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I said I wanted a cheesesteak a half hour ago. WTF Ted?!
That was a huge game. There were amazing feats of defense, lots of thrills, amazing plays, and an underdog upset. The same can be said for Saturday afternoon as well. Syracuse pulls the upset down in Philadelphia and basically wiped away the loss to ‘Nova at home, earned a quality win, and allowed me to enjoy the rest of my Saturday in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. This game was really enjoyable to watch and a game that should give hope to the members of the blogging community that had already packed this team away for a season.

Paul Harris had a career game, earning 28 points, seven rebounds, and made 12 of 16 from the free throw line. Paul Harris was quick, agile, and made bold moves, especially on the baseline, to the hoop. He was an unstoppable offensive machine and helped Syracuse amass a lead in the second half that Villanova could not overcome. However, Paul dribbled like a drunken frat dude having sex; fast, reckless, and usually ending in disappointment. He turned the ball over four times, but it felt like a lot more. A ball handling clinic would do some wonders for Paul.

Jonny Flynn single handedly kept Syracuse in this game early in the first half. He masterfully sliced through the lane, taking the ball himself on several occasions. He prevented the lead for Villanova from becoming out of reach for Syracuse. Flynn also earned 24 points while playing yet another complete game. He is the Iron Man of our team, earning the most minutes of any player. While showing slight fatigue from all of the playing time he has received of late at the very beginning, he quickly was reenergized and led this team like a veteran floor general back from the edge of total offensive collapse. He hit a three pointer with 6:15 remaining in the first half which started the momentum swing for the Orange. After a Villanova time out, Greene hit a three pointer then to give Syracuse the lead, which they never relinquished. Flynn is easily becoming one of the more dependable scoring options for the Orange, and he clearly is not afraid to penetrate when he sees an opening.

Speaking of Greene, he also contributed with 17 points of his own. He also earned seven rebounds and made three three point baskets. While not as much of an offensive presence as he was in the Providence game, he earned a solid 17 which is just shy of his scoring average. He also earned seven rebounds, which helped the team.

Kristof! “The Belgian Waffle” Ongenaet continues to be an entertaining player to watch, as well as a decent producer for Syracuse. He earned some hard fought 12 points, most of them being earned by reverse lay ups. He also pulled down five rebounds and made three steals and a blocked shot. I would easily call Kristof! more of a defensive player, however this game he showed his balance and resolve as a player as he was contributing consistently on both ends of the floor. He, like all the players, had some lapses in defense, but overall performed admirably.

Onuaku was almost a non-factor on offense. At first, this was very disturbing as Villanova is a small team, playing mostly guards. Thus, there is usually always a mismatch in the low post that Syracuse and a beast of a player like Arinze could exploit. We could not do this at first. Then it simply became unnecessary as Flynn and Harris took over the game offensively. The strategy shifted and Onuaku simply became a defenseman and a rebound machine. For this purpose he was fine, earning five rebounds. Technical fouls usually do not help though. At all. Let us hope the big man finds his cool and utilizes the old “SERENITY NOW” plan in future heated contests.

Rick Jackson had some more productive minutes than he did against DePaul. He was on the floor for 17 minutes, during which he earned seven rebounds and a block. He also put two points on the board. A decent day for the big man who is about a year away from being truly good.

We saw the return of Scoop, and just as quickly we saw the benching of Scoop. Glad to see him back, but I was just fine with him not playing. Hopefully he will work hard in practice and get back into the groove for the stretch run of the Big East slate.

As an aside, the coaches were wearing sneakers for Coaches vs. Cancer. The normally dapper Jay Wright decided to go with the warm up and the sneaks instead of the suit. He felt he could not lower his street cred by wearing the sneakers with the suit. If it is to fight cancer I am all for it, but I hope he returns to his normal sartorially splendid self.

Syracuse shot extremely well from the floor in the latter part of the first half and the second half. With the help of a 15-0 run that lasted from 6:48 until the Wildcats scored at the 3:27 mark in the first half, Syracuse vaulted ahead of Villanova and gave the Orange a five point lead at the half. Syracuse had a 63% field goal percentage, earning 27 out of 43 attempted. Syracuse also hit their free throws, making 28 of 39 for a 72% success rate. The statistic of the day has to be Villanova shooting 55% in the first half, and then only shooting 35% in the second half. Syracuse’s field goal percentage of 63% (62.8% technically) is the highest field goal percentage Villanova has ever allowed a visitor to earn in the Wachovia Center. Thus, Syracuse wins the game. As you may know, more points = winning.

Syracuse’s defense was very lazy at first, but after a big wake up from Jonny Flynn yelling at everyone on the floor it seemed reenergized, spurred on by Flynn’s offensive drives. Kristof and Onuaku specifically were allowing the bigger Villanova players to get quick passes inside the zone, take the baseline, and penetrate with ease. After the team stepped up their defense the Wildcats found it next to impossible to get those easy high percentage shots. There was help coming to guard ‘Nova players, sometimes three players helping to trap the ‘Nova offense. Thus, there was a massive Villanova scoring drought in the latter part of the first half and the second half. Syracuse limited Scottie Reynolds to only 12 points, six of which came in garbage minutes at the end of the game with Syracuse’s victory well in hand. This is basically a minor miracle as he lit up Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.

Syracuse committed 18 turnovers in this game. This was very evident early in the game, as we were down by ten at one point. The entire first few minutes were very sloppy by both teams as a whole, but then Syracuse continued to cough up the ball carelessly. Finally it was under control, but not before Flynn let six and Paul let four go. In contrast, Villanova only committed 13. Hopefully Syracuse will not at like a basketball dispenser during the UConn game.

In total, this was a great game for the Orange. They earn a quality win, a good road win, and vault above the other five win teams in the Big East conference. I dare say that with a win against UConn, this will propel this team into being a legitimate NCAA Tournament Bid contender. Especially with the short bench, we see the strategic genius of Jim Boeheim and the things he can do to get his team prepared and ready to play a big game. With big tests coming up in the near future with Connecticut, Georgetown, and an away game at USF, this will be an interesting next couple of weeks. These will be the weeks that truly will be the break point for this young, shallow team. Can they step up and win big, or will they roll over and play dead before we get to MSG? Only time will tell. One thing is certain; they played one of their best games in Philly this past Saturday. A solid performance all around, and an excellent showcase of the much improved from last season Paul Harris. It turned out V was for Vanquished.

As previously mentioned we next see Syracuse in action at home in the only meeting of Syracuse and Connecticut this season. Jim Calhoun and his players will travel up I-84 and then over the Mass Pike and the NYS Thruway to take on Jim Boeheim as they compete in the annual rivalry game Wednesday at 7:00pm. It is a very big night as immediately after our game #3 Duke will travel to take on #4 North Carolina. Who will earn bragging rights for another year? Will the surly Calhoun or the comic Boeheim walk home with a spring in their step? We shall find out Wednesday. I will, as usual, be live in the Carrier Dome for the game, and will bring you all the postgame coverage I can cram into this blog on Thursday. I want to thank the fine folks I saw with this weekend in NYC. Thanks to Jarman and Marissa, Stef, and of course Ben and Amy, loyal Orange::44 readers and excellent people to spend a Superbowl with. Also, a hearty congratulation to the New York Football Giants as they defeated the New England Patriots on this Superbowl Sunday, part of the Holy Trinity of Holidays (Superbowl Sunday, New Years Eve, and St. Patrick’s Day, the holiest). Sean at Nunes/Magician must have been going nuts in CA. Until Wednesday please, for Jim Calhoun’s sake, leave your drug test specimen cups at home.

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6 Responses to “Syracuse - Villanova Postgame Reactions OR So You're Saying There's A Chance”

  1. # Blogger Amanda

    The entire game is a blur for me at this point. I kind of wish I would've been SOBER for this amazing win, but seriously? I do remember cheering loudly in a Villanova-heavy section and pissing quite a few fans off. Oh, and starting the Hey Song on the way out and having people yell, "There are children here!"

    Who cares? I've heard the dirty mouths of Philadelphians; you curse around them, so why can't I!?  

  2. # Blogger Russianator

    Nice work by Amanda being hammered for a noon game - the idiots always appreciate that.

    Huge win for the cuse, gotta love the waffle and the iron man, sounds like a bad CBS sit com from the 80s.  

  3. # Blogger John

    To say that Onuaku was a non-factor is misleading. Sure, the stat sheet doesn't show he was an offensive juggernaut, but it also doesn't show that Nova double-teamed him for most of the game, which allowed the other Orangemen to penetrate the lane or get open on the perimeter.

    Teamwork. It's a beautiful thing.  

  4. # Blogger Brian Harrison

    Yeah I agree with you John. Although, it is pretty irrelevant when Flynn just takes it himself before anyone gets in their defensive or offensive set. You are definitely correct though. Onuaku is also great at handling double and triple teams like he did in the DePaul game.

    Also, Russ I appreciate your endorsement of sacking up and drinking for the noon contests. I look forward to some blogger meeting in the future where we all slug a couple back and talk shop.  

  5. # Blogger Russianator

    You got it - just as soon as I get my lazy ass back down the thruway for a game.  

  6. # Anonymous JW Stringer

    I found some interesting information while suring the net this morning on Cuse's game against Calhoun and gang. I visited http://pregame.com - I really enjoy their Buzz section where you can get the latest info right up to tipoff.

    #19 UConn at Syracuse (ESPN | 7 PM ET)

    The Huskies are currently on a 5-game winning streak, during which they've defeated three Top 25 teams in Marquette, Indiana and Pittsburgh. “I’m very impressed with what we’re doing right now,” said UConn guard AJ Price. “We are not even at our peak yet.” EDGE: UCONN
    The Syracuse Orange are winners of 3 straight and have also won 2 in a row against the Huskies. The Orange will also try to take advantage of a UConn team that will again be without one of its leading scorers. Sophomore guard Jerome Dyson (14 ppg) was one of two players suspended by coach Jim Calhoun after they were caught with alcohol on campus. EDGE: SYRACUSE (Bet Syracuse -3.5 at BetUS - the best line available at last check!)
    UConn is 5-14 ATS in its last 19 road games.
    Syracuse is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games overall.
    The UNDER is 9-4 in the last 13 meetings.  

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