Countdown to Football Frustration

Next Frustrating Hoops Victory

Next Lacrosse Annihilation

A Respite From Anger

The last half of this month has seen a lot of anger and disappointment spewed upon this virtual notebook. Between the lacrosse team taking every step necessary to ensure that I will not have to travel to Philadelphia for Memorial Day weekend this May and the basketball team mired in wirlwind rumors concerning Louie McCroskey's transfer or non-transfer status, there hasn't been many opportunities to pen pieces exhalting alma mater.

Thus, I figure its time for another video courtesy of YouTube.

With the Final Four looming in only a few short hours, it's about time to feature CBS' 2003 version of "One Shining Moment." It's video proof that at one point in time, Syracuse athletics was respectable.

As an aside, I hadn't seen this video since I watched it air live in the Superdome three years ago. From what little I remember of that trip -- thanks, alcohol -- I do distinctly recall everybody in Orange at the arena booing like a bastard every time Kirk Hinrich or Nick Collison were featured in the montage.

That's class, baby!

So, if you'd really like to relive Syracuse's magical run to the title, feel free to belittle former collegiate athletes by vilifying them once more in front of your computer screen.

Abbreviated Lacrosse Notes

Throughout the last twenty years or so, Syracuse has premised its success on the lacrosse on three fundamental aspects of the game:

1) Sound, take-away defense;
2) High-speed transition offense generated by opponent's turnovers; and
3) An offensive philosophy encouraging attackmen and midfielders to throw a barrage of shots on net.

This model for lacrosse success -- as developed by Roy Simmons, Jr. -- is still a methodology that creates more opportunities for victory rather than defeat. Programs like Duke, Towson, and Albany have embraced this approach to the game and have consequently flourished from implementation of the system.

Syracuse, for whatever reason, has not been able to master this system in 2006. While much of the team's inability to capitalize on the very system it patented may be attributed to injuries to three of the team's primary offensive cogs -- Greg Niewieroski, Greg Rommel, and Steven Brooks -- it is still disappointing to see the Orange's recent failures come as the residue of its lack of competence in executing the Syracuse system.

Looking at a sampling of statistics over the course of Syracuse's four-game losing streak bears out this thought:

3.04.06: Syracuse at Virginia
StatSyracuseVirginia
F.O.W1623
Cl.Opp.2120
O.F.Cl16
Poss.3849
Shots3257
Goals1520
Sht%46.9%35.1%
S/Poss.1.16.84
G/Poss..41.39

3.10.06: Georgetown at Syracuse
StatSyracuseGeorgetown
F.O.W1012
Cl.Opp.2023
O.F.Cl25
Poss.3240
Shots4840
Goals810
Sht%16.7%25.0%
S/Poss.1.51.0
G/Poss..25.25

3.18.06: Syracuse at Johns Hopkins
StatSyracuseHopkins
F.O.W818
Cl.Opp.2319
O.F.Cl44
Poss.3541
Shots3234
Goals914
Sht%28.1%41.2%
S/Poss..91.83
G/Poss..26.34

3.28.06: Hobart at Syracuse
StatSyracuseHobart
F.O.W138
Cl.Opp.2228
O.F.Cl75
Poss.4142
Shots4242
Goals99
Sht%19.0%21.4%
S/Poss.1.001.02
G/Poss..12.22

Key:
F.O.W. - Face-offs won
Cl.Opp. - Total team clearing opportunities
O.F.Cl - Opponent failed clearing opportunities
Poss. - Possessions
Sht% - Shooting percentage
S/Poss. - Shots per possession
G/Poss. - Goals per possession

Looking at these statistics, it doesn't take a genius to realize that Syracuse is not playing the same kind of lacrosse it was only a few years ago. In the last four games, Syracuse has only out-possessed its opponent once -- against Hobart (42-41) -- and has, generally, been less efficient offensively than its counterparts. This is not a recipe for success, especially for a team that thrives on getting out in transition and ratcheting up the pace of play.

There are two aspects of the game to which Syracuse can work on to try and even up the number of possessions in a game. The first is dominance in the face-off circle. If Syracuse can continue to improve at the "x," the offense will necessarily have more offensive possessions. The second aspect of the game that necessitates immediate attention is clearing opportunities and takeaways. I lump these together because they both impose a responsibility on the defense to attack and create opportunities for the offense.

With regard to clearing efficiency, Syracuse has been dreadful in 2006. In only one contest -- against Hobart -- has Syracuse's opponent failed the clear the ball from its defensive end fewer times than the Orange were able to accomplish. That is unacceptable. Syracuse must implement a clearing strategy that efficiently marches the ball upfield, because if it doesn't, the Orange is in line to see more offensive opportunities squandered. Furthermore, it wouldn't hurt for Syracuse's attack to ride its opponent's clears a little harder. I can't remember how many times Mike Powell created easy offensive chances for the Orange by simply dedicating himself to a hard ride.

What really stands out as worrisome is the shots per possession that Syracuse is allowing its opponents. Only twice over the last four games has the Orange taken more shots per possession than its opponent -- against Georgetown and Johns Hopkins. This smacks of either uncertainty in shot selection, poor shot selection, and a lack of effort in backing up errant shots on net.

To put it quite simply, this team can't win if it isn't outshooting its opponent. Given the fact that Syracuse has only topped the 30% mark once over the last four games in shooting percentage, this team needs to fire more shots on net if it wants to outscore its opponent. Plus, the more shots Syracuse is able to take while on offense, the fewer shots it allows its opponent to take against rookie net minder Peter Colluccini as they will necessarily have the number of offensive possessions limited by Syracuse's onslaught of shots.

And The Orange::44 Jinx Continues



Shit.

My original intention for this afternoon was to put together an essay recapping and analyzing Syracuse's horrifying 9-8 loss to upstate rival Hobart College last night.

But I'm not going to. Maybe sometime later today I'll put something together, but right now I am still pretty stunned that this Syracuse team is sitting at 1-4 -- its worst start in 30 years.

Instead, I'll leave everyone with a quote. It comes from Orlando Magic Senior Vice President Pat Williams who in 1992 uttered the following after being prompted to comment on his team's atrocious 7-27 record:
"We can't win at home. We can't win on the road. As general manager, I just can't figure out where else to play."

Lacrosse Monday . . . Sort Of

Monday evenings are usually reserved for short treatises on the week that was Syracuse lacrosse. However, as the Orange did not play this weekend and rather will tussle with upstate-compatriot Hobart tomorrow night, I'm going to save my commentary until later this week.

Instead, enjoy the first, and probably last, installment of "Syracuse Lacrosse Classics." Tonight's edition features, from what I can surmise, Mike Powell finishing against Georgetown's keeper off a beautiful feed from the mustachioed Kevin Dougherty. It's video proof that at one point in time, the Orange actually had a fundamental understanding of passing and catching.



What's 257 minus 20?
Still fat.

With the lacrosse team ruining my spring and the basketball team topping off another frustrating season on the hardwood, it's about time to pen some thoughts on Syracuse's spring football exploits.

In case you haven't heard, Greg Robinson has been putting the Orange through its gridiron paces since last Monday afternoon, with the hope that this team will look functional come April 15's annual Spring Game. The coaching staff appears happy with the progress the team made during winter workouts and, from all published accounts, are expecting great things to transpire during official spring practices.

Is anybody else having flashbacks to late-March, 2005?

Anyways, most of my comments concerning the 2006 edition of Orange football will likely appear over the course of this summer (assuming I can create lucid thoughts while studying for the Connecticut bar examination). However, as Joey over at Schembechler Hall has re-energized the BlogPoll community with some interesting questions, I thought I'd join in the fun and drop some Orange-tinted commentary.

1) It's early, but thus far, which offseason change or changes in college football are you most excited about?
To be honest, there really isn't an offseason change or changes in college football that particularly excites me right now. Currently, what interests me is how the slew of coaches that took over notable football programs in 2005 will compete in 2006.

Obviously, Charlie Weis is poised to take Notre Dame to terrific heights in 2006. However, with the amount of expectations heaped on the porky playcaller for this upcoming season, it will be interesting to see how the Irish perform on the gridiron. With once again a difficult slate of opponents, if Weis can't get the Irish into BCS-consideration, how will the most volatile fanbase in college football respond?

In addition to Weis, guys like Urban Meyer and Dave Wannstedt will have eyeballs affixed squarely on their teams' respective performances this year. Pittsburgh was supposed to, at a minimum, hoist a Big East championship in 2005. Florida, similarly, underachieved in many critics eyes last year as well.
2006 will be a pivotal year for both headmen.

2) With spring practice underway, what are the three concerns about your team that are causing you the most anxiety? (USC fans can't just list the departures of Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, and LenDale White.)
A. Quarterback Play
It has come to the point that Syracuse must enter spring practice every year with gigantic question marks surrounding quarterback play. It's Orange law or something.

Perry Patterson, Syracuse's much-maligned signal-caller in 2005, has apparently entered spring practice 20 pounds lighter than his playing weight last season. While this should be heartening to any reasonable football fan, I'm not exactly sure that Patterson's weight loss will impact his ability to not throw the ball squarely into the turf on nine out of ten passing plays.

In short, I simply don't see a correlation between poor decision-making and substantial weight loss.

For most other programs, this would not necessarily be a problem; just call in the back-up. However, given that Syracuse refuses to make my life enjoyable from late-August until early-December, there doesn't appear to be a functional alternative to Patterson. Joe Fields has yet to progress in his two years in Orange and all indications are that Syracuse's future quarterback, freshman Andrew Robinson, is going to be redshirted this upcoming season. Thus, it appears likely that the Orange are poised for a wondrous season of "More of the Same - Buy More Whiskey" in 2006.

B. The Horribly Pathetic Offense
Look, 2005 redefined how bad a team can look when they possess the football. As I noted in a previous essay:

Speaking of Syracuse, the Orange were just pathetic on offense. I know this serves as no news flash, but it is eye-opening to see Syracuse get outpaced by Cincinnati by almost 70 points this season. And the Bearcats were essentially playing with nine new starters on offense this season.

Furthermore, the Orange reached a new four-year low with their offensive output this season. I'd like to believe that it's always darkest before dawn, but I think this offense is still a few hours away from sunrise.
I think it's too early to believe the sun is going to poke its head over the horizon any time soon, but at least the coaching staff took some steps to push the hands on the clock closer to six o'clock. The first step, of course, was to shake up the coaching staff itself.

Gone in 2006 is former offensive coordinator Brian Pariani, who may be the only man on the planet that could not find a way to effectively run the football utilizing the Denver Broncos offense. In his place steps Brian White, a man who guided the Wisconsin Badgers' offensive attack for the last seven seasons. While the fruits of this hire have yet to bloom, it is at least an indication that somebody in the coaches booth knows that an offense has the ability to snap the ball more than three times on one drive.

In terms of player development/movement, the Orange offense is going to look a lot different than it did in 2005. Whether this is a good thing or just another demoralizing aspect of Orange football, I do not know as of yet.

Gone after a mediocre four-year campaign is local Syracuse high-school legend Damien Rhodes. His absence has created a void sought to be filled by one of three runners: Curis "Boonah" Brinkley, Paul Chiara, Kareem Jones. Brinkley is the only "stud" amongst the bunch, generally tabbed as a four-star recruit by both Rivals and Scout.com. However, in brief appearances last season Brinkley impressed only mildly, thus creating the situation the Orange backfield is now forced to deal with. Throw in promising young rusher Delone Carter (who was Ohio's "Mr. Football" last season), and it becomes clear that the runningback situation at Syracuse is anything but.

With respect to the Orange's most maligned group - the receiving corps - things will look different in 2006. Once again, the new makeup may or may not pay dividends for Syracuse. Highlighted by JUCO transfer Taj Smith (who has apparently shown in spring practice that he is not wearing ovenmitts) and Lavar Lobdell (who was coveted by both Miami and Southern California), the receiving corps should be more effective than last season's edition. Plus, if Rice Moss, Tim Lane, and Jeremy Horne progress even marginally between now and August, the receiving unit should move from most frustrating group to watch to second most frustrating group to watch, just edging out the offensive line.

Speaking of the offensive line, the more things change, the more I fear they will stay the same. On Syracuse's 2006 pre-spring depth chart, Greg Robinson has listed four new starters on a group that was amongst the Big East's worst in 2005. Things were so bad in 2005 for the Syracuse offensive line that coach Bob Wylie stated the following when asked about implementing a new, simplified approach to blocking:

"The learning curve wasn't as fast as I thought it would be," he said. "I thought they would grab it faster. I thought they knew what I was talking about."

"You can't assume that they know [the new blocking system], that they're going to be better because they've been in the system for a year. We're not taking that for granted. We're starting right from the beginning and we're putting it all back in again. Now, are they going to understand it better? They have a better chance to."
Great. Not only does the Orange lack any talent up front, they apparently have comprehension levels of a Pop Warner football team.

C. The Schedule
It would be one thing if Syracuse was terrible and they were playing Buffalo every other week. It's another thing when Syracuse is terrible and it puts 12 teams on the schedule with no gimmies:

2006 Syracuse Football Schedule
DateOpponentLocation
9.02.06Wake ForestWinston Salem, NC
9.09.06IowaSyracuse, NY
9.16.06IllinoisChampaign, IL
9.23.06Miami (OH)Syracuse, NY
9.30.06WyomingSyracuse, NY
10.07.06PittsburghSyracuse, NY
10.14.06West VirginiaMorgantown, WV
10.21.06LouisvilleSyracuse, NY
10.28.06CincinnatiCincinnati, OH
11.11.06South FloridaTampa, FL
11.18.06ConnecticutSyracuse, NY
11.25.06RutgersPiscataway, NJ

Syracuse has the luxury of starting the season playing nine consecutive weeks of football, highlighted by a murderous three-week stretch of Pitt, West Virginia, and Louisville. Consequently, if Syracuse can't get off to a fast start, it is very likely that the Orange could be staring down a record 1-11 season.

It's great to be me.

3) Care to take a stab at a preseason top five?
I would rather not take a stab at a preseason top five, but I will anyway, if only to reinforce the fact that I am a glutton for punishment.

1. West Virginia
2. Florida
3. Southern California
4. Texas
5. Louisiana State

An Epidemic of Crazy

There are things that make me pretty angry, and then there are things that make me want to put up my hands and wonder how a large sect of the population is allowed to procreate.

Unfortunately, this past week has put forth a series of events illustrative of the latter response. In just a span of three or four days, college football hero Warren St. John was sued and the guys penning The Michigan Zone were constructively molested by the Worldwide Leader in Sports. There are aspects of both incidents that I find despicable, but I am only going to deal with the latter instance currently. I will leave the Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer lawsuit for some time in the near future.

Shoplifting at The Michigan Zone
Of all the people in the world that should have a solid foundation in ethics, one would assume that journalists would be amongst those individuals. Colin Cowherd, host of ESPNRadio’s “The Herd,” appears to have slept through too many of his journalism classes while a student at Eastern Washington University.

On Wednesday morning, Cowherd presented a satire of the NFL’s Wonderlic Test. This piece lampooned the infamous examination through a series of ridiculous questions and answers. At no time did Cowherd expressly claim credit for creating the piece; rather, Cowherd only indicated in passing that the bit was obtained on the “internet.” Whether this was a conscious effort on the part of Cowherd to take credit for the piece through omission is uncertain. What is certain is that Cowherd’s subsequent behavior is detestable and should be a growing concern for anyone concerned with the multi-faceted dimension of publication.

For quite a long time members of the mainstream media have been farming the ample fields of thought and expression exhibited on the web. Recently, writers such as Maddox, Orson Swindle and Stranko Montana have had original material harvested by radio and print outlets and published without proper attribution. While the flattery inherent in producing material worthy of plagiarism is heartening, the fact still remains that internet-based writers are being trampled upon by those who either (1) believe that there will be no repercussions for blatantly stealing material from the web, or (2) simply have no respect for the driving force behind contemporary dissemination of information and nuveau journalism. This is patently unacceptable.

Even though I am a law student, I have had little exposure to the law governing copyright and fair-use. Thus, I am not in a position to render a reasoned opinion as to how an adjudicatory body should determine the issues presented by the Cowherd Debacle or others taking place, presumably, on a somewhat regular basis. I do, however, feel as if I am more than qualified to present my opinion on the ethical issues surrounding such appropriation.

For the most part, the explosion of internet-based literature has significantly impacted publication, most notably in the field of journalism. This explosion of amateur writing, however, should not abrogate ethical considerations associated with appropriating material for one’s beneficial use. In fact, given the uncertainty surrounding the legal and ethical consequences of appropriating material from the internet, individuals in the mainstream media should employ extreme caution when exploiting material emanating from the web. Thus, in addition to common attribution practice, individuals in the mainstream media who choose to publish or reference internet-based material must use extensive vetting procedures to ensure that any form of plagiarism takes place.

In short, it is not just a question of common courtesy, but also one of respect for the practice of publication.

The ramifications associated with the mainstream media’s failure to employ a high standard of attribution has wider reach than simply legal liability. Generally, internet-based writers are not looking for fame or fortune. Rather, they simply employ the web as their vehicle for expression because it is an accessible means to reach a desired end. If internet-based writers were looking to make a career out of writing, I am more than certain that they would pursue a position at a newspaper or magazine rather than maintaining whatever profession they currently practice. As a result of this state of affairs, I fear that should misappropriation continue in the manner it has the large stable of internet-based writers would abandon its collective obsession. This fear is buttressed by two assumptions.

First, if internet-based authors continue to be exploited by members of the mainstream media the incentives of online publication would disappear. In short, if an individual in the mainstream media is going to publish an internet-based author’s material without attribution or permission, there is little motivation to brainstorm and research interesting pieces of authorship. As noted, most internet-based writers are not looking to make a buck. However, if someone other than the original author is going to receive a substantial benefit from the published material, undeniable questions arise as to why this constructive servitude is appealing.

The second assumption rests upon the residue created by the first. If misappropriation by the mainstream media is to continue, that necessarily presumes that many internet-based authors will seek to protect their interests in the published material. This is both a complex and expensive undertaking, especially for a population of part-time writers. Obtaining the infrastructure and legal assistance necessary to protect one’s copyright and intellectual property interests is quite overwhelming. Not only will this chill speech and promote litigation, but also promotes malfeasance as it can be reasonably supposed that most internet-based writers will not pursue the aforementioned options to protect their interests. Thus, those individuals insulated by sufficient finances and general notoriety can continue to misappropriate material without obstruction.

That is not only unfair. It is un-American.

The other aspect of this fiasco that is disheartening is that it signals another haymaker thrown by the mainstream media against internet-based writers. Whether motivated by jealously, fear, or baseless disdain, the rhetoric being exhibited by the mainstream sports media against bloggers appears to be ratcheting up. This is exemplified perfectly in Cowherd’s responses to The Michigan Zone emails and this past summer’s Des Moines Register tussle.

Why members of the mainstream sports media refuse to recognize the significance and usefulness of internet-based writers in beyond my comprehension. Bloggers (at least those that I read and associate with) provide a non-duplicable service which weaves traditional journalism with interesting opinion and commentary. The media should embrace internet-based publication, not ridicule it as an unworthy competitor.

This is not to say that all members of the mainstream media loathe bloggers or other web-based authors. Rather, many mainstream media outlets have embraced the blogging revolution. For example, the Syracuse Post-Standard has established three blogs penned by staff writers dedicated to Syracuse’s triumvirate of obsession. Not only have the writers for the Post-Standard accepted the common custom of internet based attribution and mutual respect, but the blogs have become as popular as the newspaper’s print edition, if not more. Thus, an atmosphere of cooperation between internet-based writing and traditional media can reasonably be established that feeds a consumer’s thirst for information and opinion. As a result, I believe quite strongly that should the mainstream media continue to deride and disrespect internet-based expression, it will not eliminate what is erroneously believed to be “competition,” but rather quash a useful and interesting product of publication desired by its consumers.

The moral of this story is that the internet is here to stay and with it will always be enterprising young writers producing interesting material on a regular basis. Until some clarity is established as to the role of internet-based publication and how the mainstream media is to treat such material, issues presented by Colin Cowherd’s actions against The Michigan Zone will continue to come under strict scrutiny.

[Step off soapbox here.]

Happy National Orange Day!

Note To Self: Never say anything as patently homosexual as "Happy National Orange Day!" again in my life.

I know its not surprising, but I've been busy.

Freakishly busy.

That's why the poor-ass liveblog I did for the Hopkins debacle last weekend has been burned into the frontpage of this blog.

Anyways, I have lots of things piling up on my desk that need to be thrown on this notebook. Most notably may be the "Get To Know Warren St. John's Opposing Counsel" piece I've been toying with. It's only so often college football is exposed to a guy who willingly labels himself as "Cracker." May as well take advantage of the opportunity.

Until then, amuse yourself with the links on the right.

Syracuse-Hopkins: LiveBlog!

Is there anything better than liveblogging a 'Cuse-Hopkins lacrosse game?

Yes. Lots of things. Including, and most notably, not liveblogging a 'Cuse-Hopkins lacrosse game. But I'm going to do it anyway.

1:28 PM: 3-1 Hopkins

  • Blue Jays are playing some super fierce defense right now. I don't know what Pietramala did to light the fire under the team's rear end, but Hopkins is playing very tight right now.
  • John Carrozza took a nasty shot at mid-field on a dirty Hopkins hit. He is currently receiving medical attention on the Syracuse sideline. How the referee did not call a penalty is ridiculous; Miller line up the shot from 10 feet away. That is unacceptable.

1:33 PM: 5-1 Hopkins

  • Goal - Kevin Huntley. Capitalizes on another Syracuse mental error on the clear. Panarelli made a nice strip on the defensive end for the Orange, yet could not create an offensive posssession for Syracuse.
  • I really, really hate Hopkins. If someone would firebomb that campus, I would be very appreciative.
  • 4:21 to go.
  • Hopkins has 5 goals on 8 shots. That's efficiency, and a shitty, shitty defensive effort from Syracuse.

1:34 PM: 6-1 Hopkins

  • Goal - Paul Rabil.
  • Syracuse sucks salty balls. This team needs Gerry McNamara. Or a Powell.

1:38 PM: 7-1 Hopkins

  • Goal - Huntley. (7 goals on 10 shots)
  • Hopkins capitalizes on an unsettled situation in the Syracuse defensive effort. Coluccini has looked absolutely abysmal in the net today, but he isn't get much help from the close defense today.
  • Before the Huntley goal, Syracuse put together a weak offensive possession from the Orange. Poor dodging from the second midfield line of Nims, Babbles, and Murphy. Mike Leveille needs more touches.
  • Syracuse on the EMO - 1 minute on the man-advantage. 32 seconds remaining in the first quarter. (Syracuse only 3-15 on the EMO this year).

1:42 PM: Same Score - Start of 2nd Quarter

  • This might be the most pitiful Syracuse effort so far this year. Getting down 6 early against a Hopkins team that has emphasized possessions this year might be the Orange's ultimate downfall, no matter if the Orange defense actually wakes up.
  • Hopkins is still dominating the face-off "x" and things won't get better until Carrozza can get better.
  • EMO over.

1:47 PM: 7-1 Hopkins

  • Jesse Swartzmann looks unstoppable in the Hopkins net today. Of course, the Orange offense is making him look pretty solid considering they haven't really had a really good shot in about 20 minutes.
  • Hopkins has just packed it in here on the defensive end. Somebody (Crockett? Bucktooth?) needs to get aggressive on the offensive end and create a nice dodge to open things up.
  • I've heard a lot of bush-league radio broadcasts in my day (nothing may top the Hobart broadcast from last season when the color guy said "What the fuck is going on?" when students started throwing trout on the field) but this Hopkins broadcast is brutal. I just sat through a 3:00 minute stretch of silence from the broadcasters, stuck only to guess what the hell is going on by gauging the groans from the fans.
  • Carrozza officially not coming back today. Might have a concussion. Looks like Panarelli and Kenney will be taking draws for the rest of the day. As it turns out, Danny Brennan being academically ineligible this semester has really hurt the Orange.

1:53 PM: 7-1 Hopkins

  • Hopkins has hit about five pipes today. Coluccini is not seeing the pill well today. If I was playing on this SU close defense today, I would make it my job to clean somebody out. Just tag somebody and take the penalty; anything to wake up the defense and intimiate the Blue Jays. Playing like a bunch of pussies out there right now. Slides are slow, clearing is still somewhat sloppy.

1:55 PM: 8-1 Hopkins

  • Goal - Christopher.
  • This team sucks, David!
  • Hopkins has eight goals on one assist. That may be the most telling stat of the day - Syracuse is just getting beaten by individual talent rather than the Blue Jays as a team. I thought I'd never see the day when Syracuse is wholly outmanned by its opponent. Pathetic.

1:58 PM: 8-2 Hopkins

  • Goal - Dan Hardy (Finally!)
  • Good to see a #22 put a tally over Schwatzmann's left shoulder. A really nice shot.
  • Syracuse on the EMO (3-16 on the season). 30 seconds. Huge possession, obviously.

2:03 PM: 8-3 Hopkins

  • Goal - Brett Bucktooth on the EMO.
  • Beautiful shot. Low to high.
  • Live on-scene report from Dave Pearson -- when asked how things were down in Homewood, Dave responding with the following: "the bathrooms are really warm." Thanks, Dave. That's why you're the best in the business -- you can't get this kind of signficiant analysis on Donna Ditota's blog.
  • Big defensive possession upcoming for the Orange. Hopkins time-out to find a way to make Coluccini look stupid.

2:10 PM: 8-3 Hopkins - Intermission

  • Syracuse rolled into a zone defense with about 2:00 left in the half following the Hopkins time-out, indicating that Roy Simmons III is actually awake. It only took 30 minutes of terrible defense and Hopkins offensive might to draw the Orange out of a man defense.
  • Second half necessitates some huge overhauls. Even though the Orange is hurting for some offensive possessions, I think staying in the zone defense is worthwhile, even if it means that the team will have fewer opportunities to create turnovers. The other major area of focus is going to be the face-off "x," but I'm not sure there is much SU can do from a strategy standpoint to offset Hopkins' advantage there.
  • Dave Pietramala is the Ed Orgeron of college lacrosse. He just spoke for about 20 seconds before the half to some two-bit sideline reporter and I have no idea what the hell he said. If I had my Dumbass to English dictionary, things may have been different.

2:20 PM: Start of 2nd Half

  • I'm an idiot; I forgot all about Jon Jerome to take draws. He actually won the second half opening face-off. So good for him, not being mentioned on this blog worked in his favor. Now he's fucked.
  • Keys for Second Half: Not sucking ass on defense; lots and lots and lots of shots on Schwartzmann.
  • Colcuccini has apparently ditched the sweatpants for a pair of shorts. Obvisously, it was his pantswear that ruined his goaltending effort in the first half. Not the fact that he was abysmal in the cage.

2:25 PM: 9-3 Hopkins

  • Goal - Jake Byrne.
  • Colcuccini's shorts wiffed on the save. That's a shame.
  • Hopkins agains capitalizes on a failed Syracuse clear. Sloppiness is going to be the death of this team.

2:28 PM: 10-3 Hopkins

  • Goal - Some guy. At this point, there aren't very many Hopkins players that haven't scored yet.
  • Hopkins broadcaster says that the Syracuse jersey looks like the General Lee, once again emphasizing that despite being a leader in the field of medicine, Johns Hopkins can find no cure for being a dumbass.

2:35 PM: 10-4 Hopkins

  • Goal - Mike Leveille. Assist to Joe Yevoli.
  • Hopkins is turning up the pressure by just carving up the Syracuse defense. The Blue Jays' midfield lines look like the old Princeton midfielders -- pacing play, dodging artfully, distributing well, and generally staying out of trouble. Syracuse's midfield lines, conversely, look like a bunch of kids who sniff too much paint thinner.

2:40 PM: 10-5 Hopkins

  • Goal - Mike Leveille (3rd of the day)
  • Leveille starting to get open in the heart of the Hopkins attack. Syracuse just ran a nice pick play with Nims and Leveille to get Leveille the tally. Hopefully more of this will continue. It probably won't, but it would still be nice.
  • I am officially convinced that every pep-band in the world is given the same song book. How many times to I have to listen to some crappy, overplayed Bosstones song before somebody stands up and writes a new pep-band tune?

2:41 PM: 10-6 Hopkins

  • Goal - Bucktooth (EMO)
  • Three straight goals for the Orange; it's a bona fide run for Syracuse. Jesse Schwartzmann looks downright mortal at this point while Coluccini, somehow, looks functional in the Syracuse cage. This may be one of those "tipping points."

2:44 PM: 10-7 Hopkins

  • Goal - Joe Yevoli
  • Four goals in four minutes for the Orange. Coluccini's shorts should be bronzed if Syracuse continues to play like this.

2:48 PM: 11-7 Hopkins

  • Goal - Kevin Huntley
  • Coluccini has a brain fart and gives Hopkins and easy open-net goal. Coluccini tried to clear on his own from the Syracuse end, had the ball checked out of his crosse, and could not retreat in time to stop the Huntley shot. I am fairly certain that if he was wearing sweat pants he would not have created the turnover.
  • The Orange just got jobbed on the ensuing face-off. Jerome took a shove on the face-off, recovers, then commits a slash to give Hopkins a 1:00 unreleasable penalty. This may be the "tipping point." Or not. How the hell am I supposed to know?

2:52 PM: 11-7 Hopkins

  • Syracuse miraculously survives the Hopkins EMO and clears the ball functionally. Terrific. Children rejoice. Doves are released. All sorts of other other happy crap happens.

2:55 PM: 11-8 Hopkins

  • Goal - Brian Crockett. Assist to Bucktooth.
  • EMO had just expired when Crockett rifled the ball past Schwartzmann.
  • Beautiful offensive possession here by the Orange. Shots have closed to only a 28-20 advantage to the Jays. Bucktooth is clearly the focus of the offense here, which should be good news for Mike Leveille as he has benefitted from Bucktooth receiving lots of Hopkins attention.

3:00 PM: 12-8 Hopkins

  • Goal - Greg Peyser. Assist to Christopher.
  • Coluccini was looking unstoppable for about a 4:00 minute stretch before this Peyser tally. Clearly, the logical progression looks as follows for Coluccini:
  • Step 1: Wear Shorts
  • Step 2: ???
  • Step 3: Win Lacrosse Games

3:05 PM: 12-9 Hopkins

  • Goal - Joe Yevoli
  • Yevoli penetrated from behind the cage, turned the corner, and dumped the pill past Swartzmann.
  • This is a huge possession coming up for Syracuse. If they cut the deficit to two, I feel pretty confident that the Orange will somehow find a way to win.

3:10 PM: 13-9 Hopkins

  • (Hopkins apparently scored when I was in the pisser. Sorry.)
  • Of course Syracuse can't capitalize on the possession as Mike Leveille had a guarantee goal turned away not by Jesse Swartzmann but by some forgettable Hopkins defenseman who slapped at the pill with his crosse denying Leveille the tally. All I can say is this: shit, fuck, goddamit.
  • Hopkins broadcasters are getting antsy, looking for Syracuse penalties all over the field with 2:00 remaining. Who needs neutrality when you can sound like an unabashed homer?

3:14 PM: 14-9 Hopkins

  • Goal - Paul Rabil (That's four on the day. Somebody should, I don't know, mark him.)
  • That appears to be the nail in the coffin. It's not like Syracuse had a shot against Hopkins anyway, as anytime Syracuse loses in the first round of the NCAA tournament, they are required to lose to Hopkins on the lacrosse field that night/following day. It's in the Bible.

3:17 PM: 14-9 Hopkins (FINAL)

  • Coluccini's poor first-half performance ultimately doomed the Orange as they were unable to overcome the large deficit generated by a seven goal first quarter. Syracuse is now 1-3 on the season as Hopkins improves to 3-2. It is probably time to freak out.

Exit, Stage Right



I guess the rumor is true; Gerry's human.

Happy Madness!


Very superstitious, nothin' more to say.

As a result of Syracuse's ridiculous run to the Big East Tournament Championship, I'm imposing on myself another hiatus from this blog. Consequently, there will be no substantive material appearing on this virtual notebook during weekends when the Orange is on the hardwood.

So, until Gerry McNamara stops playing out of his mind, I'll restrain myself to only responding to questions or comments left under this or other image entries that may follow.

Midfielders Needed: Call 315-443-DESKO
Losing All-American Greg Rommel and fellow senior Steven Brooks was borderline catastophic. Losing budding superstar Greg Niewieroski is worthy of a campy CBS Sunday night disaster movie.

As Dave Rahme reports, it appears as if Niewieroski got himself into a stitch of trouble on Marshall Street this past Friday evening:

Greg Niewieroski, 20, a sophomore on the Syracuse University lacrosse team, may miss the rest of the season due to injuries suffered during a Friday night incident on Marshall Street.

According to the lead story Monday night on Watertown television station WWNY TV's Web site, Niewieroski's mother, Shari, told a reporter from the station that Niewieroski was attacked by four people as he ran to catch up to a friend. She said he was sprayed with mace and was kicked and beaten. She told the station that her son suffered broken bones in his face and will undergo surgery today in Syracuse.
In a follow-up article appearing in today's Post-Standard, Rahme expanded upon the details (or lack thereof) of the incident:
. . . [H]e [Niewieroski] suffered broken bones in his face that would require surgery on Tuesday in Syracuse. It is unclear whether that took place, as federal law forbids disclosure of specific injuries without a patient's approval.

Details surrounding the incident are fuzzy. No police report had been filed as of Tuesday morning, and Desko and university officials were still trying to figure out what happened.
Beautiful. This is exactly what the team needs before heading to Baltimore this weekend to take on a hungry Johns Hopkins squad.

The news isn't all bad though. Niewieroski, because he has only made a brief appearance on the field this year against Georgetown, should be eligible for a medical redshirt. As things stand now, Desko appears to be interested in pursuing this option:

"I don't know if we'd get Greg back in time (for a playoff run) or not," he said. "The plan right now is for both to redshirt and save a year of eligibility."

Also, it looks like Syracuse's heralded freshman class will have the opportunity to get a few more runs under their legs now that Syracuse's big three midfielders are sidelined indefinitely. Rahme and Desko have hinted at such, providing the following:
With Rommel, Brooks and now Niewieroski apparently lost for the season, Desko is left with a first midfield line that features senior Brian Crockett and true freshmen Dan Hardy (Tully) and Pat Perritt.

"We've got two of the most talented freshmen around, and we're trying to turn them into sophomores in a hurry," Desko said. "They're giving everything they've got. Steve Babbles (sophomore, Skaneateles) is playing well, Brendan Loftus (sophomore, Watertown) is coming along and another true freshman, [Matt] Abbott (Nottingham), is making a lot of good decisions. We're going to give them a lot of experience and hope it pays off down the road."

Coaches and Media Unite: "We Hate Hopkins!"
For the week of March 13, 2006, the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll and the USILA STX Coaches Poll each tabbed Maryland as number one. These polls, of course, were released before the Bucknell's shocking double-overtime upset of the Terrapins last night.

Aside: What the hell are they putting in the water at Bucknell to make its athletes giant killers. This is getting ridiculous.

The rest of the polls look as follows:
USILA STX Coaches Poll
1. Maryland
2. Virginia
3. Duke
4. Navy
5. Cornell
6. Princeton
7. Massachusetts
8. Georgetown
9. Hofstra
10. Syracuse
11. Notre Dame
12. Delaware
13. [Hate] Johns Hopkins
14. Denver
15. Pennsylvania
16. Dartmouth
17. Hobart
18. Loyola
19. Towson
20. Fairfield

Inside Lacrosse Media Poll
1. Maryland
2. Virginia
3. Duke
4. Navy
5. Cornell
6. Princeton
7. Massachusetts
8. Georgetown
9. Delaware
10. Hofstra
11. Syracuse
12. Denver
13. Notre Dame
14. [Hate] Johns Hopkins
15. Towson
16. Pennsylvania
17. Loyola
18. Albany
19. Dartmouth
20. Penn State

Dorking Up Lacrosse
Jeff Sagarin, the bane to the existence of many a college football fanatic, has jumped forth into the world of college lacrosse. Using his unique method of power ratings, Sagarin has partnered with Inside Lacrosse to provide his methodology to the college lacrosse masses.

Sagarin's initial ratings are interesting to say the least. Topping his rankings is fellow upstate powerhouse Cornell with Maryland and Virginia following close behind. Syracuse is currently slotted in the 17 hole; Hopkins is placed 22nd.

For an explanation of Sagarin's rankings, click here.

Georgetown Beats Syracuse In Lacrosse, Admitting Rich Kids
On Friday afternoon, the Hoyas traveled up to the Dome to tussle with the Orange. What transpired was an utterly pathetic effort from Syracuse, as Georgetown went on to a 10-8 victory over the stumbling Orange. It was Georgetown's first victory ever in the Dome.

As Post-Standard staff writer Donna Ditota pens, the Orange were unable to capitalize on the ample opportunities offered by an undisciplined Hoya squad:

The Orange offense, which put up 15 goals a week earlier in a loss at Virginia, struggled to score all afternoon against the Hoyas. SU took 48 shots in the game. Just eight found the back of the net.

Attribute part of that to Georgetown goalie Miles Kass, who made 15 saves, some of them doorstep gems that erased strong SU scoring chances. But part of it too, was that SU's shooters failed to direct their shots toward the goal.

"All through the game," said SU coach John Desko, "I thought offensively we were doing a pretty good job getting our shots. Their goalie made some good saves and we missed the cage more than we normally do."

That proved especially painful in man-up situations.

Georgetown (2-1) had been allowing opponents to convert half their man-up opportunities. The Hoyas tendency to commit fouls, coupled with their inclination to allow extra-man goals, had been a dangerous combination.

But against SU, the Hoyas for the most part prevented the Orange from creeping in on the crease and getting anything easy inside. And when those shots did materialize, Kass was there to eliminate them.

"We've had a lot of trouble with man-down this year and we've worked on it a lot," said Georgetown defender Reyn Garnett. "They really only ran maybe one or two plays and after awhile, we kind of knew what they were doing. Although they had two or three layups that they could have scored on and Miles made great saves on them."

Syracuse went 1-9 on the day with the man advantage. This team isn't going to win very many games this year if it can't convert on the man-up especially with an unproven netminder on the Orange's defensive end. In short, this team needs to capitalize on every opportunity it gets; just being good enough this year will not be sufficient to generate wins.

A lot was made of the plodding play exuded by both teams on the carpet Friday. The assessment appears to be somewhat accurate. In terms of pace, Syracuse generated 32 possessions on the afternoon; Georgetown clocked in with 40. This is the second time in as many games that Syracuse was out-possessed by an opponent.

Georgetown's advantage in the possession department is less attributable to dominance in the face-off "x" (the Hoyas only won two more draws than Syracuse) and is rather the result of Georgetown winning the groundball game (41-30) and the Orange once again being dreadful on clearing situations (15-20). Given the fact that Syracuse's defense is still a major question mark for this team, especially in the cage, the Orange really needs to maximize its possessions and disallow its opponents from dominating the pace and style of play.

In terms of efficiency, the Syracuse offense was just dreadful. On its 32 possessions the Orange just managed eight tallies. That amounts to a .250 efficiency. Compounded with only a 16.7% shooting percentage and one is led to the indisputable conclusion that Syracuse was really its worst enemy against Georgetown.

Somebody Please Stop the Stupid

Is it possible that the NCAA Men's Basketball Selection Committee could be considered even more inept?

You bet.

In an afternoon submission to ESPN.com, Andy Katz is reporting that Craig Littlepage, my personal arch nemesis, and his band of functional illiterates were prepared to turn the NCAA Tournament into CBS' personal nightmare.

In shedding light on the mind-boggling inclusion of Utah State into the field of 65, Katz states:

Even though it ended in a loss, Utah State's performance against Nevada in overtime in the WAC tournament title game was the final impression needed to push the Aggies into the field of 65 in one of the more surprising selections of the year, ESPN.com has learned.

The selection committee watched Utah State and, after seeing the Aggies nearly pull off the upset at Nevada on Saturday night, was convinced the Aggies should be in the field, a source with knowledge of the selection process confirmed.
Basically, what it came down to for Littlepage and Company to include Utah State in the field was simply to be on national television during the committee's meetings in Indianapolis. That's pitiful, especially when all Utah State needed to do was make a conference tournament final where they had the chance to tussle with a team that would garner only a five-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Which reminds me. Didn't Cincinnati tussle with an ultimate five-seed in the Big East Tournament? And wasn't Cincinnati's resume light years more impressive than Utah State's? Obviously, I've overthought this process. It's too bad the selection committee didn't.

Speaking of failing to use the gunk betwix one's ears, Katz drops these other tidbits which are sure to dazzle the mind to the point of implosion:

• One of the main reasons Air Force got in the field was that the Falcons were the No. 2 team in the Mountain West, ranked as the No. 8 conference.

• One of the last teams not to make the field was another mid-major: Western Kentucky. The committee looked strongly at the Hilltoppers, regular-season champs of the Sun Belt. Western Kentucky, which lost to South Alabama in the conference title game, had an RPI of 55, a strength of schedule of 116, a 1-2 record against the top 50, a non-conference SOS (strength of schedule) of 29, and a 7-4 road record. Meanwhile, the NIT placed Western Kentucky as a 6-seed in the South region.

• The team that seemed to move the most around the board was Pitt, which settled at No. 5 in the Oakland region.

• Cincinnati was off the board by late in the week. The Bearcats didn't get out of the first round of the Big East tournament after Syracuse's Gerry McNamara beat them with a 3-pointer with a half second left.
I'm going to keep my comments brief on these points else I might break the internet with the amount of hate latent in the sentences that follow.

As I noted in a previous essay, I thought that one of the major deficiencies in Air Force's resume was its lack of big wins, both in and out of conference. Apparently the selection committee somehow thought otherwise, believing that finishing second in the Mountain West (eighth in the conference RPI) and failing to advance out of the first round of that conference's post-season tournament was more impressive than finishing eighth in the most competitive conference ever and losing on a miraculous heave at the buzzer in the first round of the Big East Tournament.

That is absolutely unacceptable.

As for the Western Kentucky comments Katz made, they will go down in history as the legacy left by Craig Littlepage. How Western Ketucky goes from potential NCAA participant to NIT also-ran is incredibly laughable. The fact that the Hilltoppers were somehow on the board when Michigan and Cincinnati weren't is all the more reason to believe that the NCAA needs to revamp how the selection committee is organized and the process used to place teams into the brackets and how they are to be seeded once included.

I'm not saying that there is a conspiracy afoot, but I'm not saying there isn't one either.

National Bracket Thoughts

"I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
- Howard Beale, Network
Craig Littlepage, the only man on the planet that could tarnish the ivy-draped reputation of the University of Virginia, has me really concerned about how the NCAA Men's Basketball Selection Committee is going about its buisness. In comments following the release of the Division-1 bracket, Littlepage provided the following:

"If there's a message [in these selections], the larger schools, the larger conferences, really do have a choice on who they play in nonconference."

I have a problem with this statement on two levels. First, it isn't the job of the committee to create messages in their selections. They are charged with selecting only the best 34 remaining at-large schools after the 31 automatic bids have been delivered. Second, if Littlepage actually believes in this statement, he failed to follow it himself.

My anger with this bracket, in terms of selection of teams, boils down to the inclusion of three teams -- Air Force, Alabama-Birmingham, and Utah State. How these three teams got into the tournament over clubs like Cincinnati, Michigan, and someone like Creighton/Missouri State is absolutely mind-numbing. Instead of going through an exhaustive analysis of each of the aforementioned triumverate of mind-scratchers, I'll highlight only Air Force, because they are clearly the most unworthy participant in this year's tournament.

Air Force
RPI: 50
Conference RPI: 8
Record: 22-6
SOS: 158
v. RPI Top 50: 0-1
v. RPI 51-100: 5-2
v. RPI 101-200: 10-3
v. RPI 201+: 7-0

Non-Conference
Record: 10-1
RPI: 57
SOS: 273
L10: 7-3
Rd/NT: 8-6

Commentary
Just a cursory look at this profile screams "NIT." Coming from a terrible conference and failing to advance out of the Mountain West first round, there is no way in hell Air Force should have even been remotely on the radar of the selection committee. The number of wins is nice, but it is inflated by playing one of the worst conference and non-conference schedules in the country. Granted, the RPI and SOS numbers can be deceiving, but when you take a qualitative analysis, the conclusion is the same -- Air Force beat nobody.

I just don't see the wins that would qualify Air Force for selection as one of the best 34 available teams. Georgia Tech? San Diego State? To quote Balki from Perfect Strangers, "Don't be ridiculous."

The only thing that could make the committee deem Air Force as a viable selection to this field is Air Force's record over their last ten games and its positive record in road/neutral games. However, the bare numbers here are deceiving. In its last ten games, Air Force beat: Colorado State (W-H), Brigham Young (L-R), San Diego State (L-R), Wyoming (W by 1-H), Texas Christian (W-R), Utah (W by 1-R), New Mexico (W-H), Nevada-Las Vegas (W-R), Colorado State (W-R), Wyoming (L-N).

Not exactly a murderer's row.

Even though Cincinnati went 5-5 down the stretch, I am much more impressed with wins over Syracuse, West Virginia, Louisville and tough losses to Villanova and Syracuse on a miracle heave than some questionable performances against the dregs of the Mountain West Conference.

Maybe the biggest problem I have with Air Force's selection is that Littlepage and his committee all but threw their criteria out the window when they put Air Force on the board. In a March 8, 2006 interview, Littlepage provided the following:

Well, I think it's been pretty clear that the committee over time has sent the message that it will not be impressed by records that are artificially built on the basis of scheduling lesser-quality opponents. If a situation is tight, if we're comparing six to eight teams, and two of those six to eight teams have put together a schedule with rigor, and they've been balanced in terms of playing games both home and away from home, the tiebreaker in that kind of situation is going to go with the teams that have scheduled and have challenged themselves.

And, with respect to resumes and conference tournaments:

That all depends on the resume they have at that point in time. There may be teams that are already locked in, in some committee members' minds as far as having done enough to be included in the field at this point in time. There are other teams that may have to win a game or win two games. Some teams may have to go all the way through to the championship and win a championship.

Speaking about the "Big East Rule," Littlepage dropped this nugget:

The discussion about any one league will not go into our discussions when it comes time to select the at-larges. We are going to look strictly at teams, what teams have done. Certainly there's a level of discussion as it relates to the conferences only to the extent that they're playing within a family, if you will, a family of colleagues.
And, the importance of the "Syracuse Rule":

It may be that it is a matter of who went out and scheduled a better-quality, non-conference schedule or who played the other better teams in that particular conference, whether they played the better teams in that conference one time or twice, or in some cases maybe they didn't play one of the top teams in that conference at all.
So, using this criteria, how is Air Force a more attractive selection than Cincinnati or Michigan? Granted, Cincinnati, Michigan, and Air Force all lost in the first round of their conference tournaments, but the scenarios are not all the same.

Cincinnati had to go 8-8 in the toughest conference in the country just to make the Big East tournament; Air Force was invited just on the basis of its membership in the Mountain West. Furthermore, Cincinnati lost on a last second heave to Syracuse, a team that ultimately won its conference tournament. Air Force lost to a terrible Wyoming team that had no business advancing to the Mountain West final.

Michigan, similar to Cincinnati, went toe-to-toe with a game Minnesota club in the Big Ten playdowns. If the basketball bounces another way, the Wolverines advance. It seems ridiculous to give Air Force a free pass on losing in their conference tournament opening game and capitalizing on a weak schedule down the stretch while Michigan and Cincinnati should be punished for keeping its heads above water and barely getting bounced.

Moreover, Littlepage provides the ultimate head-scratcher in that he says performance in a conference tournament may not be important if a team already has a profile that merits inclusion as an at-large. Given the fact that Air Force lost in the first round of the Mountain West tournament, that necessarily implies that Air Force was in the tournament as early as last week.

How is that possible?

As illustrated earlier, Air Force barely has an NIT profile, nevermind an NCAA one. I cannot be convinced that Air Force was a NCAA invitee before the start of the Mountain West tournament. It just does not make any sense. Especially when you consider that Cincinnati and Michigan had more notable wins and a tougher road to get to the position they finished.

Finally, I have a huge problem with Littlepage punishing Michigan and Cincinnati for having what is perceived as a "soft" non-conference schedule. Cincinnati played the 22nd most difficult non-conference schedule in the country. Michigan played the 147th toughest, but its non-conference RPI was a respectable 36. Most importantly, each club went out and won those games, with Cincinnati going 10-3 and Michigan going 10-1.

So, what's the problem, Littlepage? When you combine those numbers with each team's conference profile, that should be enough to garner selection as an at-large invitee.

Air Force played only the 273rd toughest non-conference schedule in the country. And while Littlepage seems to be indicating that this non-conference rule applies only to the power conferences (which is a violation of equal protection, if you will), Air Force failed to balance its poor non-conference schedule with a bruising or terrific conference slate and record. That's is uncessingly troubling.

It appears quite clear that Littlepage & Co. violated the cardinal rule of the selection committee -- not choosing a college or university based on the number of invitations already delivered to other members of the same conference. There is no way to reconcile Cincinnati and Michigan's exclusion from this tournament on any other basis other than to believe that the committee did not want nine teams from the Big East and seven from the Big Ten.

The at-large process was not created to give everyone a fair crack at making the tournament. The at-large process was created to give big schools from big conferences the opportunity to join the Dance even though they may have been demolished in their brutal conference slates. To include a couple of teams from the Western Athletic, Mountain West, and Missouri Valley Conferences just because an individual thinks that the Big East is getting too many teams is ludicrous and a blatant affront to the responsibilities of the selection committee.

The rule is the 34 best teams, and the selection committee this year failed miserably in achieving this goal.

Incompetence (Non-Syracuse Football Edition)

I didn't know it was possible, but University of Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage managed to potentially tarnish the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

I have never in my life seen a bracket or selection process filled with so many deficiencies. I'm pretty sure twenty cigar-chomping monkeys sitting at typewriters and slinging poo could have selected and seeded 65 teams in a more consistent manner. This bracket, in a word, is "the worst I have ever seen in my life."

How Littlepage and his cronies came to the decisions they rested on, I'll probably never know. And if I ever do, my head may explode from the inability to comprehend such ineptitude and inconsistency.

I'll have more on this historic debacle tomorrow when I can actually take a moment to collect myself and do some more research on the material. Until then, I think we all need to lock arms, assemble outside NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, and remind Littlepage that "Cincinnati" is not spelled "A-I-R-F-O-R-C-E."

Happy Birthday Blog With No Name

Well, today marks the one-year anniversary of this blog. Whether this is a notable thing or not, I'm unsure. It does, however, mark a signficant point in history: a blog hopelessly devoted to pointing out the ample deficiencies of Syracuse athletics can survive, albeit with only shallow breath.

The genesis of this blog was simple -- a vehicle for celebrating Syracuse's fourth Big East Tournament title. The initial post on this notebook (entitled "There's Only One Thing Left To Do . . . Strut!") looks far different than the drivel I now concern myself with:

Coming into Thursday, who would have thought that SU would hold 20-point advantages in each contest?

Just a super effort.

Now, if the lacrosse team can manhandle Georgetown out in California tonight, the cherry on the sundae will officially be laid.

... And Greg Rommel, the "Orange Fox", stormed the Southern California sand to deliver lacrosse liberty to the west coast masses....
And, of course, the Orange lost that lacrosse game. Thanks Matt Glaude.

In fact, for a long while I was pretty sure that this blog was laying bad karma onto the Orange. The record speaks for itself. Since March 12, 2005, Syracuse marked these notable events:

  • First round exit in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament to upstart Vermont.
  • First round exit in the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Tournament to upstart Massachusetts. This marked the first time in 22 years the Orange did not advance to the lacrosse final four.
  • The worst football season in Syracuse's storied history.
  • And, until this past week, the most frustrating and disappointing Syracuse basketball season in recent memory.
But things are good now. I hope.

Anyways, to everyone who reads this mess on a semi-regular basis, I extend my heartfelt thanks. To everyone I read on a semi-regular basis, thank you. And, most importantly, thanks to Syracuse athletics, because without its hauntingly beautiful ineptitude on the athletic field, there would be no reason to maintain this untitled notebook.

Garden Party



Team. Of. Destiny.

Holy Fucking Christ III


Please welcome to the Big East Tournament Championship:
Gerry McNamara and the Pacemakers

Note: This blog is still operative. Despite its outward appearance, it has not regressed into a photography blog of little to no consequence.

However, regular blogging nonsense will be suspended until Gerry McNamara decides to stop playing the role of Savior in Syracuse's daily religious experience.

This self-imposed hiatus is for a twofold purpose. First, I have not published a substantive piece since Syracuse started its tournament run. Accordingly, I refuse to jinx this team by writing some drivel about how the Orange was in the NCAA tournament as early as Wednesday afternoon.

Second, I'm not really sure what to write. To be frank, there are only so many ways to write about "McNamania." Thus, in order to avoid being repetitive and putting together some pieces on how 2006 Gerry is eerily similar to 2003 Gerry, I'll restrain myself to only responding to questions or comments left under each essay. As a consequence, everyone should win.

Especially Syracuse basketball.

Holy Fucking Christ II



The name is Gerry. It's spelled "W-I-N-N-E-R."

Too Easy, Drill Sargeant



Terrible form. Terrific result.

Note: In the Boeheim era, only once has Syracuse been denied an NCAA tournament bid after accumulating 20 wins over the course of the regular season and Big East Tournament. This was in the 2001-2002 season, where Syracuse lost in the Big East Tournament First Round to Villanova.

Syracuse's RPI that year was 66 and its strength of schedule was only 86th best in the nation. In addition, the Orange's out-of-conference RPI in 2001-2002 was ranked 61st, with an accompanying strength of schedule rating of only 166.

Of course, it must be conceded that none of those 20-win seasons saw Boeheim guide Syracuse to a sub-.500 regular season conference record. The last time the Orange accumulated a a sub-.500 conference record was in 1980-1981, when Syracuse went only 6-8. The Orange were forced to participate in the NIT that year.

Holy Fucking Christ



Warning: Gerry McNamara's heroics may make your head explode.

Lacrosse Roundup

Syracuse + Virginia = I Feel Bad For Goaltenders
Outside of the annual Hopkins game, there probably isn't a game on the Syracuse docket that is more exciting than the yearly early-season matchup pitting the Orange against Virginia. For whatever reason, when Syracuse faces the Cavaliers, things tend to be pretty damn exciting. One need only point to Casey Powell's miraculous effort in 1997 or the miracle at Rutgers in the 2002 national semifinal to highlight the drama of 'Cuse-Cavs.

Unfortunately, Syracuse didn't live up to its end of the bargain this year as the Orange dropped a tough decision to Virginia this past Saturday in Charlottesville, 20-15. The loss puts Syracuse at 1-1 on the season with Georgetown coming into the Dome on Saturday afternoon.

Outside of Syracuse dropping its second consecutive regular-season game to Virginia, there was an interesting storyline coming out of Charlottesville. As Donna Ditota writes, fans in Klockner Stadium were treated to some old school-style lacrosse:

Charlottesville, Va.- At one point Saturday afternoon, University of Virginia coach Dom Starsia, mindful of what he was witnessing on the Klockner Stadium grass, peered at the scoreboard and experienced a sudden revelation.

"You're thinking to yourself, 'Can this be 30-25?' "

Not quite.

But for fans of abundant offense, this was the game on which to feast.
And when it was finished Saturday, when all the goals had been tallied, when the breakneck pace had been subdued by the final buzzer, No. 3 Virginia had defeated No. 5 Syracuse 20-15 on a sunny springlike afternoon of lacrosse.

Even InsideLacrosse.com was effusive, dropping this tidbit:

"You know every year it's going to be wild with Syracuse," said Virginia senior middie Drew Thompson (3G, 1A). "It's the style they play. It's up and down, the way lacrosse is supposed to be played."
When journalists write that a lacrosse game had a tremendous pace, I usually throw up the cautionary flag that too much emphasis was put on the number of shots taken. It doesn't take a genius to see that if a team is taking a lot of shots, the Bill Tierney-style of offensive regression isn't taking place. Ditota, however, appears to have appropriately characterized the nature of the play between Syracuse and Virginia as the numbers back up her assertion.

Utilizing my method of possession-based analysis, the 60 minutes of lacrosse action played in central Virginia were, at the very least, frenetic. Syracuse, long amongst the nation's leaders in total game possessions, amassed 38 possessions on the day, the same value the Orange averaged last season when it was amongst the nation's leaders in that category.

Virginia, a team that has taken on the Roy Simmons, Jr.-era mentality of peppering the cage with tons of shots and letting midfielders control the pace of play, generated an almost inconceivable 49 possessions.

49 possessions!

In one game!

By one team!

Just for comparison, in the Hopkins-Princeton game this weekend (in which the Blue Jays had their 37-game home win streak snapped), the teams generated 34 and 37 possessions, respectively.

Aside: As incredible as Virginia's 49 possessions were on Saturday, seeing Princeton generate 37 posssessions is almost ridiculous. I don't have the data in front of me, but I'm willing to bet that's the fastest Bill Tierney has let his Tigers play since the days of Sims, Hubbard, and Hess.

Maryland and Duke (two teams that like to get up and down the field) only generated 32 and 26 possessions, respectively. Thus, with this backdrop, one can readily see how much fun the Syracuse and Virginia offenses were having Saturday in Virginia.

I guess the operative question now is how Virginia generated so many possessions. Well, the answer is pretty simple: dominance in the face-off "x" and efficiency clearing the ball from their defensive end. On the day, Virginia won seven more face-offs than the Orange and only failed to clear the ball from their defensive end once. That makes a great recipe for possessing the rock.

What is also interesting is the efficiency at which both offenses worked on Saturday. On just 32 shots, Syracuse deposited the ball past Kip Turner 15 times. That makes for a 46.9 shooting percentage. Not bad when you consider the Orange generated a .395 offensive efficiency on the day.

Virginia, not surprisingly, was an offensive machine, ripping off a mind-boggling 57 shots on Syracuse's two-headed keeper. While only comes to a 35.1 shooting percentage, Virginia made the most of their possessions by generating an terrific offensive efficiency of .408.

Fear the Turtle; Laugh at Hopkins
Inside Lacrosse released the latest edition of the Media Poll this afternoon. On the strength of its overtime victory against pre-season favorite Duke, Maryland takes over the top spot with Virginia and the Blue Devils following close behind. The top-15 in the poll looks as follows:

1. Maryland
2. Virginia
3. Duke
4. Navy
5. Princeton
6. Cornell
7. Syracuse
8. (Hate) Johns Hopkins
9. Massachusetts
10. Georgetown
11. Delaware
12. Denver
13. Notre Dame
14. Dartmouth
15. Towson

The Coaches Poll looks a smidge different, with a huge logjam at the number 7 slot. The top-15 looks as follows:

1. Maryland
2. Virginia
3. Duke
4. Navy
5. Princeton
6. Cornell
7. (Hate) Johns Hopkins
7. Massachusetts
7. Syracuse
10. Georgetown
11. Delaware
12. Notre Dame
13. Denver
14. Dartmouth
15. Hofstra

Legislating Against Stupidity

[PREFACE]
A lot has been written as of late concerning “storming the court” and when this mad dash to dance on the hardwood is appropriate. While this debate is concededly useless, I’m still going to try to define when “storming the court” is reasonable.

My initial concept for this essay was to construct a Ten Commandments-style decree which would define when a student section may run onto the court and cause unmitigated property damage. While a satire of religion, writing in this style provided a scope that was far too finite for this issue. Essentially, I could not create a framework that would consider almost every contingency associated with rushing the floor.

What I ended up piecing together is a regulation indicative of the Internal Revenue Code or the Uniform Commercial Code. I figure that this was the best way to approach the problem as the framework is malleable and it can, consequently, provide guidance on and regulation of most factual circumstances.

[THE LAW]

MATT GLAUDE’S LAW OF STUPID THINGS ASSOCIATED WITH COLLEGIATE ATHLETICS

Chapter 1: Fan Behavior
Part A: Men’s Basketball
Section 1: Storming the Court

[Sec. 1(a)]
    (a) GENERAL RULE: A college or university student section may rush the basketball court following a noteworthy home victory.
[Sec. 1(b)]
    (b) EXCEPTIONS
      (1) Subsection (a) shall not apply when a victory has been secured with more than two (2) minutes remaining in regulation or overtime.
[Sec. 1(c)]
    (c) DEFINITIONS
      (1) NOTEWORTHY HOME VICTORY
        (A) A noteworthy home victory constitutes one of the following:
          (i) An upset victory over an established rival;
          (ii) An upset victory by a college or university not currently in a power conference over a college or university currently in a power conference; or
          (iii) A victory by a college or university not currently in a power conference securing a bid to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
      (2) POWER CONFERENCE
        (A) The following six conferences constitute power conferences:
          (i) Atlantic Coast Conference;
          (ii) Big East Conference;
          (iii) Big Ten Conference;
          (iv) Big Twelve Conference;
          (v) Pacific Ten Conference; and
          (vi) Southeastern Conference.
      (3) UPSET VICTORY
        (A) A victory will be considered an upset only if:
          (i) The home team is not favored on the daily betting line;
          (ii) A majority of experts have determined that the home team will not defeat the home team’s opponent;
          (iii) The home team is not ranked within the nation’s top twenty-five teams as determined by the ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press polls; and
          (iv) The home team’s opponent is ranked securely within the nation’s top ten teams as determined by the ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press polls.
      (4) EXPERT
        (A) An expert includes, but is not limited to:
          (i) Television analysts;
          (ii) Radio personalities or analysts;
          (iii) Newspaper columnists;
          (iv) Coaches; or
          (v) Scouts.
        (B) Exception
          (i) Television analyst and glorified windbag Dick Vitale is not considered an expert for this section’s purposes because his knowledge of the college basketball universe is limited to Durham, North Carolina.
      (5) ESTABLISHED RIVAL
        (A) A home team’s opponent will be considered an established rival if:
          (i) The home team’s opponent is a member of the same basketball conference as the home team; or
          (ii) The home team’s opponent is:
            (I) A yearly feature on the home team’s basketball schedule, regardless of conference affiliation; and
            (II) There is a long, recognized history between the two colleges or universities.
    [COMMENTS]
    I think this regulation lays out the parameters for rushing the court pretty well. Through a structure that imposes limited, yet appropriate restrictions on student sections rushing the court, the character, novelty, and passion of college basketball is sufficiently protected while admonishing questionable stormings.

    With regard to specific aspects of the regulation itself, appearances should not be deceiving. While there is only one enumerated exception – section 1(b)(1) – that does not mean that the general rule provided in section 1(a) is not without dedicated restriction. The definitions of “noteworthy home victory” and “upset victory” create a series of limitations which operate in much the same way as an enumerated exception. Thus, if circumstances do not fall within the definition of a “noteworthy home victory” or any of the other pertinent definitions, a student section will not have the chance to revel under section 1(a).

    The only gap that I see currently in this regulation is situations such as follows:

    Syracuse, unranked and far out of the view of “also receiving votes,” faces Duke in the Carrier Dome. Mike Krzyzsewski’s charges are currently ranked number one on the nation, are unbeaten, and are far and away considered the class of college basketball.

    For thirty-nine minutes and five seconds, the game is nip and tuck, with neither team leading by more than four points. With five seconds remaining and the Orange down two following a Player X bucket for Duke, Syracuse in-bounds the ball to Player Y. He rushes to half court, heaves up a prayer, and the buzzer sounds as the ball is in flight. The ball caroms of the backboard and finds its way to the bottom of the nylon.

    Pandemonium.
    Under section 1 of Matt Glaude’s Law of Stupid Things Associated With Collegiate Athletics, however, the student section will have to celebrate in the stands because this does not qualify as a noteworthy home victory as it is not within the ambit of victories considered in section 1(c)(1)(i).

    Personally, I don’t think that this is a problem for a number of reasons. First, storming the court is an event that is supposed to be special. That’s why it is reserved for conference opponents or the other events listed in the definitions. In the above example, beating Duke is nice, but doesn’t have the same implications as knocking off Georgetown or Connecticut. Consequently, the fact that this gap exists is not the death knell for the regulation.

    Second, the gap does not affect smaller programs that are traditionally at a disadvantage against its power conferences foes. To close this gap would be to reward power programs for playing poorly all season and then piecing together a respectable game against a good opponent. That is not the purpose of a court storming. The purpose of a court storming is to express excitement over a game that never should have gone in the home team’s favor. Syracuse should beat a number one ranked Duke; Quinnipiac should not. Thus, the exceptions work properly.

    Cruel and Unusual Punishment

    Freak. Out.

    After Syracuse officially booked its ticket for an early-round NIT exit last night, I came to the conclusion that it would not be fair for me to pile onto the Orange. Let's face it, it takes a special group of guys to allow DePaul (a team whose makeup is equivalent to four Matt Glaude's and a heaping helping of cole slaw) to drop a 100-spot.

    Why ruin the moment? It seems like only once every two or three years that Syracuse suffers its worst loss in the Boeheim era.

    Thus, I'm letting a sampling of other disappointed writers express their horror over last night's nationally-televised display.

    How does Gregg Doyel feel about the Orange? Well . . .

    No. 4 Villanova at Syracuse: Syracuse, you're lousy. Not mediocre. Not struggling. Lousy. You're on the NCAA Tournament bubble, and you go into DePaul and not just lose -- losing would have been bad enough -- but you lose 108-69? Shameful. Lose by almost 40 to one of the worst teams in your league, and do so on March 2, and you fall out of the NCAA field. It's a rule. However, the rule comes with a corollary: Beat No. 4 Villanova on March 5, and all is forgiven. Pick: Unforgiven.
    Even Ken Pomeroy was downright depressed with the Orange effort:

    Nice job by Syracuse last night. With their tourney hopes still in limbo, they surrendered 108 points on 66 possessions against DePaul. Easily the worst defensive game in all the land this season. Morehead State did a better job containing UConn. And the Orange were 21st in adjDE entering the game.
    Joe Lunardi weighs in:
    Syracuse [19-9 (7-7), RPI: 28, SOS: 9]
    Uhhh ... The Orange entered the pantheon of all-time most gruesome bubble losses Thursday night with a 39-point annihilation at DePaul. On the heels of a 15-point loss at Georgetown, the Orange may now be in some serious trouble with 'Nova coming to the Dome in the season finale. RPI and SOS look good, but the Orange have lost eight of 12 and are only 2-8 vs. RPI Top 50.


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