Saturday, December 28, 2013

Syracuse Beats Nova

Syracuse and Villanova met for the 71st time this afternoon, and the Orange displayed some championship caliber basketball in winning the game 78-62

Syracuse looked to be in trouble early as Villanova was hitting all their three point shots and Syracuse was struggling to find an offensive rhythm.  The Wildcats went on a run and led 25-7 with 11:00 minutes to go in the first half.  

Syracuse would turn the game around at that point with some smart offense and hard nose defense, going on a 20-0 run to take the lead 27-25.  It started with Trevor Cooney getting an open look and hitting a 3 point shot, and when Tyler Ennis made a layup with 4:52 to go in the half, Syracuse had the lead. Villanova would tie it up at 27, but when Cooney made another three to put Syracuse up 30-27, the Orange would never relinquish the lead again.

This game showed an great gut check by the Orange.  They never panicked despite falling behind by 18 points to a highly ranked team, instead methodically played their game and worked their way back into the game.  Tyler Ennis had another excellent game at running the offense; he had only two assists, but logged another game with no turnovers.  The young man knows how to protect that ball!

Trevor Cooney came up big when he got going. I was getting frustrated early in the game as it appeared that Cooney was never going to get open, shades of the St. John's game earlier this season.  But Cooney kept his movement going, and the Orange helped with some screens, and Cooney would hit five of eight three point shots he took.

C.J. Fair had another solid game; nothing singularly outstanding, but he kept the offense flowing, kept the defense honest, and made some clutch three point shots to make the Wildcats pay for leaving him on the perimeter.

A big key for this game was the re-emergence of the Baye Keita that we have known that past few seasons. He was hustling around the court, making some crucial rebounds and creating a noticeable defensive presence.  He displayed an outstanding high post pass to Michael Gbinije beneath the basket to help fuel the second half, and another nice perimeter pass to Trevor Cooney for one of Cooney's treys.

DaJuan Coleman appeared to be limited by an injured knee; I hope that does not come back to hinder his season as the Orange do need their three headed center of Coleman-Christmas-Keita.  Jerami Grant had another solid game; he didn't have any highlight real plays like we have become accustomed to, but he did make 11 points.

Overall the Orange hit 29 of 35 free throws, which could have given Villanova a chance if they otherwise had missed.  

I keep waiting for a quality opponent to stifle Tyler Ennis, but it has not happened yet.  The young man is having an amazing season running the offense for the #2 team in the country.  

Tip of the Hat to SB Nation

I wanted to acknowledge and thank the efforts of Sean Keeley and his SB Nation Blog (aka Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician) for the fundraising he initiated on behalf of the Houston YMCA.  He, and his readers, were able to raise $44,444.44 to send over 1,200 kids to the 2013 Texas Bowl.

I only wish that I had not been behind on my blog reading the past two weeks.

Well done Sean. That's an outstanding job by you and your readers.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Syracuse Top 10 Competitors - All-Time

The Syracuse Orange have played 2,716 varsity basketball games since its first game in 1900.  Approximately 1/3 of those games (982) have been against 10 schools.   Conference realignments and emphasis on programs (or de-emphasis) leads to a change on who the Orange play.

Syracuse is scheduled to play five schools in its top ten list this year.  The Orange have already played Colgate and Cornell, the two teams at the top of the all-time list.  Syracuse has played Colgate 166 times, by far the most, and Cornell comes in second with 119 games.

They will face Pittsburgh later this season; the Panthers are currently #4 on the list with 102 games, and will jump to #3 sometime next season.  #3 is may come to s surprise for some fans, especially younger ones:  Penn State Nittany Lions. Syracuse has played the Nittany Lions 105 times, with the Orange winning 62 of those games. The two schools have not met since January 25th, 1982, almost 32 years ago.  Part of that was due to logistics; but a bigger factor, I believe, was bitterness between the two schools over the Big East Conference.  Syracuse (along with others) did not agree with Penn State on what the conference should be and that led to Penn States exclusion from the conference.  The fact that Penn State basketball has not been competitive for quite some time has helped make it an easier decision (only 4 NCAA bids since 1965).

Connecticut is fifth on the list with 91 games; I am unaware of whether the Orange will try to continue this series or not.  Georgetown is sixth with 90 games. Both Syracuse and the Hoyas have discussed continuing the series, but nothing was scheduled for this season.

St. John’s is seventh on the list with 88 games, and Syracuse played the Red Storm earlier this season at Madison Square Garden. I would imagine that Syracuse will keep this series alive as long as St. John’s is willing, as it gives the Orange access to MSG on a routine basis, something the fans, players and recruits all like.

Niagara is 8th on the list with 81 games.  The Orange used to play Niagara very regularly, but stopped that routine in 1982, which does coincide with the growth of the Big East.  The two teams have met once since then, with an Orange 95-69 win on December 30th, 2000 at Niagara. 

Villanova is #9 on this list with 70 games. The Orange lead that always competitive series 38-32, and the two teams will be playing a high profile game later week with Syracuse ranked #2 and the Wildcats ranked #8.

Canisius is #10 on the list with 70 games.  Syracuse still plays Canisius; the last game was December 15, 2012 (last season) with the Orange winning 85-61.

Rounding out the top 20 would be University of Rochester, Seton Hall, Boston College, Providence, West Virginia, Rutgers, Penn, Notre Dame, Fordham and Princeton.  Rochester may surprise many; Syracuse has played 64 games against Rochester, but the last game was way back in 1975. Rochester is now a Division III school, and unlikely to appear on the Orange’s schedule.  Fordham reappeared on the Orange schedule this year, in a game the Orange won earlier this season.

As I mentioned earlier this month, the ACC is bringing a lot of unfamiliarity to the Orange schedule.  Pitt and Notre Dame stay on the schedule, but next on the list for the ACC is Miami, whom the Orange have faced only 19 times.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bring on the ACC

Syracuse officially plays its first ACC game on January 4, 2004 when it takes on former Big East brethren University of Miami. 

Syracuse has played every ACC school at least one time in its history, but overall those teams are unfamiliar landscape for the Orange.  Of the 2,716 basketball games Syracuse has played to date, only 38 are against ACC teams formerly not part of the Big East.

The most familiar team for Syracuse would be the Maryland Terrapins, who ironically are leaving the ACC after this season to join the Big 10.  Syracuse has struggled the most with the Terrapins in the past, having played seven games and going 2-5 in those games.  They were 0-5 versus Lefty Driesell.  It will be unfortunate for Syracuse that Maryland leaves, as I believe their presence would have helped the Orange continue to recruit in the Maryland/D.C. area.

The least familiar school for Syracuse is Wake Forest, whom the Orange has faced only once. Syracuse played the Demon Deacons in 2001, winning the game and holding the 1-0 edge.  Syracuse has met Clemson only twice, losing both of those games.

Syracuse is 2-2 against ACC powerhouse Duke, including going 1-1 against Coach K.  They are 3-4 against North Carolina, 3-1 against Virginia, 2-2 against Georgia Tech, 3-1 against Florida State and 4-1 against North Carolina State.

Overall, Syracuse has done okay against those traditional ACC teams going 19-19 combined overall.  Nothing great, but nothing terrible. Many of those games were against ACC teams in the NCAA tournament.

The history for Syracuse versus the ACC is not a long one.  The majority of the games have occurred since 1980, with most of the action prior to then coming in the NCAA tournament and other seasonal tournaments.  College basketball was mostly regional for the first eighty years, and as a result eastern schools tended to meet other conferences only during those tournaments.

The first ACC team Syracuse ever played was Frank McGuire’s North Carolina Tar Heels in 1957.  Syracuse was in its first NCAA tournament ever, and they lost to the Tar Heels 67-58 in the Elite Eight.  Syracuse would later upset North Carolina in 1975, on its way to the Orangemen’s first Final Four.

The next time Syracuse would play an ACC team was in 1960 versus Press Maravich’s Clemson Tigers.  This was during the lowest point of Syracuse’s program in terms of winning, and the Orangemen lost 78-67.

They would face Duke in 1966 in the NCAA tournament.  Syracuse had All American Dave Bing leading the way, but Duke proved too much as the Orangemen lost 91-81.

The Orangemen’s first win against an ACC team occurred December 28th, 1971, when  Mike Lee scored 23 points leading the Orangemen to a 74-72 win over the Duke Blue Devils.

The ‘new’ ACC  brings many familiar teams to the Orangemen.  Former Big East foes Virginia Tech,  Miami, and Boston College have been in the ACC for nearly a decade now.  Syracuse is very familiar with Boston College with a 40-23 all-time series against them.  Syracuse leads the Hurricanes 14-5, and despite the fact that Syracuse and the Hokies were in the Big East together, they have only met six times with the Orange leading 4-2.

Pitt and Notre Dame joined the Big East this year. Syracuse leads the Panthers 63-39 all-time, though in recent history the series favors Pitt.  Syracuse holds a 25-19 advantage over the Fighting Irish.

The Orangemen have a familiar foe in Villanova this upcoming week; that will be the last non-conference game of the season.   Then it will be time for the Orange to make new memories in its new home, the ACC.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Southerland's NBA Debut

James Southerland finally made his NBA debut for the Charlotte Bobcats on November 29th with a 3 minute stint in a Bobcat 92-76 win.  It took Southerland 17 games into the season to finally play a game, despite starting the season on the Bobcats roster.  

Southerland took three shots in the game, including one three point attempt, but failed to score.  At least now he has broken through and received the playing time.

James Southerland, welcome to the NBA!