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Nunes::44 - 12/24/08

This was the picture in Troy's Christmas Cards in 2000.
It’s Wednesday, so it is time for Sean from Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician to answer my questions. He was nice enough to do it before he took off for Christmas. It’s been a couple of weeks since we last inquired each other, so we cover basketball and a bit of football news. Enjoy the Syracuse holiday knowledge feast before you.

1. Orange::44: It's been a wild ride for the basketball team since we last chatted. They lose to Cleveland State, but then have won since, including a big one at Memphis. Thoughts?

Nunes: At the end of the day, you have to take 12-1. Regardless of the Cleveland State outcome....WE'RE 12 and frickin 1!!! How did that happen?

It had been a weird ride though. We had games where it really felt like we were a 12-1 team and we've had some games where we felt like a 6-6 team. I can't tell if its that we play to the level of our opponent or that we're just still gelling in so many ways, even as we keep winning. I still have so many questions about the future of this team. I could see them going 12-6 in Big East play and I could see them going 9-9. The point is, we know they're good but we really don't know HOW good they are yet. It's way too early to anoint them as Big East championship contenders, but at the same time that's not out of the question if a couple things break right.

2. Orange::44: What are your expanded thoughts on the entire Devendorf situation now that it's been a few days since the decision?

Nunes: I think that the University didn't get it exactly right but they ended up a lot closer to what the punishment should have been. If Eric Devendorf isn't a scholarship athlete on our basketball team with Jim Boeheim publicly defending him, I think he would have facing a much harsher penalty. Maybe not "suspended for the entire semester" harsh but much more so than 40 hours of community service. That amounts to a slap on the wrist at the end of the day and was more of an attempt by the Judicial Board to save face on all sides than anything else. They win cause Devo still gets punished. Devo wins cause he'll be back in uniform within 2 weeks. The accuser "wins" because there was punishment that fit the crime.

When I was a senior we got busted for having a party and serving beer to minors. We had to perform 20 hours of community service and were placed on probation. Devo basically got the same thing plus 20 more hours.

I don't want to defend Devo...he did strike a female in the face and that's a pretty shady thing to do regardless of the circumstances. But thankfully it wasn't as bad as we first heard and ultimately, it won't hurt the team nearly as much as we thought it might.

3. Orange::44: How good was Andy Rautins against Coppin State and do you see this continuing for him?

Nunes: I'm very happy for the guy. He wasn't in a terrible slump but he certainly wasn't firing on all cylinders. Talk about perfect timing. It's great for him because now he's brimming with confidence. It's great for Jonny Flynn because now he knows he's got a great complimentary threat back that can cover for him when he's off, like he was. And we know we can survive without Devo when multiple players are doing their jobs.

Will Andy hit 8-9 three-pointers a night? Of course not. But the spark that he can ignite when he does get hot is a huge asset for the Orange and I think it makes us that much more dangerous.

Now as for his hair, well....we're still working on it...

4. Orange::44: Is Syracuse ready to take on a Big East team now?

Nunes: Sure! Bring on South Florida!

It goes back to the first question. What do we REALLY know about this team other than they play to the level of their opponent. So in theory, they should be able to hang with anyone in the Big East. Like we saw in the Memphis game, a lot of it comes down to our ability to force bad shots. If Notre Dame comes at us with their usual barrage of 3-pointers, a lot of it is going to come down to how many they make and if we adjust defensively. We haven't faced a player like UConn's Thabeet yet and although we have the bodies down below I don't know if they have the combined experience to keep him in check.

I feel good about our chances in the Big East, we're certainly one of the more battle-tested teams among them. But I honestly don't know how we measure up day-to-day with UConn, Pitt, G'town and the others just yet. Time will tell. It usually does.

5. Orange::44: How do you feel about the rounding out of the football staff Doug Marrone is putting together?

Nunes: On paper, it looks pretty good. Yeah, Rob Spence left Clemson under bad circumstances. But good coaches find themselves in bad situations all the time. I like the pedigree of these guys...Clemson, Tennessee, Georgia, etc...lots of experience to go around. Inasmuch as Marrone is putting together a staff that knows New York and the surrounding area, the hiring of Greg Adkins signals that Syracuse isn't going to just stay local either. I feel like Marrone is really surrounding himself with good football people that he can trust and I don't think you can ask for any more than that.

If you want Norm Chow and Dan Mullen, guess what...Norm Chow and Dan Mullen don't want to be here. So I'm going to trust that Marrone knows what he's doing based on the finding the guys that are available and can turn a program around quickly with strong recruiting and creative play schemes. All of a sudden it seems like the pieces are in place to get some good recruits and play an offense that fits what we have to work with rather than try to force it.

6. Orange::44: Is losing JUCO transfer Barnas anything, or are you not worried with five QB's on the team already and the fact he played in D-III?

Nunes: Well apparently now we find out the guy wasn't even going to play QB (maybe...if that's not just spin). You always have to remind yourself that Garrett Barnas hasn't proven anything on a Division 1-A level so it's hard to say he was going to come in and really make any waves. That said, if I'm left with Cam Dantley, Andrew Robinson and a trio of untested underclassmen...I'm not jumping up and down.

My guess is that Marrone and Spence want to find their own guy. Maybe they even have their eye on someone already and that's why they didn't want Barnas eating up the scholarship. I trust they'll find what they need. In the meantime they'll just make due with what they have. And if we are going to run a spread offense, I expect to see a little more of David Legree in the preseason.

7. Orange::44: Finally, what is your favorite holiday tradition?

Nunes: I hate to be so generic but I'm a fan of the whole opening presents on Christmas Day process. As a kid, we celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas (haha...suckers) but somewhere along the way we just veered towards Hanukkah only. Then when I got married my wife celebrated Christmas so we started it up again. It's a great excuse to pretend to be a kid again, and I'm almost always assured the newest version of EA Sports NCAA Football so I literally can be a kid again for a few hours afterwards.

Oh, and Egg Nog. If God had blood, this is what would course through his veins.

And I'm probably ask him to see a doctor about that cause it sounds bad. Yet delicious. Happy Holidays to you and Cusians everywhere...

Thanks you Sean, great work as usual. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you as well. I’ll be back later today with my complete wrap up of the football season just in time for Christmas, if you can stomach it.

Editor’s Note: This is another installment in the ongoing collaboration between Orange::44 and Nunes/Magician. Usually every other Wednesday Nunes::44 will appear here, while the following week Orange::44/Magician will appear on his site. Until then, enjoy Nunes/Magician articles and stay tuned to Orange::44 for complete postgame coverage from every Syracuse game.

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