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Lacrosse Weekly - 3/28/08

As it should be, Hobart looking stupid against the 'Cuse.
Fridays are usually barren in the Syracuse sports world. Luckily, we had a lacrosse game this past Tuesday versus Central New York rival Hobart from nearby Geneva. Syracuse, the #2 ranked team in the nation, handily defeated the Statesmen on their home field 13 to 5.

Again, the outcome of this game was never in doubt. After the murder’s row of the early Syracuse schedule, they can rest easier but still vigilant in this stretch of schedule. Mike Leveille played another great game earning four points on three goals and an assist. He becomes the 21st player in Syracuse history to earn 100 goals in a career. Congratulations to him on that momentous occasion. Kenny Nims also had three goals and two assists, giving him a game high five points. Steven Brooks contributed with two goals in the game. Danny Brennan won nine of the 15 face offs he took in the game, and still leads the nation in face offs won percentage wise. John Galloway continues to be the best freshman player in the nation as he earned another nice win during his time between the pipes. He had 14 saves in this one.

Syracuse led two goals to zero after the first quarter, but it was really the third quarter that broke this game open for Syracuse. SU scored four goals compared to only one for the Statesmen in the third. While Syracuse never trailed in this game, it was the efforts in the third period that really iced this game for the ‘Cuse. Syracuse led in every statistical category except converting extra man opportunities. The Orange had 45 shots in this game, compared to only 31 by Hobart. Similarly, Syracuse had 38 ground balls while Hobart only had 27. Syracuse was 17 for 25 on clears, and went 12 for 21 overall on face offs. As I said, Syracuse was not great with extra man opportunities, only converting one of the five. But Syracuse held strong and only allowed Hobart to convert two of the eight man advantages they had. This was a nice game for the #2 Syracuse Orange as they continue their quest to get back to the final four. The complete box score from the game is here.

As always, there were a ton of great games since I last checked in with the lacrosse team on Monday. Some of the notable scores were:

Tuesday March 25:

Harvard 3 – Duke 10

Army 8 – Hofstra 7

Delaware 9 – Lehigh 2

Rutgers 6 – Princeton 7

Bucknell 12 – Towson 10

Your complete scoreboard for D1 is here.

Syracuse remains tied at #2 with Duke, while Virginia continues to remain atop the rankings and probably will stay there until someone can beat them. Either way, Syracuse is playing great lately, riding a four game winning streak. Syracuse will next take on #18 Loyola in the Carrier Dome at 4:00pm tomorrow. This is a team that beat the Orange last year, so look for Syracuse to not hold anything back as they play for that fifth win in a row. Basketball may be over, but one of the best franchises in division one history is still playing lacrosse. They also wear orange. Also, check out this Daily Orange article on X Specialist Danny Brennan, affectionately known to Orange::44 readers as DBren. It is an interesting read.

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Orange::44 Turns Three!

Come join me for celebrating the pointless!
A lot of things happen in March. I have been too busy to notice, but amongst the various events that happen in March is the anniversary of this notebook. Back in March of 2005, Matt Glaude, a graduate of the illustrious Syracuse University decided that the time was right, and the landscape was bare enough, to start a blog of interest. That blog, with the mission to “chronicle the daily disaster that is Syracuse Athletics”, was born. That blog you have come to know as Orange::44.

While Matt Glaude has now been departed for a while on to different and interesting endeavors, I carry that proud tradition on, admirably trying to be as creative and funny as my predecessor. While I realize that I am not nearly as entertaining, I hope you appreciate the quality of the product still present on the pages of this chronicle and how much effort goes into every article produced. While this may not be the best Syracuse blog, it was definitely the first, and there is something to be said for that. I thank you for joining us, whether you have been with us from the beginning or recently heard about us from visiting one of the orange colleagues you perhaps frequent. It has been my pleasure to write for this blog. Therapeutic, cathartic, and miserable are some other adjectives that come to mind on occasion as well. For that opportunity to write about something I greatly enjoy, while earning some respect from my colleagues and the audience, this endeavor has been most rewarding.
Last year I picked my favorite and most representative articles from the first two years. At the time I was picking from a pool of both authors. It is a little hard to judge just myself in the same way, as I have enjoyed so many moments. Therefore, I will decline to put out my favorites from this past year, and wait for a larger sample space to choose from. Perhaps next year. You can enjoy Matt Glaude’s two year anniversary article here, as well as my celebrating the pointlessness of our two year mark here. Regardless, I again hope you have enjoyed this space, and I thank you for allowing this notebook to enter your life in some small way, and that you were slightly informed or entertained at some point. Three years seems like a long time, but hopefully we are just getting started.

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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 Syraucse.com. 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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Nunes::44 - 3/25/08

This is how Troy still fills out his brackets.
It is Tuesday, which means it is once again time to pierce the darkness of knowledge with Sean over at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician. Lots ‘o basketball on the docket today so enjoy the latest collaboration between two Cinderellas in the world of SU blogs.

1. Orange::44: Syracuse is taking on Massachusetts today for a trip to New York. Are they going to the semifinals, or will UMass again beat Syracuse on their home court?

Nunes: I don't see how SU can lose this one. You've got the vengeance factor. Not only did UMass beat us the first time but they beat us at home and the dropped 107 on us. No way we let that slide now. We're a better team than we were back then and I think even the crowd is going to want this win badly as well. The word on the street is that ticket sales are strong so we should have a crowd not too far off from what it was when we first played them. Assuming the crowd is fairly large, it will be a nice lesson about SU fans and their resilience rooting for the team when needed.

I think it means something to this team to get back to NY at least and prove that they were worth the trouble of at least considering on Selection Sunday. An NIT championship would actually set a great tone for next year but whatever experience the teams gets in the NIT is going to be good in the long run.

2. Orange::44: Syracuse looked bad against Robert Morris, but good against Maryland. What does that say about the team, if anything?

Nunes: I don't know if it says more about them or more about the opponents? Both this year and last, the opening round was against a small school who wanted to prove something to the nation and to the major conferences. Both times they played well and almost pulled off the upsets. Robert Morris got what they needed out of that game, an impressive performance against a major program. Syracuse got what it needed, a punch in the mouth that they proved they could recover from.

That win proved to the team and to the fans that SU could do some damage and I think both were elevated for the Maryland game. In retrospect, it was the perfect opponent for them...a fellow major program that didn't have the motivation or advantages that the Orange were getting in the Dome.

3. Orange::44: Speaking of Maryland, how good was that game?

Nunes: I don't quite know if it's ready to go down as "Jonny's Game" or anything but that was definitely what we'll all remember about. Not quite Willis Reed returning in the Finals but Jonny put to bed any doubts about his tenacity and desire to win for sure.

It's always great to see the Orange stick with it in a close, back-and-forth game and come out on top. Not to mention the fact that the decisive 9-0 run was a full team effort. It was like the entire season finally clicked in those moments. The balance of this team in terms of contribution hasn't truly been appreciated, I don't think. I don't remember the last team that got such production from all five starters on a consistent basis.

Since it was in the NIT, we probably won't put it down in the annals, but it was certainly a game we can look back on when we look at this season and talk about the progress this team made.

4. Orange::44: The Syracuse ladies were a one and done. Disappointed, or is that just how it goes for a team trying to build a solid future?

Nunes: Certainly, anytime you lose in the tournament it's disappointing. Be it in the first round or in the Finals. But I think our faith in the future of the program numbed the pain slightly. Quentin Hillsman is the kind of guy you'd want to follow into battle and if he says we're going to be back, I believe him. Doesn't hurt that he's got a great recruit coming in and tons of returning talent. I don't know if we're ready to contend with UConn and Rutgers for the Big East crown yet but expect to see Syracuse back in the tourney picture very soon.

And expect to get that first NCAA Tourney win soon as well.

5. Orange::44: Are you buying your tickets for the Lacrosse Final Four yet?

Nunes: No but I should be. There's an interesting discussion hovering over this season about parity. I agree that the lacrosse world is opening up and new teams are cracking the rankings and giving the old stalwarts from trouble. But I just don't think we can honestly say there is parity in college lacrosse until we see it in the Final Four. I'm not talking about one new team or even two up against Virginia, Duke, Hopkins or Syracuse. I'm talking about a Final Four that consists of Notre Dame, Providence, Hobart and Denver.

That said, there's no reason to think this isn't going to be another great season, great tournament and great Final Four. I have full expectations that Syracuse will be there at this point. If for no other reason than that it's been too long...

6. Orange::44: Is the Big East as good of a basketball conference as we think it is, or when it comes down to it, are we all just conference homers?

Nunes: Well yes to both. Everyone's a conference homer and you can always use the stats to craft an argument as to why we're better than the next one.

I heard a commentator once say that the problem with the Big East was that it's lower half was dragging down it's top half. That if we could get rid of the lower half, the Big East would be unstoppable. I took a look at the standings that day and I remember seeing that all except for three teams in the conference had winning records. Futhermore, 3/4 of the teams in the conference were still alive for the NCAA Tournament and this was February.

It was then that I realize two things. #1, this radio commentator is a jackass. #2, what we're really talking about its three or four teams that hold us down. Out of sixteen. That's pretty f'in good. So really, imagine if the conference dropped South Florida, Rutgers and St. John's and how solid from top to bottom we would be? Even with them I'm still willing to say we're pretty good. 8 teams in the tourney. 3 teams in the Sweet 16. Fight it all you like, the Big East is damn good.

7. Orange::44: Finally, how's that bracket looking on your end?

Nunes: Well, I've got a bad case of the Long Term Looking. In the short term, it doesn't look too good. I also was a little too cocky with the Big East teams. I had Pittsburgh still alive, I had Marquette in the Elite 8, I had Notre Dame still cookin'. I also had Vanderbilt still dancing, so that didn't work out well. But I do have 6 of 8 Elite 8 teams still alive and all of my Final Four picks are still there (Louisville, Wisconsin, Memphis, UCLA), so I have hope. It just doesn't read like I do on the brackets right now...
Editor’s Note: This is another installment in the ongoing collaboration between Orange::44 and Nunes/Magician. Every other Tuesday 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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The Orange::44 Podcast of Integrity

Much like UConn, your bracket should be a one and done.
I know it has been a while but it is that time again. I know you missed it, but all the joy of the biggest thing in sports is back. Oh, and the NCAA Tournament got underway this past weekend. I’m kidding of course, I was talking about the NCAA Tourney and not this particular podcast adventure, but I’m back. After a relaxing and restful Spring Break, as well as some excellent games to watch recently, I had plenty to talk about. So I give you an hour long audio experience this time. The first 20 minutes alone relate to bracket talk, so you Big East Bloggers out there can enjoy something not exclusively Syracuse related. Hopefully you will enjoy the expanded podcast this week, but keep in mind that I do not plan a length for them, I simply talk until I feel I have said what I wanted to say. Similarly, I hope you continue to enjoy them, like you have the NCAA games so far. To download this podcast click here.









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Lacrosse Weekley - 3/24/08

Over. Time. Hero.

Obviously, much like most of America, I was into the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Also, I am coming off of my Spring Break (sorry real people, I know you don’t get a Spring Break). However, there was a lot in the world of lacrosse that has happened for the ‘Cuse the past two weeks.

# 5 Syracuse v. #4 John’s Hopkins - 3/15/08
This was a thriller that definitely bears the mark of a fantastic college lacrosse game. Syracuse never led this game at any point but it did not matter as Syracuse ended up victorious in the third game in a row with time beyond regulation. Syracuse wins the game 14 to 13.

Steven Brooks was the scoring leader for Syracuse, and the hero of the day. He scored four goals, the last of which was in overtime to win the game. Mike Leveille had a fantastic day scoring three goals, and leading the assist category with three. He continues to compete for the top player of the year honors. Jovan Miller also had two goals off the bench. Matt Abbott had five ground balls to lead the category. Danny Brennan, the superior face off man, He won 18 of 27 face offs and really helped Syracuse get the possessions they needed to come out on top. John Galloway let in some soft goals, but overall played a solid game between the pipes. He had ten saves and 13 goals against. A solid statistical game for the Orange, as they win another stunner in overtime. The full box score of the game is here.

Binghamton v. #3 Syracuse - 3/22/08
Not much to say here, except a superior Orange squad taking the field in the Carrier Dome and assaulting the visiting Binghamton team with lacrosse balls all over the place. In a game that was never in doubt, Syracuse avoids a forth consecutive overtime game against the Bearcats of Binghamton, the “Harvard of the S.U.N.Y. system”, with a score of 16 to 2.

Mike Leveille had another great day for the boys from Syracuse. He had four goals and an assist for the ‘Cuse. Dan Hardy, Matt Abbott, and Greg Niewieroski each had two assists. DBren had eight of nine face offs one, then he let some other kids play. Galloway had five saves in 45 minutes of work. Nothing that Binghamton did really mattered as the Orange ran away with this one. The complete box score is here.

The current rankings are posted here and the D1 scoreboard is here.
Syracuse will now travel to Hobart to face the Statesmen in Syracuse’s in state rivalry game. Judging by the season this should not be a ridiculous test for Syracuse, however Hobart always steps up their game versus the ‘Cuse so they should definitely be on upset watch. Nunes/Magician did a nice job of previewing the remaining games, so I direct you to his guide here. Stay tuned for more lax action and a new podcast coming later today.

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Scoop... love you man, but after the third miss I'd have stopped.
The NIT first round was a huge disappointment. This game was far better. Syracuse started out slow, but they win a nice, convincing game against a good road team. Jim Boeheim beats his old friend Gary Williams and the Maryland Terrapins 88 to 72.

Jonny Flynn led the scoring effort for the Orange. Was this kid ever hurt? I am not so convinced. He had 23 points and seven assists. He played just as well this game as any other. He shot well from the floor dropping three of four from long range. Flynn continues to boost the Orange and this young man will surely be outstanding the rest of the NIT if he remains healthy.

Paul Harris had nineteen points and ten rebounds. Another double-double for the most improved player on the Orange. Paul managed to control his dribbling this game, and earn some quality drives, as well as some sweet mid-range shots.

Donte Greene (not Dante, ESPN) had a nice 16 points, four rebounds, four assists, and made two for five from long range. He certainly did not suck as much this game as the last. He only had one turnover, and played a nice low post game. Much better Donte.

Onuaku also had a solid game down low. Arinze had 14 points and 14 boards. While Syracuse was beat on some very easy rebounds, they managed to do better than Maryland in part because of Onuaku’s efforts. Solid game.

Kristof! Ongenaet had a good game for himself as well. He only scored eight points, but he played solid defense and got points when no one else was around. He is a worker, and simply just does what he can to help this team play another game.

Scoop Jardine had a nice 19 minutes of play with six points. He hit three in a row, and felt so confident he proceeded to miss the next six. But, Syracuse won the game so I cannot be too mad at the young man.

Syracuse’s free throw percentage again stayed high. They shot 68% from the line, earning 15 of 22 attempts. Syracuse’s field goal percentage stayed right at 50%, with 34 of 68 shots finding the bottom of the net. Syracuse must continue to play and shoot well to stay in this stacked field of good NIT teams.

Limiting turnovers were key in this game. Syracuse stalled in the first half offensively, and in the entire game Syracuse committed 12 turnovers, Harris and Kristof! earning three a piece. But Maryland committed 18. It also helped that Syracuse’s defense earned 12 steals and 4 blocked shots.

This was a tale of two halves for the Orange. Syracuse was poor in the first half in scoring, but the second half showed several runs of sheer offensive brilliance. This led to Syracuse having an insurmountable lead down the stretch and Syracuse was able to put away Maryland at least by the Under Four time out. The big men of Maryland gave Syracuse some trouble, but it was all Orange in the end.

The attendance for this game was 14,768. Much better than just over 10,500 last game. Hopefully it will be even more for the next game at home. The fan base has really been good this season through it all and I hate to think that they would abandon them, even after winning a couple in the NIT.

Syracuse will next meet the winner of Saturday’s game; #6 Akron v. #2 UMass. This is your complete up to date NIT Bracket here. I personally am hoping for UMass so Syracuse can possibly avenge their earlier loss to them in the regular season. However, reflecting on the Maryland affair, it was a nice one. After the bitter taste Robert Morris left in my mouth, it was good to have a refreshing game there instead. Like a Cookiewich in the Dome, it was delicious and enjoyable.

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Why with the passes and the... with th... I... UHHH!
Well that was an interesting game. I do not think I was really entertained by it, nor was I upset over it. I am not sure how to feel about it. Yes, we advance in the NIT, but was that win impressive in the least? Not at all. Syracuse wins a close one, 87 to 81.

Donte Greene had a nice game with 27 points and five rebounds. I am still not that impressed with Greene however. His defense is a joke, and his shot is inconsistent at best. He did manage to hit six three point shots out of the 12 he took.
Harris had 19 points and looked the best on the floor for the Orange. He drove to the basket on the baseline and actually looked aggressive instead of being lackadaisical. “Do It All Paul” actually looked like he cared if we lost at home as a number one seed.

Kristof! Ongenaet also had a nice game, with a quite 13 points. Kristof! was the garbage man, earning rebounds and points off offensive boards. He also had a good game on the defensive end which will not appear on any stat line. Ongenaet is still fun to watch and one of the big success stories of the season.

Scoop Jardine also had a great game with 15 points off the bench. Like Paul, Scoop had a sense of urgency and importance in his play that some of his teammates seemed to lack. He played well and fought hard to get some great shots down. Scoop managed to brick a lay up late in the game though, so solid work on that son.

Flynn spent the entire second half on the bench with a back injury. If he is cleared for Thursday’s game he will play. Stay tuned to even more Injury Watch 2008. I thought we were done with this crap.

Lazy defense was again a big problem for Syracuse in this game. While the zone itself was working well and it gave Robert Morris problems in penetrating, there was very soft pressure on the outside shooters. This led them to earn 16 three point baskets, and take a total of 41 shots from long range. 41!?

Syracuse shot well from the field and the line. The team had 28 of 56 field goals (50%) and their free throw percentage was 66%, going 23 of 35.

As an aside, only 10,536 people showed up for last night’s game. Sad and pathetic. Even for a Tuesday.

Syracuse failed to handle the ball well though, and many, especially Greene, tried some ridiculous cross court passes that were intercepted. There were some absolutely atrocious passes attempted and rejected. They had 18 turnovers, and the only comfort is that Robert Morris had 20.

Syracuse also benefited from a rebounding edge over the Colonials. The Orange had 36 rebounds compared to only 22 by Robert Morris. Similarly Syracuse had 16 offensive boards, and only nine for the other team. This helped keep the score close when Syracuse was not shooting the ball well.

I have to give Robert Morris credit. They came to play, and Syracuse did not seem to be up for it at first. It took them a good portion of the first half to get into the game it seemed. But, in the end, it was Syracuse on top, and that is what matters the most. Syracuse now takes on Gary Williams’ Maryland squad. Williams is one of Jim Boeheim’s friends from the time he coached at Boston College, so it will be interesting to see this game from a multitude of angles. The first being that Maryland is, to borrow from my good friend Jimmy, just as Jekyll & Hyde as Syracuse is. They beat UNC, but lose to Boston College. Look for that game tomorrow as the NIT rolls on.

Additionally, before the game last night, Sean over at Nunes/Magician and I traded our usual eloquent banter and my answers to his questions are posted on his site in the latest installment of Orange::44 is an Absolute Magician. Enjoy my recounting of my St. Patrick’s Day, as well as some actual relevant sports knowledge, like the ladies making the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in 20 years. I am in Atlanta, Georgia until tomorrow, (special thanks to Orange::44 readers Cory and Adrienne for their hospitality) so that means regular Orange::44 action will resume just in time for more NIT, NCAA, and Syracuse coverage. Also, we will have our latest edition of Lacrosse Weekly which will recap yet another overtime win for the Orange lax squad. This time, it was rival Johns Hopkins who fell victim. Until then, I hope your St. Patrick’s Day was joyous, and remember that even though it is the NIT, as always GO ORANGE!

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Our Old Friend At It Again!

This guy knows blogs.
I am on Spring Break right now, and it was St. Patrick’s Day only a few hours ago. But, I must post the fact that my good friend and former partner Matt Glaude has started a more interesting blogging endeavor, Hoya Suxa. Please check out his new blog and cherish the wit and wordplay that Matt Glaude is known for. I will post some new material soon, but until then, who’s more Irish?

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The Big East Tournament Report: Championship Game

Sorry Roy, you just are not that good.

Well the champion has been crowned. The Big East Tournament concludes for another year. This year, the ending was a bit different than the year before though. Pittsburgh showed to be the better team and the game proved to be an entertaining one.

#7 Pittsburgh v. #1 Georgetown
The teams went back and forth in the first half, trading blows. The score was only 31 to 28 at the half in favor of Pitt. But the second half was all the Panthers as they led and did not look back. Roy Hibbert had a nice game with 17 points, but it was not enough as Pittsburgh hosted a block party on him. Ronald Ramon had 17 points, Sam Young added 16, and Gilbert Brown added 12 off the bench. The Pittsburgh offense was just too much for Georgetown to handle as Pittsburgh went on to win the Big East Championship and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Pittsburgh becomes only the second team, other than Syracuse, to win four games in four days. Pittsburgh also defeated a Georgetown team that had never lost as the number one seed in the BET. A banner day all around for this scrappy Pittsburgh team. Final Score: Pittsburgh 74 – Georgetown 65.

Pittsburgh pulls off only the second storybook run to the championship. Unlike Syracuse however, they were a six seed in the tournament, they were most likely already going to get an at large bid, and their back was against no wall. Also, no one called one of their players overrated. It was a nice game for Pittsburgh though, and I extend congratulations to the gentlemen from Pennsylvania. The entire BET was full of sexy drama and upsets after day one, so I have to say it was one of the best I have seen, in the basketball sense. I would have liked to see Syracuse go a little deeper but that is the way it goes. Enjoy Selection Sunday or, if you do not like torture, avoid it with a stiff drink and some Family Guy. Giggity.

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The Big East Tournament Report: Semifinal Round

The more tournaments change, the more they stay the same.
Haven’t we seen this game before? It was another day, another dollar for the Big East Tournament. There were also two dandy affairs on the hardwood. The only downside is we see a repeat of the previous year’s final game. However, Pittsburgh and Georgetown are fun teams to watch, and we had some fun ones today.

#5 West Virginia v. #1 Georgetown
West Virginia played a hell of a game yesterday versus Connecticut. On the back of Joe Alexander, West Virginia played an excellent offensive game. Today Joe Alexander had trouble finding the bottom of the net. Alexander only had 12 points and went 5-16 on field goals. This game was never in doubt, as Georgetown held the lead since the 15:53 mark in the first. Roy Hibbert made up for his terrible performance the day before with 25 points and 13 rebounds. He led all scorers. The defense of Georgetown also looked great and helped keep WVU’s score low. Georgetown was clearly the superior team today and played like a true #1 seed right into the Championship. Final Score: West Virginia 55 – Georgetown 72.

#7 Pittsburgh v. #6 Marquette
This was clearly the more interesting game of the day. Pittsburgh has made the final game of the BET seven out of the last eight years. They just simply play tough in Madison Square Garden. Marquette did not go quietly into that good night without a fight though. Jerel McNeil chipped in 17 points, and Lazar Hayward had some elevation to his game while adding ten points. Pittsburgh led the entire game but Marquette made it interesting as they tried to close the gap down the stretch. However, Pittsburgh’s 16 point lead was too much as Marquette could not close the lead. Sam Young led all scorers with 22 points as Pittsburgh played a grinding game that went in Pittsburgh’s favor. Marquette could not make some baskets as the clock ticked down and Pittsburgh heads to another BET final. Final Score: Pittsburgh 68 – Marquette 61.
So the stage is set. Pittsburgh versus Georgetown for that free ticket to the dance. Georgetown has never lost a game as a number one seed. They are the regular season champion, as well as the defending Big East Tournament champion. Pittsburgh has scrapped there way to a lot of final games in recent years and will look to be the bride instead of the bridesmaid again. Who will win? Probably Georgetown, but really it is anyone’s game. One thing is certain though; it will be a good game and a showcase of two top teams in the nation’s best basketball conference. Also, the roof of MSG will not rip open in two places. I think.

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The Big East Tournament Report: Second Round

Drama prevents me from changing the station.
It was a big day for the Big East. There were some dandy contests, and I saw my only fleeting motivations to watch the games, my predictions on how I thought the tournament would go, evaporate before my eyes. Either way, I cannot be too pissed because I am officially now on Spring Break from my law school and I can enjoy some March Madness, unfettered by classes and studying.

#8 Villanova v. #1 Georgetown
This game was mostly Georgetown getting it done from long distance. While Scottie Reynolds did his part by leading his team in scoring with 13 points, it was not even close to help his team against the likes of Jesse Sapp and Jon Wallace. The Hoyas combined for a record 17 three point baskets, and shot 61% from behind the arc. It also helped that ‘Nova only shot 33% total from the floor. Interestingly enough, Roy Hibbert had zero points in this one. Georgetown has never lost a Big East Tournament game when possessing the number one seed and they will advance to the Semifinal Round. Final Score : Villanova 63 – Georgetown 82.

#5 West Virginia v. #4 Connecticut
Connecticut has failed to get past their first game in the BET in four years. They get off the bus, they play the game, they get on the bus, they go home. Simple as that. West Virginia played a much cleaner game today. While AJ Price had a nice game with 22 points, Joe Alexander had 34 points and he was far and away the superior person on the floor. It also did not help that Jim Calhoun blew a gasket while in the Garden and looked like he was going to pull a Bobby Knight. West Virginia bounced back from their narrow win over providence to stick it to UConn, and they are rewarded with a trip to meet Georgetown in the next round. UConn… U SUCK! Final Score: West Virginia 78 – Connecticut 72.

#7 Pittsburgh v. #2 Louisville
Once again, you cannot bet against the Panthers during the Big East Tournament. They always do well in NYC and manage to get a whiff of the championship. It is a round too early to tell how they will do, but they always seem to manage to get near the big game. They proved it by beating a much more consistent and talented team in Louisville. This game was the dramatic game I was seeking in the BET, as Pittsburgh took L’ville to overtime, and proceeded to grind out points until it was out of reach of the Cards. This was a fun game to watch, and showed just how interesting the Big East Tournament can be. Pittsburgh advances and my prediction of L’ville winning the whole thing are put to rest. Final Score in Overtime: Pittsburgh 76 – Louisville 69.

#6 Marquette v. #3 Notre Dame
At least I called one upset right. This Marquette team that found it a tad difficult to seal the deal on the Hall, wins a nice game against a team that should have probably won this game. This game was pretty close all the way through, but with about ten minutes remaining Marquette slowly but steadily inched away from the Irish. Kyle McAlarney contributed with 20 points, but Jerel McNeal stole the show with 28 points. Luke Harangody, the Big East Player of the Year, only added 13 points and he could not lead his team to the next round. Marquette will take on Pittsburgh tomorrow in the late game Friday. Final Score: Marquette 89 – Notre Dame 79.

Day two showed us a few more exciting games than we had the day before, including overtime contest. That is what Big East Basketball is all about; not knowing who will wind up victorious until the game is played. The third round should be interesting, as Pittsburgh and Georgetown are in the mix, and the smart money is on seeing them play for the Big East Championship and that sweet auto-bid. However, at this point, the sexy pick is Marquette upsetting Pittsburgh tomorrow, preventing the Panthers from getting to the last game again, as well as repeating last years final game. Hopefully we will see another set of quality basketball games in the next round and a bit of drama. Enjoy the continuing soap opera that is Championship Week.

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The Big East Tournament Report: Opening Round

No drama on day one? How lame.
One thing is for sure; even if your team loses you can still see an entertaining game in the Big East Tournament. Minus the ‘Cuse game, there were some dandy contests. Since I did an entire postgame report on the Syracuse game, I will skip the contest and report on the other three.

#12 Providence v. #5 West Virginia
In the afternoon cap, we saw a Providence team with the lowest seed in the tournament, play a team that has been an interesting and inconsistent team. Tim Welch is a good coach, but you could tell that the Providence team was overmatched on paper to West Virginia. Providence hung in the game and kept it close, but West Virginia eventually pulled away. West Virginia held the Friars to only two field goals in the last seven minutes. This was a sloppy game with a lot of missed lay ups and errors. West Virginia advances to play Connecticut. Final Score: Providence 53 – West Virginia 58.

#10 Cincinnati v. #7 Pittsburgh
This was probably the best game of the day. While Cincinnati had been down by as much as 11, they continued to hang around and fight back. With just under seven minutes remaining, Cincinnati had the lead cut to two. Deonta Vaughn on Cincinnati almost single handedly kept Cincy in the game with 30 points, most of which came in the second half. But it was not enough as Pitt pulled away in the last minute to allow them the chance to face Louisville. Final Score: Cincinnati 64 – Pittsburgh 70.

#11 Seton Hall v. #6 Marquette
In the final game of the day, the Hall was playing in a friendly atmosphere against a Marquette squad coming off a loss to Syracuse to end the season. The Hall gave it the good old college try, but they could not ever get over the hump and take the lead in the second half. With about six minutes left, Seton Hall was only down by one point. They looked as if they would perhaps go on a run, but Marquette was simply the better team down the stretch. They will face Notre Dame in round two. Final Score: Seton Hall 54 – Marquette 67.

I managed to go 2-4 on the day with my predictions. Sadly the Hall could not pull one out for me and save face. Every higher seed advanced out of the first round, making a somewhat boring start to the tournament. We shall see if any teams can pull the stunning upsets on day two. The easy money would be on ‘Nova upsetting Georgetown, but do not count Marquette out of upsetting Notre Dame. Enjoy the quarterfinal round, and I will see if I can salvage some predictions for the second day.

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It was a fine game, just not my best.
The dream is over. It was fun while it lasted, being on the bubble. We saw a great game in the Carrier Dome to end the season, but it was not meant to be. On paper, with a strength of schedule of seven, Syracuse probably deserves to be in with 19 wins and nine in the Big East, but alas, you need to win your first game in the conference tournament. The three ball was too much for Syracuse and New York is full of heartbreak; ‘Nova over ‘Cuse 82 to 63.

Donte Greene has a nice game. It was nice, but not great, as I think he has not been great since the early games of the conference slate. He finished with 17 points, five rebounds, and four assists. He shot four for nine from long range. He just did not have it when it counted.

Flynn did not play his game. He forced a lot of balls and turned over the ball too much. He had four turnovers in the first half alone. He finished with five. He also had 16 points. However he forced too many shots, as he finished one for six from deep.

Onuaku seemed to be playing a good game. He was tough on the defensive end, but only finished with four points and three rebounds. Had Syracuse committed to try to get him the ball more, the outcome could have been different, but instead Syracuse settled for long shots that more often than not missed.

Paul Harris probably had the best game for the Orange, but it still was full of errors. He had 13 points, four rebounds, and started the game with two long balls. He played pretty well, however I hope he learns how to dribble next season. It is really the only facet of his game that needs improving at this point.

Kristof! Ongenaet was not spectacular, but he had a solid game for Kristof! standards. He finished with five points and five rebounds. Scoop had a decent game with eight points, but most of those points occurred in what was basically garbage time.

Syracuse managed to hit eight of eleven free throws for a total of 73%. Syracuse managed to shoot very poor in this game though. They only shot 40% from the floor and 38% from long range. Conversely, ‘Nova hit 48% of their shots, but more importantly 52% from behind the arc, sometimes very behind it. That was the nail in the coffin for Syracuse. With a little over nine minutes remaining in the second half the game was over. A tragic state for a team that had been so encouraging as of late.

The turnovers were also a factor for both teams. Syracuse had 16 turnovers, 12 of which came in the first half. Flynn led the way with five, and Harris had four. While ‘Nova had 17, it did not affect them as much simply because ‘Nova made their shots and ‘Cuse did not.

However, I am honestly not as upset as I think I should be. This team is very shallow by Boeheim standards, both our sharpshooters were on the bench with injuries this season, and the team will come back next year and be ridiculous. Syracuse now looks to an impending #1 seed in the NIT Tournament and should have some nice home games before hopefully making it to New York City. The NIT may turn out to be more entertaining anyway with Syracuse, Florida, Ohio State, and possibly Kentucky. It should be an interesting tournament, as I will enjoy seeing what develops in New York for the rest of the Big East Tournament.

Syracuse will probably now not be called on Selection Sunday. But the Big East Tournament, and eventually the NCAA Tournament, will roll on again. Hopefully there will be some joy I get out of the simple spectacle of all the college basketball going on this week. While last year Syracuse had the biggest snub in history, Syracuse just did not get enough wins this year to make the same argument so I, much like Boeheim, will not complain. I will simply enjoy whatever games Syracuse will play in after this day, and hopefully they can finish the season with a win. I sure would have liked seeing the Georgetown/Syracuse rubber game though. Sadly, they are out like Elliot Spitzer. Stay tuned for some additional but light Big East Tournament coverage throughout the remaining days. I will be on Spring Break this upcoming week so I am not sure how much I will tear into Selection Sunday, but I am sure there will be some opinions forthcoming. Enjoy the remaining games, and enjoy rooting for Syracuse in the next game they play.

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What would ESPN write if Syracuse had 24 wins?
The regular season is over. That means that one of the best events in the sports year will be commencing shortly, and another one of the best starts today. The Big East Tournament is sure to be exciting, amazing, and will decide the tournament fate of Syracuse. I’ll do my best to prognosticate the results of this tournament, and hopefully it will be enough for Syracuse to make the Big Dance. Hopefully it will have some of the best games to watch at the very least.

Round 1 – March 12th

12:00pm #8 Villanova v. #9 Syracuse – I do not normally borrow or steal from other websites when penning my articles, but I read a preview and pick of the game on Storming The Floor, and I have to borrow it word for word because it is perfect. “I love Scottie Reynolds as much as the next guy, and Jay Wright's devilish handsomeness bewitches me just like the next man. Still, it's March, it's MSG, and it's Boeheim. How can you possibly pick 'Nova? PICK: SYRACUSE”. I agree, I like Syracuse as they are clearly a bigger team, the 2-3 Zone will be working well, and Villanova is only shooting just over 30% from long range in Big East games. Scottie Reynolds is averaging less than ten points in the last ten games. I give this game to Syracuse, hoping to parlay this into a trip to the dance. Look for Syracuse to advance to the second round.

2:00pm #5 West Virginia v. #12 Providence – Bob Huggins squad has been hot and cold this year. However, they managed to beat some solid teams and Providence is by no means an elite team in the conference. I have to give it to West Virginia. Bob Huggins wins his first game in the Big East Tournament.

7:00pm #7 Pittsburgh v. #10 Cincinnati – Pittsburgh is the most dangerous team in the Big East Tourny every season. There is a reason they continue to get to the final game on a consistent basis. Cincinnati is on a six game losing streak with the latest at the hands of UConn by a margin of 45 points. I’m obviously taking Pittsburgh in this one.

9:00pm #6 Marquette v. #11 Seton Hall – This is the second most interesting match up in the first round. Seton Hall will surely have some fans travel the short distance from Jersey and has the ability to close a game like no other team in the Big East. Marquette on paper is clearly the better team with a lot of dangerous weapons. I’ll take the sexy pick and go with the Hall on this one. There has to be a few upsets right? I could be totally wrong, but I just think Seton Hall will catch a little ‘Cuse magic in the Garden.

Round 2 – March 13th

12:00pm #9 Syracuse v. #1 Georgetown – Syracuse and Georgetown, the pinnacle of Big East games. The last time Syracuse played Georgetown in the Big East Tournament it was in 2006, when Syracuse happened to also be a nine seed on the bubble. Coincidence? Anyway, Syracuse beat up Georgetown at home, and only lost to them by 4 points in overtime in DC. It is MSG and Syracuse will still be against a wall when it comes to the NCAA. They are also playing their best basketball right now. Syracuse will come out and play a big game and take down the Big East Regular Season Champs. I’m picking the home team.

2:00pm #5 West Virginia v. #4 Connecticut – I have to admit, I did not think UConn would be this good this year. I thought they were destined to another year of mediocrity. However Thabeet blocks a lot of shots and AJ Price was a lot better than I think most people thought he would be. While the West Virginia squad will be scrappy and play a nice game, it will be UConn playing well in New York and perhaps surviving their first day in New York in a few years. I so enjoyed my UConn friends getting off the bus in 2006, playing the game, and getting back on the bus to Connecticut. This time I’m picking UConn.

7:00pm #7 Pittsburgh v. #2 Louisville – Pittsburgh is a tough team, especially in the Big East Tournament. Louisville is one great team though. They have proved to be one of the best, only losing four big east games. Louisville just has too many good folks on their team. I’m taking the a$$hole Rick Patino’s squad.

9:00pm #11 Seton Hall v. #3 Notre Dame – Sadly, I do not think this game will be close. Big East player of the year Luke Harangody will come up big in this game, as the Hall is not a huge team. If the Hall makes it to this game it should prove to be one of the boring games in the tournament. I’m taking ND, though I do not want to.

Semifinal Round – March 14th

7:00pm #9 Syracuse v. #4 Connecticut – I love that I’m making the sexy matches in this tourney bracket. Why not right? Who wouldn’t love to see this game in the garden? However, and I hate to pick against the hometown heroes, I think Syracuse just cannot beat UConn this year in this game. I do think Syracuse could beat UConn if we were playing them on day one of the tourny. However, I just think the fatigue will finally get to the ‘Cuse and UConn will have a good enough game that it will not matter what Syracuse does. I’m taking UConn to go to the championship. Believe me though, I do not want to. I’m hoping Syracuse will surprise me as it has surprised a lot of folks this season. However, if they manage to beat Georgetown I think they are definitely in the NCAA tournament, so there is an upside.

9:00pm #3 Notre Dame v. #2 Louisville – This should also be a great game to watch if it materializes. While Notre Dame has a hot shooter and a solid man down low, I just think Louisville is the superior team. Luke Harangody is not as good as people think he is. He sure couldn’t beat the Syracuse 2-3 Zone. However, Louisville I think will head to the finals.

Championship – March 15th

9:00pm #4 Connecticut v. #2 Louisville – While Syracuse fans will be disappointed I put UConn in this game, feel vindicated in knowing that I am picking L’ville. This is the year that Louisville will go deep in the tournament. I think they could even make it to the Elite Eight. Despite Georgetown beating Louisville in DC, I still think that the Cardinals are the best squad. Louisville won a close game by two points against UConn, and I just cannot Calhoun’s Connvicts pulling this potential game out.
Big East Tournament Champion Pick – Louisville

So there you have my Big East Tournament break down and predictions. While I do not have ‘Cuse riding to the championship game like in 2006, I do have them playing their way into the NCAA. In my scenario Joe Lunardi and Doug Gottlieb can shut the hell up. “America’s Bubble Team” will end up in the tournament. I may be having a grand delusion, but I just sense that this year is different than the last. Or they will be in the NIT, but considering the injuries to the team, and the amount of freshmen playing, the NIT is not so bad anyway. We will all find out part of the puzzle today. Congratulations to Jonny Flynn being voted Co-Big East Rookie of the Year. He has certainly earned it and clearly my lobbying on his behalf helped. Enjoy the Big East Tournament, one of my favorite things, enjoy the rest of Championship Week, and Go Orange!

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Nunes::44 - 3/11/07

Sometimes you fumble, and sometimes you're on the bubble.
It was Tuesday, which means that it is time for some more witty banter between myself and Sean at Nunes/Magician. It is a fun time to be a Syracuse fan, so of course I asked some interesting questions covering all of the big action that happened recently. Without further delay, here is your weekly dose of Nunes.
1. Orange::44: Syracuse played one of the best games of the season against Marquette. Do you see that success continuing in New York versus Villanova?

Nunes: You knew this would happen right? The second SU was in a position where they were almost dead in the water, didn't you just KNOW they'd beat Seton Hall and Marquette? God forbid they make it easy for us one of these years. I miss watching the Big East Tournament with no needs or expectations. Can we do that next year?

I do expect them to come out inspired against Villanova. I think the Marquette game really took this team to another level emotionally, you saw it after "The Kristof Play." I think they know exactly what they have to do and what it's going to take. Better late than never.

Paul Harris put up a career-high last time these two tangled, I expect big things from him again. And of course, I'm looking forward to seeing how Flynn and Greene handle the MSG spotlight. I have faith in the win. As for Thursday, well, we'll get to that when we get there.

2. Orange::44: Gun to your head, do they just need one more win to get in or do they need to pull a "Major League" and win the whole f'ing thing?

Nunes: They need two wins, and even then I won't be shocked if that's still not good enough. At least not as shocked as last year. We're getting screwed by all the mid-major conference tourney upsets and I think that may be our undoing. With each #1 seed losing, we drop down a place. Just look at the last two days, we went from "in" to "out" and we didn't even do anything. It's all because some 17-13 directional state school finally decided to play some ball.

All we can do is keep winning. As for how to do it, I'm just gonna say "Get in front of the damn ball...don't give me any of this ole bullcrap!"

3. Orange::44: The ladies exited Hartford earlier than expected. Does this mean anything for the big dance, or did they just have an off night?

Nunes: I think it's going to have an effect on their seed for sure. Whenever you have a team like SU (surprising 20+ win team with little experience and few "big" wins), I think the committee watches them closely for any sign that they aren't deserving of a good seed. I think the USF loss probably dropped them from a 6 seed to a 7 or even an 8. Hopefully a 7 so they don't have to stare down a 1-seed in the 2nd round.

The good news is that it's all good experience for the ladies. They'll be back next year just as good and no matter what happens they'll be better for it. Quentin's just getting started.

4. Orange::44: This lacrosse team seems to love the drama and the spectacle of overtime play. I know it is early, but how deep do you see this team going?

Nunes: It's a fun new role for SU lacrosse...being the Cardiac Kids. Clearly, they can hang with anyone in the country so really it's all about focus and not looking past anyone. They should have a lot of newfound confidence but if that means they're going to overlook teams like Binghamton cause they want a piece of Princeton, it's gonna get them into trouble.

The good news is that because of their schedule and because they are Syracuse, they have tons of leeway. Losses to the biggies won't hurt them in the long run all that much. So if they finish with four losses, maybe even five, they'll make the tournament.

Obviously, we'd love to see them back in the Final Four where they belong but I think if this team can at least make it to the 2nd round of the tourney, it'll will be considered a good year. Of course, if they keep improving, I don't see any reason they can't get back to the Final Four.

5. Orange::44:What is the one word that could describe the entire basketball season?

Nunes: "Kwyjibo" which is defined as "a big dumb North American ape with no chin and a short temper."

If that doesn't work for you, how bout "Challenging." Challenging for the players to find their way. Challenging for Boeheim to get through and get this team to gel. Challenging for the fans to figure out how to feel game to game.

6. Orange::44: It is a long way away, but are you actually excited for the upcoming Penn State game, or do you think it has just been too long for this game to mean anything special anymore?

Nunes: I think it's exciting but not specifically because of any memories or tradition that exists. I do think these two teams should be playing almost every year. The geography and the proximity of the fanbases demands it.

Besides, we kinda already have a little fuel to work with. In an interview not too long ago, Paterno questioned whether or not Syracuse was happy they scheduled this game considering the state of the program. Well Joe, you're assuming that your program is in such great shape, aren't you?

I know we're Syracuse and Greg Robinson is involved, but I'm not ruling out SU in this game at all. And I hope that if nothing else the first few match-ups are entertaining and heated. Ten years from now, we should all look back and question why we ever stopped playing each other.

7. Orange::44: Finally, one of my favorite holidays, St. Patrick's Day, is coming up next week. I am very Irish and always enjoy celebrating. My question to you sir is this, are Shamrock Shakes the best part of the St. Patrick's Day season or is it something else?

Nunes: I was in Ralph's (the California version of Shoprite) the other day and I took a quick look at the bakery section. For a split second I thought one collection of bagels had gone horrible awry until I realized they were just dyed green. Green bagels. Is there anything more American than dying bagels to celebrate an Irish holiday? Until I see green-dyed steaks, the answer is yes.
I think you've hit it in the nose with the Shamrock Shakes. Of all the green edible items presented to me on that day, it's the most likely one I'll actually consume. Keep your green beer and green baked goods, but I'll thrown down a Shake with you for sure.
Orange::44: Anytime, my friend. Anytime.

Editor’s Note: This is another installment in the ongoing collaboration between Orange::44 and Nunes/Magician. Every other Tuesday 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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Lacrosse Weekly - 3/11/08

Looks familiar doesn’t it?
Free lacrosse usually equals awesome. If you are a lacrosse fan, then an overtime game between some of the upper echelon teams in Division 1 such as Syracuse v. Virginia, or Syracuse v. Georgetown would be a dream. But if you are an actual fan of Syracuse, it has been a roller coaster the last two games. After an encouraging but heartbreaking loss to Virginia the week before Syracuse entered the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome this past Sunday and in two overtime periods managed to knock off #9 Georgetown with a score of nine to eight.

Syracuse entered the fourth quarter down by a score of seven to four, looking like they would take an improbable home loss against a lower ranked opponent. But Syracuse’s offense exploded in the fourth quarter. With 13:41 remaining in regulation Brendan Loftus started the Syracuse comeback with an unassisted goal. Syracuse then made two more goals to tie the game at seven all with 6:10 remaining in the quarter. Georgetown then made another goal with 1:42 on the clock, but Syracuse was not going to lose another close game. Of an intercepted pass, Syracuse moved the ball the length of the field and Steven Brooks scored the tying goal with two seconds remaining in regulation. Finally, in the second overtime period, Syracuse midfielder Loftus again scored, this time for the win. Syracuse fans rejoice and the Hoyas again go home unhappy from another trip to the Dome.

Brendan Loftus led all players with four goals, which included the game winner. Kenny Nims also added two goals. Steven Brooks, Mike Leveille, and Stephen Keogh also had a goal a piece. Mike Leveille also contributed two assists, the only assists for Syracuse. He is on the watch list for the Tewaaraton Trophy, the lacrosse player of the year, and his stock is currently rising as people recognize his contributions to righting the SS Syracuse. Nims tied for the team lead in ground balls with six. He ties the best face off man in the nation, Danny Brennan, with six. Orange::44 favorite DBren won 16 of 20 face offs and continues to be the best man you want in the X. John Galloway, the freshman goaltender, still plays well in the face of new challenges. He had only eight goals against and made tens saves, one of which in the first overtime period. He looks good and rarely gets straight out beat by the offense.

Syracuse had a very good day as a whole as well. Syracuse picked up a ton more ground balls than Georgetown. ‘Cuse had a total of 46, while Georgetown only picked up 27. Additionally, 16 of those ground balls were in the fourth quarter, and three were in the first overtime period. It was a very good day for picking up the ball rather than dropping it. Similarly, Syracuse had a lot more shots than the Hoyas did. Syracuse had 57, while Georgetown only had 26. This is another big stat, indicating that Syracuse is the Syracuse of old. 17 of the shots were in the 4th, five in the first overtime, and only one needed in the second. Conversely, Georgetown only had two shots in the fourth, one in the first overtime, and zero in the second. Syracuse was 21 of 25 for clears, which is an excellent stat. Syracuse was only one for four on extra man opportunities this game, but with all the other glaring statistical leads I can overlook it. All in all, a solid game for Syracuse on paper. The full box score can be found here.

Syracuse is holding strong at #5 in the Inside Lacrosse poll. They improved to 3-1 on the year. Georgetown falls to #11 in the poll with an overall record of 1-2. Syracuse next travels again to Baltimore, Maryland (or if you watched The Wire, Bodymore, Murderland) to take on the rival Blue Jays of Johns Hopkins. Hopkins is currently ranked #4 right in front of Syracuse with a record of 3-1. The game is at noon on Saturday March 15th and will be televised on the ESPN U. The current Inside Lacrosse rankings can be found here.

The big story of the week was that aforementioned team Johns Hopkins losing to Hofstra this past Saturday. Hopkins lost in overtime to the Pride by a goal from Jay Card with 1:51 remaining in the period with a score of 8 to 7. Hofstra had never before beaten a #1 ranked team, let along this team that is the defending National Champions. Hofstra improves to 2-1 on the season and earns the #13 next to their name.

Other notable scores from the week were:

Saturday March 8:

Army 8 – Cornell 9

Albany 7 – Delaware 8

Duke 21 – Loyola 8

Towson 7 – Maryland 12

Harvard 8 – UMass 5

Notre Dame 6 – North Carolina 8

Virginia 12 – Princeton 10

Yale 9 – UMBC 11

Tuesday March 11:

Harvard 11 – Hartford 2

Albany 8 – UMass 9

Lehigh 3 – Navy 14

North Carolina 8 – Providence 6

A complete scoreboard from Inside Lacrosse is listed here.

Syracuse will again take on another team that could be a possible Final Four match up this weekend. Syracuse has shown it can lose a close but tough game, and similarly win a close but tough game. The former #1 team will prove formidable for the Orange so it will be imperative to be on top of their game. Until next week, try to enjoy some more of the #3 sport for the NCAA.

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Belgium: Home of the EU and a damn fine player.
What a difference a week makes. Last Saturday Syracuse plays one of the most disappointing games in the history of the program, and then we play one of the best games against a ranked opponent all season. It was sure fun to be in the Dome for this game, and a nice cap on a season, building momentum for the games coming up in New York City. “America’s Bubble Team” has rejoined the conversation about punching a ticket to the Big Dance with a statement win over #20 Marquette 87 to 72.

Kristof! was the man of the hour. He had a couple amazing plays, capped of by a steal, going coast to coast, and then slamming the ball with authority while getting fouled. He finished the day with nine points, five rebounds and four assists. He also managed to take down a Marquette player only using the ball and his Belgian wit. While Greene, Flynn, and Harris continue to get most of the hype from this team, Kristof! is exactly the kind of endearing player that will not be famous, but will be famous to Syracuse fans. It is extremely rare for a JUCO transfer to play so well on this level, but Kristof! continues to play tough defense, grab rebounds, and make excellent passes, getting in points here and there. Kristof! is not just a good player, he is Syracuse fan’s favorite kind of player.

Donte Greene scored 21 points and pulled down four rebounds. He decided to implement a low post game finally over the smaller Marquette team, and it worked well. Syracuse continued to hammer the low post and they were rewarded, as the mismatched Marquette team could not stop the Syracuse penetration. He played a good game, and wow, he only took four shots from long range. Amazing. Maybe he should continue this trend next season. I think Greene was simply just playing like a freshman, and perhaps he has decided to grow up a bit. Then again, maybe it was just the simple fact that going down low worked well in this game. We shall see in the Big East how Mr. Greene does.

Jonny Flynn also had 21 points and seven assists. He continues to do well, and unlike Greene, I have never hated him this season. If he does not get Big East Rookie of the Year it will be a sad day.

Onuaku had a similarly good day in the low post, earning 14 points and five rebounds. Harris also had 14 points and six rebounds. Harris had some great plays and Onuaku looked strong. He seemed to somewhat be more competent shooting free throws this time as well. Scoop had some key plays off the bench as well, earning six points and two assists in 13 minutes of play.

Turnovers were “low” for Syracuse, as they had less than Marquette. Syracuse committed 14, while Marquette had 18. They were pretty evenly distributed across Syracuse, and none of them were too offensive to my fragile basketball sensibilities.

Syracuse had an excellent day shooting the ball. Syracuse shot 58% from the floor, making 29 of 50 attempts. Syracuse hit five of 11 from long range, earning 46% on the day. The team also did well from the free throw stripe, making 24 of 35 for 69%.

Syracuse defense also did well on the day. Paul Harris led the way with three steals, but it was Kristof!’s two, along with his three blocked shots that highlighted the defensive effort. Despite the height advantage, the rebounding was pretty even, so nothing sexy to report there. Overall it was an excellent defensive game for the ‘Cuse, despite Greene again being lazy on a few shots from long range by Marquette.

All in all, it was the best played game for Syracuse this season, and it could not come at a better time. Syracuse had a clear offensive game plan, a very active defense, and people who made some solid plays on both sides of the court. In a season which can best be described as “interesting…”, the team really responded with a “do not count us out yet” attitude and played a great game. We now see the team heading to New York and the comfy confines of the Garden, where magical things seem to happen when Syracuse is there for the Big East Tournament. Specifically, when Syracuse is seeded ninth. Syracuse will take on Villanova, a team they split against in the regular season, at noon on Wednesday. I will have a complete preview of the Big East tournament either tonight or tomorrow morning before the game. Hopefully you will be able to take a peak at the game even if you will be at work or school. I’ll also have my Lacrosse Weekly article coming soon, as well as the latest Nunes::44. A special congratulations goes out to the women’s basketball team for an excellent season in getting back to the Big East Tournament in Hartford. Although they lost a close game in overtime, the team will most certainly get a tournament big and it will be exciting to see how the ladies will fare in the big dance. Congratulations to Coach Q and his squad for a very successful season.

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Submitted For Your Approval

I hope you wanted another, because you got one.
Yearning for another Orange::44 Podcast? Probably not. However, we have another one for you today. I cover a wide range of topics from the Homecoming game, to lacrosse, and even some Women’s Big East Tournament talk. Enjoy the calming sounds of my voice, which promises to be a lot smoother this week than last. Also, no harm intended to Brent Axe for releasing this on the same day, it was simply the way my schedule worked out. May God forgive the man that crosses Brent Axe. Thanks for all the kind words in response to last weeks podcast, especially from my fellow Big East bloggers. Enjoy! You can download the podcast here.









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Lacrosse Weekly - 3/6/08

DBren takes no crap from nobody.
Syracuse played a hell of a game versus Virginia this past Saturday. While I was busy dealing with other things, this game did not escape the Orange::44 radar, so it is time for our second edition of Lacrosse Weekly. We focus on the Orange’s overtime loss to Virginia in the 2008 Face Off Classic in Baltimore, Maryland, where the Orange played a tough game, but eventually lost in overtime to Virginia 14 to 13.

SU should be very encouraged about this game. Yes they lost, but it was in overtime. This game, if they do nothing else this season, proves that Syracuse’s offense is back. Steven Brooks and Kenny Nims let the way with three goals each. Nims also led the team with groundballs, picking up seven. Leveille, Niewieroski, and Loftus also added two goals a piece. Brooks also led in the assist category with two. Orange::44 favorite Danny Brennan, face off man extraordinaire, had an excellent day. DBren won 19 of 29 face offs he participated in. John Galloway had 15 saves in his 60 plus minutes of play. Coincidentally this is the first time since 1981 that Syracuse has started a freshman goalie.

Syracuse also had a great game in other categories. Syracuse was four for four in extra man opportunities. Syracuse also penalty killed well, as UVA only scored on two out of five man up opportunities. Syracuse also led the game in shots, 47 to UVA’s 44. Syracuse was also 16 for 20 on successful clears, something the Orange seemed to struggle with last season. A solid statistical game for Syracuse. The complete box score can be found here.

Because of the almost win over Virginia, Syracuse moved up in the rankings earning them the #5 spot, while Virginia holds at #3 with a 4-0 record. Syracuse now has a record of 2-1 and will play #9 Georgetown (1-1) on Sunday at 3:30pm in the Carrier Dome. This should be an interesting match up. As I discussed with Nunes/Magician, the interesting part will happen when Georgetown’s Attack unit will face Syracuse’s retooled defense. This should be an excellent match. The revised rankings for the week are here.

There were obviously some great games over the weekend. We first start out with the other game from Baltimore. Two more powerhouses in lacrosse took on each other in the afternoon game at M&T. Princeton attempted to take on Johns Hopkins, but fell to the clearly superior team by a score of 14 to 9. Princeton was clearly outmatched as the high octane offense of Hopkins continued to pour it on Princeton, while the sophomore goalie Mike Gvozden for the Jays continues to develop into one of the top tenders in the nation.

Other notable scores this week so far were:

Saturday March 1:

St. John’s 7 – Georgetown 13

Albany 6 – Notre Dame 7

Delaware 10 – Rutgers 8

Maryland 7 – Duke 15

Sunday March 2:

UMass 4 – Yale 7

Cornell 8 – North Carolina 13

Tuesday March 4:

Notre Dame 16 – Villanova 6

Virginia Military Institute 5 – Virginia 24

UMBC (University of Maryland – Baltimore County) 8 – Johns Hopkins 10

A complete scoreboard from Inside Lacrosse is listed here.

So there you have it. Despite the loss, Syracuse is looking in top form. Georgetown should be an interesting game for the Orange, and a game they look poised to win at home if they play like they have been. Stay tuned next week for more lacrosse action.

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Look, you gotta get in there, otherwise Tim's gonna take all of your TV time.
The biggest question coming into today’s game was clearly how the team would bounce back from the heartbreakingly disappointing Pittsburgh game last Saturday. Well all I can say is it is a good thing we played Seton Hall and not Notre Dame again. This team, after a slow start, had an excellent offensive game, finishing on top 85 to 73.

Three Syracuse players ended up with a Double Double. The leading scorer was Donte Greene. He ended with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Greene took a shit ton of shots to put it mildly, and some of them happened to go in. He made eight of 21 field goals and hit three of 12 from long distance. There are several truths we have learned about Greene this season. First, he cannot make a three off a dribble, but can off a catch and shoot. Second, he needs to be much more selective in his shooting. Three, he needs to develop a better inside scoring game. Four, he needs to actually play defense. If Greene does these things he will be gone after next year, but hopefully with a championship.

Onuaku was next with 17 points and 14 rebounds. He fouled out, but the big guy played a great game. He attacked the glass, used the spin and hook very well, and generally had his way on the floor. Onuaku even took over referee duties giving himself the and one early in the first half. You could clearly see the fire in Onuaku and he played up to par.

The last of the Double Doubles was Orange::44 and fan favorite Kristof! Ongenaet. He finished with ten points, 11 rebounds, and started the game with the first six points, including a wide open three to start the game. He also had some excellent hustle plays including a stolen ball and a lay up as his reward. Kristof! continues to impress me on the defensive and rebounding end, and he had an excellent offensive game to go with his scrappy play. Job well done to Kristof!.

Jonny Flynn also added some offense with 16 points and eight assists. He hit two of the six shots he took from downtown. He again looked good on the floor and continued to handle the ball well, and certainly handled the press better this time around. Flynn also made up for clanking the dunk last game by slamming one home in this one. He continues to play all 40 minutes and doing it well.

Paul Harris did not have an outstanding game, but he had a good one. He earned 14 points, six rebounds, and made four of six free throws down the stretch. Paul missed a few mid-range jump shots he normally makes, however he still finished with a fine game and handled the ball better than the last. He did make up for it by absolutely punishing the rim on a put back.

Scoop Jardine saw some extended time on the floor, playing a total of 22 minutes and making eight points. He also went four for four from the free throw line, and the surprise of the evening was him earning four steals. Rick Jackson made two bonehead mistakes in this game, therefore he was rewarded with a quick check out. He played five minutes.

Syracuse shot well from the floor, shooting just under 51%, making 32 of 63 field goal shots. That number probably would be higher had there not been so shots from Donte Greene. From three point range, Syracuse hit just under 32%, making six of 19 attempts. While they did not shoot as well as during the Pittsburgh game, they still played well on the offensive end.

Syracuse did a little better from the free throw like this game. They shot about 58%, making 15 of 26. While this is not the 70% we were used to seeing, it is still better then the last few games. When is Onuaku going to actually spend some time committing to improving his free throw percentage?

Syracuse managed to block eight shots. Donte Greene led the way with three. While his defense leaves much to be desired, Greene under the basket is still a force to be reckoned with.

Rebounds were also big in this game. Syracuse had 51 rebounds, versus 23 from the Hall. Yes, that is a difference of 28 for you keeping score at home. This was an asinine difference on the boards. Syracuse also earned 16 offensive boards, while the Hall only managed four. Clearly Syracuse was a bigger team, a better team, and a more aggressive team when it came to crashing the boards.

Syracuse’s big problem, as with the Pittsburgh game, was turnovers. Syracuse had 22 in this game, with errant passes being the biggest cause. Seton Hall only logged in 11. Greene, Onuaku, and Kristof! all had four turnovers. The bulk of Greene’s turnovers happened by careless passes inbounds during a press. Sound familiar? Syracuse apparently feels a panic that they have not felt all season with the press lately. Hopefully this will be fixed quickly.

There are some things semi-game related that are worth a mention. Tim Higgins got a bunch of TV time with the end of the first half and then the subsequent fixing of a clock error and its explanation to the TV color man. Apparently at the end of the first half, the clock froze, thus when the clock expired, it should have done so .8 seconds earlier. Scoop Jardine was fouled at the end of the first half and made two free throws, Because the clock should have been expired they were wiped away as a "correctable error". While Timmy is usually the scourge of most Syracuse fans, this referee crew actually got the call correct. What is with the Hall getting the clock wrong? Don’t they have a brand new arena? Gotta get your TV time huh Timmy? My friend John also made a good point. Why is Tim’s nose so purple? As he suggested, it is perhaps because Bobby Gonzalez punched him in the face, just like his assistant coach (wink)? Also, whenever the ball hit the rim it made the loudest clank on TV I have ever heard. It sounded like someone beating a bum with a pipe. Is it just because everything in Jersey does not work like it is supposed to? Perhaps.
While Syracuse’s tournament hopes are virtually dead in the water, Syracuse responded well, minus a whole lot of turnovers, with a nice road win. The NCAA bubble conversation only continues with a win during the season cap with Marquette in the Dome on Saturday at 4:00pm. For now, Syracuse beat a team they were supposed to. There was a moment of “not this again” but it quickly passed and Syracuse regained its composure. All in all, quite the good game all around for the boys in Orange. Until next time, try to get that image of Timmy Higgins out of your head.

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