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St. John's Postgame Blog Talk

That was a rough going for the Red Storm.
For deeper analysis of these games lately Orange::44 has reached out to fellow bloggers, specifically bloggers that focus on specific teams, to get the real scoop. Today we chat with Pico Dulce, operator of The East Coast Bias, a fine St. John’s blog, and a contributor of Johnny Jungle. Earlier today he posted my answers to some of his questions, and in turn I asked him a few, mostly focusing on what exactly is going on with the program and where they go from here. It certainly isn't the 80's anymore. Enjoy the anatomy of a Johnny as Pico pulls no punches.

1. Orange::44: What do you see as St. John's biggest problem in not winning games?

Pico: Wow. Where do I start? Well, I'll start from the tangible back to the heart of it. I'm going to focus on conference numbers, because St. John's played an incredible weak out of conference schedule including NJIT, TWO MEAC schools, some single digit win teams like Eastern Michigan, some low-level locals... the non-conference strength of schedule is one of the lowest in the country, and that's with Cornell, Boston College, Duke, Miami, and Virginia Tech. The games this team has won are almost counterfeit.

The team's defense is terrible from beyond the arc and mediocre inside the arc; the one saving grace is that they don't foul excessively... they just lose their man. And Dele Coker blocks some shots when he can stay on the floor. The offense is... well you saw that. It's disorganized, fundamentally unsound in things like spacing, running fast breaks and the like. The team has no shooters. The point guard situation is poor, and the coach has staked himself to a sophomore point guard who could never shoot and now is having trouble defending and passing, the things he used to do well.

The talent is lacking a bit, but I think a lot of it is on coaching. The roster construction (addressed in question 2), the lack of promise (addressed in question 3), the talent level, all of those are issues a coaching staff could address if they developed players well. And the current staff's ability to develop players is really in question. In 5 years, the same basic staff has seen many player defections - including three outside shooters the team recruited who then either failed or were perceived to fail for their lack of defense. The same staff has done little to develop their more highly rated players. The jump shooting is not good. The post play is more hustle than skill. And the defense - once a vicious, grinding testament to effort and hustle and pluck - has holes like aerated soil.

I really believe that if everything is wrong 5 years into a coaching job, with the guys the coach brought in... it's on the coach. 14 of this year's 15 losses are by 10 or more points (the comeback at Duke was the only one that was not a solid margin of victory for the other team). That's just uncompetitive in the way that DePaul, South Florida, and Rutgers are.

2. Orange::44: How do you see the future of St. John's basketball going?

Pico: All the 20 remaining St. John's fans are waiting and seeing on what will happen with Coach Roberts. The public quotes seem to indicate that he will be the coach next year, but for all we know, it's a hedge while they think about what they're doing or a hedge to wait and see in Roberts can bring in Lance Stephenson. So the future could be 1. Lance comes to St. John's for a year, the team has a winning record and maybe an NIT or low NCAA berth if he's really that good (and if they can find playing time for Mason/ Stephenson/ Omari Lawrence/ Paris Horne/ Quincy Roberts/ DJ Kennedy/ Dwight Hardy at the 2 and 3 spots), or 2. Norm stays on though he didn't get Lance, or 3. A new coach comes.

Future is up in the air. But as the team is currently constituted, the future is not bright; Coach's teams have always had a problem with not turning the ball over and not generating turnovers, and with terrible shooting (seriously, look at their shooting numbers - they're terrible). I can't see why top talent would come and save this team except out of altruism. And the scheme isn't generating points... so the future? Dark.

And to add to that is roster construction. If every player stays on next year, and JUCO Dwight Hardy comes on, the team will have 9 players graduating in 2011. Unless this team is ranked in the next two years, I don't see how they are going to find 9 capable Big East players to fill the roster when they couldn't get 7 impact players out of the last big recruiting class. Honestly, if they get a new coach, I hope a few players move on to other schools. If the same coach is in place, I think a few players will choose to transfer.

3. Orange::44: How do you see the team finishing the year?

Pico: I think they'll beat DePaul, and if they can draw Seton Hall, they might just make it to the second round of the Big East tournament... more likely they're done on that first day.

4. Orange::44: What impressed and unimpressed you the most about Syracuse?

Pico: It's hard to take a lot from a blowout game like that. But I like how Syracuse was able to clog the paint and run with the ball; Jonny Flynn's talent, especially, stood out to me. The skill of the big men Jackson and Onuaku was also impressive - they gathered themselves and made the close shots in a way St. John's bigs simply do not.

As far as unimpressed - Paul Harris is unimpressive; as is the team's concentration. If I were a fan, I would be worried. When Marquette was stomping the Red Storm out like a used cigarette, they focused on continuing to crush their spirits in the second half. Syracuse let up in intensity, in my opinion.

5. Orange::44: Final thoughts on the game?

Pico: I'm trying not to think about it too much. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Adds to the hopeless feeling of St. John's... I guess for Syracuse it was kind of like playing LeMoyne College or something low-level like that. (Editor’s Note: Syracuse beat LeMoyne in the first game of the season 85-51, so pretty darn close my friend.)

Thanks to Pico for answering the questions. Be sure to check out The East Coast Bias for quality St. John’s and east coast basketball coverage, and check out my answers to his questions as well.

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Nunes::44 - 2/26/09

Sometimes Troy got wild, like SU did on St. John's.

It’s Wednesday, which means Sean from Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician and I trade questions and answers. Today we talk about what the heck is wrong with this team that cannot seem to win any games, what Marrone has done this off season, and just how good those lacrosse gentlemen are. Enjoy.

1. Orange::44: The Villanova game was a sting but not terribly shocking. What do you see is the main reason Syracuse cannot seem to beat teams that are ranked above them in the conference slate?

Nunes: At this point, I think you have to admit that this team is good but not great. The proof is all there. If we were a semi-great team, we would have beaten one or two of those top-ranked Big East teams. But we didn't. To paraphrase Dennis Green, we are who we didn't realize we were but have to accept that we are.

Yes, we have wins over Memphis and Kansas but I think if you honestly look at those games you can see we caught both of them early in the season before they had a chance to gel. If we play them now, maybe we win, maybe we don't, but I think we benefited from the timing of both games.

The silver lining is in what Jim Boeheim said after the St. John's game...we lost to a lot of teams in the Top 12, so all that means is we're not one of the top 12 teams in the nation.

2. Orange::44: Syracuse is now unranked. Same question you asked me last week. Is this about right, or do you see them somewhere else?

Nunes: For the moment, I think it's okay. Possibly even a good thing to give this team a little kick in the ass. You can't point to a ranked Syracuse team and call them underrated. But you can certainly do that to an unranked one. And if Boeheim can get it into their heads now that no one expects them to win in the BET and beyond, maybe that will kick the team into that next gear that's been lacking so often.

I think the Orange will finish the year in the 20's when it's all said and done. And that's probably exactly where they should be.

3. Orange::44: If you had to put blame somewhere on the poor performance of the team as of late, who would you give it to and why?

Nunes: DOCTOR Gross. Well...maybe not, but I tried.

I blame the trio of guards (Devo, Flynn, Rautins) who still have yet to work out some sort of understanding of protocol when the team is in need of a jump-start. The poop hits the fan and all of a sudden the three of them start playing like the Harlem Globetrotters, trying to put the team unnecessarily on their shoulders and attempted ill-advised shots from weird angles.

I blame Arinze Onuaku a little as well. He's a bad free-throw shooter, whatever. But there's certain things we demand of AO on the court (controlling the paint, grabbing tons of boards, dominating when he needs to) and he just doesn't do that stuff a lot of the time. I know he's been injured and that factors in but even last year he had a habit of disappearing in big games against other tough big men and he hasn't shaken that MO for the most part.

4. Orange::44: Who do you think will end up the top four teams in the conference?

Nunes: I think the four teams in the lead right now we'll probably stay the same. UConn, Pitt, Louisville and Marquette. Between them you might just see two #1 seeds and two #2 seeds. Is that unprecedented for a conference? Get on that.

Marquette has a ridiculously tough end of the season schedule that may put them at a disadvantage. They play UConn, Louisville and Pittsburgh in their next three games and then they get us as the "cupcake." And of course, Pitt and UConn finish the season against each other in what may just end up having huge implications on the Big East Tourney and NCAA Tourney seedings.

5. Orange::44: What off season move since Marrone took over has been the most encouraging and/or surprising to you?

Nunes: It's weird to look at a recruiting class ranked in the triple-digits as a positive step but it really felt like one. Couple that with the fact that David Oku even sniffed in our direction and it all tells you one very important thing...he done good with the coaches he hired. Imagine what these recruiters are going to accomplish once they have a season under their belt? Assuming SU at least matches their win total from last season, expect to see a surprisingly strong recruiting class next year for the Orange. And it will only build from there.

Marrone seems to get the most important part of being a leader. Surround yourself with good people you can trust. If he hired his offensive and defensive coordinators as well as he hired his recruiters, we're in good hands.

6. Orange::44: Finally, that lacrosse team is pretty good again huh?

Nunes: You're God damn right they are. I LOVE having at least one athletic team that you can expect to at least go to the Final Four every year. It's so refreshing to have a team you can root for and trust that they'll live up to or very close to expectations. This is what being a USC football fan is like, huh?

And it's such a great time to be a lacrosse fan in general. The sport is growing up with the addition of the Big East and other conferences. It's expanding to new schools and those schools are in turn becoming very competitive (Ohio State, Notre Dame, etc.). It's even starting to gain traction out here in LA. I drive by a youth lacrosse field every day on my way home from work and see tons of kids playing (I swear, I'm not hanging out there). It's only a matter of time before the NCAA Tournament features teams from all four time zones. And as much as that will make it harder for SU, I'm excited for the sport.

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

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Lacrosse Weekly - 2/25/09

The quest for title #11 begins.
The lacrosse season has started and Syracuse looks to defend their title as National Champions of Division 1 Lacrosse. Because of this fact, we bring back our weekly feature Lacrosse Weekly. Because we were in the thick of some serious basketball discussion, and I had a busy week at school, I was unable to start at the onset of the season. But I will surely make up for that omission here by recapping both games, and the weeks that were in the start of the lacrosse season.

First, against Providence, this game was a joke. Rest assured, Providence will not be a joke for long, but being that they are not fully funded through scholarships yet, this team was not even remotely close to competing against the Orange. Syracuse beats Providence 22 to three.

Providence tied the game 1-1 with 5:53 left in the first quarter. Then Syracuse proceeded to score 15 unanswered goals, making the score 16-1 with 3:17 remaining in the third quarter. Common sense would then tell you that Syracuse held Providence scoreless for the last 5:53 in the first, all of the second quarter, and over 11 minutes in the third. That is a serious drought. What also did not help for providence was a three minute, unreleasable penalty for having an illegal stick, one in which the pocket was too deep so it was practically impossible for the ball to be knocked out. During this, Syracuse had three goals in the first quarter.

This was both a defensive and offensive clinic. Stephen Keogh led the Orange in scoring with five goals. He also had two assists for a total of seven points. Kenny Nims, Chris Daniello, and Greg Niewieroski each added three goals. Overall there were 12 players that scored a goal in this game. Kenny Nims led Syracuse in assists with five, for a total of eight points. That led the team. Jake Moulton did well on the face off X, earning five of ten, along with six ground balls, leading the team in that category. Josh Knight also earned seven of nine looks at the face off. Syracuse scored on six of seven extra man opportunities, while Providence failed to score on six extra man chances. Syracuse out shot Providence 55 to 12 in this game. Additionally, Syracuse had 29 ground ball pickups, while Providence had 21. Syracuse overall won 17 of 27 face offs in this game. Providence had 14 of 19 clears, while Syracuse did slightly better, clearing 15 of 17. Providence had 11 saves, while Syracuse had 7. This is clearly due to lack of shots by Providence. Speaking of saves, John Galloway, now a sophomore, earned the win with four saves and two goals against in 45 minutes of work. Al Cavalieri played the fourth quarter and had three saves and one goal against. Overall both played well in the cage, but Syracuse’s defense was stifling and played extremely well, giving few looks at the cage, and obviously few shots, to the Providence Attack. Overall this was an excellent game for the Orange. However, being a far inferior team, there cannot be too many judgments taken from this game. To really judge, we needed to wait until the following week and the game against #18 Army. The full box score for the Providence game can be found here.

The next game on Friday night was a little harder as Syracuse would play #18 Army in the Carrier Dome, a team that Syracuse only managed to beat by one goal the year before. That would not be the case this season however. After a slow start, the Orange win a big game over Army 17 to six.

This game started off slow for Syracuse, as Army earned a goal first, and then made it a 2-0 lead. Syracuse finally scored with 2:07 remaining in the first quarter, but Army made it 3-1 before the end of the first. Then Syracuse unleashed their offense, scoring seven unanswered goals, shutting out Army through the second quarter and halfway through the third. Syracuse led 5-3 at the half, and Army only managed to score three more times in the game, while Syracuse poured on their offense, earning seven goals in the third, and five goals in the fourth quarters. Keep in mind, the starters were out of the game and the second and third lines for Syracuse were still scoring on the US Military Academy. Syracuse never trailed after the 9:15 mark of the second quarter. Once Syracuse’s offense got going, similarly the defense found a rhythm, and the Army found it hard to do much against this recommitted Orange from the second quarter on. I guess being down 3-1 was the only wake up call they needed.

Kenny Nims and Stephen Keogh led Syracuse in goals with three a piece. Tim Desko (who earned a start in this game and is only a freshman), Dan Hardy, Josh Amidon, and Chris Daniello each had two goals for the Orange as well. Overall nine different players had a goal for the Orange. Dan Hardy and Kenny Nims also added three assists a piece, meaning Nims led the team in points with six. Jake Moulton took most of the face off responsibilities, winning nine of 16. Nims and John Galloway led the team in ground balls with five each. John Galloway gets another win with five saves and five goals against in about 52 minutes of work. Syracuse had 51 shots in this game, while Army only had 24. The Orange also earned more ground balls with 42, while Army only had 30. Army did win more face offs than the Orange however, winning 15 of 27, while Syracuse won only 12. Syracuse was perfect on clears however, clearing 22 of 22, mostly due to Galloway’s absolutely perfect long passes to streaking attack and midfield players. Army only cleared 11 of 14. Syracuse was also perfect on extra man opportunities, scoring on both chances. The Orange defense was tough, as Army failed to capitalize on any of the four extra man chances they had. Syracuse again trailed in saves, but this is again obviously explained by the disparity in shots. Army had 12 saves, while Syracuse had five. This was a good test for the Orange as Army is a good offensive team. Syracuse was able to overcome a slow start and convincingly beat Army by a wide margin. The full Army box score is here.

Syracuse maintains the #1 ranking from the coaches for the second straight week, and all 11 first place votes. That complete poll is here. Syracuse remains #2 in the media poll behind Virginia for the second straight week. Syracuse did earn four out of 16 first place votes. That poll can be found here.

Other notable scores in lacrosse from the past couple of weeks:

Friday February 13:

Canisius 11 – Colgate 15

Saturday February 14:

St. Joseph’s 9 – Lehigh 8

Loyola 9 – Notre Dame 10

Villanova 8 – Rutgers 4

Ohio State 6 – Navy 8

Wednesday February 18:

Rutgers 11 – Manhattan 7

Friday February 20:

Colgate 8 – Duke 9

Navy 8 – North Carolina 9

Saturday February 21:

Brown 13 – Lehigh 12

Massachusetts 10 – Hofstra 11

Georgetown 13 – Maryland 10

Denver 10 – Albany 9

Rutgers 10 – UMBC 17

Villanova 12 – Lafayette 4

Quinnipiac 8 – St. John’s 15

Bucknell 9 – Ohio State 10

Sunday February 22:

Harvard 9 – Duke 6

Colgate 9 – North Carolina 11

Notre Dame 13 – Penn State 8

The complete scoreboard from Inside Lacrosse is here.

Syracuse now will take on that exalted Virginia team, a team that Syracuse beat in overtime in last years National Semi-Final game. Both teams are ranked #1/2, so it should be an excellent contest to say the least. That game will be in the Carrier Dome in front of a nice crowd I’m sure. If you are on campus you should definitely go out and support your fellow students as the Orange will need every advantage they can get. You can go out drinking after. That game starts at 7:00pm, and will be featured locally on Time Warner Sports.

Some programming notes. This feature, Lacrosse Weekly, will be featured every week on Orange::44 and will sadly replace The Big East Report. That just became too much work, thus it had to be discarded in favor of lacrosse coverage and my hopes of graduating on time this spring. Either way, tune into Orange::44 for all the lacrosse analysis you can handle, as this team looks primed to make a repeat at the National Championship.

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See kids? Basketball can be fun!
Finally Syracuse has a game where the outcome was basically never in doubt. Syracuse absolutely dominated this game, at one point leading by 31 points, to put this game far out of reach early. Obviously this game was not exciting, but it was certainly enjoyable. Plus it is always nice to see history. Syracuse wins over St. John’s 87 to 58.

Jonny Flynn was the leading scorer, earning 21 points on 9-14 shooting. He looked outstanding in this game compared to the Villanova contest. Flynn sliced the lane, made some mid range shots, and had some excellent assists in this game, as evident by the eight assists he made. He also hit a high arc three that went down after he crossed over a defender. This was the game Flynn needed to carry him to the end of the season.

Eric Devendorf had 17 points and six assists. That was a rare six assists for him, as Devendorf always would rather shoot than pass. However he had a pretty good game and hit some big shots, including 3-5 from downtown. Overall he had a great game and it was a rare occasion that he had only one turnover, leading the starters for least turnovers.

Rick Jackson made seven of eight field goals for a total of 15 points, two steals, and two blocks. Finally this was the presence in the low post we have been waiting for in the last several games. Similarly, Arinze Onuaku earned 14 points on seven for eight shooting, also getting six rebounds. More on Onuaku later.

Paul Harris had six points in this game and led the Orange with 10 rebounds. While he did not have as good of a game here as he did against Villanova, he still played fairly well and was just not given the opportunity to shine like he had in the previous game. He obviously did some serious board work as well, which was key to the margin of victory.

Andy Rautins hit one of three baskets from long range, and hit two of four overall, for five points. He also had seven assists, three steals, and a block. He was generally a non-factor in this game, but did some dirty work on occasion, making some good passes and getting a few rebounds.

Scoring highlight of the game was Jake Presutti hitting a three in the last minute of the game. The bench went simply nuts. Jonny Flynn had a few excellent highlights as well, both driving in the lane, and my favorite highlight when Flynn faked a finger roll and then passed it back to a trailing Devendorf for an easy lay up.

Syracuse led in almost every statistical category in this game. Syracuse had 34 rebounds, while St. John’s had 24. This was clearly due to a serious post presence in this game that was severely lacking the last few games. ‘Cuse had 25 assists, while St. John’s only had 12. Syracuse had their best shooting performance of the season, making 37 of 57 field goals (64.9%). St. John’s had a dismal shooting performance, only making 21 of 53 (39.6%). Syracuse hit six of 11 three point baskets (54.5%), and only taking 11 is a manageable number especially considering that the inside game was working.

What the team regressed on was in the turnover category and in free throws. Syracuse had turnovers in this game, while St. John’s still had 18. Even so, this game was out of reach for St. John’s, but 20 turnovers are unacceptable. You can still play with discipline and not sloppy. Syracuse chose not to do that. Additionally Syracuse’s free throw percentage fell to 46.7% on seven of 15 free throws. This was thanks to Onuaku missing all three he took, pretty horrifically I might add.

This game was important in history as Jim Boeheim becomes the only coach in the history of college basketball to have 31 20 game win seasons. Congratulations to him and tell anyone that thinks the game has passed him by to think again.

Overall, this was an outstanding game for Syracuse. With about 90% of Madison Square Garden fans of the Orange, this was a great game to see in person and on television. Although this game at points was sloppy, Syracuse played well and scored a lot of points while causing several turnovers and gaining rebounds. This game became boring at times, but we have not seen a Syracuse drubbing in a while, so it was nice to see after that rough stretch the team has just gone through. Syracuse now has some rest until they play a surging Cincinnati at home. That game could sure up a nice seed for Syracuse and end Cincy’s NCAA hopes. Or it could give them a quality win. Hopefully this momentum will continue all the way to the Marquette contest, and we see some real fireworks.

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Postgame Chat With I Bleed Blue And White

They have our number and it is no good.
As advertised, Chris from I Bleed Blue And White, and excellent Villanova blog, and I had a postgame wrap up from the game Sunday. He asked the questions and I answered them. The answers are posted here so check it out. Hopefully we can meet in the Big East Tournament and we can exact some revenge for real. But either way, thanks to Chris for all the chats this season, and we hope he continues the good work he does covering the Villanova Wildcats.

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Syracuse - St. John's Preview

Syracuse students agree: Red Storm? More like Red Suck.
This is an interesting game for the Orange. Beating St. John’s does nothing but give the Orange another conference win. However, if the Orange lose it will surely effect their seeding in both tournaments, and could possibly give second thoughts to the selection committee. Therefore, this game needs to be an Orange victory for several reasons. St. John’s leading scorer is Paris Horne, who is averaging 14.5ppg and 36.2% from long range. However, Syracuse, despite having some poor defensive performances this season, has had good perimeter defense for the majority of their games, and so they will likely force Horne to shoot from inside the arc. The questions facing Syracuse in this game is which Flynn and Onuaku will show up. If Flynn is still battling sickness, and has a flat half, Syracuse could be in trouble. Additionally, if Onuaku decides to not defend, rebound, or generally play like a competent member of the team, Syracuse could again have some real problems as it is likely St. John’s will capitalize on more offensive possessions of the boxing out does not occur like against Villanova. However, if Syracuse plays their usual fast pace offense, St. John’s will not be able to keep up. They are a team that distinctly plays in the half court set, and will not likely be able to handle both the fast break attack, and the overall pace of the game. Syracuse again needs to find a balance on offense as well, establishing a low post presence with anybody. That can be Harris, Onuaku, Jackson, or even Kristof!. However, this St. John’s team has not played well in conference, notching only four victories. Their last “big” win was against Notre Dame on January 3rd. Since then, they have lost ten out of 13, beating only Rutgers, USF, and Seton Hall. St. John’s is prone to severe scoring droughts, and that will probably continue this evening. However, Syracuse has had trouble with the Red Storm as of late, so it will be closer than it should be, but still a convincing win. Syracuse over St. John’s by 11.

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Villanova - Syracuse Postgame Reactions OR AHHH 'Nova!

Ed, when you see this kind of thing you should call it right?
Sadly, over the past several seasons, except for a couple of games, Villanova has had Syracuse’s number. It is a sad state of reality and this was a game that gave a lot of people many frustrations I’m sure. This was not a good game in many regards, and certainly not as good a performance as they had against Georgetown. Syracuse loses a “close” one to Villanova 86 to 89.

Eric Devendorf was the leading scorer with 22 points. He had six assists as well. Overall he played well, shooting seven of 14 from the floor, three of ten from long distance, and five of five from the free throw line. However, Eric took some quite bad shots from behind the arc in which he was not open or was forcing things. He finished with four turnovers.

Paul Harris did have a nice game as well. He finished with 21 points on nine of 16 shots from the floor. He also made one of six from behind the arc and finished with six rebounds. He also had a key three steals in the game, leading the Orange. He had his mid range shot going early on, as well as taking some key drives on the base line. Harris probably performed the best overall for the Orange against Villanova.

Andy Rautins had 18 points off the bench. He certainly shot better than he has in the past several games. He made six of 15 three point attempts and earned five assists. All but one of the shots he took were open or good shots, so the fact he took so many is just fine with me. It would be far different if he was just chucking them up. He also made several great passes inside, specifically to Kristof! and Harris. This was a good game from Andy.

Jonny Flynn did not have as good of a game, with 12 points and eight assists. He finished five of 17 overall. Battling the flu, he looked unenergetic and lackluster in the first half. Finally he came alive in he second half and drove the lane, after ditching his head band. His second half was much better than the first, and luckily he helped spur a good effort to come back.

Kristof! had an outstanding game, earning seven points, 11 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. He seemed to be in the right place and the right time in several instances, getting good looks at the basket that he converted on three of three field goal attempts. At most points in the game Kristof! was the only one even remotely near the hoop contesting for rebounds. Kristof! should earn another game’s worth of respect from all the Orange fans.

The two big men had very disappointing games. Arinze Onuaku, after having a great game against Georgetown, looked tired and unenergetic while on the floor. He finished with four points. The worst part is the two shots he took looked excellent and vintage Onuaku. Granted he did not have much time on the floor because Kristof! was playing very well. Rick Jackson had an even less thrilling game, finishing only with two points in 27 minutes of work. He did manage to pull down eight rebounds though, which is far more than Onuaku. The inside game was non-existent.

There seemed to be no effort to get the ball inside on many possessions in this game. Not that the big men were in the game to really do much on the low post. However, with no inside game, it was not hard to figure out that Syracuse would settle with outside shots and then they just needed to rebound.

The defense in the first half was very soft on Villanova, especially on Dwayne Anderson. Onuaku, while in the game, never had his hands up at any point. A tall center like him should never not have his hands in the face of a shooter if he is going out to cover them. Additionally, Flynn missed several assignments in the first half while in man defense.

There were two keys to this loss. The first was rebounds. Villanova out rebounded Syracuse 34 to 30 in this game. But the worst part was that on most occasions in this game if Syracuse took a shot Villanova had three or four players around the hoop, while Kristof! would be one of the only Syracuse players trying to get rebounds. With a smaller team like Villanova out rebounding Syracuse, it really fell to the sheer desire of Villanova, and clearly they wanted to win the game more than Syracuse. Additionally, Villanova got an awful lot of points off Syracuse turnovers in the first half. Syracuse had 15 turnovers in this game. Anything more than ten is completely unacceptable in a tough Big East game. It was only by a tough press defense at the end of the game that Syracuse had a remote chance to stay in this game. Syracuse simply handled the ball sloppily in the first half and they paid the price by not being able to overcome the runs that Villanova put together.

Syracuse actually shot the ball fairly well from the floor. Overall they shot 45.7%, but obviously Villanova shot better, earning 52.5% from the floor. A plus to Syracuse’s game today was making a better percentage of their free throws. They made ten of 14 total (71.4%). Syracuse took an awful lot of three point attempts in this game though. They made 12 of 39 (30.8%). However, that is practically double the normal amount of threes they take in a game. Now, to their credit, most of them were good shots, but Harris taking any more than one or two, and Kristof! taking any three point shots, were too much in this game, when there were plenty of other options for higher percentage shots. Especially when good ball movement and extra passes were getting Rautins and Devendorf open.

Either way, this game was frustrating overall. Even though this was not a must win game, it certainly would have been nice, and Syracuse was in a good position to have a chance to win, they just came up short and did not play as well as they should have. This was not a bad loss, but it is just not pleasant to stomach either. Syracuse will have a change for another crucial Big East win tomorrow in New York City against St. John’s. Syracuse will again look to rebound against a lesser opponent. Hopefully Syracuse will have an easier time with the low post game and enjoy a home game away from home in the Garden, the Mecca of Basketball.

Look for a post-game wrap up chat with I Bleed Blue and White coming tomorrow. Also, we have some lacrosse to talk about very soon, so enjoy all that as we prepare for one of the best lacrosse games of the year coming Friday.

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Villanova - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: A second helping of revenge would be delicious.
There are only a few changes from when these two teams met just a couple weeks ago. ‘Nova has continued to win, save a big stumble versus West Virginia, and Syracuse has won the games they were supposed to, and lost the games they should have, by rankings that is. But Syracuse has greatly rebounded last week against Georgetown, a hated rival. Now this up and coming rivalry game will again head to the Carrier Dome, where Syracuse lost to Villanova last year. Dante Cunningham is currently averaging 16.5ppg, 7.1rpg, and absolutely lit up Syracuse with 31 points in the last meeting. Scottie Reynolds is also averaging 15.5ppg and has on occasion made Syracuse look absolutely silly. Syracuse unfortunately had 16 turnovers and 24 fouls in that game as well, which killed any hope or momentum. Syracuse also only shot 38.1% from the floor. But Syracuse shot 52.5% from the floor against Georgetown, and Andy Rautins and Arinze Onuaku have looked much more improved as of late. This game will be much closer than the game in Philly was. Syracuse will not only look to dominate the low post with Jackson and Onuaku, but continue their good shooting from the perimeter. Being that this game is in the Dome, I have to go with the hometown heroes. Syracuse over Villanova by seven.
Again, look for my postgame wrap up with Villanova blog I Bleed Blue And White, and look for a recap of this game, as well as the last two lacrosse games as we bring back the Lacrosse Weekly. Enjoy the game and check back soon.

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Villanova Pre-Game Chat

I'll take the V over that "'Nova Nation" bit anyday.
Villanova travels to Syracuse to take on the Orange tomorrow in the Carrier Dome at 1:00pm on CBS. Therefore, much like before here and here, Chris from the great Villanova blog I Bleed Blue And White and I had a chat. This time I asked him questions and he provided the answers.

1. Orange::44: Villanova was embarrassed by West Virginia this past weekend. Is this indicative of a slide by the Wildcats, or was this just an off night?

Chris: It wasn't really a shock that we lost because playing in Morgantown on a Friday night is tough enough, but add in the fact that West Virginia was backed up against the wall and I was hoping for a close win, but in my mind was pretty certain we weren't going to emerge on top. The way we lost was harsh though. Dante Cunningham was called for 2 offensive fouls in the first few minutes and it was all downhill from there. Our defense was horrendous again, but Da'Sean Butler wasn't going to miss if Michael Jordan was guarding him. Career night for him.
In the end though, it felt more like a hiccup than a trend-starter. 'Nova played a sloppy game in a win against Rutgers on Thursday, but got back on track with the win, which is really all that matters at the end of the day. The defense really hasn't been right in a few weeks, so they are going to have to turn that around because as they showed against West Virginia, the offense won't always save them.

2. Orange::44: Will Dante Cunningham have just as huge a game as the last time these teams met, or was that just an outstanding night for Cunningham?

Chris: That was the best game of his career and I'd be shocked if he had another game like that. He really couldn't miss. He was as close to automatic as can be. He's not always going to shoot like that, and as he showed Thursday (5-17), he can struggle at times with the jumper. I think Syracuse is a great matchup for him though. Onuaku and Jackson just can't stay with his movement in the zone, and he's good at finding those soft spots and releasing a quick jumper. If he's hitting them early on, Syracuse will have to try something different. I expect another good game from him, but certainly not what he did last time.

3. Orange::44: What will be the keys to victory for both Syracuse and Villanova?

Chris: For Syracuse, I think they need to shore up the zone defense. 'Nova picked it apart last time and put up 100 on them without shooting the lights out (except for Cunningham). Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher have been blazing lately and if Syracuse allows Fisher to get into the lane it could be another long day. Stokes was scorching the nets on Thursday (5-7 from downtown) and he's playing with tons of confidence. I'd expect a big game from him because if he's left open, it's going in the bucket. Also, Syracuse needs to avoid the bad turnovers (that's you Eric Devendorf).

For Villanova, they need to remember that Syracuse is going for blood this time around. They were embarrassed in Philadelphia a few weeks back and they'll play with a lot of pride this time around. I consider 'Cuse a 'lock' for the Tourney, but they will want a few more quality wins to get better seeding. Villanova can't expect to roll like they did last time. Thankfully, they've cooled off since the first meeting and realize that they need to play better. Fisher and Stokes are the key. If they play well, Villanova has a good shot to come away with the W.

4. Orange::44: This will be a very hostile environment for Villanova. How do you see them reacting to the Loud House?

Chris: Honestly, I see them handling it well. Villanova won in 2008 with the same team, so they've proven they can win there. Plus, they are coming off a loss in Morgantown where the crowd really had an impact, so they've had some experience with the hostile crowd recently. Fisher is the guy I would worry about the most in there, but he had a pretty good game there last year so that makes me feel better. There's no doubting that the noise will have an effect though.

5. Orange::44: Finally, how worried for you are this game for your team and how do you see it shaking out?

Chris: I know a lot of people are worried about finishing in the Top 4 of the Big East to get the double-bye, but I'm more concerned about NCAA seeding. Either way, Villanova needs to win this game. They have the chance to pass a few teams this weekend on the S-Curve, and they need to take advantage.

The last time they played Villanova had a great recipe for success. I don't know what Syracuse's plans are to adjust to Cunningham, but they'll need to draw something up. I think Syracuse will shoot better this time around, but I think as a team, Villanova will as well against the zone. Fisher and Jonny Flynn should have another great back and forth. I'll stick with my boys and say Villanova wins 77-72.
Special thanks to Chris, and to round out your game preparation head on over to his blog here and check what he has to say about the game. He and I will be back after the game to wrap it up with another post game chat. Look for that coming soon.

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21 And Full Of Fun

I bet Troy enjoys a nice stiff drink on occasion.
Sean from Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician continually keeps asking me questions, and sure enough I keep answering them. This is the 21st edition of the chat, which means I'm going to celebrate. We chat about the G'town win, how the team is doing, some football odds and ends, and of course lacrosse. Get excited about it again you guys. The Q&A is right here.
Speaking of lacrosse, look for my weekly lacrosse feature to return here at Orange::44 in short order.

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Sorry folks, your team just keeps on losing.
This was without question the most important game of the season. Everyone, from fans to the media, agreed that this game was make or break for both the Georgetown Hoyas and the Syracuse Orange. Thus, it was time to get some sweet redemption at home, or roll over and decide to be back on the dreaded bubble that Syracuse has made home the past two seasons. It went to overtime, but Syracuse ended up on top 98 to 94.

By now you have probably absorbed this win, so I will keep it brief. But we have to talk about some things in this game, starting with Kristof! being ejected. Frankly, I had no clue what happened in the Carrier Dome because of course Mike Veley did not tell the crowd the exact ruling of the referees. I have watched the video of him and I cannot believe that he elbowed the G’town player on purpose. From what I have heard, after the Big East saw the refereeing between Syracuse and UConn, they decided to call games tighter, especially over the back and elbows. Honestly, Devendorf and Kristof! caught more elbows in that UConn game than they probably have all season combined. So because Kristof! accidentally caught someone with an elbow on a bad swim move, he was tossed early on. Right off the bat some intensity was down because our raging Belgian was not around.

However, Flynn was cool under pressure. Except for that turnover at the end of regulation that almost ended my entire weekend prematurely mind you. He finished with 24 points, mostly off making 15 of 16 free throws. But he hit them when they mattered.

Devendorf played extremely well, hitting 5-9 from long range, earning 23 points overall. He also limited his turnovers to 1. Now that is what I’m talking about.

Arinze Onuaku looked “back” after genuinely sucking the last several games. He scored 15 points and banged down low with anyone that was unfortunate to guard him. More evidence of his return was 13 rebounds on a decent Georgetown team.

Rick Jackson, benefiting from Flynn’s expert passing, earned 13 points, most of which were easy buckets.

Harris had nine points and five rebounds in an alright game that was not to distinguished either way. At this point, not being a liability is good enough when your team gets a win. He also basically sealed the game after passing to Devendorf the length of the court to get those two easy points in overtime.

Andy Rautins had 13 points and was the show in the first half for Syracuse. He shot 5-9 overall before fouling out.

Overall the team played well on offense, but they only shot 3% better from the floor. The key difference that allowed Georgetown to get back into this game was soft perimeter defense. Georgetown started checking good threes and they went in, such as one with ten seconds left to tie the game. Syracuse won this game on free throws though. Syracuse made 26-34 (76.5%). That is about ten more than Syracuse had made in either of the last two games. And luckily Flynn was the one that too the most, only missing one.

A quick note about the fan behavior mentioned by compatriot Matt Glaude at Hoya Suxa. I have to echo his apology to the Georgetown fans that made the trip. That is not the kind of behavior that you should tolerate at a fine collegiate sporting event and I would like to apologize on behalf of the students and fans of Syracuse University. That being said, it helps that you do not instigate either.

Overall this was a good game to be at. While the place went silent when the game was tied, and I felt sheer terror when Flynn turned the ball over with four seconds left, the outcome was happy, and at this point in the year it was good enough. Syracuse has successfully bounced back at home, and avenged a loss to Georgetown, who has had quite the epic free fall and will probably not make the NCAA Tournament pending an equally epic run in the Big East Tournament. Syracuse is still on their way to getting even more revenge against Villanova this Sunday. Hopefully Syracuse will earn another revenge home win, and use that to propel them down the stretch. A stretch that could easily end 3-1 after Villanova.

I’d like to thank all my friends for coming out as it was Alumni Weekend. Special thanks to John, Erin, and Alex for being excellent roommates for the weekend. Also special congratulations go out to Chris and Abby, two of my dear friends who got engaged at Faegan’s this past weekend. I wish them nothing but the best. So ends my week of terrific Big East travels. I hope you enjoyed following the games and various goings ons like I did. Hopefully the future will bring more travels to chronicle right here at Orange::44.

Again stay tuned for the first lacrosse article of the season, and check back for coverage of the Villanova game this Sunday.

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Back In A Moment

When is this freaking guy going to do some writing Ed?!
Sorry folks. I hate to take this long to come up with postgame articles. I also hate to go this long without writing (save this past summer, and this upcoming one). So I have to apologize for my neglect of the site. But school duties have kept me from giving you anything this week so far. That should be fixed later today as you will not only get an abbreviated Georgetown postgame article, but the return of our Lacrosse Weekly feature. It is one of the few things we do here at Orange::44 better than Nunes/Magician. I’m kidding Sean. Moral of the story, I’ll be back soon. Until then, you’re probably reading Nunes/Magician anyway so you’re already caught up. Back soon.

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Georgetown - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Time to destroya the Hoya.
The last time I previewed this game it was a huge affair. Both teams were highly ranked, they were near the top of the Big East, and everything was tense. This time around, although there is still much meaning to this game, it seems less intense than the first meeting. This is simply a byproduct of Georgetown taking an epic fall over the last few weeks, and Syracuse having a downward trend of their own. But make no mistake, this game means a lot to both programs, its fans, and the coaches and players involved. This is a huge game, and the Orange need to win it badly, not only to beat a hated rival, but to earn another now crucial Big East win.

DaJuan Summers is still the stud for the Hoyas, averaging 14.2ppg, 4.5rpg and 42.2% from long distance. Freshmen center Greg Monroe is also making a huge impact on the offense for the Hoyas with 13ppg and 6.4rpg. But Georgetown has fallen on some hard times, losing six out of seven since playing Syracuse. That includes only a win over Rutgers, and an overtime loss to Cincinnati, as well as that big loss at Seton Hall. This is not the same team we played in DC and now they are in desperation mode. They are averaging 71.3ppg, while the Orange are averaging 78.7. This team is not as tough as they once were it seems, and being away from the friendly confines of your home arena is not going to help their situation.

The key to this game will be for the Orange to again embrace the huge, orange crowd that will be in the Carrier Dome and feed off their energy. Syracuse will have to see improved post play from Onuaku and Jackson if Syracuse will succeed. Additionally, they need to take back the rebounding advantage from the other team, and continue to limit turnovers while forcing more for the other team like they did at UConn. Overall though, if you are a Syracuse fan, despite what happened with the last two games you should have a good taste in your mouth going into this one. This game is at home, so at the very least you should be moderately reassured. Syracuse over Georgetown by 12.

I of course will be attending this game to wrap up my week long Big East Extravaganza. I’ll be sure to fill you in on the various goings on that will be occurring in and around the Carrier Dome this weekend. If any alumni are making the trek have safe travels and be sure to say hello. And if anyone out there is attending the game, be sure you are decked out in your best orange apparel to Orange Out The Dome. Additionally, to get yourself in the right mental space, be sure to see if you are in fact a Certified Hoya Hater with my official quiz. Finally, Syracuse starts their quest for their next lacrosse title this Sunday at 3:00pm in the Carrier Dome as well, so hopefully I will be able to catch that. I’ll be back likely on Monday with a wrap up of all of the weekend goings ons and some nice photos so you can pretend you were there even if you weren’t. Will there be a court rush? I hope not, but against Georgetown you can never rule it out.

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The Official Hoya Hater Certification Test

Do you hate this little fellow?
There is no question that myself, as well as my blogging cohort Matt Glaude of Hoya Suxa are certified Hoya Haters. But you are probably saying to yourself “I think I’m a Hoya Hater”. Well, now you too can be certified as a true blue orange Hoya hater. If you pass this certification test that is.

Instructions:
Pick the best answer or the answer that most fits you, then score accordingly.

Quiz
Question 1:
When you hear the word Georgetown you immediately think:
1. F#*kers!
2. I hope they lost today.
3. Did they lose today?
4. What’s Georgetown?

Question 2:
Beating Georgetown gives you the feeling of:
1. Cotton candy, sunshine, and rainbows.
2. Warm laundry.
3. An orgasm.
4. Nausea.

Question 3:
True or False: You think “[Georgetown] is the very dirtiest hole I ever saw for a place of any trade, or respectability of inhabitants.”

Question 4:
When you see a bulldog, you think:
1. What an ugly mutt.
2. How cute!
3. Get that thing away from me.
4. Can someone kick that?

Question 5:
In your closet, the majority of your t-shirts are:
1. Maroon.
2. Grey.
3. Navy.
4. Orange.

Question 6:
When you think of a typical Georgetown student, you think:
1. Gosh he’s quite white.
2. I wonder how big his boat is?
3. He doesn’t look like a Kennedy.
4. What a douche.

Question 7:
You think a typical activity of an average Georgetown student is:
1. Yachting.
2. Poking a sleeping homeless man.
3. Wearing dress shirts that are colored with white collars.
4. Shopping for cars with “daddy’s money”.

Question 8:
You thought about applying to Georgetown, but then you realized:
1. I actually like myself.
2. I’m not nearly snooty… snotty…snooty enough.
3. I don’t got the skoolin’ for that.
4. I’d prefer to get a degree from an institution of actual higher learning.

Question 9:
If someone with a Georgetown sweatshirt came to your place you would:
1. Ask them politely to take it off.
2. Make them stand outside.
3. Rip it off of them.
4. Douse them in lighter fluid and ignite said person.

Question 10:
True or False: You never speak the name Thompson.

Question 11:
True or False: You think Georgetown running a “back door cut” means JTIII is secretly gay.

Question 12:
True or False: You feel bitter anytime you hear anything “is now closed”.

Question 13:
True or False: Anytime someone asks for the time, and it is announced, you say “… and Georgetown still sucks”.

Question 14:
True or False: Your mother is a Hoya.

Question 15:
If you ever saw John Thompson on the street you would:
1. Make a snide comment to him.
2. Give him the stink eye.
3. Attempt to pee on him.
4. Run up to him and shove that old man down.

Now that you’re done tally your score accordingly.

Answer Key
Question 1:
1. 4 points
2. 2 points
3. 1 point
4. -3 points

Question 2:
1. 4 points
2. 1 point
3. ½ a point, and get some help
4. -5 points, and kiss your girlfriend for me

Question 3:
True is 5 points, False is -5 points. Get a clue.

Question 4:
1. 4 points
2. 0 points
3. 2 points
4. 0 points. We here at Orange::44 do not condone animal abuse. But you have the right idea.

Question 5:
1. 0 points. You went to Colgate didn’t you?
2. 0 points
3. 0 points. This was a trick.
4. 4 points

Question 6:
1. 2 points
2. 1 point
3. 2 points
4. 4 points

Question 7:
1. 1 point
2. 2 points
3. 4 points
4. 3 points

Question 8:
1. 2 points
2. 2 points
3. -2 points. Be sure to download an application to the University of Connecticut at Storrs.
4. 4 points

Question 9:
1. 2 points
2. 4 points
3. 2 points
4. -4 points. Orange::44 also does not endorse murder.

Question 10:
True is 5 points, False is 0 points.

Question 11:
True is 5 points, False is 0 points.

Question 12:
True is 5 points, False is 0 points.

Question 13:
True is 5 points and you were in the Sour Sitrus Society, False is 0 points.

Question 14:
True is -20 points, False is 5 points.

Question 15:
1. 2 points
2. 1 point
3. 4 points
4. 3 points

If your point total is 52 or higher congratulations! You are a certified Hoya Hater. Make yourself a certificate and e-mail me for my address. I’ll be happy to sign it and mail it back to you. If you got 51 points or less, sadly you either went to Georgetown, know someone that went to Georgetown and are alright with it, or you just are not enough of a hater. Or your Mother is a Hoya, which is probably the most unfortunate bit of news. If you like, also leave your name and score in the comments, while slandering the Hoyas. It will make you feel good. I’ll be back tomorrow with my preview for the Georgetown game, and some reporting directly from Syracuse, New York in preparation for the Orange Out and the game against Georgetown.

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Just a nice, intimate setting for a loss.
Well that was not even as bad as I predicted it. I said Syracuse would lose by 16 and sure enough it was only 14. Moral victory! This turned out about how I thought it would because I’m not batshit crazy. Either way, tonight I was going to be alright. Either Syracuse lost to the #1 team they were supposed to, or Syracuse gets a ridiculous upset. Tonight, the former happened and Connecticut beat Syracuse 63 to 49.

Jonny Flynn led the team, as we all thought he would, in scoring with 16 points, shooting 5-15, 1-3 from behind the arc, and 5-8 from the free throw line. He played well, but clearly tried to do too much in the game. Then again, maybe that was necessary because not many other people were playing well enough to have any meaningful impact later in the second half. He played fairly well though, the best for Syracuse, in his 39 minutes on the floor.

Eric Devendorf had 12 points on 5-12 shooting, going 2-5 from three point range. Devendorf’s problem in this game was also trying to do too much, and not making easy baskets. At one point in the final ten minutes of the game he had an open look at the top of the key for a three point basket and he failed to connect. That, at this level, in any game is unacceptable if you are really open. He was, and he missed. Devendorf was not as reckless in this game as he was in Philly, but it was still pretty bad, committing four bad turnovers. Recklessness with the ball is becoming Devendorf’s trademark. Keep in mind these two were the only two in double digits for points for Syracuse.

Andy Rautins made one of six baskets from long range, and that is not enough to beat a good shooting team like UConn. He finished with seven points, shooting 3-8 overall. Not a good day after making a three point basket early in the first half. At this point I’m concerned for Rautin’s future career with Syracuse because he still is not shooting well after several games back from his ankle injury.

Paul Harris did not end up getting going as he stated. He finished with five points and five rebounds, highlighted by an awful three point attempt and a missing of two free throws. He did his patented move several times, coughing up the ball four times, to lead the team with Devendorf. This was not Paul’s best game, who has now disappeared in the last several, save the West Virginia game.

Speaking of disappearing, Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson were total non-factors in this game. Onuaku finished with four points and six rebounds (and shot two horrifically bad free throws), and Jackson finished with two points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals, and a block. Onuaku actually shot a measly 1-9, attempting several hook shots that just did not go down. Jackson also matched up well against Hasheem Thabeet, but only shot 1-4. Jackson ended up better stat wise on the day, but both did not play up to their level in this game.

Kristof! only earned three points, but anyone can clearly see he did well in this game, seeming to thrive on the pressure. He had eight rebounds, three steals, and three blocks. Kristof was the most active on defense and at times he looked like he could really use some help. The best part of the night for Kristof! was when Thabeet tried to throw the ball off of him to go out of bounds and retain possession, but it went right off of his face. After about a minute, Kristof! stood up and stayed in the game. Meanwhile Thabeet checked out of the game after giving high fives to his teammates and not at least shaking his hand. It was incidental in the first place, but Thabeet’s conduct after seems to indicate otherwise. Either way, he stayed in the game and played on.

Just a couple of comments on Thabeet. Clearly he is a pretty good basketball player, and a good shot blocker, but I think Boeheim and several media types are way off when they say he is one of the best shot blockers. Half the shots he blocked he was just being tall, flailing his arms and connected several times. He finished with seven blocks. Only three or four of them were legitimately great blocks off the backboard. He also only finished with eight points. This is clearly a victory and honestly Onuaku and Jackson did a nice job of defending him and sealing a passing lane to him on a lot of possessions.

This game was one of the most lopsided refereed affairs I have ever witnessed in college basketball. Granted I should not have been too surprised as John Cahill and Jimmy Burr were on the call. However, the fact that UConn only had four fouls in the second half is simply ridiculous. I understand this is the Big East so they will let some contact go, but when Thabeet goes for a rebound and leads with a knee and bangs into our players and no foul is called, it is a bit much. Similarly, there was a rebound late in the game in which Kristof! had both hands on the ball, Thabeet went over his back and had his hands over Kristof!’s hands, and they called a foul on Kristof!, also was completely unbelievable and ridiculous. This entire crew, filled out by Les Jones, were not good in this game. I hate blaming referees, but I think anyone that watched this game, Orange or Husky, could tell that it was quite a bit unfair.

As for that Harris/Calhoun situation you may have seen or heard about, I was pretty close to this incident. Calhoun went absolutely NUTS. So much so that he just walked on the court to say something to Harris, then he immediately went and tattled to Jim Burr. About a minute after the “cool off” talk from the referee, Calhoun again stepped on the court and did a little handshake. I don’t think Paul meant any ill will by it, but it sure pissed the hell out of Calhoun.

The defense in this game worked well, and Syracuse forced a lot of turnovers for UConn (20). In comparison, Syracuse only had 13. Yes, Syracuse limited their turnovers to 13. The zone worked well and I was pleased with the effort of the team for once. It was much improved from the Villanova game, however good offense is good offense, and a lot of mid range jump shots, as well as three point baskets, fell for UConn.

As for the Syracuse offense, why does it look so easy for UConn to move the ball and penetrate, and it looks so arduous for Syracuse? It looked painful and futile sometimes. They would drive, and dish, and drive and dish, and pass, and still nothing would be a good option. Additionally, Syracuse would drive a lot, and instead of dishing back out, they would take a high traffic, outmatched, bad shot to the backboard, that of course would result in going the other way. Syracuse again shot poorly (31.7%), while UConn obviously did better (43.8%). Rebounds were an issue in this game as well. Syracuse earned 33 rebounds, while UConn pulled down 41. Rebounding was going to be a key point for this Syracuse team and they did not deliver.
I am still confused as to how, during play, the referee can just stop the play and allow Jim Calhoun to sub in AJ Price for Stanley Robinson. My only thought was that there could have been blood on him, but I sure did not see any. It is almost like the USC/Notre Dame game of 2005 in which the re-spotted a ball just because Pete Carroll pointed and told them to. I guess if it is your arena you make the rules?

This game was kind of a tease. While I was under no illusion that we were going to win this game, Syracuse was only down three points at the half, and forced UConn into making more mistakes than they did. That gives you a dangerous and negligent level of hope. However, the drubbing was only 14 points instead of my predicted 16 so I guess it could have been much worse. Either way, I had fun being in that environment, packed in with 10,166 other people enjoying some premier college basketball. I again would like to thank our friends at TheUConnBlog for being good sports in the best way as we all traded jabs this week in good fun. For continuing coverage of Connecticut Athletics be sure to check them out. Also, for the record, no Jim Calhoun did not make me cry. Syracuse will now look to rebound against vilified foe Georgetown in the Carrier Dome this weekend. Make no mistake, that game has big implications.
PS - Jerome Dyson is out indefinitely with a torn meniscus. You're welcome rest of the Big East and NCAA Division 1.

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Syracuse - Connecticut Preview

Syracuse students agree: This one will be a tough one.
This game will be one of the toughest on the schedule. The now #1 Huskies are at home in Gampel Pavilion against their rival Orange, a team that failed to beat them in the Carrier Dome last year, and who’s last big victory against UConn was in Madison Square Garden during the 2006 Big East Tournament. You know the players. Jeff Adrien is averaging 14.1ppg and 10.1rpg. Jerome Dyson and AJ Price are averaging 13.7 and 12.2ppg respectively. And then there is the big man, Hasheem Thabeet, who is averaging 13.2ppg and 10.2rpg, and who the Big East Blogger Roundtable agreed was the best player in the conference right now. Syracuse actually does have a chance in this game, but it is most assuredly a slim one. Syracuse will have to have Onuaku hanging tough in the paint and the post against Thabeet and Onuaku, Harris, and Jackson will have to grab rebounds and box out if Syracuse is to have a chance. Additionally, Syracuse will have to limit turnovers, especially Devendorf, who has historically not played well at Connecticut. Finally, good ball movement and waiting for open shots is key. This is the kind of game that may not be decided until the second half, but we should know by the first media time out in the second half if this will come down to the wire, of if UConn will run away with it. Obviously if this was in the Carrier Dome I would have a much more secure feeling. Frankly I’m not looking forward to this game because if we lose big I’m going to feel like an asshat for buying tickets. However, if we win, it will be glorious. I don’t want to predict another loss, but my head is hard to overrule. UConn over Syracuse by 16.

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The UConn... U SUCK Culmination

I want to win badly tonight.

Today is the day. The middles of Rivalry Week. The end of Syracuse/UConn Hate Half-Week. This has been a fun distraction, and I promise to become Hoya heavy starting again tomorrow in preparation for Saturday’s game. Meanwhile, I penned a thesis stating why you should not root for the most ridiculous sonofabitch coach in the Big East, Jim Calhoun, right here for our friends at TheUConnBlog. Clearly by not rooting for a man that hates babies and lollipops, and rooting for the just defender of all things good Jim Boeheim, you will be on the path of righteousness. I’m not sure that these UConn fans aren’t too gone already though. Either way, I’ll be there tonight in Gampel Pavilion, hoping I do not get punched in the face, but more so that Syracuse plays a competitive game, unlike the affair in Philly. I'll be out of the office the rest of the day to mentally prepare for the short trip to Storrs, but feel free to leave your comments here about UConn, Calhoun, or the State of Connecticut in general. I’ll do my best to think of as many come backs as I can between now and tip to defend the honor of Syracuse, because those UConn fans can get mouthy.And, one more to illustrate the sentiment because this is our only regular season meeting.

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Big East Blogger Roundtable - 2/10/09

Join us tonight at 9:00pm for the next edition of the Big East Blogger Roundtable.

The Panel Tonight:
Sean from Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician
Chas from Pitt Blather
John from Mountainlair
Dave from FriarBlog
and Kevin from TheUConnBlog

and I'm your moderator, Brian Harrison from Orange::44.

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Villanova Postgame Chat

Jay always looks dapper, unlike the Orange.
Before the game I answered some questions for the Villanova blog I Bleed Blue and White. Now that the game is done, Chris from the site was nice enough to answer some questions for me after the fact. Thanks to Chris, and if you need to keep tabs on Villanova, check out his blog.
1. Orange::44: Dante Cunningham had a ridiculous day. Were you surprised by that, or did you expect him to have a good day against the Orange?

Chris: I wasn't really surprised that he had a good game since he's been the most consistent player for us this year, but I was a little surprised at how efficient he was. 12-15 from the floor is really good for a big man. I knew going into the game that with Onuaku inside and with Cuse's zone, you weren't going to see Cunningham trying to bang down low. He drew out the bigs and knocked down those 15-footers all day and looked good doing it. He's worked really hard on his shot and it's paid off for him. The key for him now is to not fall in love with it, because there are days when it's not falling like that.

2. Orange::44: It seemed in the first half that Villanova could not miss. Do you think they were just on, or was there a visible weakness in the Syracuse defense?

Chris: There's no doubt that Villanova was on fire Saturday. Their shooters weren't killing it from outside but they made their living with quick ball movement and knocking down open jumpers when they got space. I think Onuaku and Jackson hurt Syracuse there. Didn't seem like they could keep up with Cunningham's movement throughout the zone. He was open for 10-15 footers all day.

Moreso though, they didn't let Syracuse set up their defense. They went out and pushed the pace and try to get off shots quickly. I think they didn't want to get into a half-court game and settle for 3's. By pushing the pace they were able beat 'Cuse's men down the floor and they had a great day finishing around the hoop. Corey Fisher was outstanding in this area. He was a big reason why Villanova had such a great day offensively. Overall though, Villanova has just been smoking hot on offense the last week. They are really clicking.

3. Orange::44: Scottie Reynolds had a pretty tame game with only ten points. Any particular reason for this?

Chris: Well, it wasn't for a lack of trying. He finished with 10 points on 3-11 shooting, and seemingly had no influence on the game. I was going to say that he has made an effort to become "the floor general" instead of the superstar scorer (which is still true) but his shot attempts suggest he was actively looking to score. So it sounds like he just didn't have a good day shooting the basketball.

One of the things I think Scottie is struggling with this year is trying to change his style. He was cut loose as a freshman and basically told to be "the man." Now he is being relied on to be a leader and the transition has been a bit of a struggle for him. He's not looking for his shot as much and it's not coming naturally to him, thus causing him to force up some bad shots. The talent is still there though as evidenced by games against Seton Hall (40 points) and PC (31 points). Execution just seems to be a problem on a night to night basis.

4. Orange::44: What do you think was Syracuse's biggest problem on Saturday?

Chris: I thought they just didn't match the intensity that Villanova had from the start. I think Flynn's pre-game remarks fired up guys like Dante Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson. Those guys take a lot of pride in this team and don't take well to jabs like that. Villanova came out and just blitzed Syracuse and built a huge lead which 'Cuse could never overcome. Syracuse made a few runs, but unlike the PC game, they had an answer whenever Syracuse made a bid, or 'Cuse hurt themselves (like when they got T'd up). I think Onuaku being a complete non-factor hurt too. I couldn't really tell from where I was sitting, but it seemed to me that Syracuse completely ignored him down low on offense and settled for jumpers too much. He had just 2 shots I think.

5. Orange::44: Finally, how do you see the game on the 22nd at Syracuse going down?

Chris: Frankly, that rematch worries me. The way 'Nova is playing, they will probably have a tourney spot sewn up by then, and Syracuse will still be fighting to secure their spot. Hopefully, the game is meaningful to 'Nova in the fact that they will be fighting for a Top 4 seed in the BET, otherwise we could be looking at a similar result to Saturday's game, with the teams on opposite ends of the result.

Ultimately, I see a hungry Syracuse team coming out and surprising 'Nova and roughing them up a bit. Hopefully that doesn't happen, but right now I envision a scenario like that.
Thanks again to Chris, and we'll see what happens in the Carrier Dome on the 22nd.

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You cannot be serious ED!?!
That was quite a horrific game to be a part of. In my seat inside the Wachovia Center I was so excited for this game, only to have Syracuse get down early 10-2 very early on. And it was all down hill from there. While my liver had a good weekend, this game was all Villanova, as they win 102 to 85.

Jonny Flynn had another good game for Syracuse. He was talking some junk all week leading up to the game on Villanova, and to be fair, he delivered for Syracuse. He finished with 22 points and eight assists. The problem with Flynn on the day was that he got a Technical Foul at a crucial time that killed momentum for the resurging Orange. Flynn’s big contribution on the day was hitting 11 of 13 free throws.

Eric Devendorf, who was razzed to no end, finished with 21 points on six of 18 shooting, three of eight from long range, and six of eight from the free throw stripe. However, Eric was a big cause of the team not going on a big enough run. He ended up coughing up the ball seven times, and he of course led the team in this category again. While I realize that he did not play half of last season, the problem is that he should be improving this year, not getting worse. He also managed to travel once or twice in this game. Even though his point total was there, he was not good for Syracuse in this game. That many turnovers is unacceptable.

Paul Harris had a quiet 14 points, but really he was not very good in this game either. He shot several mid range jumpers, fairly open, that just would not drop. He also pulled his trademark throw the hands up and hope a foul is called move to no avail. He also only pulled down five rebounds. For Syracuse to do well, we need Harris rebounding and being more aggressive.

Rick Jackson finished with 12 points. He actually played a good game, and other than Kristof!, he seemed to be the most active on defense in the frontcourt. He finished 5-7 on field goals with six rebounds. He filled in nicely for the struggling Onuaku before fouling out.

Andy Rautins, after struggling with some early shots he took, managed to drain four from downtown. He finished with 12 points because of it. However, he only hit four of 11 shots from long range, and several of them were not good shots. He also had two turnovers and did not contribute with rebounds or steals as he has in the past if he was not shooting well. At this point, it seems like a confidence issue, rather than a physical problem.

Arinze Onuaku had another bad game for Syracuse. He only finished with four points, five rebounds, and he finished 0-4 on free throws. You could tell he was not as aggressive and was sluggish on the floor. I am not sure if he is just injured or had a bad game. Either way, Syracuse will not win without him playing at least better than he has been in the near future.

Kristof!, however, had a good game for Syracuse. He had nine rebounds for Syracuse, which led the team. He also had a big block and was clearly the energy that the entire team needed to feed off of. This guy just does not quit, and really he did a good job in containing Cunningham while he was on the floor.

The problem was, in spite of the fact that ‘Nova did not shoot that well from long range, the 2-3 Zone was not as effective on defense as it should have been. Villanova was able to shoot 34.5% from the field. Now the top five or six teams in the league will probably rarely be stopped with even good defense, and therefore your team still has to score too. Syracuse did not, only shooting 38.1% from the floor.

Additionally, there were only two referees for most of this game due to one becoming injured early on. That left notorious referee Ed Hightower to make ridiculous calls in this game, and the way the two person rotation seemed to work, Ed was always on the baseline when Syracuse was on defense. Nice. Again, Syracuse cannot beat a good team and the referees. There were over 50 fouls called in this game.

Either way, Syracuse will not have to travel to Connecticut on Wednesday to take on the #1 Huskies. Despite the game, I did have an excellent time in Philadelphia. I would like to thank John Brennan for joining me on my preview podcast, as well as all my friends who made it out to McFadden’s before and after the game. Special shout out to Matt Glaude from Hoya Suxa who made the trip down as well and is having an impressive Hate Week with Georgetown. You can view my photo gallery of the game here. Hopefully Syracuse can rebound from this terrible performance and at least keep it close in Connecticut. I do not want to witness two shit sandwiches in person in the course of a few days.

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I can't believe I just smelled Eric's deuce.

It is road trip time like I said, so here in Philadelphia my good friend and fellow basketball enthusiast John Brennan and I are podcasting again. This time we wrap up the West Virginia game, and preview tomorrow’s game against Villanova. Thanks to John for joining me again. Enjoy the return of the Orange::44 Podcast. Download the program here.









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Brian's Big East Road Trip Extravaganza

Jonny Flynn is ready. Are you?
This is an exciting time around Orange::44. I am embarking on a pretty significant week of basketball coverage. Tonight I head to Philadelphia to witness the Syracuse v. Villanova game tomorrow at noon. As a nice preview of the game, we have two excellent options for you. First, I spoke with the excellent Villanova basketball blog I Bleed Blue And White. I answered some questions for them about the upcoming game and that is posted here. Tonight we also have a very special podcast with friend and occasional Orange::44 correspondent John Brennan live from Philadelphia to both wrap up the West Virginia game and preview the Villanova game for you. Enjoy that later tonight, or tomorrow morning before the game, and look for that to appear before 10:00pm tonight.
Then Tuesday night at 9:00 we bring back the Big East Blogger Roundtable here at Orange::44, with several confirmed guests all ready and lined up and ready to go. We will just talk very briefly about some footbal signing class news, but then head right into basketball for the rest of the evening. It should be informative and a lot of fun, just like the previous ones.

Then later this week on Wednesday I head to Storrs, Connecticut, to see Syracuse take on the dreaded #1 Huskies of the University of Connecticut in Gampel Pavilion. While I am not as confident about this game as I was about a month ago, it still should be exciting and as I have never seen a game inside Gampel it will be an interesting experience.

Finally, we wrap up the tour with a trip for Alumni Weekend to see Syracuse take on rival Georgetown in the Carrier Dome, in which we hope it will be all orange inside. Look for some good stuff coming to cover all of these games, as well as the usual features you are used to.

It’s big doings. I will hopefully connect with some friends, famed alumni, as well as some fellow bloggers. Check out my interview at I Bleed Blue And White, enjoy the podcast, and enjoy the game. I'll try to refrain from licking the Liberty Bell (maybe), and as always… GO ORANGE!

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Nunes::44 - 2/4/09

Nunes got up after some bad stretches like our basketball team.
Because I’m neck deep in probable cause, bad lineups, and trying to squeeze in that West Virginia game, I failed to post my usual weekly correspondence between Sean at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician and myself. However, Sean was on the ball and sent this to me Tuesday evening. Thus he proved himself to be correct in terms of the WVU game. We dish about the basketball team, the job Marrone is doing, and of course the Big East. Enjoy.

1. Orange::44: Will Syracuse bounce back this week and beat West Virginia?

Nunes: Like I'm gonna say no? Of course they will! And by "of course" I mean "please God let them win cause this might be the last chance in a while.

The news that Arinze is still hurting and Rautins is going to "try" and play is disconcerting. We loved to talk about our depth earlier this season but all of a sudden we don't seem to have any. We need those two guys to be healthy. We can compete without them, maybe even win some games, but we won't have a chance long-term without all our guys healthy. We can't count on Jonny to drop 30 every night.

We have the game at home and the Mountaineers are very beatable. They seem to be in the same boat as us, beating the teams they're supposed to but struggling against the ones higher up. So perhaps the outcome of this game will let us know where we stand in a very meaningful way in the Big East.

We need the win. 6-4 in the conference right now is a helluva lot better than 5-5.

2. Orange::44: Looking ahead, how will Syracuse do in the four game stretch after West Virginia?

Nunes: The other reason we need the win against West Virginia is the upcoming schedule thereafter. At the #17 Villanova Fightin' Scottie Reynolds, At #1 UConn, Georgetown at home and finally #17 Villanova at home. It's a monster stretch, especially since Scottie and the Cats always give us fits. The Georgetown game will be an Eleven on the Vengeance Scale and UConn the the freakin' #1 team in the nation.

At this point, knowing what you know and having seen what you've seen out of SU so far, you gotta be happy if we come out of that 2-2. The smart money would be on a split with Nova and a win over the reeling Hoyas. If we could somehow shoehorn a 3rd win out of this, especially one over the mighty Huskies, well then justice would be restored. But I'm not holding my breath.

The good news is even if they go 1-3 through that stretch, they have three very winnable games after that. 11-7 or 10-8 are still not out of the question.

3. Orange::44: Does UConn really deserve the #1 ranking? I'm talking the men now.

Nunes: Eh, what's that saying? "Nobody knows nothing." They deserve it by default. They're the best team in the best conference in the country and they watched everyone else lose around them. Credit for being in the right place at the right time. Eventually, they'll lose and Dick Vitale will watch North Carolina or Duke regain their rightful place and feel whole again and life will go on.

They're a good team. But then again, so is Pitt. I'm looking forward to that game Feb. 16th.

4. Orange::44: What are your thoughts on the recruiting done by Marrone and his staff?

Nunes: Golf claps all around. I mean, when was the last time Syracuse had a recruiting off-season where the following things happened:

*We had so many decent quarterbacks interested in our program we are turning most of them away.
*Multiple players reneged on verbals to other Big East schools to come to SU.
*The #1 running back in the nation considered SU.
Even if Oku doesn't commit it was a banner recruiting period for the Orange. It almost doesn't matter who's actually coming. It's more about next year. Syracuse re-established itself in the Northeast and around the country as a place worth considering. Marrone's hiring of guys like Anselmo and Drayton look like strokes of genius that are only just starting to pay off.

SU probably won't have a high-ranking class this year, but I bet next year's class is going to be very, very good.

5. Orange::44: Very very early reactions, but will Syracuse win more than 3 games next season?

Nunes: I wrote a post a couple weeks ago about how SU can go to a bowl game in 2009. Now, I admit it's asking a lot but I feel like SU is going to be in a very good position to make a leap.

You cannot discount the New Coach Factor. Look at our first opponent of 2009, Minnesota. They went from 1-10 to 7-6 with a new coach who brought new enthusiasm into the program. It's not like the players were that different (Of course, it works conversely as well...Michigan). But I look at what Marrone wants to do on the field and the weapons he will have at his disposal and I see a great opportunity for a 3-9 team to overachieve and be 5-7 or even 6-6.

The Big East isn't going to be all that tough. No one really jumps out as a dominant team and pretty much everyone looks beatable on a given day. The OOC schedule is tough but Akron and Minnesota are beatable and I assume we'll fill that last slot with a 1-AA again.

By no means are we a sure thing but I'm confident we are at the very least a 4-5 win team.

6. Orange::44: Finally, what has been your favorite Big East game you have watched so far this season?

Nunes: I have to admit I don't watch much basketball that doesn't include Syracuse. In fact, I don't think I've watched ANY basketball that hasn't included the Orange this season. So I suppose my choice has to be the SU-Notre Dame game. SU pushed Harangody around, everyone contributed on offense and the Orange won big in front a ginormous Syracuse crowd. It was a proud day for SU fans and I only wish all our home games could be that way.
Editor’s Note: This is another installment in the ongoing collaboration between Orange::44 and Nunes/Magician. Usually every other Wednesday Nunes::44 will appear here, while the following week Orange::44/Magician will appear on his site. Until then, enjoy Nunes/Magician articles and stay tuned to Orange::44 for complete postgame coverage from every Syracuse game.
Additionally, the West Virginia Postgame Reactions will be posted sometime soon, but possibly not before Monday, as I will be traveling to the Villanova game. The same can be said for the latest Big East report.

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