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Syracuse - North Carolina Preview

Syracuse students agree: Jim Boeheim loves beating Roy Williams.
Syracuse is already in the nicer weather of North Carolina as they plan to take on UNC on a very Big Monday. Syracuse let one slip away on Saturday. And as we all know, going from a Saturday to Monday game can be tough, especially when the Monday game is on the road. Especially when that game is against #13. North Carolina is a very tall, very athletic team. Rakeem Christmas and the rest of the Syracuse team will have trouble getting rebounds against a very tall and very athletic front court. However, Christmas should be able to get the low post scoring done. The one advantage Syracuse has is forcing turnovers and bad three point shots from UNC by using the Zone. UNC is not a very good shooting team from long range. Most of their scoring is done inside. If Syracuse can force bad 3s, they should get an advantage if they are able to rebound and prevent easy second chance looks. If they do that, this game will be close. SU can pull of an upset, but it doesn't seem likely. I like UNC by 14. This game is available nationally on ESPN / WatchESPN at 7:00pm. We'll see you out there.

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Yeah Michael Stephens again blew some calls. No surprise.
Syracuse wasn't favored to win. Miami is a very good team. However, Syracuse had the game tied and had come back twice to ten point deficits. But missed opportunities and missed free throws resulted in a Miami win. The U won 66 to 62.
  • Best player of the game for Syracuse was Tyler Roberson, especially on the defensive end getting rebounds. He finished with ten points and 14 rebounds on a 5-11 shooting day.
  • Michael Gbinije had a middle of the road day, hitting some big shots, but missing a huge dunk. He finished with nine points on 3-8, 1-4 shooting and going 2-6 from the free throw line.
  • Rakeem Christmas had 23 points and eight rebounds. He's pretty freaking good.
  • Syracuse actually had a higher shooting percentage from behind the arc than Miami, 37.5% to 34.5%), but Miami hit 10-29, and SU only hit 6-16.
  • The story was missed free throws for Syracuse. They were 8-19 (42.1%). Horrible.
So Miami missed a good chance to get a nice resume win. They still have plenty of chances left. Sadly this one was at home and winable when it came down to it.

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Miami - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Each loyal son knows Miami will lose.
Miami heads to the Dome today in a matchup that brings a touch of nostalgia back to me thinking about the old, old Big East days. Miami was terrible then. Syracuse always won. And by a lot. Now it's a little different when you have a coach that can actually coach. But Miami might be the most yo-yo team in the league. They crushed Duke at Duke, took Virginia to 2 overtimes in a narrow loss, and also lost to Green Bay, Eastern Kentucky, and Providence. Which team shows up in the Dome? Your guess is as good as mine. The same can be said for Syracuse, who bounced back slightly against BC earlier this week, but still had to make it a game with missed free throws and allowing BC clean looks at the basket they just missed. BC couldn't really buy 2 point buckets down the stretch or it could have been far closer. Trevor Cooney was only mildly productive, Christmas sat for long stretches, and Gbinije was hot and cold throughout the game. If Syracuse shows up on offense, they have a chance in this one. Miami does have a VERY good guard in Angel Rodriguez however. A guard that can slice the lane with the best of them in college hoops. And of course he can score, or kick it out for nice 3 looks, which generally came easy for BC last game, and will probably come somewhat easy in this affair. Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan both can shoot it from outside. Syracuse needs to bother these shooters and if Syracuse can shut down or confuse Rodriguez, which is generally possible in the first half of a game playing Zone, it's possible Syracuse can get enough of a lead to win this game. If they are forcing turnovers, and getting stops but not scoring like they did for stretches in the BC game, Syracuse is probably doomed. I think Christmas and Gbinije show up, but Cooney is the every constant question mark. I think this is one that will be hard fought. But I think the Orange fall to The U by 11. This game is available nationally on ESPN 2 / WatchESPN at 4:00pm. I'm in the home office. John is in the swanky seats in the Dome. We'll see how the Orange respond.

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Boston College - Syracuse Postgame Reactions or SOTU

So here's to the outhouse on the hill...

Tuesday night in Washington was dominated by President Obama's State of the Union speech -- SOTU. Tuesday night in Syracuse was dominated by featured Jim Boeheim's Syracuse Orange Tempermental Utilitarian team. Sandwiched in between the first six minutes and the last two minutes of the game was a really great effort by Syracuse. Initially overcoming an eight-point Eagles lead in the first half, the Orange charged back to a 35-17 halftime lead, and dominated for much of the second half. And then the last two minutes. Dragged. On. For. Ever. Between timeouts, fouls, turnovers, Boston College refused to throw in the towel until there were literally like ten seconds left and Syracuse up by eight. And that would be the final margin: Syracuse wins 69-61.

  • All five Syracuse starters were in double-digit scoring. That's awesome. The leading scorer? Not Rakeem Christmas (more on him in a minute). The star Tuesday night was Michael Gbinije. He had 17 points on 7-12 shooting, two threes, eight rebounds, four assists, and all 40 minutes on the floor. I think we can say he has really turned into the player we thought he could be (and knew he needed to be) entering the season.
  • The other starters scored: Trevor Cooney (15pts, 4-11, 2-5 from three), Kaleb Joseph (13pts, 2-7 shooting, 9-11 from the line), Rakeem Christmas (12pts, 5-8 shooting, 2-2 at the line), and Tyler Robersobn (10pts, 3-8 shooting, 4-6 free throws).
  • Kaleb played more aggressively, especially in the second half. But, as Boeheim noted in his presser, he'd make a great play, then an awful play, and back and forth. So, consistency is an issue. Something else I noticed about him running point -- I counted a few times when Boeheim called a play for Cooney to take a shot, and when Cooney would swing out from the paint to the wing and out into the backcourt (and be open), Kaleb often times would fail to get him the ball. Missed opportunities for Cooney to catch and shoot, in my opinion.
  • Rak "only" had twelve points and seven rebounds in just 23 minutes of play. That was 17 minutes of foul trouble, the last 1:51 after his fifth. That allowed Chino Obokoh 16 minutes of game play (a career high) where he had four rebounds and a block. A nice effort for a big kid who doesn't get many minutes. BC's game plan wasn't to exactly attack the basket (just 12 points in the paint all game) so this game didn't give us a great look at Chino on defense. But the time will come, eventually.
  • Maybe the biggest takeaway from this game was Syracuse's ability to succeed without Rakeem Christmas. The team has relied on him, sometimes exclusively, to be that go-to guy, that consistent scorer who will put up big numbers when the rest of the team struggles. So for Rak to go to the bench with Syracuse holding onto a lead, and for the players on the floor to increase that lead and hold it for virtually the rest of the game, was a big growing moment for the Orange.
  • Syracuse had a much better shooting effort than that Clemson game last Saturday -- 22-50 for 44%, and 36.4% from three.
  • Boston College entered this game the best free throw shooting team in ACC play. After only going 3-6 from the line in the first, they improved to 16-21 in the second, which almost put them back in this game. Then again, had Syracuse been better at the line in those final two minutes, this one would have been over much, much sooner.
Syracuse avenges last year's loss to BC on Jim Boeheim Court, so that's good. Syracuse also wore its traditional white jerseys & white shorts, instead of last year's "throwback" orange jerseys & blue shorts for the BC game. While there were some questionable calls from the officials, Syracuse didn't let it effect its game (well, maybe Rak did). At any rate, it's another win in the books before this team faces a tough Miami Hurricanes squad on Saturday afternoon.

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Boston College - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: BC sucks and always will.
Syracuse laid a stinker at Clemson, while they were having a hell of a shooting day. It happens sometimes. Very rarely does a team lay two in a row. That's what I'm banking on tonight against Boston College. A not very good basketball team. Same as last year. Syracuse laid a stinker against BC last year, ending their win streak and their time at #1 (BC fans forget Syracuse won at BC earlier in the year). Not only does Syracuse have a burning desire to beat them as payback, but Syracuse is looking to come out on fire. And Boston College isn't very good. Winless in the ACC, they have losses to UMass, Pittsburgh, and USC. Syracuse is a better scoring team and a better rebounding team. Syracuse was murdered on the boards by Clemson. If Syracuse is finally able to box out against BC, it looks as though Syracuse can get a nice win at home. Rakeem Christmas has proven he will be reliable. If Cooney or Gbinije can score Syracuse will be in a good position to win. Points come at a premium for Syracuse, but at least at home they should find an easier time. Boston College got torched by Oliviar Hanlan last season in the Dome. If Syracuse can find #21 and get a hand in his face, Syracuse will go a long way to helping their cause. Orange::44 favorite Eddie Odio will be on the floor for BC (think Nate Lubick type statistics) and will surely do something hilariously awful during the game so that will be fun for everyone. I'll take the Orange by 13. This game will be available nationally on ESPN U / WatchESPN at 7:00pm. If it's Syracuse Basketball, it's on ESPN U. Never Graduate.

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Syracuse - Clemson Recap

Yeah. Exactly.

Syracuse entered South Carolina undefeated in ACC play. Syracuse left South Carolina defeated in ACC play. Clemson beat Syracuse 66-53.

  • Where would Syracuse be without Rakeem Christmas this season? I'm not sure who the replacement would have been, but he would not have been putting up Rak's stats. They continued in this one: 21 points and ten rebounds in all 40 minutes. He also has found a way lately to put up phenomenal numbers while not getting in foul trouble -- only two in this game.
  • Kaleb Joseph had himself a nice little game: twelve points with a couple of assists. More on assists in a minute.
  • Michael Gbinije, if not for Rak, would be the team's most improved player. He's doing a little bit of everything, and generally, doing it pretty well. Against Clemson he had eleven points, a couple rebounds, a couple assists, and a full 40 minutes on the floor.
  • Trev0r C00ney scored just five points, all from the free throw line. He was shut out in his seven shots, five coming from three. Like in the St. John's game, he was covered tighly the whole game, Clemson deciding they weren't going to let Cooney beat them. That'll happen, and it'll be tough for him to get good looks. So, with bad looks, unless you're having a little luck, you're going to have a day like Trevor had on Saturday.
  • The Syracuse bench scored zero. Granted, that bench was merely Ron Patterson and BJ Johnson, and they only played a combined 13 minutes. But still.
  • Syracuse had seven assists all game. That should tell you just how little was going on with the offense.
  • If that doesn't tell you, here's some more: the Orange shot 36.8% from the field, 13.3% from three (just 2-15),
  • Clemson, on the other hand, shot 45.1% overall, 40% from three, and had a whopping 21 second-chance points.
So, that was the game. When two middling offenses play, but one shoots lights out and the other shoots as if the lights are out, then this is what you see. Time to move on.

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Syracuse - Clemson Preview

Syracuse students agree: Time for some revenge from football season.
Syracuse again somehow squeaked away with a win after Michael Gbinije missed a wide open layup that would have won the game in regulation. The Orange were victorious in the extra period however. Syracuse seemed to have the offense mostly firing well and every time Syracuse was down and needed a basket they were able to get one. That's good. Against Clemson, it should be a bit easier though. Clemson is ranked 14th out of 15 in the ACC in total field goal percentage with 41% from the floor. And in all likelihood that percentage will fall for the Tigers as they will be playing against a zone defense that they are unfamiliar with and ranks 21st in the nation. The only real long range threat is Damarcus Harrison, who hits 39.7% from behind the arc. BJ Johnson, while not a big stud on the offensive end, is very solid at rebounding. Syracuse should force steals, earn rebounds, and get some easy transition buckets that should keep this game comfortable for Syracuse. I like the Orange on the road by 13. This game is today at 4:00pm on the ACC Network / WatchESPN. You can see if you local affiliate has it here, and if you are WatchESPN blacked out here. Both John and I are watching from the home offices. Enjoy as always.

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A career night

It was frigid outside the Dome on Tuesday night (the main reason I didn't trek up to Syracuse), but the action was hot inside the Dome. It was a hard-fought game, which saw seven lead changes, five ties -- including at the end of regulation -- and ended with a total of 169 points scored. Luckily for Syracuse, Rakeem Christmas did his thing, and he did it really well. They say "ball don't lie," and ball was going through the hoop time and time again thanks to Rak. And that happened to be enough for the Orange, as they beat the Demon Deacons 86-83 in overtime.

  • The aforementioned Rakeem Christmas, hands down the most improved player Syracuse has ever seen, had a career night with 35 points on 13-21 from the field and 9-12 from the line. In playing all 45 minutes, Rak fell a rebound short of a double double.
  • Also playing every minute was Trevor Cooney. Cooney found his hot hand as the game progressed, and hit some really difficult shots down the stretch of regulation. In total, Cooney scored 21 on 6-17, including 5-12 from three and 4-6 from the line.
  • Michael Gbinije continued his dual-threat contribution, proving to be a force both driving to the basket and hitting jumpers from outside. His 17 points and eleven rebounds showed great contribution from a player forced to play all over the floor. In large stretches of the game, Gbinije took point guard duties from Kaleb Joseph, who only played 23 minutes.
  • Tyler Roberson's insertion into the starting lineup, replacing injured Chris McCullough, quite frankly resulted in a no-loss situation. While McCullough is the more talented player, his production as of late has been non-existent. So for Tyler to come in, play 44 minutes, score six and grab ten rebounds, well, that's just fine. It was largely mistake-free basketball, and if he could get a few more of his shots to fall (he was only 3-11 in this game), he could be an upgrade over what we were getting from McCullough.
  • ACL injuries suck, and we all feel badly for Chris McCullough. But we've seen it time and again where people with ACL injuries bounce back even stronger, after getting the opportunity to rehab, improve strength and conditioning, and really work on mechanics. These were all things Chris had to do to become an elite player anyway, so while I don't want to call this a blessing in disguise for him, he certainly has the opportunity to turn this negative into a great positive -- for his own sake (eventual NBA draft stock) and hopefully for the Orange in a sophomore season.
  • Wake actually shot better in the game (48.4% to 41.7%), so why did Syracuse win? The Orange limited turnovers (only eight) while taking advantage of Wake's mistakes -- 18 points off 13 turnovers.
As we go forward and play better ACC teams, it'll be interesting to see how the shorter bench effects Syracuse's ability to stay in close games late. The bench -- Ron Patterson & BJ Johnson -- need to capitalize on their minutes instead of having a 3-point contribution like they did on Tuesday night. The Tuesday to Saturday layoff should allow the team to rest from this overtime thriller, and be ready for the game at Clemson.

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