Saturday, October 27, 2018

Syracuse Basketball - Influx of International Players

The Syracuse Orange will have a school record six international players on the basketball team this season.  This will include four scholarship players with sophomore Oshae Brissett (Canada), senior Paschal Chukwu (Nigeria), sophomore Marek Dolezaj (Slovakia), and sophomore Bourama Sidibe (Mali), plus two walk on players with senior Ky Feldman (Israel) and senior Antonio Balandi (Burkina Faso).

Syracuse Basketball Oshae Brissett
Oshae Brissett
This breaks the previous school record of five, which was only last season 2017-2018, with the aforementioned players minus Balandi.

Previous to the recent history, the school record had been three international players, which occurred six times, starting with 1984-1985 (Joel Katz, George Papadokas, Rony Seikaly), 1995-1996 (Marius Janulis, Elvir Ovcina, David Patrick), 2007-2008 (Devin Brennan-McBride, Donte' Greene, Kristof Onganaet), 2010-2011 (Kris Joseph, Baye Moussa Keita, Fab Melo), 2011-2012 (Joseph, Keita, Melo), and 2015-2016 (Chukwu, Feldman and Chino Obokoh).

The game continues to be more international and so it really should be no surprise to the increased influx of players with international backgrounds. 

Back in 2015, I had named my Syracuse all-international team. With the influx of talent the past couple of seasons, I may revise it as follows, moving Brissett onto my first team:

PG Tyler Ennis
SG Kueth Duany
SF Leo Rautins
PF Oshae Brissett
C  Rony Seikaly

G  Marius Janulis
F  Donte' Greene
C  Fab Melo
C  Baye Moussa Keita
F  Kris Joseph

Dolezaj and Chukwu are knocking on the door.  A solid season from Chuckwu would likely supplant him for Keita.  I don't think Dolezaj could move into the list this year, but as he is only a sophomore, I expect big things down the road could make the difference.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Orange Hoops Hall of Fame 2018

In 2007, OrangeHoops inducted its charter class into the OrangeHoops Hall of Fame: Dave Bing, Derrick Coleman, Sherman Douglas, Vic Hanson, and Pearl Washington. The next ten years saw the addition of Billy Owens (2008), Billy Gabor (2009), Lawrence Moten (2010), Louis Orr (2011), Roosevelt Bouie (2011)  John Wallace (2012),  Rony Seikaly (2013), Vinnie Cohen (2014), Etan Thomas (2015), Joe Schwarzer (2016) and Lew Andreas (2017).  So the list now stands at 16. Another year has passed, and now it is time for the 2018 inductee.

I established my rules for the OrangeHoops Hall of Fame back in 2007 and you can catch up on them here. 2018 does have three new eligible candidates (using the fifteen year rule): Tyrone Albright, Carmelo Anthony, and Ronneil Herron.

Tyrone Albright was a walk-on guard for Syracuse for one season.  He had not played high school basketball, and worked for four years following high school before enrolling in Onondaga Community College.  He would play basketball for OCC, and after some success there he enrolled at Syracuse.  He would play in seven games in the 2002-03 season with 20 minutes, but failing to score. He did have one assist, two rebounds and two steals.

Carmelo Anthony would have one of the most successful freshman seasons in NCAA basketball history.  Melo would lead the team in scoring and rebounding, with 22.2 ppg and 10.0 rpg, while leading the school to its first NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.  Melo was a terrific scorer and a solid teammate on the court.  He would score 30+ points in a game three times, including a career high 33 against Texas in the Final Four.  Anthony would leave Syracuse after his freshman year, and go on to a Hall of Fame caliber career in the NBA.  

Ronneil Herron was a four year walk-on guard for Syracuse.  He would score 24 points in his career.  He was known as a solid three throw shooter, and during his senior year he was inserted late into a game against Michigan State because of his free throw ability.  He would be fouled by the Spartans and make both of his free throws down the stretch in a 96-83 SU win.

Of this year’s candidates, Carmelo Anthony would make my top 10 list of candidates.

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

Castle was a two time All-American at Syracuse, and was captain and leading scorer of Syracuse’s only undefeated team, the 1913-1914 squad that went 12-0.

Cincebox was on the best rebounders in Syracuse history (in an era when rebounding numbers were admittedly high).  He helped Syracuse to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1956-1957, as the dominant big man for the Orangemen.

Lee was a clutch shooter with terrific perimeter range, and outstanding free throw shooting ability. He was able to use his shooting ability to set himself up as a solid passer. Lee's 18 foot jumper with five seconds remaining led the Orangemen to beat heavily favored North Carolina, as the Orangemen eventually moved on to their first NCAA Final Four. Lee would end up making the All-Tournament team for his outstanding performances.

Hackett was a powerful forward who could run the court well. He was a great rebounder and terrific scorer near the hoop.  He led the Orangemen in scoring his senior year and helped lead Syracuse to its first Final Four in 1975.

Rautins was a terrific ball-handling forward with a nice shooting touch, solid rebounding and scoring skills. He is most well-known for his game winning tip in basket to win the Big East Championship in triple overtime against Villanova in 1981.  Rautins also recorded two triple-doubles in Big East action.

Addison was a gangly small forward who earned a reputation for being one of the most underrated players in the country.  He possessed an excellent mid range jump shot, was decent passing the ball, and was a solid free throw shooter. He led the team in scoring his sophomore and junior seasons.  He moved to shooting guard his senior year, and his 6’7” height helped with the mismatches. Unfortunately a leg injury impacted his effectiveness the second half of the season.

Thompson was an explosive swingman, with incredible quickness and vertical leap, and excellent defensive skills. He was extremely adept at playing above the basket though he was only about 6'2". He teamed with Sherman Douglas to perfect the alley-oop basket.  Thompson was an extremely proficient scorer, despite the fact he was a terrible perimeter shooter. 

Hart was a speedy defensive point guard, and a four year starter.  He was a decent ball handler, and finished his career as the number two assist man all time at Syracuse. He was much better on the defensive end, and would finish as SU's all-time leader in steals.  Hart would have a 9 year career in the NBA, mostly as a backup guard.

Shumpert was one of the best three point shooters in Syracuse history, with terrific range.  He was a streaky shooter and carried the Orangemen to many victories, seven times in his career scoring 30+ points in a game.  He would be named to the Big East First Team both his junior and senior seasons, averaging 20.7 points per game his senior year.  He was not a strong defensive player, and there were questions about his temperament, particularly related to issues with DeShaun Williams.  Shumpert is currently the 8th all time leading scorer at SU.

All are worthy players, and tough selections to make.  I designed my selection rules to make it tough; the Hall of Fame should be the 'best of the best', and I would rather have a line of worthy players outside the Hall of Fame, than cheapen it by having lessor players included.

Ten very good candidates, and a couple of those players are among my all-time personal favorites.  However, the 2018 selection is very easy; it is Carmelo Anthony.

Melo is one of the greatest players in Syracuse basketball history; many would argue the greatest.  He could score, rebound, pass the ball, shoot well from the perimeter and the free throw line. He was a clutch player, the 'go to' guy on offense.  He was the biggest part in the Orangemen winning the 2003 National Championship.    The Orangemen were 30-5 in his one season at SU, 13-3 in the Big East. 

His 22.2 ppg and 10.0 rpg are both Syracuse freshman records, and he is one of only six players to averaged 20+ points under Jim Boeheim.