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Pittsburgh-Syracuse Postgame Reaction

I usually keep immediate postgame reactions to a minimum, mostly because rumination is a vastly underrated life pursuit. However, I felt the need to pen some brief comments following tonight's Big East Conference opener against Pittsburgh.

The thoughts will remain brief and bulleted:
  • That was an old fashioned Big East war. Physical play on both sides of the floor, interesting inside-outside play, and both teams exhibited a ton of resiliance. It does not get much more fun that that.

  • I've already seen comments on both Syracuse and Pittsburgh-oriented internet sites about poor refereeing. The comments, obviously, are from different perspectives at various points in the contest (intuitively when either team was trailing or struggling), but in either instance, the comments are unwarranted. I am a strong believer that non-participant onlookers should never "blame" a referee for the outcome of the game. Referees do not play passively in transition defense. They do not create commit turnovers on sloppy decisionmaking.

    In short, to blame the referees is to assume that the players' performances do not ultimately control the outcome of the game.

  • Syracuse's play thus far this season has been lukewarm at best. Tonight, however, the team showed some much needed consistency and competitiveness. All in all, the Orange probably played above its head tonight, but that is at least heartening given the circumstances it was forced to play under.

  • Josh Wright's second half absence is somewhat concerning. Eric Devendorf made some unquestionably boneheaded decisions with the basketball in the final stanza, yet Boeheim kept him at the point, apparently under the hope that Devendorf would make more positive plays than negative ones. Given the fact that Devendorf is still getting his basketball legs under him, the reliance on Devendorf down the stretch may have been a fatal mistake. Especially after Wright's acceptable first half effort.

  • I'm not sure what to think about Pittsburgh right now, but I think that the Panthers are pretty good. Pittsburgh, at least to me, does not appear (at least at this point) to be an Elite Eight squad, but the Panthers do have the potential to grow into a Final Four squad over the next couple of months. With that said, Syracuse should take tonight as an indication that it can lay some haymakers on a good club and have the opportunity to secure victory in a game it did not deserve to win.

  • The papers tomorrow will likely echo this sentiment, but Syracuse's lackadaisical post-halftime effort ultimately doomed the Orange's opportunity for success. That was truly disgusting and a great indication to the nation of Syracuse's fatal flaw.

  • However, other than those brief four or five minutes to start the second half, Syracuse seemed to show signs of improvement. Granted, this is not a championship club, but the Orange's effort on the glass (both offensively and defensively) and its ability to stretch Pittsburgh's defense with solid outside shooting should be an indication that 20 wins is a reasonable possibility. So, if you think that Syracuse did not play well tonight, you are probably extrapolating and isolated moment in the game and not understanding how well Syracuse dominated over extended stretches throughout the game.

  • Paul Harris, despite his flaws, displayed why an athlete of his stature can compete at this level despite not knowing how to shoot a basketball. Once he figures out how to play basketball -- and Boeheim certainly has his work cut out for him in that department -- he is going to dominate the hardwood on both ends.

  • Now, on the Kendall-Roberts situation. Whether Kendall intentionally created the contact or he accidently smacked Roberts because he was bumped is actually a nonissue. Moments like that are natually part of a physical game, especially in the Big East. To equate the incident to the Shumpert eye poke against Pittsburgh in the 2001 Big East Tournament. In short, shit happens; get over it.

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