After an amazing couple of games Syracuse has successfully gone from being on the bubble to being included in the field of 65 playing in March. There have been a lot of great moments and stories from the past few games as well. I’ll try to capture an adequate picture of the last two contests, while putting it into context for what this means for the Orange heading into Madison Square Garden.
First, we will journey back to Saturday afternoon in a cold but inviting city of Providence, Rhode Island. I decided on a whim on the previous Thursday to make the drive with my good friend Jimmy to Providence to see what promised to be a make-or-break game for either team. I was not disappointed.Andy Rautins had a career high game against Providence. He reminded me of Gerry McNamara hitting anything he threw from behind the arc, no matter how deep. In a game when we had a big lead and then let Herbert Hill own us, we played well and hit shots and free throws down the stretch. Something this team has not done well most of this season.
I’d never been to The Dunk before and it was a fun place to see a game. This game was even better because it was two Big East teams battling for a fairly important win. Neither teams would have been completely done with a loss, but it was pretty important. Syracuse managed to gut out a nice win down the stretch led by Rautins. Nichols and Watkins also played very well, with Watkins earning 11 points and 13 rebounds.
What Syracuse didn’t do so well was by all accounts what should have lost the game for us, as it has all season. The team had more turnovers (16 to 14) led by Devendorf’s six, were out rebounded, and shot worse from the free throw line. The difference was our field goad percentage, three point percentage, and hitting key shots when we needed to (Not getting called for a foul while Mookie slaps a guy in the face helps too. Thanks Timmy).
Then we come to Big Monday. It’s a pretty ominous task playing the first place team in the Big East, not to mention that it is your rival who happens to be ranked #10/9. Not to mention that Syracuse is still not considered an NCAA Tournament team yet. The team responded on Senior Night.
I’ll start with what Syracuse did poorly. The team was again out rebounded. When their dominant rebounder, Roy Hibbert, only plays 20 minutes I expect the team to get the rebounding edge. While we pulled down many rebounds at key moments, overall we did not pull down more than the other team.
Once again another poor night from the free throw line, only managing 60% (15-25). In the Big East tournament, as well as the NCAA Tournament, converting free throws are key to winning and/or staying ahead down the stretch. I hope the boys are practicing them this week because we need to be on the ball before arriving in NYC.
Everything else was as good as gold for the Orange. The key to Syracuse’s victory was the famed 2-3 Zone of Boeheim. The team didn’t allow free looks in the paint as they have before. They looked active, sharp, and moved cohesively as a unit, virtually rendering Hibbert a non-factor in this game. We held them to 58 points, which is over 10 points less than their season average of 68.6ppg. The defense was the difference and it was probably the best defense they have played all season. One of the keys to the NCAA, as well as the Big East Tournament is peaking at the right time in your season. I submit that we are peaking at the perfect time.
To borrow a popular Orange Blogisphere phrase, “I love me some Andy Rautins!” Once again the kid looked great out there. Leo who? Despite earlier criticism that he lacked a great shooting touch, he just got a scholarship because of his dad, and that he turned out to be a dud, Andy has turned out to be a quality addition to the Orange lineup. This backs up my earlier argument that we needed one additional outside shooting threat to allow Nichols to play his game and contribute consistently. Once again, I am awesome.
We limited our turnovers to 13, as compared to Georgetown’s 19. The key stat within the stat however is gaining 25 points off those G’Town turnovers. Money in the bucket.
Devendorf, despite several stupid turnovers and bad passes, decided to play excellent point guard finally. Gaining 11 assists, he managed to set up several shots for Nichols and Rautins, as well as orchestrate several fast breaks. Simply fun to watch.
Hero of the day is of course Demetris Nichols. 22 points, going 4-8 on 3 point field goals, and a solid case for Big East Player of the Year. I almost fell out of my chair when he hit the fade away three with about four minutes remaining in the game and one second on the shot clock. This is Syracuse Basketball that we all love and wish we could always see. Nichols deserved all the accolades he received last night as he put in a superior shooting effort on Senior Night. He will be missed.
I know many have debated the Court Storming point on this and other notebooks, therefore I am compelled to give my opinion on this. After all, it is my name to the right on this blog so I feel entitled. I am usually not one for court storming, but I have to say I am pretty alright with this one. As I explained to my friends last night, this was a huge game against the #10/9 team in the nation, who is first in the conference, a major rival, and if beaten will in all likelihood lock up an NCAA Tournament bid on Senior Night. Granted it fails the Matt Glaude test, but I’m willing to look the other way. I guess you can call this the dissenting opinion on the decision by the Chief Justice here at Orange::44. I submit that a balancing test is needed, rathr than the bright line rule established by Justice Glaude. Also, Matt, what is your criteria for storming the football field. And if there are any, are pants forbidden? “I’ve got to be on the field.”
All in all, a solid couple of basketball games for the Orange that all but has the entire city of Syracuse getting out their dancing shoes and catching March Madness. ESPN currently lists us as a possible 9 or 10 seed. Seth Davis at Sports Illustrated says we still need one more win to be in, and I hear Doug Gottlieb is in Bristol, CT crying his eyes out. Everyone agrees that our resume was vastly improved by the win over Georgetown. It was a pleasure to finally watch the Syracuse team that we were promised at the start of the year. Everything seems to be coming up Millhouse… or orange. Nichols should be player of the year and Boeheim should be back in the good graces of Orange Nation, because clearly good coaching is what got us to this point just as much as good shooting has. Their dancing in Syracuse… and Georgetown still sucks!
However, given the discussion's vigorous debate over the last 24 hours, it is probably worthwhile to provide a definitive opinion on the matter.
Whether Otto's Army rightfully "stormed the court" following Syracuse's beatdown of Georgetown.
This notebook has previously weighed in on the debate of proper "court storming" technique. As Syracuse had already secured victory prior to the final two minutes of regulation, the "court storming" was clearly in violation of Section 1(b) of Matt Glaude's Law of Stupid Things Associated With Collegiate Athletics.
The ruling in this matter is without appeal.
I don't know what to make of this. The guy was probably drunk and clearly he's Irish so he wanted to fight (I'm Irish, I can make the joke). Punching a guy so he has facial fractures is a bit much though.
This should have little to no impact on the team as McGonigle isn't a starter and did not see any action against Hobart. He is suspended indefinitely from the team but will still be allowed to practice. Meanwhile the Syracuse court system will sort it out legally. Let's just hope this doesn't become a habit with the team. We don't want to look like UConn now do we?
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.
As penned yesterday by Matt Glaude, he states his case for why lacrosse should be the sport everyone wants to watch, rather then just when they feel they are stuck in the taint of the sports year (hat tip to “Fitzy”) between the NFL, MLB, and March Madness. I am not going to do my best to pen mine.
In no particular order, here are my top five reasons why you should go to a Syracuse Lacrosse game:
1. Constant Hitting
If you like unrelenting hits then this is the sport for you. Unlike hockey, which does have some amazing hits, the hitting is constant in lacrosse. Defenders with their long sticks try to absolutely punish the players on offense. It could be we are a society that likes violence, or the fact that it is really cool to see a guy get hit really hard and just keep playing. Either way, it is really cool to see.
2. Amazing Shots
I can’t even imagine the skill level needed to play lacrosse. I never watched lacrosse until I got to college, and I most certainly didn’t play it. To see guys go in that Dome and pull off the shots and goals they do is nothing short of spectacular. Behind the back, through the legs, diving in the air, and scoring on the top shelf are just a few of the shot selections that you can see in a game. Just this past week against Hobart we saw the old behind the back and diving through the crease. If you like a dramatic and exciting display of skill and the fury of balls flying at 100 miles per hour then you’ll like Syracuse Lacrosse.
3. Relaxed Atmosphere
I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a nice afternoon in the Dome. Games aren’t really stressful, there are plenty of seats (that are general admission), and if you go with a group of friends you can talk through the whole game. Not only could you drink a leisurely beer on a nice afternoon with your friends, but you can see a game full of action in front of you. You can be involved as you want and watch in your own way. The cornerstone of democracy is choice, and with lacrosse you’ve got plenty. In other words, if you don’t go, the terrorists win.
4. Genius Coaching
John Desko: Great coach or the greatest coach? I’m going with great coach, who certainly has an impressive resume. The highest winning percentage ever in the NCAA Tournament (.792), the highest winning percentage of any active DI coach (.764), three D1 National Championships, and in general just kicks ass.
Assistant Coach Roy Simmons III is the defensive guru behind the team. Like his father, and his father before him, it is a labor of love. He as coached two Defensemen of the Year, as well as 10 defensive All-Americans. That is pretty good in eight previous seasons.
Returning for his 19th season is Assistant Coach Kevin Donahue who works with the midfielders and goaltenders, as well as the face-off unit. He has had countless All-Americans, amazing goaltenders, and countless accolades, peaking in 2001 when he won the Jay Gallagher Award given for the nation’s top assistant coach in Division I.
If you want to see the way the game should be coached, you need look no further then the Syracuse sideline. You may want to avoid letting the kids sit too close during a game however, as Desko will be cussing like a sailor.
5. We’re Pretty Good!
Yeah you have read everything above that basically mentions how freaking amazing Syracuse Lacrosse is. 13 total National Championships, nine in the tournament era, as well as countless tournament appearances and second place finishes. There is a huge list of amazing players such as Jim Brown, The Gait Brothers, and the Powell Brothers. The games are exciting and until 2005 we had a streak of 22 consecutive Final Four appearances. “Death, Taxes, and Final Fours” were the only things that were for certain in life for Syracuse. We returned to the Final Four in 2006 to be knocked off by amazing #1 Seed Virginia, who went on to win the tournament. But 23 out of 24 Final Four appearances is pretty damn good. It’s a little to early to be talking about playoffs (Playoffs! Playoffs! Don’t talk about playoffs!), but having the ranking of #2 in the nation lends me to believe that it would take a catastrophic collapse for us to not reach the hallowed ground that is the Final Four.
So there you have it. Lacrosse is awesome. Some people will be bored to tears with it, much like I could give a flying fuck about golf, but for the majority of people that actually give it a chance I think they grow to like it, much like myself at the start of my great Syracuse undergrad career. Much more lacrosse and basketball fodder to enjoy in a next few weeks and months, so don’t burn out too early. The end of basketball season is approaching fast so that means expanded Tournament Coverage and much prognosticating before the committee locks the door and locks the bracket.
PS – I used “Boom Goes The Dynamite!” way too much this past weekend.
The game of lacrosse is not for everyone. The rules are esoteric and difficult to comprehend at first blush. Moreover, many sports enthusiasts, especially those enrolled at Syracuse, may not have grown up with the sport or played the game at any reasonable level.
Sunday, the third-ranked Orange lacrosse team beat the 25th-ranked Statesmen of Hobart in a thrilling come-from-behind win; one that had the Loud House rocking. Only one problem - the crowd noise was coming from the Hobart student section, which was easily 200-strong.
We went from "CUSE HOUSE" to Hobart's House.
As I sat with what few members of the "army" of students who were there, we silently kept our seats. The Hobart students, on the other hand, were into the game every possession, and the "Let's Go Orange" that usually fills the Dome was replaced with "Let's Go Hobart."
How can we ignore the fact that we have one of the top LAX programs in the nation, where 10 of 13 of our games this year will be against ranked opponents, and not come out and support the team? The lacrosse team chose to not play in the Big East so that they could play who they wanted, and unlike other teams on campus, they don't pad the schedule with cupcakes.
The Orange plays 24th-ranked Army on Friday night at 7. The game will be over by 9:30, early enough to not interfere with your drinking schedules. So come down to the Dome and get behind the most successful athletic program on this campus. As fair-weather as the Syracuse University fans are, it's a sure bet for some fun.
These facts, however, do not adequately sustain the proposition that Orange fans should functionally ignore the Syracuse lacrosse program until Memorial Day Weekend rolls around.
Syracuse has been toiling on the lacrosse pitch for almost 100 years (the Orange lacrosse program saw its sunrise in 1916). Over that period of time, Syracuse has captured nine national championships, been home to arguably the two most important collegiate lacrosse coaches in the game's history (Roy Simmons, Sr. and Roy Simmons, Jr.), featured the likes of Paul and Gary Gait, Jim Brown, and Tim Nelson, and redefined offensive theory with its "Fun 'n Gun" offense.
And yet the program is still considered the third-most important effort on campus.
This is not to say that the Syracuse lacrosse program demands 365-day attention and passion. It does, however, necessitate similar treatment given to the basketball team and football program when the seasons overlap in late autumn and early winter. It is not just a matter of courtesy, it is simply part of becoming a well-rounded Orange fan.
Despite these significant reasons to fervently follow the lacrosse team, many simply take the approach that the lacrosse team is special and simply acknowledging that fact somehow validates their Orange allegiance. In all honesty, such a position is fatally flawed.
Would such passing attention sufficiently qualify as a solid football allegiance? Would simply following the Orange effort in late-February and early-March serve as reason for garnering Boeheim disciplehood?
Concededly, Syracuse does hold 11 of the top 15 single-season average and total attendance figures since men's lacrosse became an NCAA-sponsored sport in 1971. Further, the team has averaged north of 6,000 fans for each of its home contests since 1988. Given the dearth of discourse about the program amongst its core of mainstream fans, however, such statistics are fairly irrelevant.
Virtually every game Syracuse plays each season has national championship implications. With yearly strength of schedule values within the top three or four in country, Syracuse has the opportunity to both impact the national pecking order and, simultaneously, offer its fans a slate of games that creates anticipation and satisfaction. In short, it is the perfect storm of fanaticism.
The moral of the story is this: neglect is not abrogated by passing attention and a modicum of knowledge relating to current events. Syracuse lacrosse is too valuable a commodity to receive such underappreciation during its most trying times and such overacceptance when its heights receive bandwagon attention.
Syracuse is not Johns Hopkins (and I do not desire it to take on such a pretentious, overglorified role), yet the fact that many treat the lacrosse program as some sort of late-spring "pick me up" is disappointing.
The Orange Fox is back!
The feature is back, albeit a day late.
Virginia Loses, Syracuse Now Ranked Second
Anyone remember 2004?
It may seem like distant history with Virginia's dominating performance in 2006, but the Cavaliers' start to 2004 may forecast what lies ahead for Dom Starsia's charges. In that season, the Cavaliers -- a young team with little defined upperclass leadership -- stepped out of the gate with a 15-4 drubbing of Drexel and promptly lost to Air Force and Denver in consecutive games.
Virginia finished 5-8.
While history does not always lead to future returns, Virginia does have a hole to climb out following its 11-10 loss to Drexel last Saturday.
Inside Lacrosse Media Poll
As the release notes:
One week of lacrosse action and already a new number one in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Men's DI Media Poll.
Defending National Champion Virginia took a tumble against Drexel this weekend, sliding to eighth place. Johns Hopkins, which was ranked second last week, moves into the top spot. Syracuse, Princeton, Georgetown and Maryland round out the top five.
|Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll|
Syracuse Beats Hobart, Sanity Restored
After residing in the Roy Simmons, Sr. Coaches Center for almost two decades, the Kraus-Simmons Trophy moved west last season after Hobart's stunning 9-8 victory.
Saturday, Syracuse decided that the vacated real estate in its trophy case created by Hobart's meddling needed attention. What resulted was a far-too-close 13-11 triumph in the Carrier Dome.
Poss. = Possessions
Sht% = Shooting percentage
Sht/Poss = Shots per possession
G/Poss = Goals per possession
Much has been made of Syracuse's "poor" defensive effort, but the defensive efficiency value illustrated above is actually better than the Orange's effort in 2006. While not particularly uplifting, it is something Syracuse can hang its hat on at this early juncture in the season.
In other areas of note:
- Syracuse performed very well in its clearing game on Saturday. Missing only two clearing attempts, the Orange did a nice of job of limiting Hobart's ability to create easy scoring opportunities, especially when considering how inefficient the Statesmen offense was on the day. It is an often overlooked aspect of play, but if Syracuse can continue its clearing consistency (a bugaboo in 2006), good things should happen to the Orange.
- If you're asking yourself how Syracuse's 2007 offensive performance compares to Virginia in 2006, you are probably going to be disappointed -- Syracuse is still significantly behind Virginia's blistering offensive efficiency pace of .357 in 2006.
- The possession numbers illustrated above is fairly misleading. The teams ended up even on the day due to Jon Jerome's heroic fourth-quarter performance. Had Hobart stolen some draws down the stretch, Syracuse would have likely lost the possession battle and the game in general.
The question is, therefore, why did Hobart create so many possessions? The answer is simple: Brandon Baer did an incredible job in the Hobart cage. Baer managed to limit the number of shots Syracuse was able to put on cage during the Orange's possessions and created a solid number of clearing attempts (28). Had Baer not played so well, Syracuse could have limited Hobart possessions by circumstance (Hobart cannot garner possession automatically if Syracuse is depositing the bean in the net).
All in all, a solid effort from the Orange to start the season. Friday night's tilt against Army should serve as a nice tune-up for next weeks game against Virginia in the Face-Off Classic.
UPDATE: SNY will broadcast the Friday evening contest against Army starting at 7:00PM.
Editor’s Note: Bringing a flask to the Dome can be a great idea. Mixing the contents of said flask with a Dr. Pepper is an even better idea.
The UConn Huskies and the Syracuse Orange both shot 32.3% (21-65) from the floor, but the real difference was in the game was hitting shots during key moments and hitting free throws. As always, however, I’ll break down the bad to the good.
After exploding in the last few games Darryl Watkins became a no show on offense only putting in 4 points in 36 minutes. This is a surprise considering he has been hot lately. More on Mookie in a bit.
Josh Wright once again became the ATM turning the ball over three times, to of them at critical, possibly momentum shifting moments. The X Factor in any good basketball team is quality play from the point guard position and right now we just do not have it. His play time was limited to just 10 minutes. Josh Wright is no game changer. This might be a problem the rest of the season and next.
Our Assist-to-Turnover ratio is still bad. We only had 10 assists and 13 turnovers. This ratio continues to plague the team wasting valuable opportunities. The most troubling part is at this juncture, the home stretch of a season, we haven’t seemed to improve on this point through the year. A disturbing trend.
On the plus side, as Dick Vitale (pure concentrated evil) would say, “Oh Mr. Nichols…he’s a PTPer.” He contributed 20 points in 36 minutes, most of which came on long two point field goals that just looked spectacular. I have said it before, having a guy that can shoot a quality mid-range jump shot is highly underrated. He looked great and converted free throws, as well as making two very big shots late in the game. It was a pleasure to watch.
We made 83.9% of our free throws during the game. Compared to only 50% from UConn that is a stellar day, and what I propose was the difference in the game. Yes we out rebounded UConn, and yes we had less turnovers, but when you shoot the same from the floor free throws will be the difference late in the game. Hasheem Thabeet missed two free throws late in the game that could have possibly changed the outcome. In a game that was littered with fouls the free throw became as important as ever. Clearly it was the difference between glory and embarrassment.
The referees were not so good in this game. Our old friend Tim Higgins decided to make the first half The Tim Higgins Show calling fouls that clearly should not have been called. Much like the game in Storrs I think the referees got together and decided to call a very tight game, as evident by the total of 48 fouls called. As my good friend Jayme would say, can’t we just let the kids play?
All in all, a great day at the Dome. I was happy to be there, I sat with some good people, saw an entertaining game, and saw a nice win. This game is relatively meaningless in regards to our tournament hopes as UConn is not that great, but it does help our win total, avenge a loss at Storrs, and chalks up another win for Jim Boeheim and a loss for Jim Calhoun. When that is the final outcome things can’t all be bad, right?
Side Note: I also caught the Hobart/Syracuse Lacrosse game in the Dome on Sunday. Excellent time. I’m sure Glaude will recap that for you, but I’ll have a couple Lacrosse articles coming out soon. I also apologies for the Postgame Reactions hiatus I took. Work was ruling my life. I’ll be a little more on top of things in this critical part of the season. Boom goes the Dynamite.
"Matt Glaude Streak of Defeat" Ceased
The streak lasted for almost four years and now it is history. With Syracuse's win yesterday against Connecticut, the butterfly effect that is my life as related to Syracuse University basketball is rendered moot.
Many may claim that the Orange's execution Saturday was the cause of the reversal in fortune. I, however, attribute the win to the following story:
Following Syracuse's defeat of Kansas, I, along with some friends, sauntered over to Pat O'Brien's to celebrate the most important moment in Orange history with gallons of hurricanes. At some point in the evening a bartender offered to purchase the "Real Men Wear Orange" shirt off of my back. Understanding that I had not washed that shirt in approximately four years, we negotiated a price and I went on my way.So, in short, "you're welcome."
Since that time I did not purchase another "Real Men Wear Orange" t-shirt. Over that period I failed to see Syracuse win a basketball game that I attended.
Until yesterday. When I bought a new "Real Men Wear Orange" shirt prior to the tilt.
Greatest. Video. Ever.
If you do not watch this video, you are supporting the terrorists.
Syracuse Defeats Hobart, Hardy Crowned "Savior"
More will appear about this game tomorrow, but for now --
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The third-ranked Orange (1-0) scored four straight fourth-period goals to rally from an 11-10 deficit and defeat Hobart (0-1) by the score of 13-11 in the season opener for both teams on Sunday, Feb. 18 at the Carrier Dome. Sophomore attackman Dan Hardy scored two of SU’s final three goals during the game-clinching run. He tallied a personal-best five points in the contest (3g, 2a), including the first hat trick of his career.At least the Orange won this year.
Once again, it's brother against brother.
Matt Glaude (left) v. Adam Glaude (right).
The "Matt Glaude Streak of Defeat" is quickly approaching four solid years of disappointment. Unfortunately, such infamy does not show any signs of stopping.
Syracuse students agree: Syracuse is snowier than Tampa
Just the facts for now. Maybe a full analysis later in the day.
As always, for an exhaustive explanation of Pomeroy's methodology and statistical theory, this link may be a useful resource.
When Syracuse is on Defense
|South Florida Offense|
|Four Factors||Value||Nt'l Rank|
|Eff. FG %||50.2||166|
|Off. Reb. %||34.4||138|
|Four Factors||Value||Nt'l Rank|
|Eff. FG %||44.2||15|
|Off. Reb. %||36.4||285|
When Syracuse is on Offense
|Four Factors||Value||Nt'l Rank|
|Eff. FG %||52.2||85|
|Off. Reb. %||34.2||148|
|South Florida Defense|
|Four Factors||Value||Nt'l Rank|
|Eff. FG %||46.5||49|
|Off. Reb. %||33.6||167|
It's a slightly slimmer Peter Coluccini world.
We're just living in it.
Eds. Note: This essay is the fourth in a five-part series examining the 2007 edition of the Syracuse Orange. An index of previous and subsequent installments can be found here.
Bold: 2007 Projected starter
*: Preseason Inside Lacrosse All-America
|2007 Syracuse Orange Goaltenders|
|Returning Players||P. Coluccini||So.|
|Incoming Players||A. Cavalieri||Fr.|
The 2006 Syracuse Orange lacrosse campaign saw Peter Coluccini masterfully play the role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Equal part savant and amateur, Coluccini both buoyed Syracuse's hope for a tenth national title and evaporated such pursuits in frustratingly youthful play.
Despite Coluccini's duplicitous play just a season ago, however, Syracuse head coach John Desko is taking a measured, anticipatory attitude toward Coluccini's upcoming performance in 2007:
We’re happy that he got the experience he did last year. We’re hoping that he’s going to come out more confident. He’s used to seeing that 100 miles per hour shot. And that’ll help our defense in general.The refrain pertaining to Coluccini gaining much needed experience in 2006 is not one to be taken lightly. Even the young netminder hinted at such during the team's media day extravaganza:
I am a lot more comfortable knowing what to expect, but at the same time, I like to go out there and have fun. It’s important when you play the teams we play.Coluccini's time in the cage last season grew not only his knowledge of the collegiate game, but also led him to reevaluate his physical conditioning. Playing with his weight north of 200 pounds in 2006, Coluccini often looked like a backstop in front of the twine rather than an affirmative actor. As a result, this offseason Coluccini took it upon himself to shed a cool 40 pounds in an effort to lighten his load and become a more effective keeper like his predecessor, Jay Pfeiffer:
So Coluccini scrutinized his behavior and analyzed his body type, then devoted his summer to change. Last season, at a blocky, chesty 225 pounds, Coluccini used his big body as something of a backboard. SU coach John Desko said Coluccini's ability to stand tall (he's 6-foot-1) and wide in the cage helped him stop some shots.The issue remains, however, whether Coluccini's weight loss will translate into more consistent play between the pipes. Perry Patterson, Syracuse's former starting quarterback, shed numerous pounds during his time on The Hill yet the weight loss did not directly translate into improved play. Consequently, the simple act of losing weight is not necessarily indicative of improved play; rather, Coluccini must combine his weight loss with better shot recognition and direction of the defense in front of him.
But Coluccini wanted more. He put himself on a strict diet - he ate lots of vegetables - and altered his weight-lifting regimen. For a guy who always believed that bigger meant better, the shift in philosophy represented a notable step in his goalie evolution.
Today, he's slimmer than ever. He weighs about 185 or 190, depending on the day. He says he's in better cardiovascular shape and perhaps more importantly, the lack of bulk makes him feel quicker on his feet and swifter with his stick.
To put that into perspective, consider this: Last year, he maxed out at 350 in the bench press. And now, he estimates he can't lift more than 225 for more than three or four reps. The result, he said, is a sleeker, more nimble SU goalie.
"I thought that by being able to lift more, you'd necessarily be able to save more shots and be a better goalie, but it really doesn't work out like that," Coluccini said. "If you're stressing yourself lifting, you're so tired at practice, you're not going to be able to concentrate on practice."
While Coluccini's improvement between the pipes in 2007 is vitally important to the Orange's success, the area of his game that needs the most work is when he wanders from the cage. Last season, Coluccini was borderline horrendous on clearing attempts. He often looked confused and downfield passes were frequently off target. Given Syracuse's incredible ability to get out in offensive transition this year, Coluccini is going to be called upon to immediately key the Orange attack. Mature defensive midfielders like Steve Panarelli should assist in this task, but the ability for Syracuse to implement the "Fun 'n Gun" still rests on Coluccini's ability to effectively deliver that first pass.
Outside of Coluccini, the only other news of note is the transfer to Cornell of former backup Jake Meyers. Meyers spent the early part of 2006 battling with Coluccini for the starting role, but eventually gave way as the season progressed. Meyers would have been an invaluable substitution for Coluccini had he been hurt or failed to performed adequately. Unfortunately, that role is now pinned on Casey Rotella, a senior that has seen very little meaningful field time with the Orange.
Overall, Coluccini may have summarized the importance of his play this season best, albeit in a broad manner:
You don’t like to see a season start off the way it did last year, but you learn a lot from those experience and as long as you take something from those. You got something from it. To come out there this year, and play consistent, I think it’s going to be the most important for our team and for me individually.Impact Potential: High
Most Important Player: Coluccini
Player to Watch: Coluccini
A rhapsody in rap checks.
Eds. Note: This essay is the third in a five-part series examining the 2007 edition of the Syracuse Orange. An index of previous and subsequent installments can be found here.
Bold: 2007 Projected starter
*: Preseason Inside Lacrosse All-America
|2007 Syracuse University Defense|
|Returning Players||S. Panarelli*||Sr.|
|Incoming Players||B. Conlin||Fr.|
Last season, the Orange defense took much of the blame for Syracuse's struggles. Poised with depth and unmatched size and strength, the 2007 edition of the Orange close defense looks to not only pace Syracuse's fortunes, but also serve as one of the nation's most unyielding units.
As staff writer Donna Ditota notes in a recent piece appearing in the Syracuse Post-Standard, the Syracuse defense this season is wiser and more confident than just under 12 months ago:
The Orange benefits from what appears to be quality depth at the defensive end. SU brought in several defenders in this year's recruiting class. The Orange's veteran defenders say some of those rookies will push for playing time this season.
And SU coach John Desko also praised the preseason work of Mark Cahak, the Fayetteville sophomore who will likely play in close.
"I think our on-ball defense last year wasn't as aggressive as it should be," Palmer said. "I think we've addressed that. All of us coming back are in a lot better shape - tons better shape than we ever have been. We trained harder. Nobody took a day off. So I think we'll be able to be more aggressive on the ball, get better takeaways."
Evan Brady, a junior close defenseman and likely starter in close with Kyle Guadagnolo and Dustin Palmer, echoed such comments during the team's media day exercise:
I think we’re pretty experienced. With the experience we got last year and only losing one guy, I think we’re real confident and a lot more mature than we were last year on offense and defense.The most important aspect of the Syracuse defense, however, is its incredible depth. Paced by the three aforementioned physical juniors and the always versatile Steve Panarelli, Roy Simmons III has at his disposal a myriad of options should the defense fail to develop further chemistry.
Two notable contributors to this season's defensive effort may come in the form of sophomores Jay Shaw and Mark Cahak. Shaw and Cahak do not have the rough and tumble attitude of their upperclass counterparts, but they do have long, athletic bodies capable of presenting difficult matchups either as long-stick midfielders or in-close under the right circumstances.
Syracuse head coach John Desko had this to say about Shaw prior to the team's final scrimmage against Navy:
Desko appreciates Shaw's ability to take up space.Accordingly, neither Cahak or Shaw is likely to oust the previous quartet of likely starters, but they will find time on the field this season.
"The tall guys usually have better range," Desko said. "And just to have your stick in the air in passing lanes is helpful. And I think he's a very smart player in practice. He hasn't gotten a lot of game experience, so we're trying to get him some competition against other teams."
Desko said he and his staff noticed Shaw last year, when Shaw quickly adapted to the SU system and was a star on the scout team.
"He's just smart on the field," Guadagnolo said. "He's got a real good stick and he knows what to do. You don't have to worry about him one bit."
Not unlike its midfield and attack counterparts, the Orange defensive unit also boasts and handful of freshman with incredible potential. Matt Tierney -- thankfully not of the Princeton Tierney clan -- has been taking the preseason by storm with his relentless play. As Ditota notes, Tierney has generated a lot of respect from his teammates in just a few months:
And everybody keeps raving about Matt Tierney. His SU teammates say he's played well in practice and believe he'll see some significant minutes this season. The freshman defender from New Jersey is also 6-4.Along with Tierney, Syracuse may have a future starter in Tyler Hlawati. The 6'2", 183 pound close defenseman from Dublin, Ohio has a look suitable to pilot a Volkswagen van, yet enough raw talent to wear down his opponent. Hlawati is buried low on the depth chart to start the season, but this year should prove to be an invaluable learning experience.
Impact Potential: Moderate-High
Most Important Player: Guadagnolo
Player to Watch: Shaw
L-R: Infallible Saint, Hater of Whiskers on Kittens, Lover of Bee Stings.
And now, a word from the batshit insane:
I think UConn fans should shout whatever they want at [Paul Harris], as a matter of fact, I was one of them.On the record, I neither tacitly support nor overtly accept such behavior from fans or students. Mercilessly jeering collegiate athletes is a dastardly act that should be punishable by decapitation.
Comparing AJ Price, who stole some laptops, to Paul Harris, who sold crack and beat up his girlfriend, is a weak analogy. They are both criminals, but I give the edge to Paul Harris here.
Also, most of the UConn fans don't even like AJ Price. A lot of students wanted him and Williams kicked off the team last year, and this year, we'd rather have other players start in his place, just because there are better basketball players.
So print this in your ugly orange blog
Off the record, I unequivocally support the brutal, profanity-laced, and sophomoric slandering of Connecticut. The Huskies program is downright disgraceful given the cast of characters that Jim Calhoun has brought to Storrs over the last decade and a half.
To fan the flames of disdain -- and to hoist a mirror in front of young Jeffrey Kittens -- I present an excerpt from arguably the most important essay ever penned. It was the genesis of the term "Connvicts" and stands as a case study examining whether particular ends should justify pursued means.
2005: A.J. PriceGiven Kittens' remarks to Syracuse Post-Standard staff writer Mike Waters, particular attention should be given to the 2003 arrest of former Connecticut guard Ben Gordon. In that incident, Gordon was charged for smacking the holy hell out of his girlfriend in his dormitory.
· Stole four laptop computers in June 2005
2005: Marcus Williams
· Stole four laptop computers in June 2005
2005: Antonio Kellogg
· Charged with possession of less than four ounces of marijuana
· Charged with criminal intent to assault a police officer, criminal trespass, and interfering with an officer
2004: Clyde Vaughan
· Charged with patronizing a prostitute and interfering with an officer
2003: Ben Gordon
· Charged with third-degree assault and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors
2003: Rashard Anderson
· Threatening and breach of peace
2001: Marcus Cox
· Charged with one count of marijuana possession
2000: Tony Robertson
· Accused of scheming to swap tickets for boots at the Timberland Stores at Westfarms Mall. No charges were filed after a four-week investigation.
1999: Khalid El-Amin
· Charged with possession less than four ounces of marijuana after his arrest in Hartford’s North End
1998: Antric Klaiber
· Charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, seat belt violation
· Charged with shoplifting
1998: Doug Wrenn
· Charged with shoplifting $85 sneakers from Bob’s of Hamden
· Cited for disturbance outside of a bar
· Arrested on breach-of-peace charges
1994: Rudy Johnson
· Charged with breach of peace in an incident involving Connecticut women’s basketball player Sue Mayo
1993: Brian Fair
· Charged with shoplifting
1990: Murray Williams
· Charged with driving while intoxicated
Plus, Gordon spits on malnourished orphans and burns adorable puppies at the stake.
The above is probably not fodder for Saturday's contest (although it does make for hilarious hours of parlor room tomfoolery). However, it does shine a light on just how glassy Connecticut's house is and what justifications are necessary to prove that the emperor is, in fact, wearing no clothes.
Syracuse was MANHANDLED on the boards during this game. UConn had 43 defensive rebounds and 17 offensive rebounds. Compaired to our 27 defensive and 7 offensive rebounds this game was pitiful. This is the stat of the game. This is why the team lost. It doesn’t help also when the team is on the business end of a 13-3 run in the last few minutes, but the rebounds absolutely too Syracuse right out of the game.
Our defense continues to be a problem as Syracuse allowed five UConn players to gain double digit points. They made eight shots from behind the arc and clearly put in a better shooting day from long range. Jim Boeheim must address the defense situation more if we hope to recover against more experienced teams.
Foul trouble and depth of bench were really a problem for the first time all season in this game. Roberts fouled out with a lot of clock left in the game, and Watkins fouled out shortly after that. Some of that is the referee’s bad, but most of that is shouldered on the low post players getting out of position, being beat down the floor, and generally playing unwise defense.
Nunes/Magician and I have been trading theories and must haves on the loses. We said that someone besides Nichols has to score, we said that it just one player does really well we tend to win, we said a lot of things. Really, when it comes down to it, Syracuse needs at least one consistent outside shooting threat to hit at least four or five long field goals to keep us in a game which consistently has a few great long ball shooters (great meaning actually a great shooter or just lucky that night). This will take the pressure off of Devendorf and Wright to force a bad pass, prevent people trying to drive in a lane they should not, cut down on turnovers, and generally make it easy for the low post players to score and rebound.
Turnovers were not a terribly big factor in Storrs. Syracuse had 12 and UConn had 13. The real problem was the assist-to-turnover ratio. While Syracuse had one less foul then UConn, they also had only five assists, in contract to the 10 that UConn had. 10/13 is a lot better then 5/12. Controlling the rock is a key element in the Syracuse attack and getting good looks to the people inside was an important element missing at Storrs.
I know there are some great referees in the Big East. I know there are some downright terrible ones. I know that I would like to put a hit out on Jim Burr. I have a strange suspicion the referees gathered before the game and their conversation went something like this:
Curtis Shaw: So Jim, how do you want to do this tonight?
Jim Burr: Well it’s Syracuse @ UConn. Clearly this will get out of hand if we don’t call everything early and often.
CS: Really? Are you sure? We usually let them play and call a normal game.
JB: Oh Yeah. We gotta call everything.
Awesome. Thanks Jim!
On the plus side, Syracuse shot fairly well from the free throw line. Syracuse went 12-14 for an 85.7% day from the stripe. Not bad considering that we struggle with them constantly, and they only get harder in a physical game.
But really, it looked like another game that Syracuse could have won if they decided to play down the stretch. This team needs to act like they are an elite Big East team because they can be if they play like it. I’m not sure if we are going to do well at the Big East Tournament, or make the NCAA Tournament, or even win at home anymore. I do know that Jim Boeheim knows what he is doing and will surely not sit idly by while a season falls apart. Stay tuned to the continuing soap opera that is SU Hoops 2006-2007.
Accordingly, the following are the only two quotes from Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson that merit space on this notebook:
On the possible disappointment of the recruiting class:A profile of the 26 future Syracuse Orange can be accessed here.
“I will say this, and maybe this is something I shouldn’t say it, but I will. If there was a disappointment, and you don’t get everybody, that’s part of recruiting that nobody gets everyone, I guarantee Florida didn’t get everybody they recruited, neither did Texas, nor did USC. Here, the biggest disappointment that I had was we had two young prospects whose fathers played at Syracuse. I felt like we recruited them very, very hard and it kind of felt like we were in a good position, but they ended up deciding not to come. That was very disappointing to me, but I guarantee you we’ll go right back out next year and I’ve already identified a prospect whose father played at Syracuse. We’re going to battle again, and we’re going to see if we can’t add another or two, or three. To me, if I had a disappointment, that’s probably what it was. It isn’t so much about the positions, I think we’re fine and I’m not concerned in that regard.”
On the recruiting needs being met:
“I think they were. Time will tell. You never know. You have all heard it and probably two thirds of the coaches have all made this statement today, but you really don’t know for a couple of years. I think you know after a period of time. Some of them take a little longer, but once you get them on the field and you work with them, you know that they’re going to help you somewhere down the road and that’s part of it. We’ll know next season where we are with this class, just like I think we know about last year’s class.”
The sky is not falling yet, but it is getting pretty dark.
Two heartbreaking losses in the span of six days has dulled Syracuse's consideration for tournament inclusion. However, the losses are not irreparable; over the Orange's final slate of nine contests, Syracuse will face seven clubs with RPI values within the nation's top 100.
The moral of the story: put down the bleach and razor blades.
As illustrated below, John Milton's timeless words may better encapsulate Syracuse's situation:
Where no hope is left, is left no fear.
Lacrosse season cannot start fast enough.
Resume and Factors of Relevance
The foregoing data is accurate only to the date and time of publication. As this feature will not receive a daily update (rather, a weekly update will take place), its particular factual accuracy should not receive great weight as the week subsequently passes. However, it should stand as a solid indicator of what Syracuse has accomplished this season and what the Orange must yet achieve in order to secure another NCAA Tournament invitation.
With respect to the status variables included, each variable relates to one of five possible states of affairs:
- Troubling; and
Status variables ranging above "adequate" indicate facts and circumstances conducive to receiving a bid. Status variables ranging below "adequate" indicate facts and circumstances of concern -- relative to the rest of the nation, Syracuse needs to improve its position. The status variable of "adequate" indicates a hold position -- depending on what other colleges or universities accomplish, Syracuse's current status may or may not be good enough to merit an invitation.
|Resume and Factors of Relevance|
|Factor of Relevance||Factor Value||Status|
|Big East Record||5-5||Troubling|
|Big East RPI||6||Troubling|
|RPI 1-50 Record||2-3||Troubling|
|RPI 51-100 Record||3-4||Troubling|
|RPI 101-200 Record||6-1||Good|
|RPI 200+ Record||4-0||Great|
|Last 10 Games||5-5||Troubling|
|Solid Victories||1. Marquette|
3. Holy Cross
|Detrimental Defeats||St. John's||Adequate|
|Projected BE Record||8-8||Troubling|
|Total Invitation Status||Troubling|
Invitation Status Downgrade
The NCAA Dance Card still anticipates Syracuse's inclusion in the Tournament field, yet the quantitative and qualitative data above appears to contradict such an assumption.
The presumptions of pace and anticipated outcomes have hurt the Orange as nothing, seemingly, has gone Syracuse's way the last two weeks. The wheels are rapidly falling off of the bus, and should Syracuse not find a way to win five or six weeks over the next three or four weeks, an NIT bid is likely in the not-too-distant future.
Who To Root For
To be honest, the Orange is its worst enemy at this point; RPI and strength of schedule are merely ancillary worries at this juncture.
- I am still not sure why Texas is generally considered to be a tournament club. Its marquee victories are Arkansas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma (three fairly average teams) and its quantitative values are not all that impressive compared to Syracuse. Unless the Longhorns do something markedly impressive over its final 10 games, Texas should not have a stronger shot at the tournament than Syracuse.
- I cannot see more than six bids for the Big East at this point. Marquette and Pittsburgh are locks, but the next four bids are coming from a group of: Notre Dame, West Virginia, Georgetown, Louisville, Providence, Syracuse, and Villanova.
- I'm not sure how I feel about Arizona. The Wildcats have played the toughest schedule in the country, yet are 15-7, 4-6 over its last 10, and just 4-4 on the road. The losses are all acceptable, yet there are no "marquee" victories. Arizona will likely get a spot in the field, but it will not be without mild controversy.
Sorry for no recap of the DePaul game so I’ll sum it up in brief:
Devendorf was awesome. Five long balls in the first half.
I love me some Andy Rautins.
Less turnovers then the other team = a happy Brian Harrison/Jim Boeheim.
We need to rebound more.
Shot blocking is great.
We need to close games better.
The crowd in the Dome is lame this year. (That will not be the case for UConn on Feb. 17th. I’ll be the one at the top of Section 305 with the signs).
Any questions feel free to send a complaint to the usual places.
I’m sadly stuck in class tonight so I have to watch LiveStats and check it out on my DVR when I get home. Apparently UConn is favored tonight. What shit are they smoking in Vegas to come up with that. I know it is in Gample but really… two words… COME ON!
Matt Glaude (left, Syracuse '02)
Adam Glaude (right, Connecticut '06)
Just call this a preemptive strike.
I've been working on a ton of stuff lately, mostly of the lacrosse-type. The process is taking longer than I originally anticipated and as a result, I've had to put some regular features on the back burner (namely, the Syracuse hoops previews with word counts north of 1,000).
So, don't expect a preview of the DePaul game. Instead, use these links and imagine how I would extrapolate the information and make your life more meaningful:
Syracuse Scouting Report
Syracuse Game Plan
DePaul Scouting Report
DePaul Game Plan
Now, with respect to the lacrosse-related material mentioned above. I started my Syracuse previews earlier this month (here) and they will likely conclude over the coming week. What you may not know is that I've managed to pull together enough information to create an extensive tempo-free analysis of the 2006 season.
And it's glorious.
If you're curious as to what the data looks like (and you probably don't), I've made available in Microsoft Excel format a spreadsheet of the information. In short, you'll find:
- Tempo/pace data;
- Offensive and defensive efficiency data; and
- Shot data (sans shooting percentage because I drink gasoline and often become forgetful).
Basically, it's a comprehensive look at every team in 2006 (except Duke because the Blue Devils only played eight games). As far as I know, this is the only place on the internet where you can find and use such data, so it is pretty groundbreaking.
I'll eventually have an analysis ready, but it's taking forever to wade through the information and compose some reasonable thoughts.
Hugs and kisses,
It’s not easy to keep up with a full time job, or in my case a full time job and law school in the evenings, and update and produce quality articles in a timely fashion and to be recognized by our peers for this feat is greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank Matt for letting me join this notebook, basically on blind faith. I appreciate the fact I wasn't told to take a hike.
Congratulations to Doug and the rest of the nominees for the good work and I look forward to another season of quality frustrated articles from the lot, although not having to be frustrated would be better.
One final thought. This Blogger Awards are great, but why is Notre Dame being considered with the Big East blogs for football. There are some fantastic Big East colleagues that deserve reorganization and a nomination for Best Big East Blog, but the Independent Notre Dame blogs took up three spots. Come on! See, now I'm even bitching at stuff that isn't Syracuse related. Sorry, it's just habit now.