next fall, but I’ll be here every week or so with more comments on the Orange of past and present.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Career & Season Milestones 2008-2009

Syracuse had a veteran team in 2008-2009, and a successful season, and the combination of those two factors do help players gain certain statistical achievements.

Points Scored for Career

Eric Devendorf: 1680 Career Points, 14th all time. He has a chance at Lawrence Moten’s school record of 2334 points. He would need 655 points, or about an average of 18.7 points a game his senior year.

Paul Harris: 1253 points, 34th all time, right behind Tony Bruin with 1294 points

Jonny Flynn: 1211 points, 38th all time, 1 point behind Wendell Alexis. Flynn is 52% of the way to Moten’s record, so if he kept at his current pace and stayed at Syracuse for four seasons, he would break Moten’s record.

Arinze Onuaku: 896 points, needs 104 to get to 1000 points. He is 60th all time in Syracuse scoring; Rick Dean is ahead of him with 912 points.

Andy Rautins: 697 points, 82nd all time. He is 5 points behind Mel Besdin. Andy would need 334 points to tie his dad Leo, with 1,031 career points. Andy should reach that mark; he scored 387 points this season.

Career Rebounds

Paul Harris: 832 career rebounds, 14th all time. He needs fifteen to catch Etan Thomas. Harris has no chance of break Derrick Coleman’s record, but an excellent opportunity to finish 2nd on the Syracuse career list, needing 263 rebounds to surpass Rony Seikaly (Harris had season rebound totals of 248, 286, and 298 in his first three years).

Arinze Onuaku: 640 rebounds, 24th all time. He is 8 behind Marty Byrnes.

Rick Jackson: 324 rebounds, 58th all time. He is 9 behind Gerry McNamara.

Kris Onganaet: 309 rebounds, 63rd all time.

Eric Devendorf: 277 rebounds, 67th all time. He is 9 behind Ron Payton.

Andy Rautins: 209 rebounds, 86th all time. He is 3 behind Ernie Austin, and 320 behind his father, so Leo will be able to keep that honor away from his son.

Jonny Flynn: 198 rebounds, 88th all time. He is 6 behind Ross Kindel.

Career Assists

Jonny Flynn: 439 assists, 7th all time. He is 100 behind Eddie Moss for 6th place. Flynn is currently not on pace to break Sherman Douglas’ school record of 960, but it is something in his reach if he increases his assist production to about 8.6 assists per game (which would tie a school record).

Eric Devendorf: 374 assists, 14th all time. He is 7 behind Billy Owens.

Paul Harris: 254 assists, 31st all time. He is one behind John Wallace.

Andy Rautins: 176 assists, 49th all time. He is one behind Marty Byrnes, and 247 behind his father Leo, so once again dad looks to be able to hold onto that position.

Kris Onganaet: 75 assists, 81st all time.

Rick Jackson: 55 assists, 96th all time. He is one behind Fred Saunders for 95th.

Arinze Onuaku: 53 assists, 99th all time. He is one behind Rich Cornwall.

Three Point Field Goals

Eric Devendorf: 208 three point field goals, 3rd all time. He should catch Preston Shumpert for 2nd needing only 42 to pass him. However, Gerry McNamara seems safe at #1 with 400.

Andy Rautins: 184 three point field goals, 7th all time. He needs 6 to catch Marius Janulis, and should also pass Preston Shumpert needing 66 to accomplish that. Rautins trails Devendorf by 24 three point field goals; he had 20 more than Devo in 2008-2009, so it will be close to see who finishes second all time at Syracuse.

Jonny Flynn: 101 three point field goals, 15th all time. He needs 4 to tie Jason Cipolla.

Paul Harris: 22 three point field goals, 39th all time. He needs one to catch Michael Lloyd.

Mookie Jones and Kris Joseph both have 7 three point field goals, 46th all time. They are one behind Ramel Lloyd.

Kris Onganaet: 5 three point field goals, 51st all time.
Jake Presutti: 3 three point field goals, 56th all time.

Other Career Notes

Eric Devendorf is 7th in career turnovers with 331. Jason Hart holds the record with 436 which is within Devo’s grasp. Let us hope he doesn’t get it.

Arinze Onuaku is 14th all time in blocked shots with 113, and Rick Jackson is 15th with 104.

Eric Devendorf is 5th all time in 3 point shooting accuracy (minimum 100 attempts) at 37.8%. Andy Rautins is 10th at 35.9%. The worst ever was Elvir Ovcina at 24.2%. Paul Harris needs to attempt two more 3 point field goals to qualify; when he does that he’ll be the worst ever at 22.5% (and Harris would hold that record even if he made those two attempts).

Eric Devendorf is 14th all time in free throws made with 306.

Single Season Rankings

Harris’ 298 rebounds was the 18th best rebounding total for a season.

Johnny Flynn’s 180 free throws made was the 5th best single season ever for Syracuse. His 237 attempts was 10th best.

Arinze Onuaku set the school record for field goal percentage in a season with 178 of 268 made, or 66.7%, breaking the mark held by Roosevelt Bouie of 65.4% set in 1979-1980. Rick Jackson had the 6th best shooting season ever, with 139 of 223, or 62.3%.

Jonny Flynn set the school record for most minutes in a season with 1418 minutes, break John Wallace’s 1995-1996 record of 1379.

Flynn had the 4th best minutes/game mark with 37.3 minutes/game. Billy Owens owns the school record with 38.0 minutes/game, set in 1990-1991.

Flynn has the 5th best assist totals for a season with 254. Sherman Douglas holds the school record with 326 (Douglas is also #2 & #3 on the list). Flynn’s total was the 2nd most ever for a sophomore.

Flynn tied the school record for most games started in a season with 38, which has now been accomplished by 12 players.

Andy Rautins 102 three point field goals was 4th best ever for Syracuse. Gerry McNamara holds the record with 107.

Flynn had the 4th worst turnover total in school history with 129. Sherman Douglas holds the record with 139 in 1988-1989.

Flynn’s 663 points was the 11th best point total for a season, and the most points ever for a sophomore season.

Flynn’s 6.7 assists per game was the 6th best average for a season. Sherman Douglas holds the record with 8.6 per game.

There are 43 Syracuse players who have had more than 100 assists in a season where they also recorded turnovers. Jonny Flynn’s assist/turnover ratio of 1.97 is 10th best ever. Sherman Douglas holds the school record with a ratio of 2.85. Eric Devendorf has the 3rd worst season ever with a ratio of 1.01. Andy Rautins was 26th best, with a ratio of 1.53.

And then the really bad record: Arinze Onuaku obliterated the Syracuse season record for worst free throw shooter (100 minimum attempts) at 29.8% (37 of 124). The previous record was Terrence Roberts at 42.1%. Onuaku was so bad that if we lowered the standard to 50 attempts he still would hold the record (the previous record was 38.3% at that standard). Using the 100 minimum standard, Onuaku would still have broken the record if he had made an additional 15 free throws.

Onuaku has pulled ahead of Terrence Roberts for the worst career free throw shooter (minimum 200 attempts). Onuaku is at 38.7% (122 of 315), while Roberts was at a ‘lofty’ 42.1%. If Onuaku were to make the next 100 free throws he attempted, his career percent was only be 53%.

On the bright side, the greatest field goal percentage for a career for Syracuse (minimum 200 attempts) is 68.5% by Jeremy McNeil. Onuaku has a career percentage of 64.1%, which is second best ever.

Team Notes

Syracuse as a team had the 5th most wins ever in school history, with 28. In part this was because of tying a school record 38 games played (which was also accomplished in 1986-1987, 1988-1989, and 1995-96). That is what happens when you win preseason tournament, go four deep into the Big East Tournament, and play 3 NCAA Tournament games.

Syracuse finished the regular season ranked 13th in the AP polls. That is the 12th best finish for the Orangemen ever, and their best poll finish since 2004-2005 where they finished 11th.

Coach Jim Boeheim finished the year with 799 wins. His first win of 2009-2010 will give him #800.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Thanks for the Season!

My thanks to the Orange for giving us a great season of enjoyment. 5-0 in overtime victories this season, including one very memorable one for the ages! A great run in the Big East Tournament and a return to the NCAA Tournament where they had two strong wins before inevitably losing to a strong Oklahoma team with a great Blake Griffin.

It was a pleasure watching Jonny Flynn develop from a great player to a great point guard over the course of the season, and for him wearing his heart on his sleeve through these past few weeks. The team started out well, and continued to improve as a unit throughout the year, despite a few occasionally distractions and injuries.

But starting with the overtime win against Georgetown, until Friday's loss to Oklahoma, the Orange played some outstanding basketball, showed a never give up attitude, and provided the fans with a lot of great memories.

2009-2010 should be quite a year. I have no idea which of the current players will be returning, but it should be a very talented team no matter what combination is on the court.

I have put together my summary of the season on OrangeHoops.org, so I will not repeat it here. Within the week, I promise to have my annual season ending statistics commentary.