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Most Improved... Who Ya Got?

Both these teams have greatly improved on their previous campaign.
Syracuse Athletics is having the 2008 ‘Cuse Awards. Apparently this is the second go around for them. One can only assume this is a bright idea by DOCTOR Gross and his crack staff of marketing and advice wizards. But they pose an interesting question; what is the most improved team at Syracuse? The nominees were Women’s Basketball, Men’s Lacrosse, Field Hockey, and Volleyball. You can definitely tell that some of the teams for some of the categories were a stretch, but this one is actually an interesting question. Volleyball and Field Hockey may very well be the most improved, but this blog does not track these sports nor will I get in the habit of doing so unless they win a Big East or National Championship. Instead I focus on the real question. Between the Women’s Basketball team and the Lacrosse team, which team has improved more?

The basketball team had the best year in history by program standards. Last season they had a record of 9-20. They failed to qualify for the Big East Tournament, let alone the NCAA Tournament. They were a sad team, still reeling from the abrupt departure of a mostly terrible coach. However, there was an upside. Coach Quintin Hillsman was promoted from within, and proceeded to recruit top 25 ranked classes. The efforts finally paid off. In only his second year, Syracuse finished with a record of 22-9 and 10-6 in the Big East, the most successful season in the last 37 years. They earned only their third bid to the NCAA Tournament, got back to the BET, and made a strong showing in the conference, earning a rank for the first time in the history of the program. They had wins over ranked opponents, and only lost to #1 UConn by six, the smallest margin of victory for UConn for most of the season, and I can say first hand that it got a lot of press in the Connecticut viewing area. From last year to this year is a huge difference.

The lacrosse team also had a terrible 2007. The team failed to make the Final Four in 2006, but they were at least in the tournament. They finished the 2007 season with a record of 5-8. They failed to make the tournament for the first time since 1982. Interestingly enough, Syracuse was NCAA Champions in 1983. However, Syracuse was a team that averaged only 11.5 goals per game. This year, Syracuse is averaging 13.8 goals per game so far, and winning by an average margin of 6.2 goals a game. More dramatically, Syracuse allowed 11.4 goals a game against last season, while this year they are only allowing 7.8 on the average. Syracuse has drastically improved their defense, and their offense seems to be scoring at will this season. Syracuse has a current record of 10-1 and will more than likely finish out the regular season 13-1 and is almost guaranteed an NCAA Tournament bid.

So, who has improved more? Both teams have accomplished so much this season compared to last. Both had similarly terrible records at the end of the 2007 school year. Now each team has accomplished a lot in the Spring 2008 semester. The ladies earned an NCAA Bid and their season concluded having gotten to the dance for only the third time. The lacrosse team’s season is still in progress, but already they have assured post season plan, and achieved a #1 ranking again since they last saw it when the won the National Championship in 2004. Both teams have achieved a lot this year and have earned a lot of congratulations and praise, which is very good for the Athletic Department and university as a whole. Normally I would lean to the sport I like more, which would be the lacrosse team, however achieving something with that basketball team that has historically never been as good as they were this season is something special. Therefore, I leave it up to you the readers. While you can vote still for the ‘Cuse Awards here, I would like to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment and let me know who you think has improved more. Most improved team… who ya got?

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2 Responses to “Most Improved... Who Ya Got?”

  1. # Blogger A.E.M.

    I will go with the Women's BBall team. Lax just had a down year, but it has been on top for a long time, on the other hand the WBB hasn't had a year like this in what? Twenty yrs?


  2. # Blogger Brian Harrison

    They barely squeeked into the NCAA Tournament in 2002 off a win against Notre Dame, defending National Champions, in the Big East Tournament. But that year wasn't even close to this one as that team just got hot at the right time of year. I agree with your point though. This was clearly the best year for the ladies ever.  

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