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Dayton - Syracuse Postgame Reactions OR Done

Well, it's been a pleasure, CJ

As I write this, it's about 15 hours after the Syracuse game ended last night. And I figured if I didn't write this now, I probably never would. It hurts to think about it. As fans, we invest in something -- in a belief, in a desire, in pride. So when that investment fails, we take it personally. We are at a loss. But, we're just fans. It's the players -- the ones we invested in -- that really feel the pain. They lived it. But with time and with perspective, we can all look back on this season, and be thankful for our investment. And the players can look back and be pretty damn proud of what they did this season, even if it all ended so badly. But that'll take some time. For now, Syracuse's 55-53 loss to Dayton is what permeates our thoughts.

  • CJ Fair finished his brilliant college career with a double double -- 14 points and ten rebounds. He was just 4-14 from the field, not quite finding that patented CJ Fair jumper we've grown to love.
  • Tyler Ennis was the leading scorer on the Orange at 19 points from 7-21 shooting. We'll remember Tyler's inspired play down the stretch that almost gave Syracuse the win here, but the ball couldn't drop in as the buzzer sounded. Tyler characteristically played all 40 minutes, but uncharacteristically had a couple turnovers, one of which was costly at the end.
  • CJ, Tyler, and Jerami Grant were the only ones to make it to the free throw line.
  • Jerami was basically nonexistent in this game. Four points, six rebounds, and a foul out.
  • To round out his own college career, Baye Moussa Keita's only registerable statistic is three minutes played.
  • Instead, Michael Gbinije got most of the minutes off the bench -- 22 -- and had a solid eight point effort on 4-5 shooting. We've seen some great things out of Silent G this season, and for Syracuse to be good next season, he'll have to be good.
  • Syracuse was 0-10 from three for the game. No made threes. First time Syracuse has done that since 1995 (or at least I think that's the stat I heard on SportsCenter)
  • Dayton played a decent game, shooting 41.3% for the game, and 43.8% from three. The Flyers got ten points off turnovers, eleven second-chance points, and had a more productive bench.
  • Shooting woes plagued the Orange, as they have for two months now -- a putrid 38.9%. Really, that's all the recapping I need to do there. Bad shooting.
And so, a season that started with four exhibition games in August has come to an end. Syracuse finishes with a final record of 28-6. We say goodbye to CJ Fair, Baye Moussa Keita, and maybe Jerami Grant & Tyler Ennis, too. We'll always remember the 25-0 start, the buzzer beater win at Pitt, the record crowd against Duke to see one of the best games ever in the Dome, Boeheim losing it in Durham, and our first season in the ACC. Mourn the loss now, but remember how good we had it this season. I'm still pretty happy with my investment.

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(11) Dayton - (3) Syracuse NCAA Round of 32 Preview

Syracuse students agree: You beat Ohio State. Prove you can beat us too.
The Dayton Flyers put on a good show on Thursday to advance to face Syracuse as they took out favored Ohio State. We appreciate it. Now you have to turn around and beat another good team in Syracuse.
This game comes down to a major factor. Whichever team's defense plays the best will win. Dayton limited Ohio State to 59 points. If Syracuse is only able to score about the same amount chances are Dayton is winning. However if Syracuse is able to keep scoring and Syracuse's defense is the one that is limiting points, they will be in a much better position. I actually see Dayton that would be a team that also can't handle the zone like W. Michigan was. Syracuse was able to get 13 turnovers on W. Michigan, as well as eight steals, six blocks, and led in rebounding. If Syracuse defense can again produce transition offense off steals and blocks and they can earn runouts, it will be difficult for Dayton to hold Syracuse under 60. I think the 2-3 will cause several problems for Dayton early, especially because they aren't the best outside shooting team. They were only 3-13 against Ohio State from beyond the arc. If Trevor Cooney gets going for Syracuse again, this game will be over early like it was against the Broncos for Syracuse on Thursday. I like the Orange to advance to the Sweet 16, just like I picked, by 18.
This game is available nationally on TBS (Very Funny!) with a scheduled tip time of 7:10pm. It is also available online and on phone applications everywhere. John's still in Buffalo covering things there and I'll be out enjoying the game with a few friends. Should be good times. If we win that is.

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My tourney seats are analogous to my Dome seats!

The big question for Syracuse coming into NCAA play was whether it would get over its horrible shooting woes, or continue its poor play to be prime for an upset. One game doesn't answer that question, but if that one game is any indication, we're seeing the Syracuse that was 25-0, not the Syracuse that was 2-5 down the stretch. In first ("second") round action, Syracuse beat Western Michigan in Buffalo 77-53

  • You knew the ability to score would be the difference in this one, and Syracuse responded: four of the five starters in double-digits, and eight players on the board -- one of them Ron Patterson -- BUSS!!
  • Trevor Cooney is your leading scorer. When was the last time I said that, Notre Dame? Cooney had 18 points on 5-10 shooting, which was 4-8 from three. That's the Trevor we need for this Tourney!
  • Tied with 16 points each was Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant -- which, is basically the production we expect out of those two. They each played a great game, and were key to Syracuse winning. They each shot well -- and were perfect from the line. I like all of this.
  • CJ Fair had a nice little game himself, with 14 points on 6-13 shooting and 2-2 from the line. His 11 rebounds gave him the requisite statistics for what they call a double-double, which is nice. CJ was active, especially inside and with the long jumper, and it mostly worked for him today.
  • While there wasn't HUGE production from the center position, Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita did their jobs -- a combined four points, eleven rebounds, and three blocks. The Broncos had trouble getting inside, and that was a function of the zone doing its job and the centers holding it down inside. This was nice to see.
  • Syracuse shot 49.1% from the field, which is a marked improvement from, well, the last five or six weeks. So that was nice.
  • Also nice was the 82.4% number from the free throw line for Syracuse. Not quite Maui numbers, but respectable.
Top to bottom, Syracuse dominated. Recent memory doesn't know what this is. So, if you're a Syracuse fan who knows what's been happening recently, this is a very welcomed development. It sure helped that most of the First Niagara Center (nee HSBC Arena, nee Marine Midland Arena) was clad in Syracuse Orange. They had all watched Dayton upset Ohio State before this game, and rooted for it. Personally, I think Syracuse matched up better against the Buckeyes, but, I guess we'll never know. An off day Friday will give the Orange a day to regroup, rest, and prepare for Allen Griffin and the Flyers. AG will be working the door of the balcony, checking hand stamps, wondering "Where my boy BH at?"

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Syracuse students agree: You need to avoid the upset as a 3 seed.
Syracuse is back in the Tournament and heading back down I-90 to Buffalo to take on Western Michigan. Probably the least sexy team from the state of Michigan, the MAC Champions can definitely play. David Brown is the big star on the team, leading the MAC in scoring at 19.4ppg and was the MAC Tournament MVP. The Broncos faced Eastern Michigan twice, led by Coach Murphy's 2-3 Zone. They are familiar, but they aren't as good or as long as Syracuse at playing it. However, this team, with Brown, can really stroke the 3. This almost spells like the perfect storm for an upset. However, you can't beat Syracuse by just shooting the 3. They will have to get the ball inside. That's where the 2-3 will come in. Defensive steals will lead to some transition baskets. Syracuse should be able to earn some steals in this one and some blocks and get run outs. On top of that, this should be a home game for the Orange. And I think CJ Fair will be ready to explode after not making much of anything against NC State. I'll be taking the Orange by 14.
This game is available nationwide on CBS at about 2:45pm. It is also available streaming online at March Madness Live, and on the similarly named app. I'm stuck in the office during the game tomorrow, but hopefully I'l be watching. Either way, enjoy it if you can. It's the first day of the Tournament, the most wonderful sports day of the year.

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Orange::44 Bracket Extravaganza 2014!

 It's the most wonderful time of the year.
It's that time again when the staff here at Orange::44 post our brackets for the world to see, and subsequently learn how not to pick a bracket. The above bracket is mine. Below is John's. His scanner broke. Sorry. Enjoy that to satisfy your own curiosity. Click on the brackets to enlarge.

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NC State - Syracuse ACC Tournament Recap

Yeah, Jerami, it was frustrating for us too

As the 2-seed in the ACC Tournament, Syracuse earned the "dreaded" double-bye into the quarterfinals. I say dreaded, because Jim Boeheim is on record, at least in recent Big East history, as noting that the high seeds who get that double-bye tend not to do very well. I also say dreaded, because Syracuse shot horribly and lost this one against NC State, 66-63. Poor shooting has been the biggest story over the last five or so weeks for Syracuse, and it was the story the entire game against the Wolfpack. I'll get into the numbers below, but you can imagine how pathetic they are. That's what killed Syracuse in this loss, and if Syracuse loses an NCAA Tournament game, it'll likely be because of poor shooting.

  • Despite the horrible shooting, Tyler Ennis managed to score 21 points. He was 6-18 from the field, 3-8 from three, but a solid 6-6 from the line. He had seven assists, five rebounds, and four steals. Statistically, not a terrible game; but think of how differently the game may have been, had Tyler hit a couple more of those shots.
  • Jerami Grant was able to start this game, played all 40 minutes, and scored 19 points. He was the most efficient of the SU offense, scoring on 5-7 from the field and 9-13 from the line. His ten rebounds rounded out his double-double, production we haven't seen in a while. Suffice to say, it was great to have Jerami back.
  • No one else on Syracuse scored more than nine. One of those niners was CJ Fair, who had (admittedly, I believe), a horrible game: 3-16 shooting, and shut out from three.
  • As a team for the game, Syracuse shot 32.7%. That number was even worse in the first half: 25.93%. Looking at the three point attempts, it was a putrid 23.5% for the game.
  • Syracuse won the rebounding battle, 36-33; and in fact, won second chance points 11-7. But when you consider NC State had 30 points in the paint, that's a sign the center of the SU zone just didn't get it done.
  • I guess in that respect, we'll always wonder "what if" when it comes to the center position this year: what if DaJuan Coleman hadn't gotten hurt & require season-ending surgery? It's a legit what if, because it's not like he was playing lights out when he went down -- but what sort of progress would he have made at the position had he been able to continue to play? And how much did Rakeem Christmas sacrifice having to essentially play out of position for a good chunk of the season?
  • Anyone who watched the game live, or a replay of it, or the highlights on SportsCenter, knows what Syracuse had a chance in the last 30 seconds to win this game. No, not a chance. Like, eleventy billion chances. Let me refresh your memory:
  • That clip is the perfect demonstration of what's gone wrong with this team: innumerable chances to hit shots, and not hitting them. I mean, especially in that situation when you're down by three, and you miss a shot -- to get the offensive rebound and get a second chance, well, that's gravy. BUT YOU NEED TO MAKE THE SECOND CHANCE SHOT! Syracuse's failure to do so is what ultimately did it in in this game.
  • We can't blame that sequence as THE REASON why Syracuse lost. It was similar play the entire game, just not cashing in on good shots. Makes you wonder who sold what to the devil in exchange for opening the season 25-0.
I tweeted after the game that one of my biggest disappointments in losing that quarterfinal to NC State is that Syracuse wouldn't get a third chance -- a rubber match -- against Duke. And with the NCAA brackets now set, we know that rubber match could only come in the National Championship game. And, spoiler alert, that's not what I have for my championship game. Speaking of which, check back here tomorrow for our annual Orange::44 post of our own brackets, and see how you compare with the legal minds of Brian and me. We'll also have all your Orange-related NCAA coverage here, including previews, my on-the-scene recaps from Buffalo, and more. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the Madness!

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NC State - Syracuse ACC Tournament Quarterfinals Preview

Syracuse students agree: Getting our first ACC Tourney win is a must.
Syracuse barely escaped with a win against NC State on the home floor at the Carrier Dome the last two times these teams have met. It took a last second steal and a transition layup to give Syracuse the go ahead points. Can Syracuse come out and take care of business in the ACC Tournament?
This is going to be a game about which team's stars got off the bus. The rebounding edge was practically even in the last game, and so was the score. However, in Syracuse, CJ Fair had an off game along with both Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney. If CJ Fair plays well, along with grant, and any one other player on the team, Syracuse should have enough scoring to carry the day and face whoever (hopefully Duke) in the semifinals. If TJ Warren goes off like he did against Syracuse (game high 23 points) in the last game and Syracuse can't find a way to score, it is a long plane ride back to Syracuse for Selection Sunday. I have renewed confidence in both Grant and the offense after that Florida State win in Tallahassee. I'll take Syracuse over the Wolfpack by 11.
This game is available nationwide on ESPN at 7:00pm or online at Watch ESPN. It's not the Big East Tournament, but it's still a conference tournament and it should be fun and good basketball. Giddy up, Greensboro! 

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TV Review: Requiem for the Big East

I feel the same way.
The folks at ESPN sent me a screener of the new 30 For 30 documentary Requiem for the Big East. I poured over it a couple of times now. And while it is incomplete, it is fantastic. Some thoughts on the documentary below.
  • It was great seeing it put down on video and told from some of the people that were there the origins of the conference and how it was Gavitt's ideas and hard work that got the whole thing going.
  • If you're a Syracuse, Georgetown, St. John's, or Villanova fan, you'll probably really enjoy seeing the various highlights and attention to those teams paid in the film. They book end the movie with shots from the Syracuse/Georgetown 2013 BET game, and they give a good chunk of time to Georgetown's early dominance, Villanova's surprise National Championship over Georgetown, lots of Lou Carnesecca old and current, and Chris Mullins.
  • Lou Carnesecca looks old as all hell. But he's clearly sharp and still with it. It broke my heart when he said he wasn't that hurt about teams leaving the Big East except for Syracuse.
  • A few talking heads, specifically Michael Wilbon, contradicts the main point in the documentary that football, capitalism, and the league's own success is what broke up the Big East. Wilbon, over a shot of Nancy Cantor, says it was greedy and weak minded school presidents. Judge for yourself.
  • The documentary does a really great job of highlighting the important, as it turned out, of the league denying an invitation to Penn State to join. It was probably the first domino falling in terms of the conference breaking up. It just took a while for it to matter.
  • It does a great job of showing all the big personalities that dominated the coaching ranks of the early days of the Big East.
  • Sorry, no 6 OT talk. No real mention of UConn either to be fair. Despite the fact they won a few National Championships as a member. Jim Calhoun has a few talking head moments, but that's all from UConn. Same for Rick Pitino.
  • They talk about the BET but they only talk about some from the early 80's. Obviously there have been some pretty good ones since then.
  • There was one moment that really got me. They talk about the death of Dave Gavitt and how the day Mike Tranghese found out about Syracuse and Pittsburgh leaving was the day that he found out Gavitt had passed away. They then cut to Jim Boeheim talking about that and about how it's been his whole life. He clearly fights back a tear. The room I viewed the movie may have been very dusty that day.
  • No real talk about Notre Dame, or Tranghese, or especially John Marinatto being competent enough to stop any of the expansion/raiding of the league. No one deserves a ton of blame but Marinatto was totally inept and Tranghese could have taken some other steps.
Overall, you'll like what you see, especially as a Syracuse fan. It is definitely the incomplete story of all things Big East, but it gives you a good dose of history and the personalities, both players and coaches, that built the league into what it was. If I were grading it like one of our Football report cards, I'd give it a solid B. Requiem for the Big East premiers this Sunday at 9:00pm Eastern on ESPN. You should definitely tune in or set the DVR. It should be appointment viewing for all college basketball or Syracuse fans.

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