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Lacrosse Nightcap

Media Poll - Week of 2.27.06
Inside Lacrosse dropped the latest edition of the media poll on the lacrosse masses earlier this afternoon. Duke's convincing victory this week kept the Blue Devils atop the polls with Maryland moving into the second position on the strength of its defeat of Georgetown and Johns Hopkins' lackluster victory over Albany. Syracuse remained in the fifth slot despite a respectable victory of John Walker and his Army outfit.

1. Duke (2-0) – 418 points (19 first-place votes)
2. Maryland (1-0)- 379
3. Virginia (3-0)- 374
4. Johns Hopkins (1-0)- 372 (2)
5. Syracuse (1-0)- 336
6. Navy (2-0)- 317
7. Princeton (1-0)- 275
8. Cornell (1-0)- 270
9. Massachusetts (1-0)- 249
10. Georgetown (0-1)- 235
11. Towson (1-0)- 214
12. Notre Dame (1-0)- 196
13. Delaware (3-0)- 125
14. Army (0-1)- 117
15. Denver (2-1)- 106
16. Penn State (0-1)- 104
17. North Carolina (2-1)- 100
18. Dartmouth (1-0)- 66
19. Albany (0-1)- 58
20. Fairfield (1-0)- 34

ScoreCenter!
Missed the score of the Air Force/Manhattan game this weekend? Fear not! Laxpower has every score from every game played this season right here.

Notable contests from this weekend include:
Denver pushing past North Carolina 11-8.
Notre Dame manhandling Penn State 8-4.
Albany almost pulling the upset of the year but ultimately falling to Johns Hopkins 10-8; and
Maryland drubbing Georgetown 10-4.

. . . And Georgetown Still Sucks!

Daily Affirmation
Bricks and Mortar
Record: 19-9 (7-7)
RPI: 28 (.6004)
Conference RPI: 2
Strength of Schedule: 11 (.5943)

Specificity
W/L (RPI 1-50): 2-8
W/L (RPI 51-100): 6-1
W/L (RPI 101-200): 5-0
W/L (RPI 201+): 6-0

This team is still going dancing. Other people think so as well. No joke.

Drillin' All the Suckers
Boxscore

Syracuse squared off against Army in the Dome this past Saturday to open up the Orange's 2006 lacrosse campaign. In classic Syracuse fashion, the Orange pulled away on the strength of the team's athleticism to post a respectable 14-10 victory over the Cadets.

Syracuse broke open a tightly fought contest with a flashback to the Roy Simmons, Jr.-era Orange. As Donna Ditota reports:

It took a signature Syracuse play to break the game open. The Orange lacrosse team owned the slimmest of leads midway through the fourth quarter of its season-opener with Army Saturday in the Carrier Dome.

And then, with a swiftness that has defined the SU program, the Orange struck with a transition goal that brought the 5,084 in attendance to their feet and all but sealed the outcome.

The goal, which started with Steve Panarelli stripping All-American attackman John Walker and ended when Brett Bucktooth fired low to ripple the net, gave the Orange an 11-9 lead it would never relinquish.
Keying the Orange's success was a pair of Syracuse newcomers. Virginia-transfer Joe Yevoli paced the Orange rush with a two goal, two assist performance. Matt Abbott, one of Syracuse's many heralded freshman, contributed two tallies to the Orange onslaught. Peter Coluccini registered nine stops in the cage in his first collegiate start for Syracuse.

Next up for the Orange is undefeated Virginia in Charlottesville on Saturday afternoon.

I'm Sorry... What?
Mike Waters, please step forward to receive your "Exercise in Futility" trophy.

All you need to know from Mr. Waters is this:

Amazingly, the only team that's mathematically eliminated from the Big East Tournament is South Florida.
Crap. Better break out the abacus.

Anyways, maybe it's just me, but I'm pretty sure that the Big East Tournament is shaping up like the BASEketball playoff picture. And that can't be good.

Football + Calculators = No More Tears
Vijay rules.

In his latest foray into making sense of out a system that inherently doesn't, Vijay has attempted to create a comprehensive system for determining what football teams are "the best" in a series of categories.

According to Vijay, the best team in the AP era was the 1940 Minnesota squad that went 8-0, won a curling world championship, and once punched a hole in a cow just to see who was coming up the road.

The Ernie Davis-led 1959 Syracuse squad, which I have championed as history's greatest football team on numerous occasions, did not finish in Vijay's top 10. However, the '59 Orange express was Vijay's undisputed 1959 national champion. So Syracuse has that going for them, which is nice.

I'll Still Love You If You Cry
I'm usually not a sucker for a sob story.

I think the reason for this is because my body is allergic to compassion.

For some reason, though, this story made me well up like I took a wiffle ball bat to the stones. DaveSez had an excellent preface to this story, and I'm going to lift it to ensure that the video is given proper context:

You've probably seen this by now, but I'll risk an obvious post for this story.

An autistic kid served as his high school basketball team's manager for several years. It was a great job for him, as he loved basketball and loved being around it. In the last game of the season, the coach decided to reward the young man's hard work by letting him suit up.

With four minutes left in the game, which was already decided, the coach decided to send him in. All of his teammates tried to get him some points, but he missed his first two tries.

Then, he got "hot as a pistol."

One after another, shots started falling until he had hit six consecutive three-pointers and scored 20 points.

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory!

International law dictates that when you win a bronze medal in curling,
you must look like you overdosed on stupid pills.

Great Britain v. These Colors Don't Run
Recap
Results

Normally, I’d treat a bronze medal the same way I deal with children: incessantly deride until I feel as if my awesomeness has been adequately achieved. But when your country has never won a medal in the world’s greatest anti-sport - curling - it’s time to celebrate . . . Bemidji-style!

I’m not exactly sure what Bemidji-style celebration entails. I’m assuming that it involves layers upon layers of clothing and probably a moose or twelve. But really, that’s the least important thing right now. What is important is that the United States is the “New Curling Nation” and all the suckers that doubted Pizza Pete Fenson have pie all over their face (horrifically terrible pun intended).

Buoyed by a strong three-point third end, Pete Fenson’s crew managed to stave off a furious Great Britain surge down the stretch to secure the United States’ first ever medal in curling. It was utter domination for the Americans, as they continually managed to move British stones out of the way, paving the way for victory. When the final stone was thrown, the Americans led their opponents in take-outs 52-22, converting on a 92% to 82% rate.

Now that’s good curling, motherfucker!
With Britain’s loss, the United States now leads the Honky Homeland in “Contests Matt Glaude Cares About” 4-0. For everyone interested, those four victories are:
  • The 2006 Winter Olympics Men’s Curling Bronze Medal Game;
  • The 2006 Winter Olympics Men’s Curling Pool Play Game;
  • The Revolutionary War; and
  • Advancements in Dental Care.
So, suck on that, Tony Blair.

This Team Is Going to the Playoffs

Quoting Jim Fassel = Mortal Sin
I'm going to make this very simple: there is no need to freak out about Syracuse's chances for receiving an NCAA tournament invitation.

The Orange, right now, are in and will continue to remain inside the field of 65 unless an unforeseen implosion occurs between now and the first weekend of March.

Skeptical? You shouldn't be. Really smart people who aren't me agree.

According to Professors Coleman and Lynch (the authors of the "Dance Card"), Syracuse currently sits in the 24th position on their list of worthy NCAA tournament invitees. This makes the Orange, according to each professor, a bigger lock for the tournament than such notables as:
  • Boston College
  • Kentucky
  • Georgetown
  • Washington
  • Arizona
  • Kansas
Still skeptical? You shouldn't be.

According to the professors, over the entire 12-year period of running their projections, they have generated a 93.9% accuracy rating. In the last six years, the professors have nailed down 94.1% of their projections. Last season, the professors correctly projected 97% of the field, only missing out on Iowa State.

Bottom line: Syracuse is going dancing, and there is no need to worry about it right now.

Sold Out: Syracuse/Villanova
It took 20 years but it actually happened. Syracuse has completely sold out a basketball game.

That really needs some perspective:
  • 35,000 fans.
  • At a regular season basketball game.
  • Where half the fans in attendance will barely be able to see the court.
  • To both honor and curse the name Gerry McNamara.
That's freakin' impressive.

UConnvict
Apparently, I never got around to the Connecticut state statute that said that State of Connecticut employees will act like morons until you knock the dumbass out of their head.

In UConn's latest episode of "Moron Theater," assistant football coach (and former Syracuse tailback) Terry Richardson was arrested Wednesday morning on domestic violence charges. According to the Hartford Courant article, Richardson was charged with risk of injury to a minor and second-degree assault.

Richardson, who lives in Willimantic with his wife and four children, was arraigned in Danielson Superior Court and released on a $10,000 bond. Richardson is due back in court on April 5, 2006.

This is actually the third incident in just a handful of years involving members of the Connecticut athletic department and the city the New York Times has dubbed "Heroin Town." Last year, numerous members of the Husky football team were caught shooting out windows of cars with a B.B. gun. In 2003, former Husky assistant basketball coach Clyde Vaughan was caught paying a prostitute to wax his winky.

Agony of Defeat

Canada Drills United States 11-5
[Note: If you don't want to know that the United States lost to Canada 11-5 in the men's curling semifinal today, too bad.]

Blame Canada for ruining your Wednesday night.

I'm sure Dave will expand on this very brief note, but to give up a five point ninth end is totally unacceptable. Especially when victory was within grasp.

Having cut the Canadian lead to 6-5 after eight ends, the United States was poised to pull out a huge upset. Holding the hammer in the ninth end, the Americans could have mounted a charge. However, the United States' hope for at least a silver medal disappeared when Canada, by and large the favorite in this tournament, blitzed the United States with a five-pointer in the ninth end, forcing the Americans to concede the match.

The story of the match ultimately turned on the Canadians ability to take-out American stones. Holding a 37-19 advantage in take-outs, the Canadians were ability to maximize their draws. It's tough to win when you're getting outdrawn (80%-75%) and you can't keep any stones on the sheet.

There is no word at this time whether Canada will annex Minnesota due to the United States' poor play.

On Friday, the United States will play Great Britain for the bronze, while Finland will play Canada for the gold. This matchup for the Americans will settle, once and for all, whether beer should be consumed cold or piss warm.

Wednesday Afternoon Drool

Syracuse = NCAA Tournament Participant
With Syracuse's win Monday night against reeling West Virginia, the Orange should have wrapped up a position in the field of 65. The resume speaks for itself:

Bricks and Mortar
Record: 19-8 (7-6)
RPI: 28 (.6037)
Conference RPI: 2
Strength of Schedule: 10 (.5934)

Specificity
W/L (RPI 1-50): 2-8
W/L (RPI 51-100): 6-0
W/L (RPI 101-200): 6-0
W/L (RPI 201+): 5-0

Note: Syracuse has played only one team (St. John's) outside of the RPI 100 since January 8, 2006, when the Orange beat South Florida.

Looking at this resume leads to one simple conclusion: it would be irresponsible for the tournament committee to invite a college/university designated as a "mid-major" over Syracuse.

This conclusion is buttressed by two points. First, to invite a "mid-major" positioned somewhere in the RPI 30-100+ range over the Orange would punish Syracuse for playing and defeating every "mid-major" program it has faced this season (with the notable exception of Bucknell). This seems acutely unfair, given that Syracuse, unlike many other notable programs, has actually given high "mid-majors" the opportunity to play the Orange this season. There should be an incentive to play these "mid-major" programs, not a disincentive to do so.

Second, Syracuse is playing in the most difficult college basketball conference ever. To punish Syracuse for playing in the Big East and choosing to play a landmine-filled non-conference schedule would smack of injustice. Quite simply, the at-large process was designed to get big conference teams who suffered through back-breaking conference schedules into the tournament. Thus, the entire process was established to favor the way Syracuse got to a 19-8 record rather than the way Utah State has gotten to 17-6.

On less policy-based grounds, Syracuse has still positioned itself magnificantly for a tournament bid, despite the lack of big names dotting Syracuse's kill list this season. StatesFans Nation, a North Carolina State blog, looked at some recent history and came to the following conclusions:

Teams from the six “big” conferences can worry about seeding and not an invitation with an RPI ranking of 35 or better heading into Selection Sunday.

Teams ranked #36 - #55 have less than a 50-50 chance of getting an at-large bid.

Teams from #56 - #75 need “friends in high places” or some late-season heroics to garner an at-large bid.

Teams ranked below #75 need to start lobbying for a home game in the NIT.

Futhermore, we may even be talking about Syracuse just not "sliding" into the field, but also having a pretty cushy seed. Once more, StatesFan Nation provides the lowdown. As it turns out, over the last four years, NCAA tournament teams that have been seeded seventh have had an average RPI of 30 and within the range of 17 to 47.

So, as it stands currently, Syracuse is clearly one of the squads in the field of 65, assuming that its RPI will not drop (which it shouldn't given the number of quality opponents left on the Orange's schedule). Consequently, all the doom and gloom surrounding this team is either unfounded or premature.

It Was On the Radio So It Must Be True
Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese was on WFAN's Mike and the Maddog radio program yesterday. During his interview, Transhese dropped a a piece of knowledge that I felt was incredibly important: the Big East may be moving toward an 18-game conference slate.

[Pause to pee my pants]

As it turns out, the Big East's contract with ESPN et. al. will expire in two years. At that time, the conference is looking into moving toward an 18-game conference slate which should provide more balance to a hoops lineup that is currently unbalanced at best. The reason for this move, according to Tranghese, is to take away the ability of television networks to dictate which teams must face-off against each other in conference play. By eliminating the television networks, Geppetto can no longer control how the conference creates its schedule. This, in the end, would allow teams like Syracuse to stop playing league schedules dramatically disproportionate in difficulty to teams like Providence.

I figure this could have two consequences:
1) Jim Boeheim will become the happiest man alive; or
2) His wrinkly head will explode.

What's It Called? The "Daily O"?
The Daily Orange has put out its 2006 lacrosse preview, complete with avant garde photography and a really good story on how lacrosse coaches are forced to split scholarships. It's all definitely worth a perusal.

The Road to the Championship is Alaways Under Construction
Ivan Maisel has put together a nice little off-season observation on the Orange. Favorite passages include:

Surely, winter conditioning can't get tougher than this. You play for
Syracuse University, and you're coming off your school's worst season in 113 years. It's 5:30 a.m., it's 10 degrees, and last night's snow greets you as you open the door to leave. You might have gotten six hours of sleep, sandwiched around that 2:30 a.m. homecoming by your housemates stumbling in from wherever they began the weekend.

If you're lucky, you have a car, and you leave time to scrape last night's snow and ice off the windshield. Otherwise, you join your teammates in a zombie-like walk down the hill toward the football building, where a 6 a.m. workout awaits. Some of you wear a hooded jacket. Some wear a knit cap. You're wearing a knit cap and a hood. Driving or walking, you dodge the dump truck, plow protruding from its front lip, that's wheeling up and down the parking lot.
And, speaking about the off-season program coach Robinson has erected:

This sort of dedication is why Robinson believes that his team's road construction -- the hallway saying is one he borrowed from his former boss with the Kansas City Chiefs, Dick Vermeil -- is farther along than it looks. To the chronically skeptical Syracuse fan, that saying may sound the way FEMA sounds to the folks in New Orleans.

Don't. Get. Eliminated!!!

2006 Lacrosse Preseason Outlook

In most instances, polls usually rank teams through "Top 10's" or "Top 25's." I guess the reason for it is because that's just the way things have been done before.

Well, I'm not going to rank the teams one to ten or even one to 20. Instead, I'm ranking teams one to 12. And I'm not even going to expand on why I ranked a team where I did past slot six. There's a twofold reason for this approach:
  • First, I don't think any team outside of this top 12 will have a legitimate shot at making the Final Four this season. It takes a whole lot of muscle to bust into the rarified air that is the NCAA lacrosse final four, and if a team doesn't have the pedigree to do so, there's no chance in hell it's going to unseat a Hopkins or Syracuse.

  • Second, I don't think that any team outside of these top six have a real shot at raising the trophy on Memorial Monday. That's why I don't really care whether you, my loyal reader, know what Princeton is returning this season.

Thus, without further ado, my preseason top 12.

1. Duke
Mike Pressler spent years underachieving down in Durham, N.C. But following his team's heroic performance in 2005, the captain of the S.S. Blue Devil is poised to set sail for Philadelphia this coming Memorial Day as the favorite to hoist the championship trophy.

Led by attackman Matt Danowski and Zack Greer, Duke will once again be a force to reckon with offensively, much like the Roy Simmons, Jr.-era Syracuse Orange. The only question unanswered for Duke is whether Dan Loftus will be able to fill the large shoes left by former keeper Aaron Fenton.

2. Johns Hopkins
Nobody has more talent in the country. And nobody deserves a kick in the stones than Blue Jay head coach Dave Pietramala.

2006 will not be an easy year for Hopkins. Faced with the task of trying to replace a large senior class, the baby-faced Blue Jays will need to rely on Jake Byrne, Final Four hero Greg Peyser, and super stud Paul Rabil to carry this team on their backs if it expects to repeat the glory of last year.

3. Virginia
If it weren't for an ill-timed monsoon, we might be talking about Virginia going after a back-to-back titles. Also, I'd still have the ability to laugh at every Hopkins fan I meet under the age of 30.

Outside of Matt Ward, Virginia isn't loaded a talent pool that will make you gasp. Danny Glading looks to be a pretty nice player and Kyle Dixon has some talent to fill out the Cavalier midfield. All in all, Dom Starsia has a solid roster of role players, but I'm not sure it will be enough to catapult them to the title on Memorial Monday.

4. Syracuse
Everyone knows the questions dogging Syracuse this year: 1) Will they have enough at close defense; and 2) who's going to be in the cage.

If the Orange can answer either question affirmatively, this team is a title contender.

5. Maryland
Joe Walters.

That's all you need to know.

Joe Walters.

6. Navy
After a year of looking on the outside in, brusing attackman Ian Dingman is back in a Midshipman uniform. Two seasons ago, the Carthage product bullied his way to the Final Four, where his efforts were ultimately all for naught as Navy dropped a nailbiter to Syracuse in the national championship game.

Navy is backstopped by maybe the nation's finest 'tender in Matt Russell. He's been the starter for Richie Meade since 2004, and as his talent has grown, so too have the fortunes of the Midshipmen.

7. Georgetown
8. Cornell
9. Princeton
10. Penn State
11. Towson
12. Albany

Lacrosse (In Brief)

Media Poll - Week of February 20
Following the season's first weekend of action, Inside Lacrosse has released its media poll for the week of February 20, 2006.

Topping the poll is Duke, which cruised to a 20-3 schllacking of Butler this weekend. In the second slot is Johns Hopkins, which received two first-place votes. Maryland and Virginia follow closely behind the Blue Jays in third and fourth, respectively. Syracuse was positioned fifth.

Scores (As in the Outcome of Games, Not the Strip Club)
LaxPower has them all right here.

Notable contests from this past weekend include a near upset of Virginia by an underwhelming Drexel squad and Lehigh almost clipping darkhorse Delaware.

Efficiency Numbers
I will begin posting national efficiency statistics some time next week when every team has started its season.

Pete Fenson Is My Hero

News and Notes
I think this says it all:

In case Shawn Rojeski didn't know the United States had reached the medal round of the Olympic curling tournament, the reaction in the beer tent would have convinced him.
This quote deserves special attention. First, the United States has made the medal round of the Olympics. Joining the Americans will be curling powerhouse Canada, Finland, and Great Britain.

After the conclusion of today's draw, the Americans will have played all three clubs moving onto the medal playdowns. Today, the United States dropped a bruising match against Canda, 6-3. On Sunday, the Americans used a four-point third end to stun Great Britain. And on Monday, the U.S. grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory by losing to the Fins when Pete Fenson was unable to capitalize with the hammer in the 10th end.

Basically, to quote the coach from Major League, "We're contenders now!"

Second, curling has its own beer tent? How did my parents not introduce me to this game as a child?

Pool Play Statistics
Here is the aggregate statistical outputs for the four nations advancing to the medal round:
United States
Great Britain
Canada
Finland

What I am particularly worried about is Canada's stolen end numbers. The Canadians have stolen 23 ends this tournament while only having 10 stolen against them. That's an incredible feat. As the United States' opponent on Wednesday, Pete Fenson will have to play a smart match in order to keep the Canadians off his back.

Bemidji: It's Like Mecca, But Not
As the United States squad is made up of an assload of curlers from the Bemidji area, you, as an ardent supporter of the anti-sport that is curling, should take a tour of that wonderful land of Oz.

If that isn't enough for you, try Wikipedia. As you'll see, Bemidji is quite the economically depressed area:

The median income for a household in the city is $28,072, and the median income for a family is $37,250. Males have a median income of $28,312 versus $20,694 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,264. 19.2% of the population and 13.2% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 19.7% of those under the age of 18 and 10.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
So please, give and give generously to the people of Bemidji, because without them, USA curling is going to go directly into the shitter.

3rd Down Deficiency

Mission: Impossible
Brian over at MGoBlog has really gone above and beyond with his latest effort at statistical comprehension.

Through a Herculian effort, Brian has graphed some interesting down and distance data for what appears to be every D-1A football team this past season. Syracuse's statistical output, of course, is pretty pitiful.

Offense
Third Down Efficiency
From Brian:
The thick line in the center is the NCAA average (e.g., approximately 68% of third and ones were converted last year). The second thinner line represents Syracuse's third down efficiency. Where there is a gap between the thick and thin lines, that gap is filled in with either red or green depending on whether it is "good" or "bad," respectively.

Being above the line is good for offenses--you convert more often than not. Being above the line is bad for defenses--you are converted upon more often than not. Basically, you want to see a lot of green in these graphs.



Yikes. That's a lot of red.

It should not be surprising to see how terrible Syracuse was on offense trying to convert third downs. What is freaky weird about this graph, however, is not that Syracuse was bad (everyone knew that), but where it was bad.

Syracuse was actually worse on third and three than it was on third and five. How, I'm not exactly sure. You would think that when the team had a shorter distance to go in order to convert, more conversions would occur. Of course, Brian Pariani never received the memorandum about that.

Furthermore, how is it possible that this team was able to convert only 50% of its third and one possessions? This is hard evidence that Damien Rhodes is a soft runner.

Third Down Distance Distribution
From Brian:
Again, the line in the center is the NCAA average and the thinner line is the individual team's. Green is just "above"; red just "below," since there's no clear distinction between good or bad based solely on what side of the line you're on.



I really don't know what to make of this data right now, but my initial impression is that the majority of Syracuse's third down possessions came with the Orange needing to get between six and 14 yards. That is not good and certainly played a large role in Syracuse's inability to convert third down tries.

Also, seeing the amount of red taking up space between one and three yards is disconcerting. However, given the fact that Syracuse was converting less than 50% of those tries anyway, it really didn't matter that the Orange had long distances on third down.

The Raw Numbers
From Brian:
The following graph shows the underlying data used to construct the first two. Each bar represents one yard line. Blue segments are failed conversions. Red segments resulted in first downs.



Defense
Third Down Efficiency



For the most part, Syracuse had its defense in order on third down. With the team in "green" territory from two to 13 yards, Anthony Smith & Co. got the job done. This is probably directly attributable to Greg Robinson's attacking mentality.

What is weird, however, is Syracuse's inability to stop teams in the 13 to 15 yard range. It's just absolutely schizophrenic.

Third Down Distance Distribution



The Raw Numbers

Live on Location


Coming to you from snowy Syracuse, NY. I got really drunk last night at Darwin's so here's your curling analysis:

Holy crap, Great Britain is good and Sweden put it in the tank.

That is all.

Prediction for tonight's Syracuse/Louisville match-up:
SU loses by 17 with a strong 5 for 23 shooting night from Gerry Mac. He'll have 4 assists, but 6 turnovers, so he's got that going for him.

I'm craving corned beef hash, is that bad?

Parting Shots

Italy v. Don't Tread on Me
Results

Total meltdown.

That's the only way to describe the United States' effort today against an Italian squad which owns two two-point losses, one two-point victory, and now one one-point triumph. They are officially the Notre Dame basketball of olympic curling.

The United States clearly was the favorite entering the match today, but could not keep pace with an Italian squad that managed to score in five ends, while the Americans only mustered points in the fifth, seventh, and tenth.

Playing Lawyer
I'm leaving Connecticut tomorrow morning at an ungodly hour to travel to February's hottest tourist destination, Buffalo, to compete in a moot court competition. If you don't know what a moot court competition is, it's essentially where a bunch of uber nerds get together and put on fake appellate arguments in front of judges who fake understand the issues. It's really a pointless exchange, but it gets me out of town, and that's the most important thing.

So, Dave will take you to the weekend and maybe beyond, depending on my stupid travel schedule.

Shitty, Shitty Preview
Syracuse squares off against a depleted Cincinnati club tonight in the Dome. I neither expect Syracuse to drill the Bearcats nor get dogged by that MASH unit. Rather, this game is going to be nip and tuck from the opening tip to the final gun, especially if Eric Hicks gets on track. Anyways, here's the scouting reports from Ken Pomeroy:

Syracuse
Cincinnati

Lacrosse = ??? = Profit
The Syracuse University athletic department is usually pretty inept. However, it actually struck a blow for "kicking ass" when it released the 2006 Syracuse lacrosse media guide. It comes in nine pieces, all in .pdf format. You should, like, print it out and stuff.

My favorite part of the media guide is the page with crosshairs superimposed over a picture of the Orange coaching staff and, specifically, Kevin Donahue. It just further emphasizes the glory of people who have time disproportionate to photoshop ability, as crosshairs over testicles are always funny. Seriously, this is the only reason America's Funniest Home Videos is still on TV - shots to the stones.

More Lacrosse
Donna Ditota has the inside dope, and it looks like this:

Here's the latest on the scrimmage with Maryland planned for this weekend in Syracuse:

The game is tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday on Wohl Field, which is the lacrosse turf field located near the soccer stadium in the Manley Field House cluster of fields. Wohl Field has no spectator seating and I'm told no one will be allowed inside the fence to watch the scrimmage. I'm guessing that means you'll be allowed to peer at what transpires from outside the fence.

The caveat is this: If the weather does not cooperate, the game will be moved to Maryland. The decision, I understand, will be made by 10 a.m. on Thursday.
So, if you happen to be in town for, oh, I don't know, a certain alumni gathering, and are thinking about catching some lacrosse in the afternoon, make sure to check with Syracuse Athletics before venturing out.

Curling: Day Two

New Zealand v. No Taxation Without Representation
Results
Another day, another vicious beatdown by the surging Americans. It was, as it were, a Valentine's Day Massacre, except without the messy residue of mass homicide.

A day after the USA was dealt a last-rock lost at the hands of Finland, the Americans stormed the curling barn, blitzing the Kiwis 10-4 in only eight ends. It marked the second time in as many days that the USA forced its opponent to concede before the match reached its ultimate tenth end.

The Kiwis jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead after the first end, but failed to put another marker on the board until the seventh end. Through that drought, New Zealand managed to go scoreless in four ends in which the team had the hammer. In essence, New Zealand had its dick near a vagina, but instead of finding synergy between the two, simply chose to go into the corner by itself and beatoff.

The United States, on the other hand, went off like a sailor on shore leave and managed to generate seven points during the Kiwi drought, further proving the big play ability for Pete Fenson's squad.

The star of the match for the United States was John Shuster, who took 15 draws and was successful on 90% of them. Although he registered no take-outs, he was able to trigger the United States' scoring blitz when New Zealand was forced to play defense during the heart of the contest. Honorable mention kudos go to Shawn Rojeski, who tallied 90% on his draws and a solid 91% mark in the takeout category. In fact, Rojeski led the American effort in the take-out category with 11 on the day.

The Americans' next game is today against host Italy (7 PM Turin(o) time), which should result in another epic ass-whooping. Throw in Wednesday's game against the winless Germans, and Fenson's team (2-1) probably needs to steal just one or two more victories in its other four games to reach the medal round.

How'm I doing?


Not to get all "Ed Koch" on you, but I thought I would take a gander at how my curling predictions are panning out.

Full tourney coverage can be found here. I thought I would provide the link, because who ever did the NBCOlympics.com site had the webpage design sense of Helen Keller.

I pretty much broke the teams into 3 tiers. Records in parenthesis. Hey it's Matt Glaude's blog. There has to be numbers here somewhere.

Medal Contenders (Drinking Skill and time/ability to throw rocks around on the ice)
Sweden (3-0)
Norway (1-1)
Canada (1-1)
Finland (1-1)
Germany (0-2)

Middle Class (We can drink, but concentrate on other drinking sports like slow pitch softball and driving)
Great Britain (2-0)
USA (2-1)

Bottom Dwellers (We claim we can hold our liquor, but we'll probably turn down shots at closing time and we are basically in this thing cause other countries can't even afford the matching half-zip pullover uniforms that are required to compete.)
Switzerland (1-1)
Italy (1-2)
New Zealand (0-3)


Even Dr. Z doesn't like reading Dr. Z
Holy crap, it almost looks like I know what I'm doing. I should do this with NFL cities. I'd kick Dr. Z's lame column's ass. Personal surprises of the tourney are the Americans (My kind of team, Charlie. My kind of team) over Norway and the Italians beating za Germans! (Insert Hitler/Mussolini or culinary joke here). Meanwhile, fans of the Tre Kronor have to be smiling while they sit in their fashionable, yet economical IKEA furniture. Don't count out those Fins, I just saw their skip, U-15, finish an NBC Olympics rubix cube in 28 seconds, so they got that going for them.

Great slate of matches tomorrow. Big day for the Brits, they've got the Canukers in the morning and Norway in the evening. Two curling matches in one day. How do they do it?! These Olympic athletes truly are physical specimens. God Bless America (and nobody else) takes on the host Italians at 7 pm Turin(o) time.

Curling: Day One

Norway v. These Colors Don't Run
Results
Recap

The stars and stripes started out their olympic quest for glory with a convincing 11-5 victory over a Norway squad who could provide no answers to the American onslaught this afternoon. Norway was the 2002 gold-medalist in men's curling in Salt Lake City.

It wasn't all sunshine and lollipops for the Americans, though, as the United States had to use a death-blow five pointer in the eighth end to force Norway to conceed with two frames remaining.

Pussies.

In the fifth end, Skip Pete Fenson hit a triple by curling around a guarding stone placed by Norway and knocking the American opponents out of the scoring area. This subsequently left three American rocks closest to the middle resulting in the three pointer. Team member John Shuster summed up the throw with the following:

"When he made the triple, I had chills," Shuster said. "I went to the other end and I said, 'Are you having fun yet?"'
When push came to shove, the Americans really didn't dominate the statistics game. The Norweigans outpaced the Americans in draw percentage and ended the match with a higher number of takeouts. Where the USA really did its damage though was in takeout percentage, where the red, white, and blue generated a 71% mark to Norway's pitiful 59% tally. That, ultimately, was the story of the night.

Finland v. E Plurbis Unim
Results

After riding high from a dominating performance against Norway, the Americans could not hold off a large charge from another Scandanavian curling machine, Finland.

The United States charge out of the gate quickly, racing out to a 2-0 lead after the second end. Finland, however, refused to bow out and evened up the game with a two-point fourth end. The countries traded tallies in the sixth and eighth end and went into the tenth and final end locked in a 3-3 tie.

The Americans held the hammer in the last end but was unable to capitalize as Finland managed to put one marker on the board late in the end, leaving the Americans to wonder what could have been on the first day of competition. Having dominated the statistics sheet, the United States should have pulled out the victory, but will now have to make up ground tomorrow against woeful New Zealand.

Long time reader, first time blogger.


Coming to you live from "snowy" Northern Virginia, it's your first official Pearson dose of curling.


Before we get to the rocks and squeegees, I got an Olympic banned substance bone to pick.



What do both of these strapping lads have in common? You guessed it, they've both tested positive for Propecia, hair growth stimulant and performance enhancing drug masking agent. On the left, Canadian ("Hoser") goalie, Jose Theodore. On the right, American skeleton racer, Zach Lund. Theodore didn't actually make the Canadian hockey team, but was on the list of finalists and therefore tested. Lund had a shot at a medal this year, but thanks to his desire for a head of flowing locks, he has to head back home to Salt Lake City, Utah a nobody. Instead of a nobody with an Olympic medal.

Theodore's apparently been taking it for 8 years and Lund for 5 years. With Lund, I can seen he's got a bit of a Keifer Sutherland hairline, but friggin' Theodore should be a god-damn spokesman for Propecia if all that hair is a result of taking that crap. He says, "I'd recommend it to anybody." Hey, don't recommend it to potential Olympic athletes, knucklehead. Theodore has gone so far as to apply for a therapeutic use exemption last year with the NHL. If Propecia was so therapeutic, then Jose wouldn't be riding the pine in Montreal with a 4-9 record and a 4.06 GAA in the last month and a half. Hey Jose (by the way, how does a Canadian have a Mexican first name?), why don't you worry more about making saves then saving your hair.

Now, why would these guys be taking Propecia? Both of these guys play sports where they wear a helmet all the time. The obvious answer is getting laid. Zach Lund rides a piece of plastic, face first, at 80 mphs. Short of a shark attack or turning into a pirate, he's not gonna get much manlier. He's got probably the second most bad-ass sport on the planet (obviously next to Jai Alai), if he can't laid with that, then there's something wrong with the broads in this country. Then there's Jose Theodore. He's a Canadian goalie, playing for Montreal. These facts alone should give him the pick of any Canadian chick. Which as far as I know, the list of Canadian chicks consists of: Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Pam Anderson and Scott Thompson from Kids in the Hall. This list is pretty hit and miss, but Theodore should be able to get by.

The moral of the story: Hone your skills at spotting pedophiles.

On to the curling! Who know I had so much pent up angst towards athletes taking Propecia? So anyone new to the sport has to wonder, "Why all the sweeping?" For an answer, I turned to the best source of knowledge I could think of, FHM. In the March Issue (this issue also has Jenny McCarthy's sister; click here to hear Jenna Jameson talk about her and Jenny McCarthy having hot lesbian sex in Vegas... see if we wish hard enough, our dreams can come true! Anyway, back to the curling), Olympic curler Pete Fenson explains, "It's hard to get the stone to go 140 feet and stop in a one-foot circle. Moving the brooms back and forth briefly melts the ice, reducing friction and helping the rock go farther and straighter - as much as 15 extra feet." Of course, Petey goes on to say, "A sweeper needs endurance. He'll do up to 25 seconds of sweeping full blast." Easy buddy, last night I saw a guy ice skate 3.1 miles in 374 seconds. Maybe we shouldn't be tooting the "endurance" horn for curling.

So lets break down the upcoming curling action. The men's even kicks off at tomorrow at 9 am Turin(o) time. The whole schedule resembles the 17 month BASEketball playoffs, so I'm not gonna bother tring to figure this puppy out. I didn't want to bother researching players and/or quality of teams, so I figured I'd evaluate the countries based on your standard curling criteria: 1) Ability to drink B) Free time on your hands to chuck stones on a sheet of ice.

Here are the (men's) countries involved:
New Zealand
Sweden
Italy
Great Britain
Norway
USA
Finland
Switzerland
Germany
Canada
Finland

Countries we can knock out lack of drinking ability - Italy (too much wine, not enough beer and booze), Switzerland (probably no bar fighting in that neutral place), New Zealand (don't you guys have like 1 beer?)

Countries we can knock out for lack of stone throwing ability - Great Britain (have you seen Stone Henge?), USA (let's face it, its the winter Olympics and we didn't invent the sport, so we're gonna suck - Go men's halfpipe and ski moguls!)

Medal Contenders - Sweden, Norway, Germany, Canada, Finland

I'm gonna be rooting for my roots, the 3 crowns of Team Sweden, so that means they're not gonna win. So based on absolutely nothing here's my prediction

Gold - Norway
Silver - Finland
Bronze - Canada

So have some beers and enjoy some curling. I'll check in every so often with my analysis of what's going down in Turin(o).

Batten Down the Hatches!

C'mon, God. It Just Isn't Funny Anymore.
Apparently, it's "Storm of the Century" time in the Northeast, which means that the Stop & Shop is going to be jam packed with those "Repent Now! The End is Near!" people. This will, inevitably, make my burrito buying a nightmarish chore.

It's not so much the amount of snow nor the treacherous conditions that I worry about. It's the fact that NBC will force feed me figure skating tonight and frankly, I'd rather drink gasoline than say that I enjoy watching some fruity pebbles make a mockery of an ice sheet. And, unfortunately, there's nowhere I can go to escape this travesty, thanks to my car having the equivalent of no wheel drive.

If there is any justice in the world, someone will have an agony of defeat moment in the luge thus rendering my life meaningful again.

Speaking of the Olympics...
With Syracuse deciding that it no longer wants my affection, I am raging against the Orange machine by devoting a lot of space on this blog over the next few weeks to the anti-sport that is curling. Joining me in this quest will be super curling analyst Dave Pearson, whose 24 years of not ever doing anything remotely athletic will be the perfect compliment to the sport.

I'll Take People I Don't Want To Be For a $1000, Alex
It looks like the rumors have come to fruition. On Monday morning, Donnie Webb is reporting that Syracuse will hire Phil Earley as the football team's new quarterback coach. This will move Brian White, who was just hired to yell at the signal callers, into the offensive coordinator position.

Earley has been quite the globetrotter. Last season, he was on the staff at Auburn. In 2004, he was the offensive coordinator and coached the quarterbacks at Ohio (which, under world-class alcoholic Frank Solich, runs the Nebraska option attack). Additionally, Earley has had stops at Nevada, Idaho, Cincinnati, Washington State, Western Washington, Weber State and Cal Poly.

If there are three jobs in the world I would not take, it'd be these in this order:
1. Syracuse offensive coordinator;
2. Syracuse quarterbacks coach; and
3. Dynamite-lined life jacket operator.

Even if White and Earley get ever bit of talent out of Patterson and Fields this year, their efforts will likely be all for naught, because even if you polish shit, it's still shit.

A Glimmer of Hope
Despite common perception, not everything sucks at Syracuse. Down in Annapolis, Md yesterday, the Orange lacrosse team laced 'em up against Navy and came away with a 7-6 scrimmage victory.

As the SU Athletics release states:

Attackman Mike Leveille scored two goals to help the Syracuse men's lacrosse team to a 7-6 exhibition win against Navy. The two teams played a regulation 60 minutes and then played a fifth quarter of running time.

Sophomore goaltender Jake Myers started the first half for SU and had 10 saves, while allowing just two goals. Redshirt freshman Pete Coluccini played the entire second half and finished with nine saves. Junior Casey Rotella stopped two shots in the fifth quarter of action.

In addition to Leveille's two goals, the Orange got goals from Joe Yevoli, Greg Rommel, Pat Perritt, Steven Brooks and Brett Bucktooth.

Pulling out a victory against a solid Midshipmen squad is uplifting, but I'm still a little worried about the output the attack has generated over the last three outings. Against Fairfield, the team only tallied five markers; the LeMoyne scrimmage only saw Syracuse accumulate nine goals. That's a total of 21 tallies in 11 periods of game time. That just isn't going to cut it for the team with the nation's seventh best offensive efficiency last season.

Even John Desko is is worried about the output:
"I thought that we'd score some more goals," he said. "The thing that you adjust to with this kind of team is you've got a number of offensive personnel and I think they all feel like they have to make something happen. And as a result, they all try things that maybe they shouldn't be doing early in the game. We took some bad shots today. Forced some things inside. And when you try to make something happen so quickly, you don't get a feel for what the defense is doing and how to react properly."
Complimentary Feel Good Moment
With all this doom and gloom aside, it's time for today's feel good moment. Ray Young provides the moment, and what a moment it was:


I still hate figure skating.

Not So Fast, My Friend



The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.

[We now interrupt continuous olympic curling coverage for this breaking Syracuse basketball update.]

Mike Waters is on the scene and dutifully reporting the gory truth: McCroskey is back, and his lips are sealed.

Now, I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this. Reminiscing about former Orange half-talent was quite fun. Then again, if McCroskey can somehow stop this team from hemorraging losses, I'd be pretty stoked about that as well.

Anyways, as an aside, does anybody else think that McCroskey's sudden appearance has anything to do with Syracuse's trip to his hometown - NYC - tomorrow? To me, it seems like more than a coincidence.

[Insert Herald Trumpets Here]

With Syracuse officially throwing its basketball season into the pooper, it's time to take a brief respite from bitching about the Orange to focusing on the world's greatest spectacle - the Olympics.

The Olympics is basically crystal meth for the sports junkie. At any point from now until the end of the month, I can get my sports fix for nothing more than flipping the channel on the television up or down. It's on when I wake up, it's on when I stop off at home for lunch, and it's on lending me its warm embrace before I conk out at night.

More important than the 18-hour nature of the Olympics is that the spectacle allows us all to revel in the grace and beauty that is the world's greatest sport: curling.

Now, I don't just like curling. I love it. You see, curling is the sport for people who have no business playing sports. As the picture located in the upper right corner of this essay shows, apparently all you need to be an American olympic curler are janitorial supplies, a protruding tummy, and the ability to look like someone who had every ounce of dignity in their body stolen.

If the action on the ice sheet wasn't enough to keep you glued to the television, NBC also throws in a bonus feature to their curling coverage. Posting Don Chevrier and Don Duguid in the announcers booth, NBC has bestowed upon all of us the joy of Canada's finest commentating duo. It's a cornucopia of "oooots" and other fun Canadian butcherings of modern english.

The Americans have sent a five person men's team to Turin (I have no idea if this is a lot or not enough) comprised of individuals all from that mysterious land of ice and Doc Graham from Field of Dreams - Minnesota. The Skip this year is Pete Fenson, who will be making his first olympic appearance. He's 37 years old and owns a pizzeria in Bemidji (pronounced Buh - Who Gives a Damn).

Now, that's what I look for in an athlete! Bring home the gold, baby! Throw some agony of defeat on those punk-ass Swedes!

On the women's side, Team USA is headed up by Cassie Johnson, who is famous for not being famous. She's 24 and also from Bemidji, which now makes Bemidji more relevant in the last 20 seconds than it has been for its entire existence.

Still not excited? How about a broom controversy! First, they try to tax us without representation. Now, Britain is cheating at curling. Do they have no shame?

So, sit back and relax while you watch glorified bowling blow your mind like nothing has since table tennis did in Athens two years ago.

Why Must You Punish Me, God?

Big East Football Rules! Psych!
Talk about synergy. On Monday, Syracuse released it's 2006 football schedule. Yesterday, the Big East dropped knowledge on the 2006 conference slate.

As anticipated, the Orange will face 12 opponents in 2006, with the Orange playing its entire out-of-conference schedule in the first five weeks of the season. The out-of-conference slate for 2006 consists of three BCS conference opponents (headlined by a home showdown against Iowa), a solid MAC squad in Miami (OH), and the indomitable "to be announced," which will be played on September 30th. Syracuse Post-Standard football guru Donnie Webb notes that the opponent will not be hapless Buffalo, which means that you can simply put "Future Syracuse Annihilator" into that "TBA" slot.

Additionally, Syracuse is not currently slated to play any games on television this upcoming season. Finally, it appears as if somebody at the networks realized that there is too much senseless violence on television.

With respect to Syracuse's Big East Conference opponents, Donnie Webb again drops some super tight insights:

The Big East Conference gave Syracuse the toughest draw with back-to-back-to-back games against Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Louisville. They're Syracuse's first three Big East games.

No one else in the Big East plays those three teams in consecutive order. Pittsburgh and South Florida are the only other teams that play West Virginia and Louisville back-to-back, though Pittsburgh received nine days between games.
Personally, it doesn't really matter to me when Syracuse has to play Pitt, West Virginia, and Louisville. It's not like Syracuse was going to win any of those games anyway, so why not get the pummelling out of the way early in the season before I have a chance to root any unwarranted expectations.

However, it is still incumbent on the conference to allow each team to have a fair shake in their conference schedule. When Syracuse is the only team in the league that is forced to walk this treacherous road, issues of equity naturally arise. I'm not saying that Syracuse should have been given an easier road than its conference mates (as in the NFL), I'm just saying that it is suspect that Syracuse has to be the only team to face that series of challenges while every other conference opponent gets a reprieve, no matter how slight.

I guess the moral of the story is that everyone will be blessed with more crying children accompanying football essays for the 2006 season.

From a non-Syracuse perspective, the Backyard Brawl (the closest thing to a game that matters nationally in the Big East) is not being played on Thanksgiving this year, thanks to ESPN. What's more, it's not even the final game of the season! Chas has some notes on that and more in his terrific blog Pitt Sports Blather.

Preview... Sort Of

What Hugely Important Game?
I can't remember the last time that Syracuse and Connecticut have squared off with so little hype. What had been the league's measuring stick for competitiveness has now tailspun into just another game on the docket. That's pretty sad.

Here's everything you need to know:

Scouting Reports
Connecticut
Syracuse

Game Notes
Connecticut
Syracuse

Blogs
Husky Blog

Connecticut Rap Sheet
The Connvicts

Another One Bites The Dust

Syracuse in the Boeheim Era

[Preface]
This past summer, I put together a table illustrating Syracuse's pythagorean record under Paul Pasqualoni's watch. In that spirit, what follows is Syracuse's pythagorean record in the Jim Boeheim era.

Now, there are a few caveats that should be understood before glancing at the table below. First, the pythagorean model that I used for this essay is different than the pythagorean model used by Ken Pomeroy. Pomeroy combines offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency to created an adjusted pythagorean winning percentage. I, on the other hand, have only included raw data below. Eventually, I will apply Pomeroy's adjusted method to the Boeheim Era, but for now, I'm sticking to a bare bones approach.

Next, the pythagorean winning percentage works best when applied to conference schedules. When used in that fashion, it is easier to determine which teams over and underachieved because there is a consistency in opponents. However, since I have yet to run across any conference-only data from pre-1994 showing Syracuse's offensive and defensive output, it was impossible to use the method in the aforementioned way. Thus, the pythagorean values are naturally a little skewed.

Furthermore, when this model is not applied to conference-only statistics, variables tend to become a little more chaotic. Looking at Syracuse is an excellent example of this because, for as long as I can remember, the Orange has played a slew of cupcakes to open their basketball seasons. Thus, all those blowouts have inflated the points for values and deflated the points against values. That is partially why Jim Boeheim has registered so many "underachieving" seasons according to the pythagorean model.

When I eventually get around to using efficiency values instead of points scored and points yielded values, the static should subside signficantly.

[Methodology]

Expected Winning Percentage = [Points Scored^10]/([Points Scored^10] + [Points Yielded^10])

[Data]

Pythagorean Model: 1976 - 2005
YearPFPAAW%PW% DIF
'76-'7726082107.867.894-.027
'77-'7824592004.786.886-.100
'78-'7926602145.867.896-.029
'79-'8025752116.867.877-.010
'80-'8126302440.647.679-.032
'81-'8222962197.552.608-.056
'82-'8326122311.719.773-.054
'83-'8425122311.719.697.022
'84-'8522632104.710.674.036
'85-'8626742184.813.883-.070
'86-'8731452766.816.783.033
'87-'8829652466.743.863-.120
'88-'8934102891.789.839-.050
'89-'9027212349.818.813.005
'90-'9126812380.813.767.046
'91-'9223832259.688.631.057
'92-'9323032139.633.677-.044
'93-'9425172248.767.756.011
'94-'9524712202.667.760-.093
'95-'9628972607.763.742.021
'96-'9723972208.594.695-.101
'97-'9824812345.743.637.106
'98-'9923872086.636.794-.158
'99-'0024002033.813.840-.027
'00-'0124752294.735.681.054
'01-'0226032404.639.689-.050
'02-'0327852435.857.793.064
'03-'0422652096.742.685.057
'04-'0525482197.794.815-.021
Legend:
PF = Points for
PA = Points yielded
AW% = Actual winning percentage
PW% = Pythagorean winning percentage
DIF = Difference between actual and pythagorean winning percentage

Taking Sides Against the Family

"We have a great bunch of outside shooters. Unfortunately, all our games are played indoors."
- Weldron Drew
I never really wanted to write this essay, but I think I have to. It wouldn't be fair to sidestep the issue, and it is as follows:

Syracuse stinks because of Gerry McNamara.

[I think I just puked in my mouth a little bit.]

Look, Gerry is a very good player. He is, unquestionably, one of the 50 greatest players ever to don a Syracuse uniform. His heroics in the 2003 title game will go down in history as one of the most epic performances turned in by a freshman. But the fact still remains that Gerry is not the type of game changing player that can simply will the Orange to victory.

In fact, he is creating a lot of circumstances where defeat is a stronger possibility than victory.

A superficial glance at Gerry's numbers would lead you to believe that he is putting in quite the season. Averaging 16.2 points per game and 5.8 assists per contest is respectable. However, when you take a long look at McNamara's efficiency numbers, a new picture is painted.

McNamara is taking 27.5% of Syracuse's shots. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem given the fact that somebody needs to take a lot of shots. However, since Gerry has only generated a 43.4 effective field goal percentage, a problem has arisen.

Gerry's 43.4 effective field goal percentage can be explained a lot by his shot selection. Fall away three pointers and out of control runners in the lane are variables that are impacting the statistic. If McNamara would just set his feet and look for not a good shot but a great one, he could become, as he once was, a fiercely efficient bomber.

Mike Gansey of West Virginia is a great example of the type of mentality that Gerry needs to take on. Gansey has the nation's second highest offensive rating at 135.1 and it is due in no small part to his shot selection. Chiming in with an effective field goal percentage of 72.3, and knocking down 49% of his shots from behind the arc, Gansey is the nation's model of efficiency.

I concede the fact that Gansey and McNamara are of different builds; Gansey is a forward slasher while McNamara is a bullheaded guard like Scott Skiles. However, there is one aspect of the game in which they can each play the same, and that is shot selection. Gansey rarely takes a shot that makes you scratch your head. McNamara, on the other hand, rarely takes a shot that doesn't make you want to strangle children. Until McNamara changes his approach, he will never become an unstoppable player.

Now, back to the McNamara diatribe. Since McNamara is not knocking down his shot consistently, he is eating up Syracuse possessions (which is evidenced by his possession percentage of 26.1). When possessions are wasted on a player that has the third worst effective field goal percentage on the team, that is horrendously inefficient and potential points are taken off the board.

Basically, Syracuse has conceded the fact that it will not score every time it has an offensive possession by allowing McNamara to waste scoring opportunities. In essence, it's as if Syracuse is playing the game with half the offensive possessions their opponent will have. And that's a hard way to win.

Compounding Gerry's troubles is that he is simply settling for his 3-point shot, as noted earlier. If he were knocking down that shot consistently, there would be no problem. But when Gerry is only shooting 32% from 19'9", there is a problem. In total, Gerry has attempted a freakish 198 attempts from three; that is over 60 more attempts than his closest competitor, Demertris Nichols. That's totally unacceptable.

As the team's point guard and best free throw shooter, Gerry needs to start penetrating to the basket to create free opportunities to score. As it stands currently, McNamara only has a free throw rate of 25.5, third lowest on the team ahead of only Andy Rautins and Demetris Nichols. In short, it doesn't matter if you're knocking down 93% of your free throw attempts if you can't get to the line.

Finally, there is McNamara's assist to turnover ratio. Gerry ranks amongst the nation's top 285 in assist rate, posting a respectable 35.7 mark. However, the value of that number is greatly diminished by the fact that Gerry is giving away the rock at an inconceivable 20.1 rate.

That's not even within the nation's top 500!

In fact, McNamara has been so careless with the basketball that he is turning it over at the same rate as Terrence "Ovenmitts" Roberts. That's totally unacceptable.

So, as it is plainly evident, Gerry is really hurting this team with his performance this season. Whether it has come from taking too many poor shots or simply turning over the leather, Gerry deters this team from victory as much as he creates opportunity for victory.

Incoherent Friday Ramblings

Don't Let The Door Hit 'Ya Where the Good Lord Split 'Ya
It's now official: the Houston Texans will go 1-15 next season.

Not being deterred by Syracuse's vomit-inducing 2006 football campaign, new Texans head coach Gary Kubiak has brought aboard former Syracuse offensive coordinator Brian Pariani. Pariani, armed with an offensive mentality indicative of the Walter Camp-era Yale Bulldogs, has been hired to coach the tight ends down in Houston, a position he once held with the Denver Broncos when Shannon Sharpe was running his mouth up and down the field.

In a press release issued by Syracuse's office of athletics communication, Pariani provided these final parting words:

"I want to thank Syracuse University, Coach Greg Robinson, and Dr. Daryl Gross for giving me the opportunity to coach at Syracuse. Syracuse University is a fantastic school with a very rich sports tradition. I believe as players and coaches we built a new foundation for our football team this past season. With this foundation in place, I have no doubt that Greg Robinson and his staff will bring Syracuse Football back to national prominence. I learned a tremendous amount during my tenure at Syracuse. This experience will help me become a better coach and I attribute this greatly to Greg's knowledge and leadership.

"Although my job here (at Syracuse) is not finished, I have been offered the opportunity to return to coach in the National Football League and have decided to accept a position with Gary Kubiak and the Houston Texans. For 11 of my 16 years in coaching, in both San Francisco and Denver, I have worked beside Gary and we have become close friends. I'm looking forward to helping him build the Texans into a championship team. I wish the best of luck to the entire Syracuse University Football Family as they pursue their goal of being a championship team."
Before I pick this apart, I'd like to send my own little press release to Brian Pariani, care of Orange Nation:

"Thanks for nothing.

And if you and Gary lay any of the same foundation in Houston as you have here in Syracuse, I'd think about renting, not buying."
Now, back to Pariani's release. First, everyone who is remotely cognizant of Syracuse football understands that your job with the Orange wasn't complete. In fact, it's as if you never started.

Second, everyone who is remotely cognizant of Syracuse football understands that you have built a new foundation for the Orange gridders. In fact, it's so brand spanking new that I actually got it confused with a foundation I've seen before at Temple. It's too bad the basement is leaky and can't complete a 15-yard out.

Third, everyone who is remotely cognizant of Syracuse football is not sold on the fact that you learned a lot while on The Hill. If you had, why did Syracuse regress offensively from West Virginia to Louisville?

Class Dismissed
[Aside: I'd like to pat myself on the back for coming up with this awesome headline.]

National Signing Day has come and gone, thank the Lord. Greg Robinson and the Syracuse coaching staff signed a crop of 22 future student-athletes on Wednesday, with the stud of the class, receiver Andrey Baskin, being a gigantic question mark for enrolling in August.

In terms of numbers, Syracuse clearly looked to load up on the offensive side of the football. Included in the class are eight future sieves on the offensive line (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and for the Nelly fans, herre), four receivers who will undoubtedly be diagnosed with a case of the "dropsies," and a quarterback who will have to wear the crown of a savior when he should only be asked to not throw the ball into the grass.

As a unit, the big recruiting agencies have pretty much panned Robinson's effort. Scout.com has ranked Syracuse's class 51st best in the nation, with each recruiting averaging about a 2.36 rating. Rivals.com, another participant in the slimiest profession available, has also slotted Syracuse in the much desired 51st hole. However, each recruit, according to Rivals, has averaged a 2.45 rating.

A Blog Dedicated to Lacrosse That Isn't Mine
In an effort to apparently make my blog more useless than it already is, the Post-Standard has given Donna Ditota a blog dedicated to Syracuse lacrosse.

In a recent entry, Ditota notes that Syracuse transferee Nathan Kenney will be hosting his own program on Syracuse's student-run, free-format radio station WERW. It's slated to air every Friday night from 10 PM to 1 AM Saturday morning. I have not heard the show yet, but knowing it's on WERW can only lead to the conclusion that it will be a trainwreck.

Hell, when I was hosting shows on that station my program was called "The Poon Tang Clan" and we did stupid stuff like interviews with dead people, saying Dirty Proverbs over Marvin Gaye's Let's Get it On, and letting the word "cocksucker" fly on more than one occasion.


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  • You are an idiot...
  • - Anonymous Nunes/Magician Reader.
  • Congrats on not being very good at what you do.
  • - Anonymous ACC supporter.
  • You are a dweeb, my friend. Grow a backbone.
  • - Anonymous UConn supporter.
  • ...vacuous, asinine, and mind numbing...
  • - Anonymous commenter.
  • Honestly, just admit that you are pathetic...
  • - Anonymous commenter.
  • You just don't have hoops experience.
  • - Twitter commenter.
  • Leave the journalism to talented people. Brian is just another hack and another fair weather fan.
  • - Twitter commenter.
  • A bad blog about Syracuse athletics.
  • - UConn Fan on Twitter (after winning NCAA).






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