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1. Orange::44: I know nothing about your recent recruiting class. What should I know?
LTP: Despite the fact it was picked 10th (of 11) by most "experts" I'm actually relatively pleased. It was a very unsexy class dominated by 5 offensive lineman - many the biggest (literally) recruits we've had. The headliners of the class are WR Martin Bayless who chose NU over Ohio State and Florida and Quentin Williams - a TE from Pittsburgh, PA. At Northwestern it is rare for a recruit to play right away so it is doubtful any of this class will make an instant impact.
2. Orange::44: In your questions you mentioned how Northwestern fans expect to beat Syracuse this coming season. What makes you think that besides the record of the team last season?
LTP: Unreal expectations. Most of us are like the sports reporters who look at the previous year's performance and make judgments off of that. That is why we expect to beat Syracuse. However, despite our 3 Big Ten titles since 1995, Cats fans are like Red Sox fans and expect the worst. Look no further than last year's embarrassing loss at home to Duke and the 2006 loss at HOME to UNH and you get a sense for our apprehension.
3. Orange::44: Northwestern finished last season with a final record of six and six and three and five in conference play. Is this about what Northwestern should achieve next year, or is their stock on the rise?
LTP: Expectations are very high in Evanston this year as we are senior-laden at the skill positions including QB, RB and WR. The key to our season will be our inexperienced offensive line and the maturation of QB CJ Bacher who has looked Heisman-esque in stretches ( a 2 game 10 TD near 1000 yard blitz) and freshmen-esque at times. If Bacher can control his INTs and Tyrell Sutton can finally stay healthy in the backfield 8-4 is the LEAST we're hoping for in 2008.
4. Orange::44: What is the one thing you like best about your program, and what do you dislike the most?
LPT: The underdog role and doing things the right way. We have no business beating Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State and the like, but we do (OK, Ohio State wins are very few and far between). We have 7400 students and the next closest Big Ten school is 20,000. Any NU kid in front of a camera makes most alums pretty proud and the consistent trait is the overachieving, under recruited kid.
The only major dislike I have is the lack of fan support - it is terrible. If we get 30,000 at home against Syracuse it would actually be considered a good crowd. Ryan Field holds 47,000 and only in 1995 and 1996 did we consistently pack the place. The other catch 22 is that Chicago is the largest alumni base for nearly every opponent so we are flooded with opposing fans.
5. Orange::44: Without predicting a win or a loss, how do you see these two teams matching up, and what should Syracuse fans look for in this Northwestern team?
LTP: I actually have no idea about the match-up. NU's biggest off season news was a bevy of new coaches including our defensive coordinator (Mike Hankwitz - we stole from Wisconsin) and Mick McCall at offensive coordinator (Bowling Green). You can count on an explosive offense - we play the spread and pass a ton. Defense is the huge question mark as we've been atrocious for a decade but Hankwitz has Wildcat Nation elated and expecting instant results. Our Achilles Heel in 2007 was our inability to score in the Red Zone. We led the Big Ten in offense but were near the bottom in scoring offense. Overall I'm expecting a tight game - we NEVER blow teams out.
6. Orange::44: Finally, how strong do you think the Big Ten (11) Conference will be overall next year, and what does an outsider think of the Big East Conference as a whole since the Big East Conference realignment.
LTP: I think the Big Ten will be "down" since they lost the bulk of the star power including Mike Hart, Mario Manningham, James Hardy and a slew of others. But, as Ohio State proved last year, the top of the Big Ten is rarely ever down - the Buckeyes rebuilding year landed them in the national championship. Michigan will be the most interesting team to watch - especially if they land Pryor.
As a kid who grew up in Big East country, I can tell you that the Big East gets no respect in Big Ten country. It is not a willful disdain, but rather a "now, which teams are in that conference again?" type of thing. The whole 16-team super basketball conference overshadows football especially considering DePaul, Marquette and Notre Dame get press in Chicago. Syracuse has great name recognition in Chicago and there are many alums here, so I expect a strong throng of Orange in Evanston.
The Republican, via Masslive.com, reports that freshman Christopher R. Casey, sophomore Christian M. Haggerty and freshman Ryan T. Marcus are no longer enrolled at UMass. The three players have been charged with assault and battery and breaking and entering. All three students have pleaded not guilty.
Freshman Ryan Marcus, one of the players charged was a top 100 lacrosse recruit this year according to Inside Lacrosse. Jim Connolly, who is merely suspended from the team, was a preseason honorable mention All-American attackman. This, as previously stated, leaves UMass Lacrosse in a position of missing a top freshman who was destined to do great things on the field, as well as a top attackman in the nation. It is all due to the kids getting a little frisky one night in February. Stay tuned to even more law breaking news as it develops right here at Orange::44.
PS - UConn's Dyson is now off suspension, so look for him to return to the court only to be removed from it again sometime soon.
We start with the hometown heroes of the Orange. Syracuse won against an Army team that beat them just a year before, with a final score of 8 to 7. The complete box score is here. I will do some analysis but I just wanted to point out the fact I had to link it from the Army Athletics website because the box score on Syracuse’s site does not work. Excellent work guys.
Mike Leveille led the Orange in goals with four. Greg Niewieroski had the hat trick. The eighth and final goal came from Stephen Keogh. Leveille also led in the assist category with two, giving him six points on the day. Face off Specialist Danny Brennan won 12 out of 16 he took, as well as seven ground balls. Syracuse overall won 13 of 18 face off attempts.
Syracuse had 43 shots overall, which is huge compared to only 22 for Army. Limiting the shots of the opponents is key to a more successful season for Syracuse. This is huge that Syracuse was able to do it to a team not named Villanova. Army is a very capable team and the fact that Syracuse had such a stark difference in shots shows the team is not something to dismiss.
Syracuse also had 38 ground balls, which is also big compared to Army’s 23. Syracuse’s defense, being the big contentious point that needed improvement from last season, has shown massive improvement. This can be easily shown from this stat. Syracuse’s shifting on defense has greatly improved, the defensive packages conceived by Lelan Rogers have been working well, and Syracuse has been limiting shots on the goalie vastly as compared to last season.
Syracuse is looking good so far, and will have a real test at the 2008 Face Off Classic at 12:00pm on Saturday March 1st in Baltimore, Maryland. #7 Syracuse will take on #3 Virginia, a team that Syracuse lost to in the National Semi-Final Game in 2006, and a team that beat Syracuse last season in the same game by a score of 8 to 11. This is exactly the type of outcome that Syracuse continually had last season, much like with Army. This year the Army outcome was different, therefore logic would dictate that the Virginia game this season could be different as well.
The ladies, while I have not heard much about them this season, have put in two solid routings of their opponents, to have earned the new ranking of #4 in the nation. They beat Dartmouth on Sunday by a score of 18 to 5. The women's box score and recap is here from Insidelacrosse.com. Congratulations to the ladies and keep up the good work.
Back to the men, as there were a lot of notable games, and a few upsets:
#19 University of Maryland-Baltimore County was trounced by unranked Rutgers by a score of 13 to 4 on Sunday. A possible Big East team in the future, Rutgers dismantled an NCAA Tournament team of the last few years.
#10 Notre Dame also beat Penn State on Sunday by a score of 15 to 9.
#7 Maryland pulled the upset on #4 Georgetown by a score of 11 to 6. Maryland assents to the rank of #4 and Georgetown fell to #9.
#1 Hopkins handled the Great Danes of Albany (#12) by a score of ten to five.
#17 Loyola beat Maryland rival #14 Towson 13 to 8.
#3 Virginia squeaked by Stony Brook 15 to 13.
Other scores from Inside Lacrosse are found here. The new Inside Lacrosse rankings are here.
1. Orange::44: Yeah, we lost to Notre Dame, but when one guy hits nine three point shots, and the team overall has 14, we really had no business staying in this game. Still, was this loss demoralizing, or encouraging that we kept it so close with a hot shooting team?
Nunes: I think it’s demoralizing because of what it said about our ability to learn from past mistakes. Jimmy B knew going in that when Notre Dame beats us, it's with the three. So naturally, if ND has a hot hand we need to adjust. We never really did. I don't think it’s because Boeheim didn't realize this, I think its because he doesn't trust the team to step out of its comfort zone and play a different brand of defense.
I think it exposed a huge lack of faith on the part of the coaches in the players to go man-to-man or change up their tactics. That's scary for a team that needs to scratch, claw and do anything it can to make it into the tournament.
Instead of saying "beat us if you can", SU is saying "just break our zone and we've got nothing else."
2. Orange::44: Looking at this team, how do you think we will finish out the regular season?
Nunes: If there's anything predictable about a Syracuse basketball team, it's that they're unpredictable. How else do you explain a team that has lost four of five yet the only win was over the #10 team in the nation? It's a daunting last three games for sure. Pittsburgh is reeling but they're still a very capable team. Seton Hall would look a lot less scary if it weren't on the road (Orange are 2-6 on the road in the BE). And Marquette is playing for a bye in the BET so they'll be ready to go.
My honest, unbiased answer is that they will lose 2 out of 3, finish the season 18-13 (8-10), know they have no shot at the NCAA Tournament, get Pitt or West Virginia in the first round and probably not make it out of that game. Then it's off to the NIT again.
My biased, unabashed homeristic answer is that they will win 2 out of 3, finish the season 19-12 (9-9), beat Cincy in the first round of the BET but lose in the second round, narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament yet again.
Either way, it probably doesn't end pretty. God, that South Florida loss really sucked.
3. Orange::44: You appear to be on the Women's Lax beat until they get to the BET, at which point I am sure to take over again. How are they going to do this year, especially with that fancy new head coach?
Nunes: I'm just keeping the seat warm for you. Honestly, all I know is what the Internet and box scores tell me but what they tell me is that we have a legitimate juggernaut on our hands. Coming off a fantastic season when they were beaten in the playoffs by eventual champ Northwestern, they brought in the living legend and the team seems to have responded by stepping it up a notch themselves. Only two games in they've crushed an inferior team and demoralized a ranked team. We'll know exactly what they're made of after this weekend when they take on #2 Virginia. A demonstrative win there and you have to make the case that they are one of the best teams in the country.
Not said often but, DOC Gross, nice job.
4. Orange:44: The Men's Lacrosse team beat Army. Will they keep going against the murder's row they now face, or will they falter?
Nunes: While they won last weekend, the SU team didn't exactly put all of last year's ghosts to rest. They did prove they are more resilient, but coming back against Army is not the same as coming back against Virginia. Or Georgetown. Or Johns Hopkins. I don't see the SU team winning out, I think there's still a few bugs that need to be worked out. But even if they lose two, even all three of these games, I see this year's team being better for it come season-end.
Plus, thanks to the biased and wacky ranking systems in lacrosse, even if they lost all three, SU would still only drop to like #15.
5. Orange::44: Speaking of early football predictions, the schedule is out. Counting Crows references aside, are we going to be better this year than the last?
Nunes: Round Here, I think the word is that we're going to be better in August And Everything After. I don't know what Mr. Jones on the street thinks but you have to figure the team doesn't want another Long December. (Okay, I'm done).
Offensively, I expect good things. Andrew has a full season under his belt, Mike Williams is a legit threat and he's going to have some young help on the other side of the field. There's going to be a big time showdown for the RB position in practice, a good problem to have. Hopefully someone will emerge for real. As usual, it'll rest on the O-line to actually allow any of this to happen.
Like you said in the last go-round, I think the Big East will be down this year so it will be a great chance for SU to start their climb back up to mediocrity. Northwestern is winnable, Akron is winnable, Northeastern (please God) is as close to a sure thing as we're gonna get. In the Big East I expect us to be competitive with UConn and Louisville at least as well. I'm holding steady at 5-7 until further notice.
6. Orange::44: We are almost at the end of the basketball season. What was the biggest surprise for you in the Big East this season, and what was your favorite game to watch with Syracuse or any team?
Nunes: The biggest surprise is probably the switcheroo at the top of the conference. Early on, it looked like a three-team race between G'town, Pitt and Marquette. Now, it's still a race that involved G'town, but Louisville, UConn and Notre Dame are in the driver's seats for byes. With the start that L'ville and UConn had, its impressive that they were able to turn their seasons around so quickly, and in the middle of Big East games no less.
I didn't get to actually watch too many games this year and usually when I watched SU, they lost (natch). No game really stands out as an amazing game that I watched this season but I appreciate the Georgetown win which I watched via the scoreboard on my Sirius radio. I had no sound, no knowledge of what was going on, only the back-and-forth updates on the screen. It was thrilling, in a "what the hell is going on???" kind of way.
Still wish I could have watched it though.
7. Orange::44: Finally, who is the most overrated team in the Big East and why?
Nunes: I think it has to be Georgetown. They are extremely beatable, as proven by Syracuse and I think they are benefiting from an early-season ranking. All three conference losses have come on the road so that doesn't bode well for the Big East Tournament and beyond for them. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they lost early in the BET, but that might also have to do with the balance up top of the conference.
“Do It All Paul” Harris had another great game. He had 22 points, 12 rebounds, and made seven of eight free throws. He also played all 40 minutes of the game. Paul Harris continues to be the player Syracuse needs to show up. When poor shooting plagues this team Paul still seems to find a way to score. Paul continues to be fast, powerful, and able to drive to the hoop on any given play. He also can make a three ball now and then. This kid remains the stud of the team.
The Arinze Onuaku we all know and love showed up in South Bend and he had 19 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks, and then he fouled out. You have to be impressed with the big fellow though, as he fought hard, got rebounds, and continued to try to make put backs when nothing was falling for Syracuse.
Jonny Flynn played another 40 minutes and he continues to get my vote for Big East Rookie of the Year. He got 17 points, six assists, and even blocked a shot. I feel like a broken record but Flynn continues to make great decisions and take good shots. He has the ability to head to the hoop almost at any moment, and really is an energizing factor for the Orange. Kudos to the kid.
Kristof! was not as impressive this time around, but he still contributed. He had 11 points, six rebounds, and three assists. He still loves to shoot the reverse lay up and it usually goes in, although he missed a couple in this game. Kristof! hit a huge three in the game though, and for that Kristof! gets another pass from me for middle of the road numbers.
Donte Greene was my Zero of the Game. He finished with five points and seven rebounds only making two of seven attempts. Simply awful.
Scoop Jardine looked good out on the floor again. He earned eight points and three assists in 23 minutes of work. Rick Jackson also added five points and four rebounds in his 14 minutes on the floor. Jackson better work hard in the Gym next year to get some floor minutes.
Syracuse simply killed Notre Dame on the boards. Syracuse earned 47 rebounds and 21 offensive boards, compared to Notre Dame’s 32 and 4. Syracuse had plenty of second and third chance looks at the basket and not many of them seemed to fall.
Speaking of baskets not falling, Syracuse only shot 40% from the floor. To really put this in perspective and make it sound way worst that it actually may have been, that is only 33 baskets out of 82 tries. Yeah, that seems like a shit show right? Especially compared to Notre Dame’s 55% shooting, oh yeah and 56% from three point land, that makes Syracuse look foolish.
Syracuse did at least limit turnovers in this contest, which helped keep them in the game. Syracuse only committed 11 turnovers, which is even better than the 13 Notre Dame committed.
Syracuse debuted their all navy uniforms. I had only seen these in the stores and had only seen a few people wear them around the Dome. I have to say, I did not hate them in action as much as I thought I would. But need I remind the viewing audience that navy is not one of the university’s official colors. As a matter of fact, there is only one… orange. All things considered, like I said I did not hate them on the floor. I think I probably hated them more on a hanger in the store than actually on the players. Picture below, courtesy of the Post Standard.
This was the only game Syracuse has been showcased on CBS this season, and thank god. These guys were more biased to Notre Dame than any Duke game I had watched on ESPN this year. I think that says a lot about how much I hated these announcers. I thought they were going to get on the floor and personally pat Kyle McAlarney on the back. It is fine to give a little love to the team that is winning. It is fine to praise a kid having the kind of day that McAlarney was having. But honestly, it was like beating up on the fat kid. Is it really cool to be bashing Syracuse when they are only playing with seven players, unranked and playing #21 on the road, and not shooting very well?
Frankly, I consider this game a huge motivator for the team. Honestly, they only lost the game 87 to 94. When a kid made 9 three point shots, and the team combined for 14, and Syracuse only loses by seven, that is not bad at all. This is not a bad loss, it was not a blow out, and it was hardly awful. Hopefully Syracuse can not be motivated to turn this into a win against Pitt and/or Marquette at home. Oh yeah, and Seton Hall in Jersey.
This game was not bad to watch, but you knew they were not going to pull this one out. When you do not make easy put backs and lay ups, well it will not be a good night. Syracuse kept the game close, but really Syracuse had no business doing so. Thus, I chalk this one up to moral victory and we move on to Saturday versus Pittsburgh in the Carrier Dome. Hopefully, Syracuse can take it to Dixon’s squad and get a desperately needed win for the NCAA Tournament resume. Tomorrow we have a new Nunes::44, as well as some other tid bits that you will surely enjoy mulling over. Until then, remember that Notre Dame cannot take over the college basketball world because God created whiskey. And honestly, whiskey is awesome.
Also, if you are craving some more videos related to Syracuse, the new website Reel Sports Fan, a website with all user uploaded content started by a Syracuse alumnus, has a lot of ‘Cuse related videos, including some from the folks at Citrus TV on campus. Included this week is a preview of the Notre Dame basketball contest on Sunday at 2:00pm on CBS. Check out the Syracuse video page here and enjoy a solid weekend of ‘Cuse sports. If lacrosse is your thing #8 Syracuse will host Army at 3:30pm in the Carrier Dome on Sunday as well. Plenty of Syracuse sports to mull over this weekend so enjoy. I will be back with complete postgame coverage of both contests on Sunday night or Monday. Also, look for some more football coverage with our friends from the Northwestern blog Lake the Posts. Stay tuned and see if the Basketball team can end the current home win streak of Notre Dame.
Mr. Council apparently entered a convenience store at around 4:15 in the morning and pulled a 9mm Uzi on the clerk, the only person in the store. He then demanded all the money, the clerk's cell phone, then drove away in a silver Chevrolet Impala. The vehicle was later spotted in Tennessee where he was detained until authorities from NC could pick up the suspect.
Rocco Gasparro, assistant sports information director, released this statement on behalf of the university:
“We were informed today that senior cornerback Rod Council was arrested early this morning. Based upon the information we received, Rod Council has been permanently dismissed from our team immediately. We do not tolerate that type of behavior in our football program. Fortunately, no innocent bystanders were injured or harmed in the process.”
Card Chronicle states that had he not been arrested, and put in a quality senior season, he most likely would have been drafted high in the 2009 NFL draft. This can only be good for Syracuse’s changes at back to back wins against the Cardinals.
Very interesting. So this kid decides I’m going to get an Uzi, go to a store, and get some pocket change. Solid. Goodbye football career, goodbye freedom, and goodbye tight ass. Of course, the suspect is innocent until proven guilty. However, it sounds like this young man’s lawyer has their work cut out for them. Of course, I would throw the book at him, but that is just because I want to be a prosecutor, I am a hard ass, and I watch an awful lot of Law & Order.
Arinze Onuaku had another huge game with 16 points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes of play. His defense also limited Dave Padgett, about two screws away from being the man with bionic legs, to only one point. If he keeps it up, he very well may be the Big East most improved player. That idiot AJ Price will probably get it though if UConn keeps winning. Paul Harris deserves a mention for that as well.
Greene was one for ten from long range and three for 15 overall. He finished with nine points and a dreadful offensive performance. He somewhat made up for it with 12 rebounds, but that is small consolation when you need to finish the game with more points than the other team and not more rebounds to win.
Harris had 13 points and played fairly well considering no one could make a jump shot. He also earned three rebounds and went seven of nine from the line.
Flynn actually sat down for one minutes snapping his streak of games played without a break. He earned eight points and three assists. He still is making good decisions and looks good when slicing the lane. This kid right now should be Big East Rookie of the Year.
Kristof had zero points but I still like him for his defense and rebounding. He earned seven rebounds, and three offensive rebounds. I agree with Russ at The Three Idiots that he is a pretty underrated passer as well.
Scoop played 12 minutes, but did not really contribute offensively. Jackson still has trouble finishing and needs to put on some pounds of muscle to be truly great. That ends the contributions from people on the bench.
Truth be told, as much as the announcers made a big deal about it, the team did really look out of gas within the last four minutes. It looks like playing all the minutes is not really a problem unless they are playing in the always tough Saturday to Monday situation. This concerns me for a possible Big East Tournament run, as you play back to back days and games. The bench could very well be a big problem, especially if we need to win two or three games to make the NCAA Tournament.
This team shot extremely poor compared to the last few games (29%). Syracuse also did not manage to score above 60 points. The team also made only two of twenty three point attempts. This was just pitiful and sad to watch. As a matter of fact, not gonna lie, I became super snatchy while watching this game.
While the zone defense looked pretty good, it just never feels like Syracuse caught any breaks when it comes to the point in the game when they need a big rebound, and the same can be said for the last few games even when playing well.
The team at least made their free throws. They made 16 of 22 for 73%.
This team was severely and outrageously outrebounded. Louisville had 53 defensive rebounds and 19 offensive. Syracuse respectively had 34 and eight. That is a stark difference and it had a big reason the outcome of the game went to L’ville. Not good my friends.
Really, when it came down to it, the team could not hit the ocean from a boat, and they could not stop anything in the last couple of minutes. So I was not surprised that this game was well in the bag before the final minute.
After the Georgetown win I think a possible NIT bid is almost certain at the minimum. The Orange still have a chance at an NCAA bid with their remaining schedule, but they need another big win. Otherwise, this was not a pleasant game to watch and it made me upset especially after seeing the Georgetown game and knowing that this team can play very well. A win this Sunday versus Notre Dame will go a long way in stating the case for Syracuse to reach March Madness. We can only wait and see what team will show up, until then we have some Orange::44/Magician coming soon, and some more football talk with our friends at Lake The Posts. Stay tunes and enjoy your week off from the frustrating hoops victories that we mention on the clock above.
I know it is a little early to discuss football yet, but the fine folks over at Lake The Posts, an excellent Northwestern football blog, asked me some questions last week, and they posted my answers on their site here. Later this week we will have some early football coverage with them answering my questions. I know we are neck deep in basketball and now lacrosse, but check out their site and check out my answers to start your mouth watering for a football season that should be better than the last.
ESPN.com reports that Gary Peoples, 28, will face second-degree harassment charges. 11 counts of it. Williams contacted the police when he sent an e-mail from Peoples saying he wanted to move to Canada with her and start a family. Peoples is a solid citizen, having a record of assault on a police officer, drunken driving, possession of narcotics and possession of marijuana.
Moral of the story, there is always a down side. Sure your team might be ranked #1 again, but it always comes with a price. And ladies out there, no matter how bad your love life, remember it is not as bad as you may think.
Erica Morrow continues to lead the Orange with scoring as she dropped 19 on Notre Dame. She continues to be excellent on the floor for the orange. While I will not bore you with further details of this game, Syracuse had this game close with a superior team and was in the game until about a minute remaining. But really, I did not come for the basketball or the excellent sportsmanship. I came to heckle and we surely did. I, along with several of my closest college friends showed up, some in more clothes than others, and we proceeded to implement the Orange::44 Guide to Heckling Women’s Games. Vito, resident MXT was on hand and he continued to heckle like he never left. My good friend Jayme and I, who helped me assemble the guide, we were in rare form. Being that it was alumni weekend I got to do various alumni activities which included returning to my old habit of running the flags at the under four time out. I also got to visit with Brent Axe of The Axeman Bloggeth on Syracuse.com again. It is always good to talk some shop and I am glad he noticed my supreme flag carrying ability. Also, the picture above is full of professional hecklers and it was nice to see them go all out. From left to right; RJ, Jon, Scott, Jeff, and Watson. You might remember Scott from football season with a bag on his head. It was an excellent afternoon.
But the real game I went to see for the game itself was the opening game of the #9 Syracuse lacrosse team. They took on Villanova at home in a potential future Big East Conference game. Syracuse got off to an early start. Syracuse finished the first quarter up ten goals to zero. The big news of the game was that John Galloway started in goal over Pete Coluccini, and he made some great saves. Attackman Kenny Nims had a game high six goals. Yes that was SIX goals. Next was Dan Hardy wearing #22 with a hat trick. Mike Leveille led the assist category with four, and Danny Brennan led in ground balls with 11. He also went earned 17 of 23 face offs. Syracuse finished the game ahead of Villanova with a 21 to 6 victory. Syracuse is now 1-0 on the season, and has jumped from nine to eight in the polls.
Really, the offense looked off the chain and the defense looked much improved. Galloway looked good in goal, and Coluccini looked good in the second half, but really I think Galloway is the guy right now. This team will not be tested next week most likely, but Army could be tough so they cannot look past that team to the next game. As long as this team remains motivated and focused they can take on the big teams in the country and be competitive. Really, anything less than a return to the Final Four will be a disappointment I think, so the Orange need to remain ever vigilant so they do not lapse in judgment.
All in all it was an excellent weekend. I want to thank all the friends I saw for making it excellent. I especially wish to thank Anthony, Jayme, Vito, Erin and Melissa (OGMG). Enjoy the picture below of Vito. He really enjoys women’s basketball. The Louisville postgame will be out either later today or tomorrow. Sadly the outcome was not as good as Georgetown. Stay tuned and enjoy some lax action, as chances are they will win more games than the football team this season.
Paul Harris, who all of a sudden is now “Do It All Paul”, was the leading scorer for Syracuse. Despite three HUGE mental errors in the last three minutes of the game, he still had an excellent game. He lead the team with 22 points, he had eight rebounds, and made 11 of 14 free throws, four of which, were key in the last minute of the game. Paul Harris has averaged 22 points in his last four games and has really come into his own lately. As long as he continues to produce and continue to work on his ball handling and limiting mistakes, he will be an invaluable resource to Syracuse this season and next season.
Donte Greene was second in scoring, and the simple fact of the matter is that when you shoot 16 shots from three point range some of them will go in. Four of them did, and when they fell, they fell at key moments where the crowd could not be silenced by anything Georgetown did. Greene has been a poor shooter the last five games, but I’ll take the “go big or go home” shooting attitude of Greene when he continues to take good shots, despite the fact they do not go in. He finished with 18 points in 39 minutes.
Flynn continues to play all 40 minutes, making good decisions along the way. He earned 17 points, nine assists, and made all eight of his free throws. Flynn has grown up a lot since the kid that made seven turnovers early in the season. He has stepped up admirably for Devendorf and continues to make outstanding decisions and passes, as well as demonstrate the ability to slice through the lane and take the ball to the hoop. If I could have a beer with one member of the team, besides Kristof!, it would clearly be Flynn.
Onuaku finally put in a game that is worthy of his talent level. The game plan early, as you may have heard on ESPN like 432,562 times during the game, was to have Onuaku go right at Hibbert and it clearly worked. Arinze came out early and sent Hibbert to the bench early in the first half with two fouls. Had Onuaku not fouled out with 3:50 remaining on the clock I am convinced that the final score would not have been as close as it was. He finished with 13 points, five rebounds, and he was good in this game. Apparently my friend John needs to say he sucks more on this blog if he turns around and performs as well as he did on Saturday.
Kristof! had an excellent game. This was not on the offensive end, although he did have three points. Rather, he got the job done on the defensive end, helping cover the fast and accurate guards of Georgetown, and seeming to always be in the position to get a rebound. He earned eight rebounds, three assists, and played 28 minutes. Kristof! continues to be one of my favorite “tall, white, and goofy looking” players of the 2007-2008 season.
Rick Jackson, while about 20 pounds of muscle away from being an outstanding center in college basketball, had the defensive game of his life. With Onuaku in foul trouble, Jackson came in and was a force in the middle of the zone. The stat sheet does not reflect his contributions with three blocked shots, two points, and four rebounds in his 15 minutes of play. He looked fresh, alert, and stoked to be on the floor and he played well.
Scoop looked decent as well, taking the ball to the tin at one point with a reverse lay-up that seemed like a circus shot, but it went in. Good for scoop. Hopefully he can get a few more minutes under his belt before the end of the year.
Syracuse blew up in the first half, at one point leading by 21 points. Syracuse shot 42% from the floor in the first half compared to Georgetown’s 30%. The real stark facts though are that Syracuse had 16 points in the paint, 12 fast break points, and 18 points off turnovers. Georgetown had two, zero, and zero points respectively. Syracuse only had five turnovers in the first half compared to Georgetown’s 12. It is tough to say if this was because of nerves of the players, the crowd noise getting to them, or they simply did not show up to play, but Syracuse took advantage accordingly.
Syracuse overall shot 44.4% from the floor (insert “44” here). They made 24 of 54 attempts. The big number stat for this game, especially down the stretch, was the free throw percentage. Syracuse made 23 of 28 free throw attempts, for an 82% outing. Outstanding day for Syracuse from the free throw line, as they really kept this game out of reach for Georgetown. The notable participant was Harris trying to make up for his three boneheaded plays towards the end of the second half.
Syracuse overall only had 11 turnovers compared to Georgetown’s 14. Harris had four, but a couple of these were not really his fault due to him being double teamed at the top of the key. This is good as Syracuse blew up in the turnover category as of late. Syracuse again had seven blocked shots, led by Jackson. Syracuse also had seven steals with Ongenaet, Onuaku, and Flynn earning two.
Rebounding was also huge for the Orange this game. Kristof!, as I stated earlier, always seemed to be in the right place under the basket and worked hard and fought for a lot of contested rebounds, being rewarded with the ball. Syracuse had 32 defensive rebounds compared to Georgetown’s 23.
Syracuse beat their rival, who happened to be ranked eighth in the nation. This led to a court rush, which I called with about 12 minutes remaining in the game. I said that if we won, no matter the score, Syracuse students would storm the floor and they did. Now I am usually only for advocating the court rush in big time situations. Matt Glaude, my former compatriot and founder of this blog, wrote his proposed legislation governing acceptable and unacceptable court rush moments, and based on that article the court rush was justified. It was a major upset over a rival team. However, when you rush the court you have to be safe, and according to Axeman it was not. That is unacceptable. The only acceptable shenanigan in my opinion is stealing the possession arrow. That is simply because it would be awesome to have that in your living room. Other than that, all you can do is take some pictures, maybe slap five to a player, and jump up and down with your buddies. So be careful out there kids. Enjoy the video below of the court rush as I saw it from section 309. Also, we got a little love from Storming The Floor, who have a similar discussion .
Method: Calling Players Fat, AKA “Who Wants A Pork Chop?”
Morality Meter: You have to bracket a lot of your moral standards to use this one properly.
How To: Simply call a player fat. Be creative and come up with a way to call players fat where they do not realize you called them fat until they think about it for a few seconds. The optimal time to use this method is when they are about to take their first free throw. Also, when they are running down the court and appear slightly winded is another. Also, anytime a player is wearing a UConn jersey.
Results: They no doubt will have their free throws affected. Also, there will be a general drop in self esteem.
Conclusion: If you are willing to go all out, this is the method for you. You will no doubt be labeled a jerk, but if that is simply par for the course for you, do you really care? This one is tried and true, so if you want to be “that guy”, then have at it Hoss.
Method: The Fake Date
Morality Meter: This one is not very offensive, so you can keep your high ground.
How To: Simply have a dialogue with a player about how you will take them out after the game. I usually like to use Faegan’s.
Results: This generally does not do much but further get you into a player’s head. It is more fun for you being asinine that really trying to distract.
Conclusion: This one is just a lot of fun. You basically are just belligerent for no reason. You are going to go to Faegan’s most likely after the game anyway, so why not make a hilarious story about how you want Dianna Taurasi to come too.
Method: I Saw The Sign
Morality Meter: It depends on how creative or offensive you want to make it.
How To: Simply think of a funny and/or awesome sign and then create it. Try to make it team or player specific for extra emphasis.
Results: Not only will you get in the player’s or coach’s heads, but you could even find your way on TV if it is being broadcast.
Conclusion: This allows even the most passive fan to publicly heckle, usually without even saying a word. My best example of this was we played UConn during the 2003-2004 season. I made a poster with Pat Summit’s head saying “I’m better than you”. I flashed this at Geno Auriemma as he excited the locker room before the game and he just about died laughing. After the game, his assistant coach said that the entire UConn staff had a good chuckle. Of course, this is still my favorite sign. Not my most hilarious, but still very true.
Method: Dribble, Pass, Shot
Morality Meter: Very low, this should not offend anyone. Not even the super sensitive athletic department.
How To: Simply pick a possession where the arena is fairly quiet, usually coming out of a time out or a substitution, and the other team is in bounding at their end. Then just say dribble when they dribble, pass when they pass, or shot when they shoot.
Results: This can really mess with a player’s confidence and rhythm.
Conclusion: This one is easy to do, and is a lot of fun as you get a whole group to participate. Just hope they miss the shot because if they make it, the home fans look like a bunch of jackasses.
Method: The Target
Morality Meter: Moderate to high, depending on how far you want to take it. Generally singling out a player by name will cause you to be moderately offensive.
How To: Pick a player, usually the star or best player on a team, and keep on riding them the entire game. Chant their name when they have the ball. Talk to them on in bounds. Pretty much keep on them at any point, especially if they are shooting a free throw or they miss an easy basket.
Results: Good players are good players, so they may still blow up for 25 points, or they may have an off night and your team rocks it. Usually the players are a bit rattled though. A good suggestion to hedge your bet is to pick the sixth player, the first off the bench. In case she forgets why she is not starting it is good to remind her by reciting her career stats if you can. Nothing annoys someone at the line quite like being told from the back row that "your free throw percentage just dropped below 62%." This requires a little research and preparation, but it is usually worth the effort. Dianna Taurasi and I have had some fun with this one in the past.
Conclusion: Despite the outcome, which can really help rattle a star player, or make a less that great player be even worse, it is simply a blast to do. Remember, you usually get out what you put in.
Method: Calling Players Ugly, AKA "Hurry Up, Ugly"
Morality Meter: This is not at all offensive if you are deaf. However, if you can hear it, it is pretty darn offensive. It is safe to say your Grandmother would not approve.
How To: Simply call a player ugly. You will nearly be tossed out of the game. I strongly recommend that you pick the hottest girl on the team to target so you can defend your action as blatant sarcasm. If you actually pick someone you would not sleep with after five car bombs, you risk getting beaten outside the Dome by all the away team's fans (who, in my day, used to outnumber the home fans).
Results: The “hot girl” on ‘Nova a few years ago only earned four points. This one is tried and true.
Conclusion: If you are willing to go all out, then clearly you are ready to implement this one. Plus, if you do not care what other people think about you, boom goes the dynamite.
Morality Meter: This will not hurt your street cred with anyone normally, but it could get you in trouble if you pick a foreign name.
How To: Pick a player whose last name offers the most potential pronunciations. Now, try all of them out loud. Insert phrases like "Did they botch your birth certificate?" or "Can I buy a vowel?" If you decide it is time to get kicked out of the Dome, inquire to said player if "ICE knows you're here." This tactic usually works best during the quietest parts of the game, since your jokes require a good five to seven seconds and impeccable diction.
Results: You are pretty much just getting in the players head, or at least giving the home crowd something to chuckle about. Because you know everyone's thinking "Shricalarkasi? Hey, Johnny... who the hell is that?"
Conclusion: This one is pretty much just about being ridiculous. It is a lot of fun to see how terribly you can mispronounce the ladies’ names.
It seems Mr. Canfield took it upon himself to hit another citizen over the head with a glass bottle. No more details were released about the incident, and of course he has been suspended by Brian Kelly.
He did not even spend a day in jail before getting bailed out of the pokey. Ah well. He will be back in court for arraignment on February 26th. Canfield started all 13 games for the Bearcats last season and he was a second-team All-Big East selection last season. Meanwhile, the justice system will turn and Canfield will have his chance to plead his case. Of course, he is innocent until proven guilty. Stay tuned for more felonious blogging by this guy. Of course I would represent myself, or get our good friend and loyal reader John to join the defense team for a modest retainer of course. Hat Tip to Sean at Nunes/Magician for the linkable. He knows I love this legal trouble nonsense.
You can see the box score from ESPN.com here. Let us just skip to some analysis in bullet point style to save me time an aggravation:
- Syracuse allowed a team that they significantly out rebounded against at home manhandle them inside on the boards. This is not indicative of the teams that have outrebounded the shorter teams in the Big East, such as Villanova.
- Syracuse went back to their old ways of committing more turnovers than the other team. Syracuse had 16, while USF had 14.
- Syracuse’s free throw percentage dipped below 70% again and they ended up going 15 of 24 for a total percentage of 62.5. Not good, especially against a team you should have killed again.
- The defense let Dominique Jones explode for 29 points. That is a smack in the face compared to the reasonable 23 he earned the last time.
- Onuaku was ineffective on the inside compared to his last outing versus South Florida. What happened to our dominate center?
-Greene still cannot make a three point basket to save his life lately. In the last four games he has made only five out of 25. In this game he went zero for three. This should scream “stay one more year”. He also had a team high six turnovers. Awesome.
- Syracuse was down 24 to 38 at the half. I mean Christ.
- Scoop returned to see significant minutes, clocking in 37 minutes. He earned ten points and seven assists during that time. Not bad for your first real game back son.
- Flynn again played all 40 minutes, which is still just fine by me. He earned 16 points and six assists. Another solid day for the kid.
- The Paul Harris Express keeps rolling along. He earned 14 points, six assists, and six rebounds.
-Rick Jackson blocked five shots. It is about time Syracuse had some more blocks since the departure of Hakim Warrick and Jeremy McNeal.
1. Orange::44: After seeing the recruiting class Syracuse has attracted and signed, are you convinced better days are ahead for the program, despite who may be at the helm?
Nunes: From where I'm sitting, this was a pretty impressive recruiting class. It wouldn't have been impressive if we went 10-2 but we're 2-10 and we somehow managed to get some pretty solid players. That said, the reason we all think this class is really good is based on the opinions of a couple people. It's all theory.
In speaking with out friend AEM, he made a really good point in that we got some quality recruits at some key positions but we really didn't diminish any holes in some very key areas. Not that you recruit and expect sudden impact (least not SU), but I'm not sure how many of these guys will be making an impact on the field in 2008.
So in that roundabout way, my answer is that I do feel good about the progress of SU football, but I'm not sold that we're suddenly a bowl team cause Tom Lemming thinks we did a decent job recruiting.
2. Orange::44: Syracuse dropped a close game to Connecticut at home last week. Looking past the South Florida game for a moment, how do you think Syracuse will do against Georgetown this coming weekend?
Nunes: Isn't looking past South Florida just the kind of thing that gets us into trouble? Assuming (and that's a tall order in the Big East), we beat South Florida Wednesday, I'm feeling so-so about the G'town game. The Hoyas are playing with some extremely bruised egos right now. They almost lost to SU, they did lose to Louisville and then they scammed a win over Villanova. The luster is off and Georgetown looks beatable. Enter a frisky Orange team that knows it can hang with them. As far as I can tell, all signs point to...Georgetown whupping us.
I don't know, I guess it just feels like a trap. I'll stop talking now.
3. Orange::44: The ladies bounced back against Marquette at home. How do you see them playing out the remainder of their schedule?
Nunes: Short of playing UConn and Rutgers, I expect them to win every game they play at this point. I'm not saying they will but I think this team has done enough to prove they are more than a cute little storyline. They're a legit team to be reckoned with in the Big East Tournament and they should be fairly dangerous in the NCAA Tournament. Right now, it's all about acting like they've been there before and not letting the new experiences get the better of them. They can't play like they've earned anything, they've got to keep playing with that chip on their shoulder. And I think future Big East Coach of the Year Quentin Hillsman knows what he's doing. Get that man an extension!
4. Orange::44: Bracketology currently has Syracuse in the tournament as a 12 seed. Does this sound about right, or if not what do you think it will be?
Nunes: Yeah, cause to be honest I don't really think they deserve to be in at this point. Subjectively, what have they done really from an NCAA resume standpoint? Sure we've played some great teams but our best wins are Washington (13-11) and free-falling Villanova (14-9). Virginia is in the dumps so that win is null and void.
That said, Syracuse has every opportunity to earn their way in. They seem to be getting the benefit of the doubt at the moment thanks to a strong RPI but they need a signature win. Georgetown game anyone? That's the first of four-straight games against ranked teams. Honestly, SU has to go 2-2 in that stretch and then win out against Seton Hall and Marquette in order to be in a position to make the tourney as far as I'm concerned. Even then, it's gonna take at least two BE wins to seal the deal.
5. Orange::44: The ladies are listed as a six seed. Same question.
Nunes: At first it sounded low but then I thought about it and it makes sense. I think it's perfect for them. It's not too high that they get full of themselves and its not too low that they're looking at a #1 or #2 in the second round. It's just right.
6. Orange::44: Lacrosse season starts this Sunday against Villanova. What do you see is the biggest strength and weakness of this squad?
Nunes: What a horrible, horrible question. I know NOTHING of the strengths and weaknesses of the Orange lax team. I'm so fair-weather.
What I do know is that their schedule, which is almost always tough, is downright brutal this year. It makes me chuckle when opponents of SU joining the Big East Conference for lax note how the Orange will lose some of their strength of schedule. Meanwhile, even if the Orange traded in 4 ranked teams for rivals, they'd still have a ridiculously tough season ahead.
What is it about Syracuse in any sport that when they need to rebuild they schedule hard? Always gotta do this the hard way.
7. Orange::44: Finally, it is admittedly early to ask this question, but what would be your highlight of this basketball season if you had to pick today?
Nunes: If I had to pick one moment that sticks out to me, it would have to be The Paul Harris Incident. Paul Harris' admission after the Villanova loss. Harris just came out and said he didn't bring it, and furthermore he insinuated that he lost his heart for the game. It was a gutsy and honest moment that really let us into the mind of this kid and the pressure he's under. Ever since, he's been a new player. A weight was lifted and he finally found hid place on the court and in the offense. Simply, he seemed to rediscover his love for the game and it showed. It's been a pleasure to watch him since. Now, for the rest of them...
Paul Harris was the lead scorer for the Orange, earning 24 points, 11 rebounds, and he made seven out of eight free throws. He had some outstanding plays on the day. One of which was, during one of his four steals, going the length of the court and slamming the ball with authority. Paul has easily been the best thing the Orange has got going for them the last two games, and there does not seem to be an end for him in the near future.
Jonny Flynn was the second leading scorer with 20 points, and seemingly the only one that could shoot the ball. Flynn made four out of seven from three point land, and also dished the ball five times. Jonny again played all 40 minutes of the contest, and when you earn a point every two minutes you are not doing too bad at all. He continued to look energized and ready to play despite playing so much. Flynn easily is the most important player currently on the team and will continue to be as long as he is the only true guard Syracuse plays.
Donte Greene had eight points, but really if there was ever a game to show why he should stay in college another year, this was that game. Greene shot two for 15 from the floor and one for eight from long range. While the vast majority of these shots were not bad to take, they still did not find the bottom of the hoop. This would have been an average game for Harris or Onuaku, and a fantastic game for Jackson or Ongenaet, but for Greene it was a terrible game.
Onuaku contributed six points and six rebounds. Initially the game plan needed to be penetrating, going right at Thabeet, and making him pick up fouls. This plan quickly had to change after penetration proved really ineffective. Onuaku generally was ineffective in every aspect of the game. Unlike Villanova where he drew defenders and rebounded, as well as made some great outlet passes, he simply was a big non-factor in this contest.
Kristof! Ongenaet earned three points, four rebounds, and three assists. He also was a pretty big non-factor in this game. His scrappy play just earned him one steal. He also seemed to be really afraid of shooting and seemed to have lost that confidence he earned at Villanova. Sad to say, but I did not like Kristof!’s performance in this game.
Syracuse, for the first time in a few games, committed less turnovers that the competition. Syracuse had eight, while UConn had 12. Kristof! was the big winner with 3. If you would have told me that Syracuse was going to have less turnovers than the competition and earn eight points in the last two minutes I would have assumed they were going to win. I would have been wrong, but this is a good sign for the Orange in the future.
Syracuse shot the ball very well from the charity stripe. They made 11 of 14 for 77% success. This will be very important as Syraucse needs every point they can get.
Aaaaaaaaand the highlights end. Scoop Jardine came in, and as Jay-Z would say, “grand opening, grand closing”. In one minutes of play he earned one rebound and committed one turnover, then he sat on the bench again.
Syracuse lost the rebounding battle. Connecticut had 35 rebounds and 9 offensive rebounds, while Syracuse had 30 and 9. Connecticut on the season was not a great rebounding team, but since their Indiana game they have really crashed the boards well, and second chance points and rebounds helped Connecticut win the game. Syracuse will have to recover and get back on the right track in Tampa if they hope to have a strong finish in the conference.
Syracuse shot the ball extremely poor in this game. While I thought one team was going to have a poor shooting night, I did not think it would be the home team. Syracuse only earned 22 out of 59 field goal attempts, for a total of 37%. This is the worst performance for the team in a while. Syracuse in the second half, from the 8:30 mark until 3:48, did not earn a single point. This allowed UConn to not only take the lead, but take a serious lead. One that I am convinced Syracuse would have overcome had time not run out. But that is the way it goes. Had Syracuse shot the ball better in that stretch, things probably would have been vastly different.
Blocked shots had a lot to do with Syracuse’s scoring drought. Hasheem Thabeet had seven blocks alone, and after that he did not even need anymore as Syracuse was timid to penetrate the lane or baseline. Thus, resulted in more outside shooting with nothing dropping for Syracuse. Seeming everything fell for UConn. Sometimes that is the way it goes.
The Three Idiots' Champ penned a fantastic article citing a big reason why Syracuse fans hate the Huskies. He strikes a chord with me, as I know exactly where he is coming from. I have a vast and experienced history with the University of Connecticut on many levels, and without going into it, let’s just say I have taken my share of abuse. I absolutely HATE losing to Connecticut. I can even stomach a Georgetown loss, but not Connecticut. The elder John Thompson could come down from the box, coach the team to a win, piss on the court, and call me an asshole and I still would not be as pissed as a loss to Connecticut. Frankly, if I did it over, and I was a touch drunker, I should have socked that dude in the subway.
Nick of the blog Nick’s 2 Cents recaps all of the Syracuse/UConn games he has been to. If only he was in MSG in 2006 as I was, my personal favorite. Beating a #1 team is great. Beating the #1 team, which is also your rival, in MSG; priceless. It is interesting to see how the rivalry has evolved over the past few seasons. While it was the end of an era for him, it is fun following it from 1997 until today.
The Orange have a week off to think about this loss before traveling to Florida to take on USF at home. I sadly will not be joining them, but I will enjoy the week off to use my time in writing some new articles versus game reactions. First up, Georgetown or UConn: who do you hate more? Yes I just said I hate losing to UConn more. But I hate them both. I need to sort out my feelings. You will be part of the journey. Until next time, remember that Jim Calhoun’s wife looks like the crypt keeper compared to Juli.