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Nunes::44 - 1/15/08

So many Nunes pictures, so few highlights.
It is that time once again, to collaborate with our good friend over at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician. Sean has some witty and informative answers as always so let’s get down to it.

1. Orange::44: The team had a couple bad, bad losses. Your thoughts on what needs fixing?

Nunes: Unfortunately, there's a couple things that just can't be fixed. The lack of experience when the pressure is on or when a hostile crowd is in your face is huge. To be honest, I'm not so sure we ever even had that to begin with, considering Devendorf would have to be the "cool and calm" voice during those times. I'm also beginning to think we just don't have the bodies underneath to really match up in the Big East. We're going to get beat up down there more and more...sombody get Kristof! a protein shake.

What can be fixed? How bout patience? We've seen how these guys can play when the game is close or they're winning. The game comes to them for the most part. But once they get in a hole, they tend to freak. Someone (Jonny) just needs to make a decision that they are going to control the tempo of the game as a floor leader, which is a lot different than trying to make something happen as a floor leader.

Our buddy AEM over at Cuse Chronicles kept saying that freshmen always hit a wall and I think that may just be the case. It's understandable that their wall includes road games in the Big East and as much I expect the team to adjust, learn and grow, those kinds of games aren't going to get any easier.

2. Orange::44: So is there no shot at the tourney now or is it too early to panic?

Nunes: I wouldn't say there's no shot at the tourney for the simple reason that the Big East is proving to be an "any given night" kind of conference this year. It's certainly foreseeable that someone is going to make a run in the BET and play their way into the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, that works both ways and on "any given night" someone else from the Big East can beat Syracuse as well.

Honestly, I don't think anything would shock me, short of this team suddenly going on a 10-game winning streak. My expectations are certainly tempered though. A week ago I would have told you I was pretty confident we were looking like a tourney team. Now? I'd say we're on the outside looking in and it's up to us to prove we belong. A great RPI doesn't mean much if you don't win the games.

So my answer is...we're nowhere near a lock for the tourney but I don't think panic is the right word for our situation. Concern, not just for this year but for next year, makes more sense.

3. Orange::44: Who at this point in the year is the best and worst team in the Big East Conference?

Nunes: Well, according to the standings its 8-8 Cincy and 7-8 DePaul, who are ahead of 9 teams with double-digit wins. WTF.

I would have said Georgetown before last night but right this minute I'll say Marquette. They have the best body of work overall this season, with wins over Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Providence, Seton Hall and Notre Dame. That win over Seton Hall was one of those "no business" games where the team clearly wasn't supposed to win due to their own poor evening but grinded it out anyway, a good sign. They lost a close one to Duke and any SU fan will tell you that loss at West Virginia is understandable. Are they a great team? Could they beat Pittsburgh and Georgetown straight-up? Not sure yet but I think they're done the most so far.

Worst team? Gotta be Rutgers. I think it's fair to ask of each Big East team that, unless you share a state with another Big East team, you should be the best team in your geographic region. I'll let Providence slide cause Rhode Island is really, really good. Anyone who knows Jersey and Jersey colleges knows Rutgers has no excuse for not being the best team in the state year in and year out. Yet here they are, 8-9 with losses to NJ schools St. Peters and Rider. Fech. Already 0-4 in the conference, this is about to get even uglier for the Knights. Let's hope the Orange don't trap themselves against them on Wednesday.

4. Orange::44: What do you think of Gary Gait's Laxapalooza?

Nunes: What took everyone so long? Why hasn't Syracuse been positioning itself as a cradle of lacrosse for years with events like this? Why doesn't it host NCAA tournament games or try to host the Final Four (which may be a longshot but still...)? Even before Gait became a coach here SU should have been doing events with its alumni to keep the local fans excited, interested and proud of SU's rich lacrosse tradition.

Seriously, you shouldn't be able to pick up a lacrosse stick in Central New York without it coming with a SU-related coupon or news about an event like this. We love to kid the good DOCTOR but this is finally a good idea.

One question though...where's MiniKISS???

5. Orange::44: What is the team you want to see lose the most, especially when not playing Syracuse?

Nunes: Is it cliché to say Duke? I know everyone hated Duke growing up (especially when I grew up in the late 80's/early 90's) but for me it went even deeper. My best friend was a Duke fan and he was so ridiculously obnoxious about them in that way friends can be about their teams (see any current Boston fan). The fact that they were also so good only made me hate them even more.

I know people say that Yankee haters really want the Yankees to be good so they can hate them more but I don't believe that. As far as I'm concerned, I want them to go 0-162. But with Duke, I kinda do feel that way. It doesn't feel right unless Duke is a #2 seed losing in the Sweet 16 to a mid-major. That's become a new special treat for me and I'm looking forward to seeing that again soon.

If you're looking for a Big East team...UConn. Obviously.

6. Orange::44: Finally, how about that ladies? They lost against Pittsburgh, but bounced back. Do they have a shot against Connecticut or is it all just a sweet, sweet pipe dream?

Nunes: Here's how this season is gonna play out. They're going to lose to all the teams they're supposed to lose to (UConn, Rutgers, DePaul, Notre Dame) but they're going to beat all the teams they're supposed to at the same time. They're officially in that middle ground where a team is suddenly good but doesn't have the experience or the "it" to hang with the big girls just yet. I'm seeing a 20-9 regular season that gets them in the tourney, in which they make it to the second round before meeting an opponent they're just not on the same level with yet. It will be a great season and a huge sign for next year when we'll really be able to start setting the tone in the conference and winning some of those big games.

Of course, if they end up in the Final Four...disregard.
Editor’s Note: This is another installment in the ongoing collaboration between Orange::44 and Nunes/Magician. Every other Tuesday Nunes::44 will appear here, while the following week Orange::44/Magician will appear on his site. Until then, enjoy Nunes/Magician articles and stay tuned to Orange::44 for complete postgame coverage from every Syracuse game.

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