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Disappointed doesn't even begin to cover it.

First, let me say that this Pittsburgh game has to be one of the most disappointing losses for Syracuse I have ever seen. Period. As much as I do not want to sort through the rubble with you all, I feel that I must. It has been a suitable period of time that I needed to cope with that loss and now I am ready. Syracuse fans enjoy punishing themselves I suppose. Either way, this game was fun until about two minutes left on the clock. The final score was only 82 to 77 in favor of Pittsburgh, but it was oh so much crueler than the box score alludes. It is time to face some demons and talk about the more than likely nail in the NCAA coffin.

First off, we have to discuss the refereeing debacle. I have seen poor refereed games this season, but none bad as this game. Syracuse was getting called for hand checks, and there were a few fouls that Pittsburgh was not. At one point while Jonny Flynn was driving, the Pitt defender had his hand literally across Flynn’s chest, yet there was no foul. Then there was the end of the game, when Paul Harris was fouled twice, the ball was stolen and then Pitt took the lead. I have seen the replay of that specific inbounds play and am more convinced now than I was in the Dome that he was fouled. Clearly he gets a reach in foul committed on him, then he is bumped and pushed/pulled out of the way, when Pittsburgh gets control of the ball. It is possible that the Pitt player stepped out with possession as well. So clearly Syracuse should have gotten the ball back or should have shot free throws. Either way the referees screwed Syracuse. Additionally, they then had the audacity to call a technical foul on Jim Boeheim after Jaime Dixon was out of the box past the line and out on the court all game. Now that all of that is out of the way, we can move on to the actual game analysis.

Jonny Flynn was the hero of the day. He was simply on fire. He sunk six of ten from long range, earning a total of 28 points and five assists in 40 minutes of play. Flynn looked like the only player that could make a jump shot for a bit. Then the rest of the team was rolling, but Flynn was the player that was most consistent throughout the entire game. Flynn continues to bolster his resume for Big East Rookie of the Year, and if it were not for Mr. Beasley at K-State, he would probably be up for the national award as well.

Paul Harris, bracketing the end of the game, played a solid one. He had 18 points, made six of six free throws. More importantly he made several clutch mid-range jump shots over the Pittsburgh defense. Sadly, Harris had six turnovers, a couple of which at terribly critical points in the game. Yet, he still had a solid game and contributed well.

Greene was hot and cold in this game. He finished with 23 points, shooting two for seven from three point range. He seemed to make everything he shot from just inside three point range, so apparently the key for Donte Greene is to just take a step in from the line and shoot. Hey, buddy, it is alright to shoot two point baskets. Really, I swear it is.

Onuaku had the baby hook working, scoring seven points and pulling down five rebounds. He looked fine on the floor, but did not nearly take it to the Pittsburgh defense enough. Pitt’s big man was letting Onuaku back him down for a short shot on the hoop. Clearly Syracuse should have exploited this more than they attempted. I think this was the kids fault for just shooting too much, over Boeheim’s game plan for the game.

Kristof! did not even attempt a field goal, yet his defense was solid. He blocked two shots, and contributed to the steals of several others. While he needs to shoot more, his game was just fine for what the team needed; a solid defender.

Scoop did not have a good game and took a very terrible shot at the end of the game that could have helped before he missed and Greene fouled the Pitt player. Scoop should not be taking that shot. Rick Jackson, as I have said before, needs 20 pounds of muscle before he can be considered good in most regards. He had one point off of two free throw attempts.

Syracuse was outrebounded sufficiently on the offensive glass. Pitt had 11 offensive rebounds, while Syracuse only had four. Similarly Syracuse only had 21 defensive rebounds to Pittsburgh’s 29. Traditionally Pittsburgh is a very physical team and will push their way into position. Luckily Kristof! was in position at least a few times.

Syracuse had nine steals on the day, Paul Harris with six. Sadly, as previously mentioned, he also had six turnovers so it was all pretty futile. Pittsburgh also had 12 steals, which certainly helped them win this game.

Syracuse, percentage wise, could have shot the ball better from the free throw line. Flynn did his part with six of six, but overall the team only shot 60% from the line. Clearly free throws were not the issue in the game, but it never hurts to put in more than you miss.

The real issue with this team was turnovers down the stretch. Overall the team had 18 turnovers. Pittsburgh only had 14, but that is irrelevant upon the outcome. Three of the turnovers came down the stretch at the end of the game. You can score all the points you like, and try to kill all the clock you can, but if you cannot hold onto the ball at the end of the game, chances are you will lose. This was a travesty that seemed to betray preparation, patience, meticulous game planning, and all logic the kids had seemed to amass before the start of this game. Granted, most of these players are freshman, but the press sure did not seem to confound them in the Louisville game, or any other game this season. When it came down to it, despite the referees, if you do not lose that ball, they are not in a position to make a no call. Thus, I have to put a modicum of blame on Paul Harris, as well as anyone else committing a turnover in the last four minutes of the ball game.

I do have to defend Jim Boeheim I feel. He did not lose this game, the players did. He simply enacted the same game plan he has always used. He really did not affect this game at all. The simple fact is the kids did not take care of the ball. That is not his fault or anyone else’s but the players on the floor. People should not point to this game as a reason why Boeheim sucks whatsoever, as he has won plenty of games doing what he did here. This was simply a matter of poor execution on the players, and Jim Boeheim has done plenty more with less this season that your average major newspaper, say the Baltimore Sun for example.

This game is simply sickening and not indicative of a season from the Orange that was full of success among adversity. Granted, Syracuse lost a lot of close games, but with the bench of Syracuse, and the fact that most of the players are freshmen, it was not something that offended the sensibilities of most Syracuse fans. This team was fun to watch and we knew we were shorthanded and missing some key contributors. However, this game was cause to be absolutely sick. Syracuse had this game won, and they simply gave it away like a callous turnover. The NCAA hopes of this team have virtually evaporated, and realistically this team disappointed a lot of people in Orange Nation. The stats do not show the hurt caused by this game, and the Jim Boeheim press conference showed the frustration felt by all the fans that watched this game. Yes it is frustrating, yes it is trying, and the only consolation is knowing that there is hope we will be better, possibly amazing next season. That is of little redress for this game however, and the sting from this game will last the next few years in every meeting with Jaime Dixon and the Panthers from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I have mentally recovered from this game for the most part, so look for weekend lacrosse coverage coming tomorrow in the new feature Lacrosse Weekly, along with a new Orange::44 Podcast in the next couple of days. There was a big weekend overall, and a big win from the Orange ladies last night on the hardwood, so there will be plenty to mull over for me this week. Rest assured that even though I thought about it, I did in fact step back from the ledge. Thanks for all the concerned e-mails making sure I was alright after this game. I appreciate it.

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