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The Axeman agrees, you should be getting you some Orange::44.
Greetings from the Nation’s Capital, Washington, DC. Well, technically I’m currently at my friend's in Alexandria, Virginia, but you get the idea. I did not anticipate having the opportunity to write up the Villanova game this early, but I am stealing a wireless internet signal and have a little time out of my busy travels. One thing is for sure, this Villanova game was very entertaining, and really Syracuse had a shot to win it until about a minute and a half remaining. With the largest crowd watching a game so far this year, all in all it was a pleasant Saturday afternoon in Syracuse… minus the outcome.

Again Jonny Flynn led the Orange in scoring. He earned 23 points and four assists. He also limited his turnovers to one for the game, a vast improvement over his previous few games. Sadly though, Flynn only managed to make one out of the seven shots he took from long range. More on this later.

Scoop Jardine contributed 15 points, four rebounds, and made six of the six free throw attempts he had. He did this all before fouling out late in the second half. Scoop got a little frisky at times, however he displayed what I had dubbed for Josh Pace “swashbuckling/pirate” skills. What I mean is that Pace had the ability to hit that little floater in the lane and seemingly steal points that he had no business earning in the first place. Scoop displayed some of that by cutting the lane, either on purpose with an isolation, or with a lapse in defense, and seeming hitting a little floater or shot with three men surrounding. These shots seemed impossible, but sure enough they went in. While he is not there yet, Scoop will be a solid “glue guy” in the upcoming seasons.

Clearly when Donte Greene was in the game he was an offensive spark. He a added 12 points and four rebounds. Alas, foul trouble kept Mr. Greene on the bench for most of the second half. The fifth foul he received was quite possibly one of the worst calls made all season. Thus, with significant minutes remaining in the game, our biggest phenom was on the bench for good. Again, when he played he was usually very effective and sometimes dazzling on the offensive end.

Arinze Onuaku contributed a double-double with ten and ten, but he was not as effective as he could have been. With the outside shot suspect at most times, and Syracuse seemingly finding it difficult to penetrate the lane, the team needed to rely on its lumbering big man in the post. While he was successful at converting at times, other times he failed to make strong and decisive moves to the basket. In a close game, especially with a ranked opponent, as well as a team that likes to employ more guards than your local bank branch, your low post man should be your bread and butter and the option considered first. Sadly, ill advised shots and rushed penetrations with some blown screens mixed in were first options. While it was not his worst game of the year, a stronger performance would have helped in this case. Even more so however, more attention to feeding him the ball would have been preferred as well.

Kristof! “The Belgian Waffle” Ongenaet had an interesting 18 minutes off the bench in this game. I am now convinced that Kristof! is Gerry McNamara without the three point shot. What I mean is that he demonstrates the same toughness and scrappy play that made Gerry one of the most beloved players in Syracuse lore. He fought hard for every rebound, diving on the floor, attempting steals, and playing a solid game on the defensive and rebounding fronts. He managed six rebounds in a game where in the last six contests against ‘Nova, the winner was the one that had more rebounds. Thus, rebounds were important. He got some. Sadly though, Kristof!’s poor offensive production (one point this game off a free throw) really hurts the Orange if we are in need of points above all. Still, I like him and his game and will continue to see if he can impress me in the near future.

Syracuse managed nine blocked shots, four from Mr. Harris. He actually managed to chase down Scottie Reynolds and block his shot off the backboard. It was simply amazing to watch and let us hope this kind of defense where we block several shots continues to help the Orange.

In a game where the teams shot identically from the floor with field goal percentages of 40%, this game came down to rebounds and second chance points. Villanova seemed to have several open looks from long range and mid range. They even had some very easy buckets from the baseline. This doomed the Orange as ‘Nova seemed very capable of passing the ball in a manner that could easily defeat the famed 2-3. Having chances to shoot after earning an offensive board also helped Villanova.

Turnovers were also bad. Syracuse had 19, which is high even for them. In and of itself, this is not so bad because Villanova also had nineteen, but it was when they occurred that really hurt Syracuse. In the second half, every time Syracuse managed to gain some momentum they would make a costly turnover, errant pass, and even just a terrible decision. It really cost the team the chance to get back in the game. I knew this would haunt them in a game against a good team and sure enough here it was.

The foul situation was asinine as Tim Higgins reasserted himself as the worst referee in the business. Jim Burr gave him a run for his money, but Timmy “Gotta Get Your TV Time” Higgins came back and was in rare form. If you watched the game you know exactly what I am talking about. If you did not watch, feel lucky you were not subjected to the clinic on how not to call a Big East game. As a former referee myself I know how hard it is. People have taken swings at me (thanks every SU frat), I have been called names, and threatened in all sorts of ways. It is part of the gig and you know what you get when you sign up. This is why I value a good referee crew and enjoy the technical nuances and fine ballet that a quality reffed game is. This was none of that. When simple officiating fundamentals are violated and basic rules (TRAVELING) are ignored, it calls into question the integrity of the game. That is something that there should never be a question about. Thanks Tim. When you come back you’ll be hearing me from 309.

Our poor long range shooting again caused us problems. Much like the West Virginia game, this was not good at all. The team only shot 19%, managing to make three of 16 attempts. Jonny Flynn thought he was God’s gift as he chucked it up seven times, only finding the net once. Again the absence of Devendorf and Rautins has reared its ugly head as Syracuse looked pretty stinko from behind the arc.

With free throws being pretty high for Syracuse at 77%, and the team only missing six, that number really did not affect the outcome of the game. What did affect the outcome was fouling Scottie Reynolds, as he made nine of his ten attempts. The same numbers also apply to Corey Fisher coming off the bench for ‘Nova. Clearly when we fouled, we fouled the guys that could make the shots, down the stretch at least. It is a damn good thing that Georgetown is not great at free throws.

It seems, as many bloggers have put it, Syracuse was who we thought they were. A young team that is not going to win many big games this season. There is always next year right?

The Three Idiots have a great write up of the Villanova highlighting our photogenic friend Timmy Higgins, with a great picture from a Pittsburgh of the Oakland Zoo down at “The Pete” giving him the business. It is totally worth a read for the picture alone. In other, cooler blogging news, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Brent Axe, The Axeman on Syracuse.com before the Villanova game, as illustrated by the above photo. He was very nice and it was a lot of fun talking about different teams, sharing some stories, and wrapping about this whole blogging thing. He is the professional, so if you are not checking out his stuff you are doing a disserve to yourself as a fan. His write up for the Villanova game is here, so check it out. He confirms that we really meet and I did not creepily photoshop the picture above. He wants me to write more articles so I might have to put aside the law books a few more times per week than I already do, and yes, section 309 is just fine. Also, there is not a conspiracy... or is there?

All in all, a nice Friday and Saturday in Syracuse. Now it is onto a much tougher opponent in Georgetown, the hated long time rival of Syracuse. We bested them last year in our own house, so now it is time to take it to DC and reclaim the Verizon Center. I will do my best to be a belligerent fan and help cheer on our team. You be sure to do your part and tell your favorite Georgetown alumni GFY and that their mother is a Hoya. Proudly proclaim that you are a “Hoya Destroya”. I will be at the game tomorrow, and in travel/back to school mode on Tuesday, but expect a recap of the G’Town throw down on Wednesday. Until then, it is almost game time… and Georgetown still sucks!

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