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Syracuse – Providence Pregame Thoughts

Your mascot is just a dude in a hood.
I know you’re used to a comprehensive statistical analysis of the upcoming games from Matt Glaude. He’ll probably be putting that up soon (or maybe never, he is really busy). But since I am making the trip to nearby Providence to check out this game I thought I’d provide a little backdrop for the contest.

Where my boy Allen Griffin at?
It was a warm, magical night in Tempe, AZ in March of 2004. We had just exited the NCAA Tournament at the hands of Alabama and we were looking to drown our sorrows in the hotel. Of course, being that we were in the same hotel with the team we’d see them walking around, hanging out, and so forth. This was not a big deal as most of us were no strangers to traveling with the basketball team. With a bathtub full of beer and an amazing balcony we set off to enjoy our last night in AZ when who comes and hangs out with all of us? That is right, Mr. Allen Griffin himself. I was stopped at the door of the balcony by Allen and was promply asked where my hand stamp was. “No hand stamp? That will be $2.00.” I knew I was in for a good night. Being that we prepared ahead of time with two cases of beer we were the popular kids. We tossed Allen a beer and enjoyed an evening of hotel debauchery. He eventually left to go to Pita Pit by Arizona State’s campus, but not before asking “where my boy BH at?” A tournament memory I will remember for a lifetime (subsequently I spent the rest of the night drinking with the dance team and Tim McNamara, Gerry’s older brother. I still have his business card in my wallet).

Allen has grown up a little bit. After graduating from Syracuse in 2001, and being an administrative assistant to Boeheim in 2004 and 2005, he moved on as assistant coach to St. Francis (NY), close to where he grew up. He has since moved on to the Providence Friars as assistant coach. How will his relationship with Syracuse affect this game? How will Coach Tim Welch adjust his strategy for the game with the tips from Allen? These are all interesting questions that will be answered tomorrow. My prediction, however, is that the team will play its game and zone/man defense and not allow providence to control the tempo of the game.

Black Out The Dunk
The Providence Friars have done their best to try to “black out” the Dunkin’ Doughnuts Center by having every Friars fan come to the game in a black shirt. Frankly I think this is going to be awesome because it will mean that my orange jersey will stand out even more and I’ll get put on the ESPN. This is just going to make it very clear to the Syracuse bench who is rooting for them and they can key on those fans to get energy from. All in all I’m excited I’m going to be there, as I’ve never been to The Dunk and it is only my second time in Providence.

NCAA Tournament Implications
If we beat Providence it helps. I love sounding smart by stating the obvious. It will put us at 9-5 in the Big East, and 20-8 on the season (the magical 20 win threshold). As it stands right now we would be tied for forth place in the league and be in strong contention for a first round tourney bye. It would also look good on the resume because they have beaten Marquette, as well as recently taking out # 18 West Virginia. The flip side of the coin is that they have played well at home this year (18-2 at home overall, 6-1 in Big East Play). Their only home loss in the Big East was to Villanova. The Orange need to take control of the game early or be forced to play comeback kid in the second half, something they have not succeeded in doing that well this season. My advice: score early and often. If we win this game however, our tournament chances significantly brighten in my opinion. Now if we could just take out Georgetown Monday night…

I think we have a good chance of winning this game. The team has looked pretty good lately and I feel good about squeaking out a win in Providence. In a close game I think Syracuse will pull away at the end leaving the Friar Faithful stunned at home. I hope I’m not a horrific jackass and we lose this game now. Happy watching and look for me on TV. I’ll be the one in the “retro” G-Mac #3 jersey.

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