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Syracuse Football = Fiat 500 L

Hey! Leave Those Kids Alone!
In case you've been busy arguing the intracacies of how Gerry McNamara is able to accumulate 90.1% of Syracuse's available minutes while only generating an effective field goal rate of 44.1% (third worst on the team behind Louie McCroskey and Matt "For Three?" Gorman), National Signing Day is this Wednesday, February 1.

I bring this to the forefront of attention not because Syracuse has brought together some great almalgamation of gridiron heroes, but rather to prepare you for the utter disappointment that will inherently underlie such a day.

In other words, make sure to stock up on the Kleenex and Valium.

Even though I am hopelessly infatuated with college athletics, I have yet to really get onto the recruiting bandwagon. There are a couple reasons for this disinterest.

First, I think recruiting is masquerading as a noble pursuit, where future student-athletes judiciously weigh the options before them - both academically and athletically - and invariably make the best decision for them. Anybody with two eyes and goop between their ears that functions at a remedial level realizes that this isn't happening. Recruiting, at its best, is a dirty exercise devoid of general ethical limitations. At its worst, it's... well, it's... it's Alabama and Kentucky. That's the best I can do.

Second, I think trying to project the development and impact of an 18 year-old is an inexact science and not worthy of my ultra-valuable time. To predetermine whether or not some kid is going to pan out four years down the line and how that will impact a team is a pointless exercise that can only frustrate rather than excite. Therefore, I refrain from giving more than a glancing reflection on the crop of future Orange that has been harvested this year.

Finally, I think elevating recruiting to more than a mere distraction at the onset of February overvalues high school accomplishments and allows sleezeballs like Tom Lemming and Sonny Vaccaro to have relevance. The all-encompassing problem of kids making bad decisions about their futures can be traced directly to how they are treated as high school athletes and the praise they receive for their youthful exploits. When young athletes can go on to read what some "expert" has written about them and how they are bound to become a 5-star stud, they are bound to have an inflated sense of self-worth. Thus, we are left with a system where priorities are viciously distorted and perpetuates the very ills that amateur athletics was designed to prevent.

With that soapbox moment out of the way, Greg Robinson has compiled quite the pile of horse dung for the Class of 2006. Highlighted by a wide receiver that may not qualify and a bushel full of 2-star also-rans, the Orange are poised to take up an inch or two of space in the Post-Standadrd on Thursday allowing Billy Fuccillo to pimp his "'uge" deals. Up-to-date lists of Syracuse commitments can be found here and here.

On a brighter note, the entire Syracuse recruiting class isn't the equivalent of vomit. Delone Carter is generally considered to have all the goods necessary to become a pretty darn good back for the Orange. As his profile states:

Definitely has big-play mentality. Fell in love with Carter after watching his film. Can shake tackles. Very good lamps (vision). Can run between the tackles and has the quicks to take the ball outside. Stock should rise throughout the year. Elusive. Very good running back instincts. Breaks tackles.
As an aside, if you call vision/eyes "lamps," you should be taken behind a shed and beaten incessantly until the dumbass falls out of your head.

Along with Carter comes Baltimore, Maryland quarterback Andrew Robinson. I mention this not because he appears to be anything other than functional, but rather because he may actually be functional, and that is a major step-up from the mannequins taking snaps for the Orange right now.

Stop Crying for the Irish
I actually watched the travesty that is Collge Basketball GameDay this morning. Other than wondering why such a crappy show has such a tight opening and theme song (while its football counterpart, a bastion for the pigskin freak, has an opening that makes me want to murder children), the only time I really wanted to spit nails was when Digger & Co. were talking about Notre Dame and their "bad luck."

First of all, I don't subscribe to the idea of luck. As Seneca once said:

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."
[As I write this, Notre Dame has just lost to Villanova. By two. Via a tip-in with 1.4 left. Ironic, huh?]

So, with this in mind, there has to be reasons for Notre Dame losing as many tight games as they have this year for reasons other than "Jesus hates Mike Brey." A cursory look at Notre Dame's tempo-free statistics provides a great opening thought: this team plays no defense. In fact, the Irish are so bad on the defensive end of the floor that in only two statistics - "non-assist FG%" and "free throw rate" - is Notre Dame within the country's top 60 clubs. So, despite the fact that the Irish are in the top-20 nationally in offensive efficiency, Brey is forced to watch his team go slug for slug with their opponents consequently making games tight.

Bottom line is that if Notre Dame played some defense, they might actually pull out some of these games. You can't get away with not playing defense in the Big East because everyone can score, and do it in freaky-fast bunches.

What is also not helping the Irish is the fact that they have an offensive/defensive turnover percentage of 18.2/16.5. It doesn't take a genius to realize that losing the turnover battle is a good avenue for losing the war. Along similar lines, Notre Dame is also being outpaced by their opponents to the charity stripe 28.4 to 26.9. When you give up more opportunities for free points than you generate, you're going to get hammered in conference.

Finally, when a team relies on knocking down the triple to generate offense, there are bound to be instances of drought. Notre Dame gets 36.7% of its offense from beyond the arc and knocks down these shots at a 38.7% rate. When so much emphasis is put on hitting a shot that has a low probability of falling, the opportunities for failure skyrocket. Thus, because the Irish cannot effectively pound the ball inside to draw fouls, pick up easy buckets, and extend leads (I'm looking at you, Torin Francis, and your disappointing 109.4 Offensive Rating), they are stuck in a quagmire of bombing away and hoping the clock ticks down before they squader away a lead.

So, in short, Notre Dame's "hard luck" is the residue of their choice of style rather than simply coming out on the short end of the stick on numerous occasions.

Daaaah, dah dah, Seton Hall
The Orange are actually playing basketball on Sunday. In the Dome. Against a team that won't pummel them viciously. Well, at least according to Pomeroy they won't (Syracuse is docketed as a +7 favorite by the statistics guru; a 75% chance of victory).

Despite the Hall's heroic upset of N.C. State earlier this week, Louis Orr still has the equivalent of Syracuse football under his charge this season. Gregg Doyel of CBS Sportsline wrote some beautiful things about Orr earlier this season, but quite honestly, no matter how good of a coach Orr is - and he is a good one - success is going to be a fleeting thing with the Pirates this season.

Kelly Whitney and Donald Copeland are nice players, but they don't have the talent to put the Pirates on their back and string together 40 minutes of competitive basketball week in and week out.

The Four Factors:

Syracuse50.1 (135)21.2 (137)39.5 (19)23.2 (220)
The Hall46.6 (262)21.3 (144)35.9 (76)31.2 (20)

Syracuse44.0 (15)23.4 (68)31.4 (126)39.9 (239)
The Hall45.4 (36)21.0 (202)27.8 (25) 36.7 (179)

February 11 Can't Come Fast Enough
SU Athletics decided to appease the populace by writing a truncated season preview for the resurgent lacrosse team. I'll pick this apart sometime down the line as the season gets closer, but a critical reading of this preview will lead you to a dizzying conclusion - this team has a million midfielders.

And no goalkeepers.

And I'm not exactly sure that's a horrifying prospect given how good the offense will be this season.

Errr, Uh, Ok
The latest out of Syracuse, NY: Size matters.

I'm pretty sure if your academic study is premised on measuring the size of bat testicles and comparing them to the creature's brains, your research has the relevance of this blog.

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