The starting five, while struggling on defense in the first half, shot well from the floor, scored in double digits, and generally looked good. The dynamic duo of Flynn and Greene, while contributing, were not the story of this game. They basically only contributed points late in the game. But when Flynn did, it was sure sensational. This kid has moves that would make any baller jealous. Flynn had a quite thirteen points, but had some flash that made it memorable. Greene went four for six from downtown towards the end of the second half and ended up with a nice seventeen points.
Paul Harris had an excellent game, performing the best juke move I have seen this season, taking a man baseline. He played hard and was rewarded with a Syracuse high 19 points and 15 rebounds. He had his best game of the season so far. Harris is currently third in the Big East for rebounds, averaging 9.8 per game. He continues to be a force on the boards and will be a huge asset in conference play. For his efforts this week, he was named the Big East Player of the Week. Congrats to Paul.
The story of the game is Scoop Jardine, playing in the starting five instead of Devendorf, and racking up a career high 18 points and four assists. He played a scrappy game, and coincidentally after the game said that Syracuse’s success in the Big East will be scrappy play, just like Gerry MacNamara used to do. Just like Kristof Ongenaet did in the Cornell game.
Speaking of Kristof, he played well off the bench again, earning ten points and five rebounds. He looked good, and his continued contributions will be helpful against the elite teams Syracuse will face soon.
Syracuse had only ten turnovers this game, their best effort in a few games. Although there were a few sloppy passes, generally the ball was handled, and many of the outlet passes on the fast break were placed perfectly. This game was an excellent job of the fast break, because the triangle defense limited Greene and Flynn from contributing meaningfully in the half court set most of the game.
The only thing that anyone could possibly complain about during this game was the low free throw shooting percentage, which was only 66%. Thirteen free throws were missed, which means thirteen points that were missed that, in a close game, we could have used. I think we all hope this will not hurt the Orange down the stretch of a more physical game later this season.
In total, this was a quality game for the Orange, and a nice game before conference play starts this Wednesday. I will be in attendance for the St. John’s game, so we shall see how the team that beat the Orange last year in the Garden will do against Syracuse in the Dome. Have a very safe and happy New Year, and remember that if you drink liquor before beer, you’re in the clear. We’ll see you in 2008! Thanks for reading.
I am, of course, talking about the firing of Coach P from the Syracuse Head Coach position. On this day in 2004, days after a blowout loss to Georgia Tech in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Florida, new AD DOCTOR Gross fired the man, satiating the masses who had been calling for his head on a pike for the previous couple of years. This ended a 14 year coaching career with Syracuse that saw us win several conference titles, bowl games, and BCS appearances. So was it the right move?
I still maintain yes. Sometimes, different is all you need. Does it suck that we have not gone to a bowl game since then? The answer is not even a question. It is a resounding yes. Orange Nation feels the pain every December that the team fails to qualify for the postseason. If I asked a similar question of if we are better off last month I would have said no. Clearly 2 wins is a joke. It is an utter abomination with an elite program like Syracuse, with its rich history. Now, with the commitments of two of the top high school football players in New York State, I have to say that, as always for me, hope springs eternal, even in the dead of winter. While I sat and watched UConn break the Big East bowl victory streak, I could only imagine what would lay ahead for them once Syracuse managed to recruit some quality players. Syracuse, even if saddled with an AD that is incompetent, will not stay terrible forever. Sometime we will be back. To paraphrase an old joke, yes Syracuse is terrible, but one day we will be good, and UConn will still be UConn.
It was also on this day six years ago that Syracuse won its last bowl game. In Phoenix, Arizona, Syracuse beat a great Big XII team in Kansas State, avenging an Orange Bowl loss in years previous, by an unquestionable 26 to three victory. It was my 19th Birthday. I was there. I saw it live. I celebrated, with so much optimism in my eye my freshman year, thinking that that would be how I would spend the next three Decembers. Well I was wrong. I only went to two bowl games in my time, winning only that one. But I would always rather go to a bowl game and lose than not go at all.
Times have been tough the last few years for all of us that are fans of Syracuse. This, there is no doubt. As another year in my life begins, and shortly another year completely turns over, I think of the good times that I have known and enjoyed from Syracuse. During my time at SU, the Athletic Department boasted a National Championship in some sport three out of my four undergraduate years. That is not bad at all. So are we better off? Despite the fact that I was not attending a bowl game with Syracuse in it for my 25th Birthday, yes we are. The lady ballers are rolling, the lax team is poised to try to gain the respect of the program back, the future of the basketball team is bright and damn enjoying to watch, and football… well football is football. It will come again in the spring. Frankly, that is enough for me right now. After a quarter century, most of which I was a Syracuse fan, I can think of no more interesting time to be a Syracuse fan, nor can I think of a better way to spend some of my free time than to write about it here for you fine folks to read it. In that regard, as I have always thought, makes me better off than the year before. Another year for me has come and gone, and I still cheer.
Also, a special congratulations goes out to Jackie and Tom, a great pair of Syracuse Alumni who are getting married on this day. Congratulations from Orange::44 and best of luck in the future.
Enjoy the picture I’ll continue to post on this date if it is still relevant. Myself (pictured left) and some of my friends in my old apartment on this day in 2004, with the front of the sports page of the Post Standard with the headline “Dismissed”.
Labels: Merry Christmas
First we look at the East Tennessee State. After scoring 125 points, you have to feel good. Donte Green contributed 1/5 of the scoring and Onuaku and Devendorf added 19 each. Paul Harris also had a nice day with 12 points and nine rebounds. Rick Jackson had the best game off the bench by adding 13 points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes. Also, we saw the glimpse of walk on Mike Williams, who in only six minutes of playing earned seven points, shooting three for three. More on him later.
The team lit it up from long range during this game. They shot 60% from the floor for three, hitting 15 of 25. Green and Devendorf hit five each. Overall, they shot 47-62, which translates to 75.8%. Simply amazing. When I am making bets with friends at the under 12 time out putting the over/under at 125 points, it is a fun game. They almost burned down the Dome because the nets were on freaking fire.
The other big component and really the only negative was the 26 turnovers committed by Syracuse. Everyone had a piece of the fun. While in this game it mattered little because ETSU also had 21 of their own, and we scored so many points, this could matter down the line.
While there was not much that was too exciting on the court, the real story of this game was the fact that Eric Devendorf tore his ACL like a CEO tearing secret memo after indictments are handed down. This was a potentially devastating blow for the season. The question was if the bench, already fairly thin, could respond well to being without their experienced leader? The answer was, at least against an inferior foe, a resounding yes.
The last time Colgate beat Syracuse was over 30 years ago. Colgate was not even close to beating Syracuse this time around either. Greene again was the leading scorer with 26 points. Onuaku also had an excellent game with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Scoop Jardine started in place of the injured Devendorf. He did not have a breakout game but did contribute five assists.
The team was shooting well again, making 31-57 for 54.4% on field goals. Unfortunately though, the team only made 19 of 32 free throws, which translates to 59.4%. In the Big East, free throws are an important component to every game down the stretch. This is also a big concern of mine, but I suppose it would not be Syracuse if free throws were not always a concern, at least in the back of your mind.
Blocked shots were also a stat worth noting in this game. The team had 11, with Rick Jackson leading the charge off the bench with three. Kristof Ongenaet also contributed two off the bench. More on him in a moment.
For the second game in a row the team committed more turnovers than the other team. Syracuse committed 21, while Colgate committed 20. Jonny Flynn was the biggest offender with six. He is young, so it appears we will have to take the good with the bad. Overall this was not a factor in the game, but it is still concerning because after about a third of the season over with, they are still turning the ball over quite often. When possessions become more important in the Big East, against teams like Pittsburgh and Georgetown, this could become a major issue.
This game was also another one for Mike Williams. You may remember him from such games a Louisville, West Virginia, and Cincinnati. Football games that is. Yes, that Mike Williams, which currently has the longest and active streak of consecutive games with a touchdown, stepped onto the hardwood. Although he only played for a minute, and did nothing but commit a foul, it was still pretty cool and exciting to see. I hope he can positively contribute to the team.
Finally, it was the Big Red of Cornell visiting this past Saturday. Jonny Flynn led the charge during the game. He had 21 points, leading all scorers in the game. He also again had six turnovers. Typical Jonny Flynn these days.
Onuaku also had a great game with 21 points. He looked good as they basically could pass inside down low any time they wanted, and Onuaku reaped the benefits. See the video below. It was great to see a center that has some finesse and has a hook shot.
Harris also had ten points and seven rebounds, and Greene, who had a poor day from afar, had 11 points and ten rebounds. Sadly he only shot one for six from long range. He was also only four for 16 overall. Still, the starting five had a nice day.
The big story of the game was Kristof Ongenaet, coming off the bench and playing his heart out. Much like the Cornell Hangovers, the name is funny, but the substance is there (The Hangovers are the all male a cappella group at the university). In 22 minutes he earned nine points, ten rebounds and two blocked shots. He was diving on the floor, scrapping for balls, fighting for rebounds, and played like we were down by ten points the entire time he was in. He played like a certain gentlemen that wore the number three.
Speaking of number three, Gerry MacNamara was on hand with his lovely wife Katie, and his brother Tim. He got a rousing standing ovation from the crowd and then was proceeded to be mobbed by the masses. It was good to see Gerry looking well and happy. I guess playing about two games and earning $200,000 for it looks good on anyone.
The bench played well, and Josh Thomas, while not a real legitimate scoring threat at this time, can seem to handle the ball well. It seems like the bench has responded well overall, which is good considering it was not that deep at the onset of this season.
There were again more turnovers for the Orange than Cornell, however it was a non-factor again. Really, the only concern I had was the play of the second half. It seemed like the team gave up and was just coasting. Against a better team this could have come and haunted the Orange. However, I feel like if the team was playing a competitive foe this would not have been the case. So please, do not panic Orange Nation. Syracuse always seems to rise to the competition.
Overall, these last three games have been great for the Orange. I think they have been a nice primer for the start of the Big East schedule coming on January 2nd. We have one more non-conference game in Northeastern on the 30th at 1:00pm in the Dome. The clear impression is that, at least average teams, the bench can respond and do well. Greene, Flynn, and Onuaku have looked good, and Ongenaet has impressed off the bench. Overall, we shall see how the team responds to the elite teams in the Big East soon enough.
I’m taking the next couple days off, much like everyone in the Blogosphere. Don’t expect any Nunes::44 or Orange::44/Magician tomorrow, but we will be back soon. Until then, have a safe and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Lay off excess Nog, and have a wonderful time with your families. I’ll be back after Christmas with some new and provocative content.
First off, the main jeer that any good fan would rely on is of course a reference to the fact the City of Ithaca has gorges. A gorge, as defined by dictionary.com, is a narrow cleft with steep, rocky walls, especially one through which a stream runs or a small canyon. On the campus of Cornell University, which I have been to on more than a few occasions because my hometown is only 30 minutes from campus, are several bridges going across these gorges. Traditionally, during final examinations each semester, at least what I have always been told, is that they close down these bridges to pedestrian traffic to curb the desire for kids feeling the pressures of an Ivy League Institution to take one final jump. Without doing any fact checking, and relying on information I have heard since my high school days, Cornell/Ithaca, NY is the place with the highest suicide rate in New York State, with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) following in second (this is mostly due to the aesthetically unappealing campus).
Therefore, the only logical conclusion is to yell things like “Go jump in a Gorge!” This is also a reference to shirts that are sold in the Ithaca Commons which read “Ithaca is Gorges!” A parody on the word gorgeous. Just awful. Really, you have an Ivy League school in your wheelhouse, and that is how creative you hippies got? Yet I digress. Yelling for someone to jump is a classic putdown, but it could have disastrous consequences, seemingly.
During the 2005-2006 season, myself and several of my friends had tickets in the student section (which is fun because I was not a student at the time. Pulling one over on the man… awesome! Thanks again for the ID Ben.). My friend John was on the aisle in Section 103 and he was yelling “Go jump in a Gorge!” among other things. A girl, who somehow ended up in the Syracuse Student Section, or could have even been an SU student tapped my friend on the arm and said “HEY! My friend died in a gorge. That’s not funny.” We were dumbfounded. Not only was Debbie Downer in the Dome, but frankly who cares? We are all there to have a good time and WTF dude. This all threw us for a loop and we still tell that story every time gorges are brought up. So use this jeer and use it often tonight.
A few years back, many Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Yale, Penn, and Dartmouth were implicated and investigated (by who I have no idea) for grade inflation. Cornell was also discussed. Therefore, I leave it up to you to creatively yell the issue in an entertaining and concise manner. My guess, after a bad shot yell something like “That would be a B at Cornell and a D+ at Syracuse”. Let your imagination guide you.
Finally, upon free throws, there is the classic after a player makes one free throw and misses another of yelling “50% is still failing”. Take it one step further. “Even at Cornell, 50% is still failing.” When you insult their academic reputation you insult their soul.
You can get pretty creative with this, as I am sure I will with my friends in the 309 luxury seats I have (I’m working on a press pass for a game over break in January). All and all it should be a good time, and baring any surprises, should be a nice game to watch and enjoy. Stay tuned for postgame coverage, where I will finally catch up and comment on this game, ETSU and Colgate in one mega awesome blog post. Until next time remember, they may yell that we will be pumping their gas someday, but you can always yell “Syracuse rejects!”
1. Orange::44: We recently beat ETSU by 50 points. What performance was more impressive, the starters, or the boys off the bench?
Nunes: I think you have to be pretty impressed with the starters who set the tone with a 16-0 start and ran it to 64-34 at one point before halftime. After that, it was just about maintaining, but it was nice to see the team put its foot to an opponent's neck and press hard (too much?). I believe every starter scored in double figures, which is starting to become routine but still sounds pretty cool every time you see it.
Of course, we're learning very quickly how important it's going to be for the bench to develop, especially now that some of the guys on the bench are about to find their way into the starting line-up.
2. Orange::44: Another three point threat, as well as the eldest contributing Orangeman, has gone down for the season? Are you freaking out, calm cool and collected, or generally indifferent?
Nunes: How bout freaking out in a generally cool way? I know a lot of people aren't big fans of Devo but you can't deny that he is better than the player he was as a freshman and last year. He was, whether he wanted to be or not, turning into a leader on the floor (except when being heckled loudly) and that will be missed.
That said, I know we've got a lot of young guys on the floor but sometimes we can overstate the importance of things like that. It can be a generalization to say "we have too many young guys." Did ONE junior really command that much experience? And does his absence rob us of so much maturity? I saw the box score for tonight's game against Colgate and Donte Greene seemed able to pick up the slack just fine.
I guess my point is, we're going to struggle at times without him but we were probably going to struggle at times anyway.
3. Orange::44: Are you getting excited for the lax season to begin in a few months or is it too far to care?
Nunes: For me, it's too far to care. I don't really start caring about lax until they actually start playing. Masked by the glut of information and interest there is for basketball, it just can't compete for my attention until the season starts. Even then, it's more of a casual interest.
Still, I think that qualifies me as being in the top 10% of SU lacrosse fans. I went to a few games when I was there and considering the caliber of the program, it's pretty sobering to see the lack of students at those games. Someone tell Otto's Army to put that on their agenda.
4. Orange::44: Gun to your head, is the lax team getting back to the Final Four?
Nunes: If it were ten years ago or even five years ago I'd have said yes. But not only has Syracuse taken a step back but everyone else in lacrosse has taken a step forward. It's no longer about the same 5-6 teams every year (although they're all prominently involved). There's new powerhouses forming like Duke and Georgetown. There's upstarts like Albany and Cornell coming out of nowhere. And as lacrosse gains more traction out west we'll see even more teams joining up. All of this makes it tougher and tougher to say that SU is simply going to walk into the Final Four every year.
That said, it certainly is a great thing for college lacrosse. The more schools and the more people who can get into it, the better.
5. Orange::44: Looking ahead, should we even get excited at playing Penn State next season in football, or is it sure to be a massive disappointment of epic proportions?
Nunes: I think it's exciting because it renews a rivalry we should have been having for the last 20 years. Sure, we're going to get slaughtered but that's now. In five years, who knows what it'll look like? Besides, sure Penn State is good but they’re not THAT Good. They're the most bi-polar team in college football. I feel like they go from 2-10 to 11-1 to 6-6 to 10-2 and no one even bats an eyelash. Not to present us with false hope but they're no USC (please God let us improve ever so slightly before that one).
I'm from NJ and if you grew up in NJ and you went to a sports school, you either went to Rutgers, Syracuse, Penn State or Maryland. My guess is that many Syracuse fans know plenty of Penn State alums...the Tri-State area is teeming with both. Probably lots of families that share allegiances as well. Even without our history, it's a no-brainer of a rivalry.
Seriously, Penn State, Boston College and Maryland should be on our schedule every year as far as I'm concerned. We have the luxury of five non-conference games, let's use them wisely. Buffalo or Albany (they want to play a Division 1-A team), a MAC school, two of the aforementioned teams and a wild card (USC, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Illinois).
Looking at that question, take out the part about playing Penn State and that's a legitimate question to ask about the entire 2008 season.
6. Orange::44: Finally... 'tis the season. What is your favorite holiday tradition or traditions?
Nunes: The day after Christmas so I don't have to hear Jingle Bell Rock again for another eleven months.
Wondering what I'm going to do with the $20 check my grandparents send me, why I still allow them to send money to a self-sufficient, married man and why I still cash it.
Advent calendars, which my wife recently introduced me to. A fantastic excuse to eat chocolate first thing in the morning.
Shopping for Hanukkah cards in the local shopping market and only having four cards to choose from.
Watching Syracuse's bowl game.
I think the thought in the forefront of everyone’s mind these days is how was the defense? The defense did not lose this game for us. The defense was actually fairly solid. The zone was more active, and the man-to-man defense was competent as well. Rebounding was the true Syracuse killer last Saturday. Syracuse was outrebounded individually 27 to 39. That is a STARK contrast from the last several games Syracuse has played. It seems like Syracuse never has every weapon at their disposal during any single game. This has to be the main reason, but there was a lot that needs commenting on.
The foul situation was ridiculous in the game. The referee crew was not terrible, but they called way too many fouls. To their credit they were even, so in that regard the game was called fairly, make up calls should not be an acceptable practice among Big East Referees. Generally it is not good to be in the bonus with 12 minutes remaining in a half. Last I checked, the Big East allowed a lot of physical play. I guess that does not count when Syracuse plays an A10 team.
Another contributing factor was the ridiculous three point shooting of the University of Rhode Island. Rhode Island shot 66.7% from behind the arch, making 12 out of 18. Syracuse only managed to hit five out of 16, shooting 31.3%. Two of the five players that attempted a three point shot, Paul Harris and Josh Wright, failed to connect even once. Poor shot selection, as well as impatience on the offensive end, is something the offense will be struggling with this season. While it seems Syracuse can score on any possession, it seems that this is only the case when good decisions and impulsiveness do not take over.
Speaking of things that should not happen, Devendorf, after sitting on the bench for at least ten minutes, comes into the game and right away turns over the ball. While Syracuse did have fewer turnovers than Rhode Island, it was only two less with 16. 16 is too many in a good game. Paul Harris also had sloppy hands making a couple errant passes in traffic and the like. While the overall number of turnovers was less than the other team, the number was a little high for a good game. Also, at this point in the season, the team should not have so many turnovers from bad passes and mishandling.
Before we get to the final six seconds of the game, I should mention some of the good things from the game. For instance, Jonny Flynn was off the chain. He is the new Josh Pace, swashbuckling points in the middle of the lane around three defenders, slicing like a knife through butter. These freshmen are the real deal and I drool at the potential that this kids have in the next half of this season and next year as well. Flynn led all scoring for the Orange with 21 points, and also notched ten assists.
Another surprise from this game was the emergence of Boeheim utilizing Rick Jackson more. Jackson played 19 minutes, earning 13 points and 7 rebounds. A solid effort off the bench. Jackson is looking like the next 6th Man, and a solid one at that. If Jackson can contribute more on the boards, as well as maintain a decent level of points, he will clearly see more playing time in the near future.
Syracuse overall shot better than URI, making 36 of their 67 field goal attempts, for a total of 53.7%. Rhode Island only managed to shoot 43.9%, but again sadly two-thirds of those field goals were for three points. Syracuse did not do as well in free throws, only making 12 of 20 for 60%. Rhode Island hit 20 of 31 for a total of 67.7%. While Syracuse did not shoot as well as Rhode Island, this was not that bad. But Syracuse must continue to get better at free throw shooting, because if another game happens which is called tight like this, it is imperative that Syracuse do better from the line.
Now onto the last six seconds. Down by two with that much time left, you do not have to go for the win. You can easily run the floor, try to dish it in and let your big man dunk or even get fouled. You could even have Flynn, with the way he was playing cut through the lane and let him take it coast to coast. But, with time ticking, why would you let a very unproven Josh Wright seem to take forever to get up the floor, only to pass to a seemingly surprised Paul Harris? Josh Wright seemed to underestimate how fast six seconds really is. Needless to say, it was a tragic ending to a game they could have pulled out.
If something goes better here, or a free throw goes in there, this game is won. Sadly, it turned out to be a two point loss. It seems that over the last few years 60 points is the magic number for Syracuse. This means that when they limit opponents to fewer than 60 points they win, otherwise it is not a sure thing. By allowing teams to score 91 or even 107 it is not likely that Syracuse, unless they are leading, will be winning the ball game.
This leaves some people thinking Syracuse will not be making the NCAA Tournament. It is far too early to panic like this already. This is my half assed attempt to calm you all down. The proof is in the conference pudding. I will not judge our chances until we play at least a few Big East games. That being said, we need to win the rest of the non-conference games. We will take on East Tennessee State this Saturday in the Carrier Dome at 7:00pm. We shall see how the team responds to this failing to rebound, and the onslaught of three pointers from other teams.
Also of note, my latest conversation answering the man’s questions over at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician. It is time for another installment of Orange::44 Is An Absolute Magician. Enjoy my ramblings and insights, with a desperate plea to the Axeman that surely will not be fulfilled. But a boy can dream. Look for coverage of the East Tennessee game definitely by Tuesday. I have a take home final I’ll be grinding out this weekend, as well as a Christmas Party to attend, so I will be lucky to even watch the game. I apologize for the tardiness in coverage lately, but I am almost at the light at the end of the tunnel. Take care and enjoy some Christmas Cheer or your Hanukkah presents this weekend.
Labels: Cartoons Are Awesome
Allow me to start over. Syracuse played a well fought game and the real story of this game is how well the two starting freshmen played. Jonny Flynn and Donte Greene combined for 38 of Syracuse’s 70 points. Greene had yet another double double with ten rebounds in addition to his twenty points. Flynn proved in my mind, for the first time since his debut game, that he has a complete skill set for the point guard possession. He dished the ball extremely well, cut through the lane like a master, and hit a couple long balls as well. The freshmen duo had their best game as a set, and it could not have come at a better time.
Paul Harris turned out to be the rebounding machine of the game with 14 rebounds. He also happened to contribute ten points as well. Harris’ shot has really improved from last season when, as Len Elmore stated, he could not hit the ocean from a boat. This season he has added a jump shot from long range and mid range. This has added the missing component to his game and has made Paul Harris the player we hoped he would be.
Although during the game it did not look like it, but Syracuse actually won the rebound category. Syracuse managed to accumulate 34 rebounds. Syracuse also shot well from the floor, hitting 26-59, which was 44%. Apparently the right people were fouled as well, as Syracuse hit ten out of 11 foul shots. Syracuse also improved in three point shooting as well, making 8-21 for 38%. These were all good points which calmed my massive panic from last week.
Syracuse again lost the turnover battle however. I have only been saying for the past two seasons how turnovers are usually the key to a Syracuse victory. It was nice when Len Elmore at the top of the broadcast tonight echoed a similar sentiment. Jonny Flynn was the biggest offender with five. I guess the freshman cannot do everything in the same night. The freshman played like a freshman. He normally does not have five turnovers, therefore I find it easy to forgive the kid for this game. He is a long way from being the next Josh Wright.
The defense came to play a little longer this time. It seems as though the zone defense was a little more active during this game. Virginia seemed to live and die by the perimeter shot. If that is how the games go, I will love it. I have always thought that if Syracuse only allows teams to shoot from the perimeter, eventually they will miss enough to allow Syracuse to either gain the lead or keep it. Virginia had real problems attacking the 2-3, failing to pass into the middle of the zone, and only penetrating and kicking out a few times. On only a few occasions also Virginia managed to pass behind the zone to underneath the basket. I guess Virginia did not find it necessary to look at some Syracuse film before the game. The defense was more than satisfactory and created 13 turnovers, blocked four shots, and had eight steals.
Arinze Onuaku was the not story of the night. Virtually a non-factor, Onuaku played 33 minutes, but only earned four points and eight rebounds. This could be because Harris was a rebounding machine, or it could be that Arinze simply had an off night. Again, seeing as the starters are averaging double digits, and playing the vast majority of the minutes, this is not cause for alarm as of yet, but rather a storyline of the evening, and something to keep an eye on in the future.
That brings me back to Virginia. Syracuse played a great game to come back from a first half deficit, but will this be marred with the trash talking of people that will just say that Virginia’s best player was ill and making terrible shots, which helped Syracuse hold off a comeback in Virginia’s part? It should not be. Frankly, this game should quiet a lot of Doug Gottlieb’s who always put down Syracuse’s out of conference slate. This is a clear message to the selection committee from Jim Boeheim that Syracuse is not afraid to play outside of the Great State of New York.
On top of that, this win is a quality win. Every night you go out there and you are played the cars you are dealt. In the law there is a concept called the Eggshell Skull Rule. Basically it means that you take your victim the way you find them. Similarly, Syracuse came in and beat a Virginia team that had their senior leader ill. Syracuse found Virginia without a scorer that averages 20 points. It was up to Virginia to adjust. The quality of the win should not be diminished whatsoever for Syracuse because this could happen to any team on any night. It is the luck of the draw. Syracuse went in expecting a fight and still got one, because when Singletary faltered, Jones stepped up big hitting some three bombs. Therefore, I will publically denounce and debate any person that dare say that this was not a quality win for the ‘Cuse and the kids.
Syracuse will not travel out of the Carrier Dome until the conference slate starts up. Eat it selection committee! Those Dome Dogs don’t sell themselves. Syracuse will take on a menacing Rhode Island team this Saturday at 7:00pm. While there are no automatic games, I am hoping that Syracuse can enter the conference slate with only two losses. Frankly, if we cannot beat Cornell, while I drive home on December 23rd I may jump in a gorge in Ithaca myself. Regardless, it was a nice win, a fun game to watch, and we move on, one win closer to our rightful place in returning to the NCAA Tournament.
PS – F#ck you Gary Waters.
Nunes: Admittedly, I'm coming at this from the point of view of someone who didn't actually watch the game. From what I've read and seen, I can probably give you six or seven contributing factors that the team needs to work on, but at the end of the day it really is as simple as playing better defense. They can figure out whose team it is, who the go-to guy is, how to rebound more consistently, how to keep their emotions in check, etc., and nothing would change if they don't tighten up on defense.
In a way I think that UMass game is going to be a defining game for the season. It proved we can run up the score but it also proved we can give up the points just the same. Considering UMass just lost to IUPUI, what concerns me is not so much that we lost to them but how we're going to match up against better teams with better athletes in the next few weeks.
2. Orange::44: Because of the UMass loss, are you concerned with this team playing the rigors of a Big East schedule, or is it way too early to even remotely start to panic?
Nunes: It's never too early to start panicking! Yes, I'm concerned. The Tulane game felt like a stopgap. It controlled the bleeding for now but Virginia might rip the band-aid right back off this Wednesday. And if that's the case, what's gonna happen when G'town and Pittsburgh come a-callin'? What we have going for us is that the Big East is a little top heavy, or so it seems. So we should be able to feast on South Florida (twice), Rutgers, DePaul and Cincy. But we've got G’town and Nova twice, that's disconcerting. The good news is that we ease into the Big East. We don't play a top-tier team until late-January (Nova).
I'm concerned, but hopeful. We learn something new about this team every game. And I gotta say, even when we lose its fun to learn along with these guys. I don't feel that sense of dread that came with each loss last year, when you felt like every falter was a disappointment. This year, it feels like a learning process for the players and the fans.
Except for that guy who was taunting Devendorf...apparently he knows everything already.
3. Orange::44: We have had a little time to digest this football season and the keeping of Greg Robinson. What was the one story from this football season that flew under most of the radar, but deserves some more attention?
Nunes: Probably the development of Andrew Robinson as the quarterback and leader of this team. Did he prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that before he leaves Syracuse he will have returned us to glory?
Don't get me wrong, he did a good job with what he had to work with. And in a couple games (L'ville, Cincy) the guy threw down some gaudy stats. But, and I've said this before, right now he's got a very Eli Manning-esque feel to him. You can tell all the tools are there and you even get to see them from time to time. But I wouldn't say I feel comfortable with him yet. I don't trust him, I think that's it.
Granted, behind that offensive line I don't think Colt Brennan would have looked very trustworthy either. But Robinson is not absolved of all of his mistakes because of the line. He's young and he's growing so by no means am I saying he's not my guy anymore but I just think his development in the off-season and early next year is vital to the program's immediate success.
Having Cam Dantley around to look over Andrew's shoulder is going to help as well. I don't think Dantley is a better choice, but he's just good enough to be a reminder to Andrew that he needs to keep it together.
4. Orange::44: Despite what you think of Greg Robinson as football coach, in just the way Gross handled the whole thing, have you lost all confidence in the head of the Athletic Department?
Nunes: You assume I HAD confidence in the head of the Athletic Department to begin with.
Well I wouldn't say I've lost all confidence but it just seems like the guy continues to make questionable decisions that end up making the story bigger than it needed to be. He turned the Mike Hopkins announcement into a mini-drama. He turned the swimming and diving program issue into a controversy that, to my understanding, was completely avoidable. And now he turned what should have been a quick announcement into a prolonged media watch that let speculation run wild and implied that his office didn't have control over the situation.
I think that Gross' biggest problem is that now that he's made some enemies (perceived or not), he's digging in and making every decision a calculated one. And when you factor in that his job may officially be on the line now, that's a dangerous stance to have. He's a man with a great deal of power over the Syracuse sports programs and his thought process is absolutely influenced by "how does this decision ensure that I keep my job."
I think there are two things that are going to define the rest of Gross' time here. Number one, how he deals with the football program next season if they aren't good (he'll have to move swiftly, possibly even fire Robinson mid-season). Number two, if an issue ever arises publicly with Boeheim (as I fully expect it to at some point). In a public spat with Boeheim, Gross couldn't possibly win.
So to answer the original question...I have a little bit of confidence in Gross to do the right things moving forward, but I will not be shocked in the least if his time at Syracuse ends horribly.
5. Orange::44: If it is possible, name your MVP for the Syracuse Football Team, and your LVP for the player who underachieved the most. Select a player for both offense and defense if you can, and of course your reasons why.
Nunes: Offensive MVP - Gotta be Mike Williams. Broke the school record for consecutive games with a TD (9). Finished the year with 10 touchdowns for the season, third best finish in school history. Caught 60 passes overall, matching Kevin Johnson's record. And he finished the year with a 160 yard, TD performance against Cincinnati. Williams was the spark plug for this offense and for this team. Brushed off an early-season malaise and become really the only dependable position player out there. Robinson-to-Williams has the potential to become the best tandem in the history of SU football.
Offensive LVP - I can only choose one person? Cause I can't. I have to go with the offensive line. The one area where Syracuse needed improvement more than anything actually regressed. The running game was beyond atrocious and Andrew Robinson found his way to the floor more times than I can remember. If this isn't priority #1 in the off-season, I don't know what is.
Defensive MVP - Since Special Teams is technically part of defense, I'm going to cheat and go with Max Suter. Following in the footsteps of Quentin Spotwood, freshman Suter shone in the kick return department like no one before him. He become the Orange’s all-time single-season leader in kick return yards...in the 7th game of the season. Then, all he did was break the NCAA record for most kickoff return yards in a single season with 1,299 yards. I don't think people have appreciated this guy anywhere near as much as they should have.
Defensive LVP - I'm actually going to give this to Greg Robinson. He's a "defensive genius" and this is what he has to show for himself? Blame the talent if you want but great coaches can make things work with lesser talent. The defense looks awfully overmatched at times, to the point of comedy. I just don't see how someone schooled in the world of defense would let this happen, especially after last season.
6. Orange::44: Finally, the BCS was ridiculous this season. What do you think of the National Championship matchup and how bad does it suck that Pittsburgh managed to beat West Virginia, ending the chance for a Big East school to play for the title?
Nunes: You know what really sucked about that Pitt win? It completed a week that included Louisville doing some damage control by beating Rutgers. All the other teams in the conference are going bowling. That means every single team in the Big East had something late in the season they could point to and say "See, things are looking up" except Syracuse. There truly couldn't be a worse time for us to be in the situation we're currently in.
It's a shame the Big East won't get a shot to represent in the title game. But now the conference needs to win most of its bowl games to keep up appearances and then Tranghese needs to work his magic so a Big East team never has to settle for the Meineke Car Care Bowl after going 9-3 again (Sorry, Cincy).
I mean, it goes without saying that the BCS is a disaster. The shame of it is that we've entered the era where people don't seem to fight it anymore. They've beaten us down into accepting it. I did realize this week that no AP writer has the right to bad-mouth the BCS though. They're just as shady, moving LSU up 5 spots just cause of popular opinion. Reminds me of a few years ago when they dropped Cal 5-6 spots to ensure that Texas would play in the Rose Bowl cause Mack Brown pouted. That's the real problem, even if you "fixed" the BCS, the pollsters and bowl games would still find a way to make it as impartial as possible. It's infuriating to even think about, I'm taking a nap.
While basically under the radar, Jonny Flynn became the leading scorer of the night for the Orange with 17 points. While there was not a lot of razzle dazzle plays in this game, there was a solid offensive performance from the freshman. He also contributed four assists, and was two for two from three point range. He was however the ATM of the night with four turnovers.
Speaking of ATMs, the true ATM returned to action on Saturday night. Apparently the academic problems/illness/family issues/ankle injury/
Who impressed me during the game was Arinze Onuaku, who really seemed to be putting in a lot of effort. He was rewarded with 14 points and 16 rebounds. He also blocked three shots and had four steals. Onuaku had a solid night all around and my pick for Orange player of the game.
Devendorf had a better night than he did against UMass, managing to not get into any trouble with fans or players. He got 16 points and three steals. He managed to play a solid game of defense for the most part as well.
Harris and Greene had fifteen and nine points respectively. They also had pretty solid nights, but sadly Greene, and the rest of the team, was not that great from long range. They only shot 20%, 4-20, and for the first time I found myself thinking that Andy Rautins was truly missed this season. If our outside shooting does not improve, surely close games will not be won. Hopefully this will improve as the season goes on.
Syracuse did manage to out rebound and have less turnovers than Tulane. Much like every non-conference game, Syracuse should always have this as the case. Overall, the team played well, and the game was nice to see. Syracuse provided yet another entertaining game on a Saturday evening. Too bad that Jim Burr is a terrible, terrible referee. A technical foul on Boeheim… really? Really, Jim Burr? Really!? I suppose it is not a shock, but even so, this is a little out of the box for even Burr. At least it did not affect the game in any way, unlike the intentional fouls called in the last minute of the UMass game.
We next see the Orange take to the toad for a matchup against the Cavaliers of Virginia at 7:30pm this Wednesday on ESPN 2. This will be the best test remaining for the Orange in their non-conference slate most likely. Perhaps the team will play defense for more than a half this time. If not, it will be a long night for the team and anyone watching. Hopefully they will work hard in practice, and learn how to really guard someone.