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Leveille Honored as Lacrosse's Best Player

Who wouldn't want this on their coffee table?
Mike Leveille is your 2008 Tewaaraton Trophy winner. The Tewaaraton Trophy, the “Heisman of college lacrosse”, is awarded to the best college lacrosse player in the nation every year. Typically it is awarded to the best player on the best team, and that is certainly the case for this year’s award winner. Leveille finishes the year with 49 goals and 34 assists. Leveille, the two time captain of the Orange, also earned 42 ground balls. He finishes his career with Syracuse ninth on the all time goals list with 132, 12th in assists with 83, and 12th in points with 215. Congratulations to Mike Leveille also for being picked #3 in the Major League Lacrosse college draft on Wednesday by New Jersey, only to be traded to Chicago where his older brother Kevin plays. Mike has had a stellar career with Syracuse and will surely continue that tradition with Chicago, or whatever other professional lacrosse team he plays for. Congratulations to Mike Leveille once again. H/T to JBren.

Congratulations also go out to Katie Rowan of the woman’s team for being one of the five finalists for the Tewaaraton Trophy on the women’s side. The award went to Hannah Nielsen of Northwestern, winners of the National Championship.

We continue our National Championship coverage with a podcast to appear over the weekend, as well as a season in review early next week. Keep celebrating, because Orange::44 certainly still is.

Also a programming note, I will be appearing on “On The Block” with Brent Axe today in the 3:30pm segment for a Syracuse Year In Review. It should be a good time and you can always listen by visiting ESPN 1260 and clicking on Listen Live button.

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Final Four Q & A

Troy is probably magical at lacrosse too.
In the grand tradition of this blog and of Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, and in our continuing coverage of the Lacrosse National Championship, Sean over at Nunes/Magician asked me some questions about the Final Four in our usual correspondence. We also talk a little basketball. So enjoy the latest installment of Orange::44 is an Absolute Magician, complete with some of my photos from Championship Weekend.

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The Orange::44 NCAA Tournament Photo Galleries

There are few things as great as the NCAA Tournament in any sport.
In our continuing coverage of Syracuse Lacrosse’s tenth championship, I am proud to bring you my photos from the Notre Dame, Virginia, and Johns Hopkins games in the NCAA Tournament.

We start our coverage from Ithaca, New York where it was a rainy morning in the parking lot until entering Cornell’s Schoellkopf Field, when the clouds decided to stop raining and Syracuse decided to play a great game. Syracuse then punched their ticket to Foxborough and a match up with Virginia. The quarterfinals gallery can be seen here.

Next, Syracuse and Virginia played a great game even by Syracuse/Virginia standards. Easily the most exciting game of the weekend, Syracuse outlasted a barage of Virginia goals, making a comeback from a five goal deficit to tie the game and send it to overtime. Syracuse’s senior captin Mike Leveille then puts away the game winner in the second overtime, the team goes nuts and the stadium goes nuts. Syracuse is then sent to their 15th title game. The semifinal photo gallery is here.

Finally, the 2008 Revenge Tour culminated against long time foe Johns Hopkins. Who better to face in another championship game than Hopkins, who Syracuse defeated exactly 25 years prior to earn their first title. With the 1983 team on hand, Syracuse survived an amazing game from Hopkins players Paul Rabil and Michael Gvozden. Dan Hardy led the charge with three goals, and specialist Danny Brennan could not have picked a better time to earn his first career goal than the National Championship. Syracuse outlasted Johns Hopkins, the crowd again goes nuts, and Syracuse earns its tenth title. Syracuse avenges the previous campaign of a dismal 5-8 record to complete the best turnaround in a season in NCAA lacrosse history. The National Championship photo gallery can be found here.

I think you can tell that my friends and I not only saw some great games, but had a few good times along the way. If you can manage to get to the Final Four next season, even if Syracuse fails to make it, I highly recommend making the trip. In our continuing coverage of the National Championship win we will have some further reactions to the title, as well as a season in review, plus a Championship Edition of the Orange::44 Podcast coming soon. For now, enjoy pretending you were there in Massachusetts and reliving all the great moments from this NCAA Tournament.

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Lacrosse Weekly - The National Championship Edition

The hardware is what it's all about.
Ten. That is now the number of National Championships that the Syracuse Lacrosse team has earned. After a dismal season that could only be described as a total failure in every way, with only a 5-8 record, #3 Syracuse returns to its glory with a National Championship by beating #5 Johns Hopkins 13 to ten.

Syracuse played one hell of a game. On the back of their attack unit, Syracuse’s offense managed to score against some of the best defensive performances I have ever seen in a lacrosse game. From Virginia’s Bud Petit, to Hopkins’ Michael Gvozden, and the defensive players of Hopkins, Syracuse had to face the game’s best defenders. Yet, Syracuse fought through the defensive barrages and managed to score some pretty spectacular goals. Not to be outdone, Syracuse’s own defense did not allow easy scoring lanes or shots in front of the crease uncontested. The Syracuse defense would collapse on the offensive players in front of Galloway and Syracuse would usually come up with the ball. Syracuse had a tough first quarter, being outscored four to two, but Syracuse came back and led six to five at half time. Syracuse then came out with two quick scores in the second half, and started the forth quarter with three goals. While Paul Rabil was an absolute stud with six goals in the game, it was not enough to overcome Syracuse’s scoring and midfield defense.

Dan Hardy was easily the best player of the day for Syracuse, earning three goals. Kenny Nims, Brendan Loftus and Stephen Keogh each had two goals. Mike Leveille and Steven Brooks each added a goal. Leveille and Brooks each added two assists. Danny Brennan and Matt Abbott each picked up six ground balls. Danny Brennan, who has had a spectacular NCAA Tournament, only won 13 of 26 face offs in the Championship, but that was enough for the Orange. DBren also had a spectacular goal, his first of the year, in the winding seconds of the first quarter after winning the face off and going straight to the goal. Freshman Goalie John Galloway only earned seven saves and let in ten goals, but he did earn the win and again made big saves when it matters. As one member of the crowd yelled, “Galloway doesn’t need to care about the first three quarters.” While Galloway made it a little too close for comfort during this Final Four on occasion, he made big saves when it mattered and he should be a great goalie for the next few years for Syracuse.

Syracuse took 46 shots in the game, while Hopkins not far behind took 38. The Orange very appropriately picked up 44 ground balls, while the Blue Jays snagged 33. Brennan split the face offs in the game, only getting 13 of the 26 in the game with Peyser and Dolente of Hopkins. Hopkins had 20 of 22 clears in the game, while Syracuse cleared 21 of 24. Syracuse’s extra man defense clearly contributed to the win, as Hopkins only scored on one of five Syracuse penalties. Syracuse converted on one of two. Hopkins Goalie Michael Gvozden had a fantastic game and earned 20 saves, while Galloway had seven in the Championship.

Hopkins deserves a lot of credit for getting to the Championship. They had a rough stretch in which Hopkins had five losses in a row for the 2007 National Champions, which included the overtime loss to Syracuse. But Syracuse would not be denied on the 2008 Revenge Tour. Syracuse had all facets of their game clicking in Foxborough, which included offense, defense, face offs, and a solid goalie. So Syracuse will hoist some more hardware and become the best franchise in NCAA Division 1 Lacrosse history. The complete box score can be found here. The complete bracket can be found here.

Coming later this week I will have my NCAA Semifinal and Final photo galleries. I will also have some thoughts on the season as well as what this means for the program and the state of lacrosse overall. Thanks to Jayme for joining me in the Championship viewing, Section 123 for being a lot of fun and full of ruckus, and Kevin for randomly coming in from CT to watch the game. For now, celebrate and enjoy that Syracuse winning ways have returned and Syracuse is once again the best in the lacrosse world.

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Lacrosse Weekly - The Final Four Edition

Syracuse will be advancing to another dual with Hopkins.

Well friends, I think I can easily say that that was probably the best lacrosse game I have ever witnessed in person. I say that even after attending the 2004 Final Four in Baltimore, Maryland. As advertised, #3 Syracuse and #2 Virginia provided yet another excellent game, a semifinal game for the ages, and one hell of a victory for the Orange by a score of 12 to 11 in two overtime periods.

This game really hinged on the face offs and goaltenders as I mentioned in my preview. Virginia’s Bud Petit played the game of his career in goal against Syracuse, making 16 saves in the game. Syracuse was held scoreless from the 8:23 minute mark in the first quarter, until there was 51 seconds remaining in the first half. Meanwhile freshman goalie John Galloway looked sluggish in the cage, letting in a few goals that probably should not have scored. Danny Brennan continued to do his job, winning 19 of 27 face offs for the Orange. It was DBren who continued to keep Syracuse in this game and give Syracuse possessions to keep chipping away at the Virginia lead. Galloway also tightened up his game and made two big saves in the first overtime period to keep Virginia from ending the game. Mike Leveille also helped.

Leveille, the Tewaaraton Trophy finalist, bolstered his resume in a big way tallying a career best five goals and two assists. His seven points also tie a career best for Leveille. He also happened to hit the game winner in the second overtime. Matt Abbot also added three goals. I happened to tailgate next to Abbot’s family and I have to say his mother is a lovely woman. Brendan Loftus also scored twice. Syracuse continued to exploit what they felt was a miss match between Loftus and the Virginia defenders they had on him. Dan Hardy also added two assists. Danny Brennan again dominated the face off X with 19 of 27 face offs won. He also added nine ground balls and generally played his heart out, leaving it all on the field. John Galloway, while not one of his best performances of the season, again made some clutch saves when it mattered most, especially in overtime. He finished with nine saves and 11 goals against in 66:17 minutes of work.

Syracuse of course led in shots with 47, while Virginia only shot the ball 35 times. The ‘Cuse picked up 44 ground balls compared to only 25 from the Cavs. Garrett Ince, the freshman face off man for Virginia only came up with 8 possessions. Virginia cleared the ball well, clearing 17 of 18. Syracuse cleared 15 of 17. Syracuse’s penalty kill unit did the job well as Virginia was held to only one score in six extra man opportunities. Syracuse capitalized on two of three extra man opportunities.

While I give Virginia a lot of credit for playing a great game, specifically goalie Bud Petit, Syracuse’s determination to complete “Revenge Tour ‘08” was too much for the Cavilers to handle. Syracuse played a solid offensive game, refused to give up, and in the end overcame a five goal deficit to take the game to overtime and then win on an underhanded shot by Mike Leveille. The crowd was great, the Syracuse fans were loud, and the Orange end up victorious. The complete box score can be found here.

Syracuse will now take on #5 Johns Hopkins for the right to say they have ten National Championships. Hopkins beat Duke in the second semifinal game ten to nine. The updated bracket is here. The game is on ESPN at 1:00pm on Monday, Memorial Day. I’ll again be in the stadium enjoying all of the lacrosse goodness that can be shoved into a National Championship. Special thanks to Tim, Chris, Jim, Jayme, Anthony, and Matt Glaude from Hoya Suxa for hanging out providing for an excellent tailgate and game viewing experience. The stakes will be high, the drama is thick, and one team will be able to boast the most championships after Monday. Without a doubt Syracuse can be proud of this season, but a National Championship would be quite the feather in the cap after failing to make the tournament the previous year. It is worth noting that the last time Syracuse failed to make the tournament in 1982 the following season Syracuse won the National Championship over Johns Hopkins. I am hoping history repeats itself.

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NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Preview - The Final Four

25 Final Fours? Yeah, I'll take that.
Two rounds of the NCAA Tournament are in the books, but the most important games are still to come. #3 Syracuse will now end their journey on the road to the Final Four in Foxborough, Massachusetts by playing #2 Virginia in the semifinal round for a chance to play for the coveted National Championship.

Syracuse enters this game looking to put another notch on the revenge list. Earlier this season Syracuse lost to Virginia in the Face Off Classic in Baltimore, Maryland by one goal in overtime. A lot has changed since then. Syracuse tore through the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs, trying to prove that Syracuse Lacrosse was back in full force. They have done so. Syracuse is averaging 13.6 goals a game, while Virginia is averaging 12.7. Virginia leads in assists per game though with 8.5, while Syracuse has 7.1. Syracuse is sporting a 55.5% save rate, while Virginia saves 51.6% of the time. Both these teams are very close on paper, so let us take a closer look at some of the match ups on the field.

Starting at the X, Danny Brennan will of course take all of the action for Syracuse. Still sporting the best save percentage in Division 1 in the nation, Virginia’s Garrett Ince is no slouch when it comes to earning the possession. Look for DBren to give Syracuse a lot of possessions in the game, much like he did against Notre Dame, who I think has a more talented face off man. Brennan also usually adds five ground balls to the state sheet so he should continue that tomorrow. The Syracuse defense will have their hands full with the attack unit of Virginia. Ben Rubeor, clearly the stud of the team, tallied three goals against Navy in the last round of the NCAA Tournament. He, along with Danny Glading and Garrett Billings all scored in the Navy game, and they will all test the Syracuse defense. If Virginia scores early and often it will be awfully tough to beat them. Another big piece in this match up is freshman John Galloway in goal for the Orange versus fifth year senior Bud Petit between the pipes for Virginia. This will be an interesting contest between Petit’s experience and Galloway’s talent. Whichever consistently prevents the other team from scoring will give their team’s offense a chance to stay on top of the scoreboard. While Virginia has struggled in the playoffs, do not let that fool you into thinking that any team can steamroll over this Virginia squad. They will be tough, prepared, and willing to do whatever it takes to get back to the National Championship. Syracuse will be more motivated than they have been all season however, so it will be an interesting test of wills on the field. Look for Syracuse’s transition game to play fast and loose and get some goals quick and easy on Petit, before he realizes what hit him.

This game I really think will come down to face offs and goaltending. If Brennan can continue dominating in the tournament, like he has all season, he will give Syracuse a huge advantage. If Ince gets under his skin though and pulls off some big takes, look for his confidence to build and give Brennan a real run for his money. Seeing as the last two Virginia games have been decided by a goal and the last Syracuse/Virginia match up ended by a goal in overtime, possessions will be very important. Also, we know both of these teams can score. If Leveille, Brooks, and Hardy can continue to put up numbers Syracuse will rely on the defense to prevent Virginia from either taking a lead or getting too big of a lead to overcome. Galloway will have to have a solid game and not let in any soft goals or have a lull like he did in the third quarter in Ithaca last weekend. If there is an epic collapse on defense and a scoring drought in this game by either team, I am sure the team on the receiving end will not recover. Therefore, solid fundamentals and defensive awareness will be necessary. Again, Galloway has the talent but not a lot of experience. Petit has a lot of experience, but is not as pure of a goal keeper as Galloway is. Both teams shoot very well and nine Virginia players scored on Syracuse in the last game, so it will be interesting to see if Syracuse defense can remain cool under pressure and allow the offense to keep Syracuse in a good position.

Syracuse will play Virginia at 12:00pm on ESPN 2 in stunning high definition. The other semifinal game is #1 Duke v. #5 Johns Hopkins, also on ESPN 2. The complete and up to date NCAA Bracket is always found here.

The time is right for Syracuse to make a big statement in this tournament against a tough opponent. It is really either team’s game to take, so it will simply come down to which team plays better on this day. Often in any NCAA game it is not the best team, but the best team right now. Syracuse must continue to execute and play with the purpose and passion that they have displayed all season. I will be enjoying the games in the highest of definitions; real life. I will hopefully file a report on the semifinal games on Sunday so be sure to look for that. If Syracuse wins they will of course play for the National Championship on Memorial Day on ESPN at 1:00pm. I hope I will be writing from a place of joy Sunday over a place of misery. Either way, Syracuse had a season to be proud of and should hold their head high for another year.

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Lacrosse v. Cancer: Cancer Losing.

Who wouldn't want to eat wings and watch SU avenge another game?
We now take a break from or usual programming of randomly bashing things against Syracuse and informing you about the lacrosse team to bring you a very important announcement. If you are in the Washington, DC area and would like to watch the Syracuse Lacrosse Final Four contest, why not help out with a good cause at the same time.

This Saturday Syracuse plays UVA in the national semifinals-- here's something that will benefit a good cause and can bring SU fans together:
Come Join Use for Food, Drinks and Sports - All to Benefit a Great Cause!
Washington, DC - On May 24th, 2008 the Rhino Bar and Pumphouse (3295 M Street NW) will host the 2008 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship games on its 110-in. HD projection televisions.
The event, which runs from 12 pm-5 pm on Saturday, will have a cover charge of $10 at the door - and all of it will go toward charity! Eighty percent of the money will go toward fighting breast cancer, and the remaining 20 percent will go toward the Tewaaraton Award Foundation - a non-profit lacrosse foundation.
Beverage specials included in the cover charge during Saturday's gamewatching include ...
8 dollar domestic pitchers
3 dollar domestic bottles
3 dollar rail drinks.
There will also be 25 cent wings and some other giveaways, possibly from Miller.
In addition to the sports, food and fun, tickets to see the Washington D.C. Bayhawks lacrosse team and tickets to the Tewaaraton Award presentation will be raffled off (a prize worth more than $250 each).
For more information on Rhino Bar and its menu, visit www.rhinobardc.com or call (202) 333-3150. For more information about the event, e-mail: laxfinalfour@gmail.com.
Hat Tip to Sean from Nunes/Magician, as well as Jon Halperin, a 2001 Syracuse graduate for organizing the event. It should be a lot of fun and help a great cause.

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Lacrosse Weekly - NCAA Quarterfinals Edition

Not that great of a day in Ithaca, but a great day on the field.
Syracuse is back in the Final Four. After a two year absence Syracuse makes its triumphant return to the biggest stage in Division 1 Lacrosse. #3 Syracuse did so by playing against a better than expected #6 Notre Dame team and emerged from Ithaca, New York victorious by a score of 11 to nine.

This game was really too close for comfort in the third and forth quarters. Syracuse had a nice lead at the half, winning six to two, but Notre Dame came charging back in the third. The Irish added six goals in the third, while SU only managed one. Therefore, Syracuse was down by a goal entering the fourth quarter. John Galloway let in a couple soft goals in the third and the game momentum vastly favored Notre Dame entering the forth. The game went back and forth between Notre Dame being up a goal and then even. Finally, with 5:05 remaining Syracuse took a ten to nine lead. Syracuse then added one more goal before finishing strong. Meanwhile, with some time still on the clock, Notre Dame won the last face off. John Galloway made two dramatic saves after a Notre Dame time out, and then got a clear after a diving pass from Syracuse’s defense. Syracuse then ran out the clock with over a minute remaining to punch the final ticket to the Final Four.

Syracuse was led in scoring by Dan Hardy. It is completely fitting that #22 would lead the team back to the Final Four. Stephen Brooks also added two goals. Mike Leveille had two assists and one goal as well. Kenny Nims did his party by picking up five ground balls for The ‘Cuse. John Galloway, the freshman goalie, had some sensational saves, but none more important than the final two he made last in the forth quarter. He finished the game with 11 saves and nine goals against in the win. The real hero of the game was Danny Brennan, who performed magnificently at the X, or in this case a –. He won 17 of the 24 face offs he took. As Notre Dame Coach Kevin Corrigan said, the face offs in this game were “hugely important.” DBren started the game five for five, which definitely helped fuel the Orange’s first half dominance.

Syracuse again led in most statistical categories. Syracuse took 48 shots, while Notre Dame only took 34. Notre Dame only picked up 19 ground balls, but Syracuse had 27. DBren won 17 of the 24 face offs in the game, which means that the Irish only had seven. Syracuse cleared 13 of 16 balls and Notre Dame cleared 15 of 18. Syracuse had failed to truly take advantage of man up opportunities the last few games, but Syracuse did well converting on both extra man chances they had in the game. Notre Dame only converted one of two. Finally, Syracuse had a total of 11 saves, while Notre Dame’s Joey Kemp played a great game and earned 20 saves. The complete box score can be found here.

There were obviously three other games this weekend to punch more tickets to Massachusetts. Those games were:

The Annapolis Bracket:

#2 Virginia 8 – #7 Maryland in overtime.

#5 Johns Hopkins 10 – Navy 4.

The Ithaca Bracket:

#1 Duke 21 – Ohio State 10

The up to date bracket can be found here.

It was great to see the game in person. The energy in the stadium was very apparent and the players clearly fed off of the crowd on numerous occasions. Notre Dame fans did a great job trying to boost their team into the Final Four, especially during the third quarter, but Syracuse’s offense and defense proved to be superior in the end. Syracuse will now play next Saturday at 12:00pm against #2 Virginia in the first national semifinal game. The winner will play the winner of #1 Duke v. #5 Johns Hopkins in the National Championship for all the glory. It should be an excellent Final Four with some teams that the crowd should be familiar with. I will preview the upcoming match later this week, and I will be buying my tickets to the Final Four very soon. Until then, rest easy knowing that Syracuse is back in its rightful place in the Final Four and a new streak of appearances can begin.

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SU Women Heading To Final Four!

Celebrate! You just got your ticket punched.
Congratulations to the Syracuse Women’s Lacrosse team as they will be heading to the Final Four in Towson, Maryland. The #5 seeded Syracuse beat North Carolina in the Carrier Dome by the score of 13 to 11. Congratulations to the ladies and Gary Gait for making it to the Final Four for the first time in the history of the program. Now hopefully the men can do the same on Sunday in Ithaca. The complete box score for the game can be found here.

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NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Preview - Quarterfinals

Georgetown wishes they were playing lacrosse this weekend. But they aren't.
The Quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament have arrived. That means another game for your Syracuse Orange. This time #3 Syracuse travels away from the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome to take on #6 Notre Dame in familiar Ithaca, New York, on the campus of Cornell University.

Syracuse heads into the contest with a record of 13-2, their only losses coming against Virginia in overtime at the Face Off Classic in Baltimore, Maryland and against Colgate at the end of the regular season. Notre Dame similarly has a record of 14-2, their losses coming to Ohio State and North Carolina. Syracuse averages 13.8 goals per game, while Notre Dame is averaging 12.3. Syracuse allows 7.2 goals against per game, while Notre Dame allows 6.8. The Orange 83.8% successful in clears and 57.1% successful at winning face offs, while Notre Dame is 80.1% successful at clears and wins 65% of their face offs. Syracuse has faced Notre Dame before, the last time in 2001 in the national semifinal game to advance to the championship. Syracuse is 2-0 lifetime against Notre Dame. Syracuse is the all time leader in win percentage in the NCAA Tournament with 75% and second all time with total number of wins with 54 NCAA victories.

This game is not about the numbers however. These two teams could not be more different in the style of ball they play. Syracuse is a run-and-gun offense that loves to play up tempo lacrosse. With the likes of Mike Leveille, Kenny Nims, and Dan Hardy, the offense that faltered last season is no more. With Syracuse averaging almost 14 goals a game Syracuse’s offensive troubles have all but disappeared. Conversely, Notre Dame plays a slow and deliberate style of offense, making each possession count. They will look to move the ball very deliberately and try to expose and force a mistake in the defensive packages to get a high percentage look at the goal. Look for Alex Wharton to take most of the big shots for Colgate.
There will be a big time clash between Taylor Claggett of Notre Dame and Danny Brennan of Syracuse at the X. Brennan leads the nation in win percentage, winning 67.6% of the face offs he takes. Claggett on the other hand is simply performing very well, earning 12 of 18 against a very good X man in Colgate’s Kevin Eck last week in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. He has a 64% winning percentage. While Brennan sat out most of the Canisius game, look for DBren to step up and take the majority of the face offs on Sunday for the Orange. The superior man in the X will give his team a big advantage on the turf Sunday.
Syracuse will play Notre Dame at 3:00pm from Ithaca on ESPN U. Other games, also on ESPN U are as follows:
Saturday May 17:
12:00pm - #7 Maryland v. #2 Virginia at Annapolis, MD.
3:00pm - #5 Johns Hopkins v. Navy at Annapolis, MD.
Sunday May 18:
12:00pm – #1 Duke v. Ohio State at Ithaca, NY.
The complete and up to date NCAA Bracket can be found here.
The #5 Seed women’s lacrosse team will play this weekend as well. They will play North Carolina at 1:00pm Saturday in the Carrier Dome for the right to go to the Final Four hosted by Towson. Hopefully Syracuse will earn the right to appear for the first time ever in a Final Four and make it the first time that Syracuse will have both lacrosse teams make it to Championship Weekend.

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ACC Deez Nuts!

Don't worry ACC, the Big East still doesn't like you.
It is not a shocking revelation to note that college football makes the college sports world go round. Simply put, college football makes the most money for the NCAA and its member schools. This is especially the case for Division 1-A, the BCS Championship Subdivision. Thus, when the whole Big East/ACC situation of a few years ago happened, no doubt you had strong feelings about it. If you are reading this blog, chances are you are a Syracuse fan or at least pay higher attention to the Big East Conference in general, therefore you were very interested when Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College defected the conference for “greener pastures” in the ACC, leaving the Big East scrambling for replacements in football. At this point everyone saw the conference basically left for dead. But the Big East is not dead by any means, and the unintentional byproduct of the entire affair is quite possibly the best basketball conference that will ever be assembled. Brian McCormack of the blog The Business of College Football recently contacted me for my take on the entire Big East/ACC shake up, looking back, where we currently are, and were we are probably heading. Truth is, it was quite an interesting thing from the Syracuse perspective. The actual story with my comments can be found here. Included in the article are comments from Matt Zemek of CollegeFootballNews.com and Drew Howard of the blog College Gridiron Boss. It should be an interesting read. One comment I think should be noted, but I did not write about initially was the fact that the ACC Championship Game for the past three years has actually been a Big East Championship, with Miami, VTech, or BC competing for it almost every year. Good to know our teams are still better than the ACC.

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Nunes::44 - 5/13/08

Football is not lacrosse, but it is still magical.
It is Tuesday, and my exams are done. That means that it is time for another awesome installment of Nunes::44. Sean at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician answers another batch of tough questions from yours truly. Today is lacrosse heavy, but it is that time of the year. There are also some football questions as well, so even if you hate lacrosse there is something for you here. But seriously, if you are a fan of Syracuse and not on the lacrosse bandwagon get a clue already. Add in a little gentle ribbing from Sean and you get a quality post.
1. Orange::44: Syracuse absolutely blasted Canisius in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Is it safe to assume that Syracuse Lacrosse is back?

Nunes: With a mother f***king vengeance! Look around at what happened this weekend. Duke won but in a non-impressive fashion. North Carolina got upset. Notre Dame should have gotten upset. Virginia escaped with a close win. Cornell got killed. Hopkins had an impressive win but no seeded team made a statement like Syracuse did this weekend.

Does this mean we're going to cut a swath through the NCAA Tournament the likes of which haven't been seen since Sherman's March to the Sea? Not just yet. Canisius got the auto-bid for the tournament but they didn't do much to prove they really belonged there over teams like Georgetown and Princeton. Syracuse likely got caught napping last week against Colgate and wanted to make a serious example out of a lesser opponent to re-establish themselves as one of the best teams in the country. And they did that.

Now they get the advantage of playing an hour away from Syracuse in Ithaca against a desperate and beatable Notre Dame squad. I have full confidence that it's back to the Final Four. Once there, anything can happen but I don't see any reason why they can't go all the way.

2. Orange::44: How far do you see Syracuse going this year?

Nunes: Didn't I just answer this!?! I think they'll definitely make it to the Final Four. Once there, assuming they're playing Virginia, it'll be a great rematch. The first one went to overtime so I would expect something similar. Beating the Cavs would complete the 2008 Vengeance tour and likely set up a showdown with mighty Duke. I'm remiss to say that they can handily beat the Blue Devils, that's a helluva squad over there. But the NCAA Tournament always has some surprises so I wouldn't be shocked if the Orange saved their best for last. I'm not going to guarantee a title but I feel confident that this team can get the finals...after that, let the chips fall where they may.

3. Orange::44: The women's lacrosse team is also doing well. Is this the year they get to the Final Four?

Nunes: Everything's looking good for them so far. They just obliterated Towson and Katie Rowan continued her record-breaking run through the season. North Carolina just did them a biggie and took down Virginia, one of the teams that beat SU during the season. That means they get to host the Tar Heels instead of traveling to Virginia...a huge bonus.

If they can win, they're probably looking at Northwestern in the Final Four and then all bets are off. A win would be a huge upset and an amazing one for the program, but realistically I think the journey might end there. And that's pretty damn good for Gary Gait's first season. But hey, you never know...

4. Orange::44: Football is still a while away, but are you getting excited about it already?

Nunes: Excited? Is that the right phrase for it?

Actually yeah, I'm like Jack Burton in the elevator on his way to fight Lo Pan. "I feel pretty good. I'm not... I'm not scared at all. I feel kind of... feel kind of invincible." It's a new season and its easy to start buying into the idea that Andrew Robinson is a year older, Mitch Browning is the second coming, and Mike Williams is going to be a TD machine.

Then I remember how I felt before last year's Washington game.

Then I remember how I felt after last year's Washington game.

Then I decide to just put my head down until September.

5. Orange::44: What is the one thing you are looking forward to this football season?

Nunes: Robinson-to-Williams. What will one day be considered the most prolific QB/WR combo in Syracuse history. Mark my words. I don't know how one marks words, but I suggest you do it. Williams' streak might not last the whole year but these guys are going to put up some gaudy numbers...even if it doesn't translate into W's.

6. Orange::44: Finally, is there anything you want to sound off on since we have been on hiatus the last two weeks?

Nunes: Ohhhh...Mr. Bigtime law student...had some tests to study for...couldn't ask some questions about women's lax...boo frickin' hoo. (Actually, my sis is graduating law school right now and judging by her mental state, I can only imagine how taxing it must be...kudos and bravo.)
Nothing really sticking in my craw at the moment, but then again it's only Monday. Give it a day or two and Greg Robinson will do something to anger me...
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 - NCAA Round 1 Edition

Galloway was cool under fire again and again.
Yes the rumor is true. Syracuse is still amazing at playoff lacrosse. The year away has not been unkind to Syracuse, as the Orange simply blasted Canisius in the first round of the NCAA Tournament 20 to three.

Syracuse held Canisius to zero goals in the first, third, and forth quarters. A pretty amazing feat. The Tewaaraton Trophy finalist Mike Leveille had an outstanding day with four goals and two assists. Six other players for Syracuse had two goals each. Kenny Nims led in the assists category with three, for a total of five points on the day. Danny Brennan did his part at the start of the game, winning four of five face offs. Four other players took over face off duties for DBren after he exited the game, and the most impressive to me was freshman Jovan Miller, who is an excellent utility man for Syracuse and will only get better. The same can be said for Stephen Keogh, who was very impressive for a freshman and earned two goals. John Galloway had an excellent day in the cage, saving eight shots and only letting three by. Backup goalie Al Cavalieri also performed well, making three saves in the forth quarter. Syracuse’s offense was unstoppable, and the defense was solid in this game.

Syracuse again greatly outshot their opponent as Syracuse took 41 shots, while Canisius only took 23. The ‘Cuse picked up 33 ground balls, while the Griffins only had 18. Syracuse won 14 of the 24 face offs taken in the game, while Canisius only picked up 10. Canisius took care of the ball well, clearing 12 of 14, while Syracuse cleared 20 of 21. The Griffins could not capitalize on extra man opportunities, failing to convert on five attempts, while Syracuse could, earning goals on two of six opportunities. Syracuse had a total of 11 saves in the game, while Canisius only had seven. Finally, Syracuse had 13 turnovers, while the boys from Buffalo turned it over 16 times. The complete box score is here.

While this game was never close, if you were a Syracuse fan, it was a fantastic game to watch. Mike Leveille and his other offensive players put on a scoring clinic. The defense was solid and the Golden Griffins were no match for the #3 seeded Syracuse Orange. Syracuse will now travel to nearby Ithaca, New York, on the campus of Cornell University. Syracuse will take on #6 Notre Dame, who escaped against Colgate on their home turf in Indiana. It will be an interesting match up that will get its due diligence later in the week.

Other NCAA first round scores were:

The Annapolis Bracket:

#1 Duke over Loyola 12-7.

Ohio State over #8 Cornell 15-7.

#5 Johns Hopkins over Hofstra 10-4.

Navy over #4 North Carolina 8-7.

The Ithaca Bracket:
#6 Notre Dame over Colgate in overtime 8-7.

#7 Maryland over Denver 10-7

#2 Virginia over UMBC 10-9.

The complete and updated bracket is here.

So now the teams will attempt to punch their ticket to the Final Four and a trip to Foxborough, Massachusetts to play in Gillette Stadium on Memorial Day weekend. Syracuse put on a huge offensive performance in the Carrier Dome, but can they continue it on the turf of Schoellkopf Field? I will preview the game later in the week, and will be enjoying the game in person next Sunday at 3:00pm. I will also get to preview a possible National Championship foe in #1 Duke in the noon game on Sunday. It should be another great weekend for lacrosse. The quest for another National Championship continues for the Orange, and already things are much better than last year.

Also congratulations to the women’s lax team for winning their first round game in convincing fashion as well. They beat Towson by a score of 21 to nine on the back of Tewaaraton Trophy finalist Katie Rowan and an NCAA Tournament game record eight assists. She finished with 13 points and possibly my heart. The ladies' box score is here.

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Congratulations Class of 2008!

No more papers for you... unless you're going to grad school.
A special congratulations goes out to all the graduating seniors at Syracuse University. Today Syracuse has its 154th Commencement Ceremony with special guest and speaker Bob Woodruff. Your time on the hill has concluded and allow me to welcome you to the ranks of alumnus or alumna. Special congratulations go out to my good friends Erin, Melissa (better known as OGMG), Alex, Andrea, Casey, Jeff, and Jon. Syracuse is a special place and you should feel lucky to have had all of the wonderful experiences in the place you have called your home away from home the last few years. I feel lucky to have known you. Best of luck in the future from Orange::44!
PS - Don't worry if you cry at your last Senior Sunday.
PPS - Happy Mother's Day Mom! I love you.

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Orange::44 is Back In Action!

Do what Bender says. He's from the future.

It’s another edition of the Orange::44 Podcast! This is the official return of myself to the blog after a two week semi-hiatus due to my law school examinations. I’m glad to be back, coming to you no longer as a dreaded 2L, but now as a much cooler and more educated 3L, as the law school lingo dictates. Today we cover a lot of lacrosse that I have sadly neglected the last couple of weeks, including a look at the NCAA Tournament and what my bracket looks like for the Hoya Suxa 2008 Lacrosse Pick ‘Em Challenge, which can be found here if you would still like to enter before tomorrow. Enjoy a lot of lax, but a little smattering of other items as well. I’m glad to be back and look forward to a fruitful summer of blogging deliciousness, along with some excellent podcasts to accompany you on your subway ride, or in your car, or anywhere you care to listen. To download this podcast click here.










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Mother of Ernie Davis Passes Away

Marie Fleming 1939-2008.

Sad news out of my hometown area as Marie Fleming, the mother of Ernie Davis, passed away on Tuesday. Fleming, still a pretty big fixture in Elmira, New York was a prominent member of the community. She was very active in doing volunteer work, as well as making sure that Ernie Davis was remembered not just as a great football player but a good person as well. While I personally had never met Ms. Fleming, I had seen her a few times and she spoke with a dignity and an elegance that could be matched by few. She was passionate about her community and lived a life that no would could say was anything but good. She will be missed. The local paper, the Elmira Star-Gazette, has this article that appears today. May she rest in peace.

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I imagine it is hard to play lacrosse running on stumps.
It’s NCAA Tournament Time again. Traditionally around this time of year after the brackets were handed out, Orange::44 then editor-in-chief Matt Glaude and the staff of this notebook would participate in a bracket challenge for pride and a round of drinks at homecoming. Now, Matt has moved on to Hoya Suxa, but our love for lacrosse and degenerate wagering on sporting events lives on. This time, instead of just his fellow bloggers here at Orange::44, he has opened up the bracket challenge to everyone, fans and bloggers alike. Head on over to Hoya Suxa here, download the spread sheet, make your picks, follow the instructions, and email that puppy back in to Matt and see if you know more about lacrosse than him, me, or the other dozens of lacrosse fans out there. With only a 16 team field, it should be tough making a few of the picks already. I have to warn you, I am pretty good at this bracket. Much better than say a Big East Tournament Bracket.

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The Raiders Raided

We just couldn't finish it.
Thanks Sean from Nunes/Magician! This guy jinxed us. Syracuse loses to Colgate 11 to 12. Syracuse earns the #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will play Canisius in the first round next Sunday in the Carrier Dome. My semester concludes Wednesday night, so look for new content after that, including the NCAA Tournament preview, and some of the usual shenanigans you enjoy.

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Harrison Possibly Involved In Shooting

This is extremely shocking news if true.
Sad news today as ESPN.com reports that Marvin Harrison may be involved in a shooting in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

It was reported that Marvin Harrison was allegedly involved in a shooting outside of a bar. He apparently was involved in a disagreement in the bar, which spilled out into the parking lot where shooting broke out. The gentleman involved in the disagreement was grazed in the hand. The victim did not identify the shooter at the scene. The police investigated and determined that the bullets fired at the scene came from a custom-made Belgian weapon, and that Harrison owned such a gun. They questioned Harrison at a car wash he owns where they found the gun.

This is extremely shocking news and is completely unexpected from a quiet and unassuming gentlemen like Marvin Harrison. It will be interesting to see what develops. He of course is innocent until proven guilty and he currently has not been charged with a crime. The interesting legal note to make is that the victim did not identify the shooter at the scene. No doubt the police are investigating diligently and if any further developments occur I’ll be sure to follow up. This is clearly shocking and unfortunate news however for Syracuse fans, as well as people close to Harrison. But really, could anything else terrible happen in relation to the Syracuse football program?

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SU Athletics is Amazingly Accurate

The results are in!
Upon taking a break from the rigors of law study today I did my usual scan of the Syracuse Blogisphere, and I checked on Nunes/Magician to see that the results of the 2008 ‘Cuse Awards had been handed out. Did you notice what good old SU Athletics did above? I’ll give you a hint… it is a massive spelling error. No wonder he looked so pissed. They can’t even get this guy’s name right and he’s been playing for two years, on campus for three. You be pissed Arinze. Not everyone can have as distinctly vanilla a name as Brian Harrison. Yes that's right, I use my real name when blogging. I'll tackle that whole mess after my finals are done.

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