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It's great if you at least pretend to do a good job, ref's I don't know.

Upon the second possession for UMass in the game, Syracuse had a chance for a rebound but Paul Harris did not use two hands and it went out of bounds. Then after another UMass miss, Onuaku failed to grab the ball and it again went out of bounds. I think this can sum up this game, and perhaps the entire season; just not in grasp. Syracuse lets a huge lead slip away and loses to Massachusetts 81-77.

We first start, as we always do with the starters for Syracuse. Arinze Onuaku started this game with the highest field goal percentage in the Big East. Onuaku had 20 points and eight rebounds. He was only nine of 20 from the floor. Onuaku missed 11 lay ups close to the basket. After backing down every UMass player, he could not close the deal. Onuaku, who has been more up and down this season than people at the Playboy Mansion, ended the season on a down. He may have led in scoring, but that makes the disappointment in this game even more poignant that it is directed at him.
Donte Greene had 18 points and nine rebounds in 40 minutes of play. He shot three for six from long range, making this actually one of the better games he has played all year. Yet, he could not be the hero as he makes a bad turnover at the end of the game, all but sealing the fate of Syracuse. Greene, who has been the target of a lot of frustration of Syracuse fans this season, and numerous “just go to the NBA” requests, will come back next season and surely will be more grown up. I am not ready to completely write off this kid yet, like so many out there.

Jonny Flynn, my MVP for Syracuse for 2007-’08, had a good game, with 14 points, eight assists, six rebounds, and a big three pointer in the first half. While Flynn did not handle the ball as well in this game as some of his best this season, he still played a hard fought game and still served as a spark for Syracuse, even when the momentum was not on the side of the Orange. Flynn was clearly the best player for Syracuse this season, and played a nice game to end the season.

Paul Harris, “Do It All Paul”, did not play well in this one, unlike how he has the entire NIT. He had five points, was only two for eight, six rebounds, and had one of the biggest blocks of the season. What does that all mean? Nothing when you evaluate Paul for this game. He has yet another crucial turnover in the waning minutes of the game, which allowed UMass to take the lead and hold on until the end of regulation. Paul again made a freshman mistake in his sophomore campaign. I still believe he had a great season and was clearly the most improved player on the squad, he just simply lacked basketball I.Q. at critical moments.

Kristof! Ongenaet had a decent game, but still underwhelming compared to usual Kristof! standards. He went mostly unnoticed in this game, earning four points all from free throws. His defense was clearly competent, but nothing spectacular. While Kristof! had a nice season, it was simply not his game to shine.

Scoop Jardine had an excellent game. He scored 12 points, four rebounds, four assists, and played 28 minutes. He seemed to really have fresh legs on the floor, made some smart passes, and hit some nice shots. Clearly he was the best player for Syracuse on the floor this game.

Rick Jackson was big on the boards with seven rebounds, but he only added four points. He played fine, but I expect that he will be hitting the weight room and come back next season.

For a moment, I do have to discuss the fan base that came to this game. Attendance for this game was 20,162 people. It is gratifying to see that such a loyal fan base showed up to support this team. Plus, it was an intriguing match up in the NIT. It was #2 versus #1, a team that had beat Syracuse earlier in the season, and a good match for Syracuse to play in. However, the ugliness of the fan base rang too loudly when some stupid fan threw a cup of liquid on the court. That is ALWAYS unacceptable. That action overshadows the excellent turnout of the fan base, and simply shows Syracuse as full of idiots.

Similarly, I do have to comment on some of the fans that have been leaving comments on Specifically some of the comments left on Brent Axe’s page. Some of the sheer ignorance and hate I have read recently is simply irresponsible and unacceptable. They mostly relate to the competency of Jim Boeheim as the coach of the Syracuse Orange. Folks, last I checked, Jim Boeheim is in the Basketball Hall of Fame, has won a National Championship, three Big East Championships, been to the Final Four three times, and generally knows what he is doing. If you really think that Boeheim should not be the coach of this time anymore you are clearly the biggest fool I could meet, and I wish you would go be a fan of any other college team. Granted, I am a little biased as I attended Syracuse and graduated with a quality education. But, I also know college basketball and I know he is a great coach. One of the best. You do not stay in a job for over thirty years with that much success if you are not a good coach. Now those of you that regularly read this blog know that if someone is not doing whatever up to their ability I will call them out on it. So when you read this, you know I believe it. It is not from some loyalty to Boeheim, or this team or university. This was simply not Boeheim’s fault in any regard. Some of the things I have seen complaints about this season, such as the 2-3 Zone, running out some clock, etc., have been the same reasons for their success in the past, and there sure were no complaints then. This is more of a conversation I will have with you, the readers and fans, when I produce my season in review sometime next week, but I have seen so much ignorant and/or anonymous writings lately that I felt I had to mention it. Back to the actual game.

Syracuse had a slow start this game, going one for seven from the floor. Syracuse finished the game with 41% from the floor, making 30 of 73 shots. This is down from their NIT average of 50% from the floor. They missed a lot of shots around the basket, and as Boeheim said in his press conference, when you miss so many lay ups around the basket you are probably not going to win.

Syracuse led in the rebounding category, earning 49 rebounds and 19 offensive rebounds. Respectively, Massachusetts earned 34 and 11. Syracuse hit the boards well, and at a few points had two, three, and even four cracks at the basket after getting rebounds. Usually with this kind of rebounding advantage it is an easy call as to who won the game. This time, not so much.

Massachusetts, who usually blocks a lot of shots, actually blocked six shots in this game. However, Syracuse ended up with more, two of which made it on ESPN’s top ten plays. Syracuse had 11 blocks in this game. Onuaku led the way with three blocks, but it was blocks from Harris and Flynn that really were something to see.

When it came to turnovers Syracuse led this category substantially. Syracuse had 19 turnovers, while UMass only had 12. Harris had six, while Flynn had five. This was not a good game in the annals of Syracuse in regards of ball control. This clearly helped UMass get back into the game, and eventually win. Turnovers always hurt, but this late in the season, and to allow the other team to close such a lead, makes it sting extra hard.

While the referees are not to blame for this game, they bear some mentioning. There were clearly some fouls that were called that should not have been, and more accurately plenty of fouls that were not called that should have been. While the referees did not offend my sensibilities in this game, it was clearly not a top job from a quality crew.

I have to give credit to Massachusetts. They played a smart game, hit shots when they needed to, and generally looked good on the floor. That being said, Syracuse had to hit their shots down the stretch and they did not. They also coughed up the ball quite a bit. Syracuse missed a lot of easy buckets, and in a game that you play a quality opponent, that spells disaster. Syracuse loses a close, yet disappointing game at home. This was a truly fitting end to Syracuse’s season. It was a season that can only be described as a big tease. This team took two steps forward and three steps back. Syracuse built up hope, and then eroded it twice as fast. The picture below can sum up a bit of the sentiment that this game created.

On a quick note, Otto’s Army, the organized student section recently e-mailed informing me that they are participating in the annual Relay for Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. While I have not always had the best relationship with Otto’s Army, this is clearly something that is an excellent endeavor and something worth their time and energy. Having had my father pass away due to cancer, this is a cause that is near and dear to me so I hope you can all do your part to help them raise money for a great cause. For more information on the Otto’s Army Relay for Life team, or hopefully to donate, simply click here.

As I said earlier, I will have my season in review next week, plus we had a lacrosse game last night so I have another installment of our Lacrosse Weekly feature coming out soon, as well as that article connected to The Wire. It should be an entertaining read. The Orange are now… off until next season. Bummer. However, the lax team is rolling and so there is plenty left to look forward to this school year. Stay tuned, and try not to be too depressed.

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8 Responses to “Massachusetts - Syracuse Postgame Reactions OR Season... Over.”

  1. # Anonymous J-MaC

    where's my god damn old dirty wimmins shout out  

  2. # Blogger Brian Harrison

    Sorry buddy, I was too into this write up to mention it, but here it is. I'm officially on the Old Dominion women's team bandwagon. There. Are you happy J?  

  3. # Blogger MariusJanulisForThree

    Why is it so easy for people to brush aside Jim Boeheim's credentials while coaches like Lute Olsen and Jim Calhoun get a pass?  

  4. # Blogger Brian Harrison

    It's a great questions, and my only answer is that it boils down to the fairweather nature of the fanbase, or at least the reputation that they are so. Which, really is sad. At least all through the TV coverage Fran and Sean were agreeing with Boeheim's coaching choices.  

  5. # Blogger OrangeRay

    Glad to see reasonable people read the blog. The unrelenting criticism levied towards Boeheim everytime Syracuse loses a game is ridiculous.

    I am greatly disappointed on the loss to UMass, but I hang this one entirely on the players.  

  6. # Blogger John

    So the big question is: does Syracuse place Massachusetts on its non-conference schedule for 2008-2009?

    Just remember, you can't spell UMass without "ass," and you can't spell "suck" without "SU." Take that for whatever it's worth. Yet I consider myself an optimist.  

  7. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Brian, I agree with you on most points but Jimmy has to take some blame in this game. This was the second huge meltdown they had -- when was the last time a Jimmy coached team came back (and won) a game like this ... see I do remember Clemson from last year.  

  8. # Blogger Brian Harrison

    Please explain to me how you think Jimmy deserves some blame on this. What specific coaching mistakes did he make? Boeheim can't hang on to the ball for Paul Harris, or guard three point shooters for the players. What coaching element did he mistakenly use that cost this game? This was all the players, unless someone can tell me what coaching mistakes Boeheim made.

    Also, thank you anonymous for a well written, interesting point of debate. It is rare that someone who leaves an anonymous message is as well spoken and reasonable as yourself.  

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