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Don't feel bad Kristof!, you're still one of the most favorite players in SU history.
Everyone that is a Syracuse fan had very high hopes for Syracuse to make it to the Elite 8. While a few fans had Syracuse making it to Detroit, the majority had them matching up well against Oklahoma as Syracuse has played against the best big men in the nation all conference season. The fact of the matter is that Syracuse picked a hell of a time to have one of their worst games of the season. Syracuse has their season end by #2 seed Oklahoma 84 to 71.

Jonny Flynn led the Orange in scoring, as he has for most of the season. He finished with 22 points and six assists on a 9-16 shooting day. Flynn, playing with a sore back in the second half, looked like Flynn has all year by slicing the lane, making good passes, and facilitating good looks at the hoop by his superior ball handling skills. He also took one of the hardest charges I have ever seen despite the fact the referees called it a block against Flynn, giving Griffin a cheap and one. I saw the tape, and Flynn’s feet were set before Griffin left his feat. That my friend is a charge and not a block. More on the refereeing in this game later.

Andy Rautins, although having a poor shooting night overall, was your second leading scorer, earning 12 points in 28 minutes. He also had three steals, two assists, and two rebounds. He was only 4-12 from the floor however, and 3-10 from long range. Very uncharacteristic for Rautins as of late, and a terrible time to be less effective than usual.

Eric Devendorf, after having a great game against Arizona State, did not do as well. He earned eight points, making a decent 2-7 from long range, but only making 3-12 total. He also had four blocks and two steals. However, Syracuse needed offense in this game and with Rautins not shooting that well the team needed Devendorf to. He did not and we lost.

Rick Jackson also had eight points. While normally this is a pretty good game for Jackson, every member of a team needs to step up in the NCAA Tournament as every game gets harder and you play better teams. He did nothing to stop Griffin, and in 31 minutes on the floor hit 4-5 field goals. That is good, but five attempts and only three rebounds is not good.

Similarly, Arinze Onuaku had seven points and six rebounds on 3-4 shooting from the floor. He just did not do enough to keep us in this game. The good news is when he did take a shot it usually went in. But it was not active defense that was really his shortcoming in this game.

Where did you go do it all Paul? Harris had six points on 1-4 shooting and going 4-4 from the free throw line. He did get six rebounds however. Either way, he was a complete non-factor in this game and he only played 24 minutes. And he’s actually flirting with the notion of leaving for the NBA? You best stay and get your degree son. It would be different if you averaged a double-double. But come on.

Kristof! also had a game not up to par. He finished with two rebounds, an assist, and zero points. Not a good way to end a career. Sadly Kristof! rides off into the sunset, or probably more accurately back to Belgium when the school year ends. But he did his part and was a pleasure to watch along the way. Thanks for everything, despite the end of your career being so lackluster.

Blake Griffin delivered as advertised in this game, earning 30 points and 14 rebounds on 12-15 shooting. Sadly Onuaku and Jackson failed to give him tough and contested shots as nothing seemed to go right for the Syracuse defense. Oklahoma shot 54.2% from the floor. The defense was a huge let down, as just when Syracuse started to gain offensive momentum they would fail to gain an important stop, or they would rebound and then lose it right near the hoop. Stellar.

Most assuredly Syracuse played very flat in this game and looked tired and lackadaisical, seeming to always be a step behind Oklahoma. This is fine in a non-conference game, or even a scrub Big East game. But this kind of performance is never acceptable in a postseason tournament. It is not that much of a shock however, as Syracuse has played flat in the second half of their previous two NCAA games. They managed to start the game flat, and never seemed to recover, and if you somehow think they did, it was still too late.

Syracuse again suffered from poor shooting. Syracuse overall was 7-24 (29.2%) from long range total. They also only shot 27-60 (45%) from the floor. This is low for what Syracuse had been averaging in the tournament and the last ten games. It is one thing when one player shoots poorly, but for all of the outside shooters on the team, a team with the best point guard in the nation and one of the best shooters in the country, shoots poorly well then you do not really have a shot. Especially when playing a team with the best player in the nation on it.

Turnovers also killed this Syracuse team. Syracuse against Arizona State only had ten turnovers. In this game Syracuse had a whopping 18. Flynn and Jackson each had five. This allowed for more scoring chances for Oklahoma, and made it virtually impossible for Syracuse to get back into this game, despite the fact that Syracuse narrowed the scoring gap to only four in the first half, before letting Oklahoma pull away again before the half. Syracuse needed to take better care of the ball and Syracuse did not manage to.
Despite Syracuse playing bad, and yes I am saying that, the referees in this game were terrible. On top of that charge called a block I mentioned earlier on Flynn, at one point Flynn received the ball, turned and ran into an Oklahoma player who threw a little bit of a forearm shiv, and lost the ball. There was no call. When there is contact like that, a call has to be made. In this case it was preposterous that Flynn gets that kind of contact and there was not any call whatsoever. I would have been happier with Flynn getting a charge than no call at all. Just awful. I hate having to beat a good team AND the referees. Talk about protecting a star.
Syracuse played in Memphis at the FedEx Forum earlier this year when they beat a great Memphis team on their home court, without Devendorf I might add. This time was just not in the cards for the Orange. Syracuse finished the season with quite the let down. However, they reached the Sweet 16, which an appearance in was the goal I set for the team at the end of last season. It was imperative that they reached this point, and they managed to, therefore the league was not a let down overall. Either way, it was a fun year and we saw some pretty special moments. I’ll have my full season recap/highlights sometime soon, but for now I thank Kristof! and the other seniors, and thanks for some fun moments in the tournament. Both tournaments. We’ll always have UConn.

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Cue The Crying Child

The 2008-2009 Basketball Season is over for Syracuse.
I'll have my full postgame wrap up tomorrow. For now, we are all sad that Kristof! played his last game, Jim Boeheim couldn't get #800, and our glorious run in March is over.

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Ohh So That's What We Did!

It was epic then. It's still epic now.
You have probably read my preview of the game tonight below. But just in case you have been out of it as I have the past couple of weeks, here is a recap of Syracuse from the Big East Tournament to tonight. I talk about that LEGEN… wait for it… still waiting… DARY. LEGENDARY! game that Syracuse had versus UConn, and how the fellows are doing in the NCAA Tournament (which is quite good). I also talk about the game tonight. So this 25 minutes of audio should have you jacked up for tonight’s game. Enjoy the latest podcast, and if you like, download it here.

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Syracuse students agree: This game will be the best of the Sweet 16.
This is the game that everyone is billing as “America’s Hottest Team v. America’s Best Player”. I cannot disagree. Syracuse seems to be one of those teams America has sort of become enamored with after that epic win over UConn in the Big East Tournament. The love continued as many people have Syracuse advancing to the Elite 8 in their brackets, and some even have them defeating UNC to advance to the Final Four. Either way, this will be a very good game to watch. Syracuse meets Oklahoma for the first time since they defeated them pretty handily in the 2003 Elite 8 to advance to the Final Four. There is a slight revenge factor working here. Oklahoma will be a one-two punch Syracuse needs to defend well against. Blake Griffin is easily the best player in the country right now, and will surely garner the #1 overall selection in the upcoming NBA Draft. He averages 22.5ppg and 14.4rpg. Willy Warren, their stellar freshman, is an excellent guard that shoots 14.7ppg and hits 38% from behind the arc. The rest of the team averages under 10ppg, therefore stopping these two players is a must. This will be a match up of the vaunted Syracuse 2-3 Zone defense and the offense of Oklahoma. Syracuse will most likely only let Griffin have highly contested, low percentage shots if the defense is working well. That will leave it to the shooters outside for Oklahoma to make shots and stretch the zone to allow Griffin to go off. However, Syracuse has consistently faced good big men all season long in the Big East and is battle tested. Luke Harangody managed to make 24 points on Syracuse, but his team lost because Syracuse consistently scored. Syracuse did not let Hasheem Thabeet go nuts in scoring in either of their contests this season. Additionally, I do not think anyone can argue that Syracuse has much better guard play than Oklahoma. Flynn, Devendorf, and Rautins were all excellent in the Arizona State contest, so that would lead me to believe that today should not be any different. In a close game, you have to like more complete guard play over a great big man in the NCAA Tournament, especially if Flynn, Devendorf, or Harris go at Griffin and the Oklahoma frontcourt and earn fouls. Additionally, Syracuse will need to step up their rebounding efforts, as zone defenses are not conducive to rebounds as it is, let along facing Griffin inside boxing out. If Syracuse manages to limit Griffin to a reasonable score, there is no reason to think Syracuse will not win, unless shooting is way under par. I like Syracuse in this game, and have since I filled out my first bracket before the tournament. This one trick pony should be pulling into the station, where Griffin can go collect his millions in the NBA. Oklahoma could not handle the zone then, and I doubt they will handle it better tonight. ‘Cuse survives and advances by nine.

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Yes, Syracuse Fans Love Good Radio

Another blogger turned radio host is always a good thing.
Former Syracuse blogger and current sports reporter for the Watertown Daily Times Matt McClusky has been given his own daily radio show on 1410 WNER ESPN Radio in Watertown, NY. No stranger to excellent sports coverage, he has been given his own show to connect listeners with a daily dose of sports that they care about, including Syracuse University athletics. While his show, Matt Mc’s Sports Fix, does not officially debut until 5:00pm on March 30th, he asked me to be on his first and secret show. I come in at the 3:30 minute mark to talk about Syracuse and their basketball season, upcoming match against Oklahoma, and just general stuff about Orange::44. Check it out and be sure to check out Matt’s show which will be available every day as a downloadable mp3 after the show at his show’s website here. I will be asked to appear periodically so I’ll alert you to future appearances as they come up. If you would like to download the secret show click here.

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Annnnd We're Back

Back to your regularly scheduled blog.
If I was any good at Photoshop I could have added Boeheim, Flynn, and myself in that picture. But I have neither the talent, nor the time for such tomfoolery after being away from the home office in Springfield, MA for just over a week. Therefore, just let me reassure you that I will be back Thursday after getting my affairs in order. I have to recap the Big East and NCAA Tournament business, and preview the upcoming awesome game(s) Syracuse will be involved in. This will be in convenient and awesome podcast form. So look for that soon. Until then, hope you enjoyed National Orange Day yesterday. Wear it with pride. And thanks as always for your patience and understanding in realizing that even bloggers need a vacation now and then. Especially bloggers still in law school.

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Syracuse students agree: Oranges should always beat devils.
This is a match up of super sophomores. Jonny Flynn, whom apparently has guaranteed that he will be back next season to Bud at the Post-Standard, and ASU’s James Harden. Harden is averaging 20.4ppg, and shoots 36.7% from long range. The Sun Devil’s also have a great forward in Jeff Pendergraph, who averages 14.7ppg and 8.4rpg. This game is fairly even on paper. ASU only averages 69.4ppg, as supposed to Syracuse who averages 80.5ppg. Syracuse allows 11.5ppg more than Arizona State, but that is fairly close to the scoring difference. What Arizona State lacks that the Orange has is superior guard play. Syracuse employs Flynn, Eric Devendorf, and Andy Rautins. All of which are capable of having an outstanding shooting day. Seeing as they all tanked it against Stephen F. Austin, this should mean that they will be prepared to take on the Sun Devils in a clearly pro-Syracuse venue that is Miami. Also look for Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson to be banging down low in the paint fighting for buckets, and trying to defend against Pendergraph, who is a big gentlemen like Onuaku. However I still believe Syracuse’s guard play will be the difference in this game. Syracuse over State by 12.

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Syracuse students agree: It's great to be back in the NCAA's.
Greetings from New Orleans, Louisiana. Specifically one block away from famous Bourbon Street. This week is probably my perfect storm. It is the best weekend of college basketball, I’m on Spring Break, and there is no open container laws here. BOOM. Anyway, seeing as I haven’t been around this week, I thought I would do my standard preview for tomorrow’s game. Here we go.

Syracuse is finally back in the NCAA Tournament. They also earned a #3 seed after playing extremely well in New York City. Stephen F. Austin earned a bid, their first ever in school history, by winning their conference tournament. And this team is not too bad. Their center, Matt Kingsley, averages 16.2ppg and 7.8rpg. Forward Josh Alexander also scores 14.5ppg and shoots 35.1% from behind the arc. These two are a dangerous combo. Interestingly enough, Stephen F. Austin also has the shortest player in the NCAA with five-foot-three Eric Bell. Really, the key to this team is their defense however. They only allow opponents to score 56ppg on average, and limit three point percentage to only 27.2%. But really, we all know the key for Syracuse winning is the transition fast break game, as well as feeding Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku in the paint for good looks. Seeing as they have had several days of rest they should manage to put in a lot more than they did during the Louisville game. Also, look for Flynn and Devendorf to cut to the hoop on several occasions as there is no dominating presence like Blair or Thabeet on this team. Additionally, this team probably has not played against a lot of zone defense, much less the 2-3 Zone employed by the masters of it. Look for Stephen F. Austin to be out of this one at least early in the second half. While anything is possible, I just cannot see a circumstance in which this upset could happen. Syracuse by 19.

There you have it. I’ll be back on Saturday with a preview for Sunday and a recap of the games on Monday or Tuesday, after I get back in my usual routines again. Enjoy watching the Orange back in the tourney, hopefully taking the Lumberjacks out back to the woodshed.

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Syracuse - Connecticut Postgame Blog Talk

Syracuse owns Connecticut in the Big East Tournament.
Kevin from TheUConnBlog was reporting for The Daily Campus, the UConn student paper, in Madison Square Garden last Thursday when Syracuse beat UConn in the second longest game in NCAA history. I asked him questions and he was nice enough to answer. Enjoy the postgame Q&A from a surprisingly not that bitter UConn homer.

1. Orange::44: You were there. Tell me what you thought and what your experience was like?

Kevin: Quite frankly, just about everything from the last two minutes of regulation onward blew my mind. I started the game in the north press box (which in MSG is up in the third tier of seats, near the Rangers' retired jerseys). By a stroke of luck - the Pitt Tribune-Review folks apparently packed up and left after the Panthers lost - there was an open seat in the front row of the press section courtside next to a buddy of mine. So I probably had the best seat in the house. Devendorf hit the 3 at the end of regulation about five feet from my face. It was tremendous, you know, except for Devendorf being a tool and all.

I recall thinking it was over when 'Cuse went up by seven late in regulation. I thought it was over when Devendorf's 3 went down (also, if you saw my face at that exact moment, I thought my life as a sports fan was over...I was ready to quit if Devo's shot counted). I thought it was over when UConn went up six in whatever OT that was. And I thought it was over when our freshman, Haralson, hit a turnaround 10-footer.

Everything else about the overtimes is just a blur. I only recalled the order in which things happened when I saw the highlights. The momentum shifts, the tenseness of every possession of the first five overtimes, the unbelievable effort from the players, the spectacular buzz in the crowd at the Garden; I've never seen or felt anything like it in sports.

I wish I were better with words, because this thing deserves a more eloquent description than I'm capable of giving. But more than anything else, that was an experience, and one I'll always be glad to have been a small part of.

2. Orange::44: Despite the loss, was that the best game you have ever witnessed?

Kevin: Easily. Most of my in-person sports memories involve one of my teams doing something well, like my high school team winning a championship or the Jets winning a playoff game back in '98. (I'm young, give me a break.) Historically, I've never seen a game even close to this good, and obviously I've never seen one that went so long.

3. Orange::44: What was your highlight of the night?

Kevin: Just one? Probably Kemba Walker's layup at the end of regulation, but I'm a sucker for buzzer beaters. If I weren't so biased, I'd probably say Rautins' tying 3 in whatever OT that was. That was clutch as hell.

If this were a normal game, I'd nominate any of Stanley Robinson's dunks.

4. Orange::44: What do you think was the reason Syracuse won this game?

Kevin: I think the game changed when Thabeet fouled out. It's not like he was doing a whole lot on offense (or that UConn was trying to get the ball to him in the second half and beyond), but once he went out, there was nobody to stop Jonny Flynn.

Flynn impressed the hell out of me. He got to the rim whenever he wanted to, he played 67 minutes, and once Thabeet went out, he could score or get to the line at will. That was huge, because UConn's halfcourt offense was pitiful all night. Flynn let Syracuse extend the game until UConn had nothing left.

5. Orange::44: How do you think this game will impact the seeding of both UConn and Syracuse?

Kevin: I think it's a great quality win for Syracuse and a quality loss for UConn. I don't see them moving UConn to a #2 seed for losing a 6-OT game to a top-20 team. Maybe this means UConn won't be in Boston, but OU and Pitt both lost to unranked teams yesterday. Wouldn't be shocked to see UConn drop in favor of Louisville or Michigan State, though.

As for the 'Cuse, my intuition is they should get a five seed right now. I checked Bracketology today and they're a six. Honestly, would anyone bet on Purdue or Florida State (two of Lunardi's five seeds) against Syracuse? Maybe that's a bad question to ask Syracuse fans, but I wouldn't.

6. Orange::44: Finally, is this the best game you have ever seen?

Kevin: Well, I'm loathe to call something the best ever 24 hours after the fact, like they did for the Super Bowl this year.

Kansas-Memphis was phenomenal, both games in the 2004 Final Four were pretty memorable. The '99 UConn-Duke game probably was the most tense game I'd ever seen. And UConn-George Mason was an epic Shakespearean tragedy played out on a basketball court which I'll always appreciate when I block out the pain. But last night's game had everything you could ever want (minus a UConn win, of course).

So, best game I've ever seen? I might need to get some more perspective before I can say that. It's in the top three.

So there you have it. Thanks to Kevin and the fine folks at TheUConnBlog for answering. Good luck to UConn in the NCAA Tournament. I’ll be back later with a wrap up of the Big East Tournament, as well as an NCAA Preview for Syracuse, and a peek at my bracket. I’m out of the home office as you know, so I’ll either be reporting from Hotlanta, or New Orleans. Still debating if we should say screw it and head to Miami.

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Ridiculous Run

How the hell do these kids do it?
I'm astounded that after six overtimes they can outlast in another. I'm living it up today, but I'll be back tomorrow evening with a Q&A with Kevin from TheUConnBlog about the Connecticut game, as well as postgame reactions and statiscics from the WVU and L'ville games. Stay tuned. You have to be loving this. Even Axe is into the Big East Tourney again.

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Syracuse - Connecticut Reactions

That was another legendary game in MSG.
I have seen quite a lot of Syracuse games. I was in Albany when Syracuse made it to the Final Four. I was in the Carrier Dome when Syracuse won the National Championship. I was courtside in Madison Square Garden for all four Big East Tournament games in 2006. But this game, was easily the best Syracuse/UConn game, was easily the best Big East Game, was easily the best fought game, I have ever seen. Syracuse beats #4 Connecticut in six overtimes (the second longest game in NCAA history) 127 to 117.

Jonny Flynn was Syracuse’s leading scorer. He earned 34 points, 11 assists, and made 16 of 16 from the free throw line. He played an amazing game and carried the team through these overtime periods. He played an inconceivable 67 minutes of game time.

Andy Rautins was spectacular hitting tough three after tough three. He made six of 12 threes overall and was absolutely ice cold in the overtime to keep us in this ball game. Ridiculous.

I’m sorry to have to cut this short, but I’m leaving for my Spring Break trip, so I will get back to you on this and the game tonight very soon. Until then, savor it. Savor it well, for there can be no doubters that Syracuse now owns Connecticut in the Big East Tournament. There is also no doubt that you witnessed something special and you may never see again. This is why I love the Big East Tournament.

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We get it Tim. You love TV time.
Syracuse entered the Big East Tournament for the first time since 2005 knowing they were in the NCAA Tournament before they set foot on the floor in MSG. Therefore it was interesting to see how they would start against a team they demolished in the regular season. Syracuse did not disappoint in terms of advancing to face that old familiar foe Connecticut, but there were certainly a lot of fireworks. Syracuse advances over Seton Hall 89 to 74.

Eric Devendorf and Jonny Flynn each had 19 points and led scoring for the Orange. They both had 19 points. Devendorf hit all of his points in the second half, making 5-8 from long range, and 7-13 overall. He also pulled down five rebounds and had two assists. Flynn had a stunning game however, earning that 19 points on 9-16 shooting, most of which came in the paint. He also earned 11 assists for a double-double. He was outstanding tonight, as was Devendorf offensively. Devo did look like a fool when he bit on Hazell’s pump fake though. Like they always do.

Arinze Onuaku had an offensive day like Jackson usually does; quiet. He earned 15 points, six rebounds, and three blocks. One of those blocks ignited the nonsense that occurred in the second half. He hit 7-12 from the floor, and managed 1-5 free throws. Stunning. He was fairly active on defense as well, so this was a pretty good game for Onuaku. He should have done a little better around the hoop on offense however.

Kristof! also had a great game by Kristof! standards. He finished with 12 points, seven assists, and two steals. He played hard, and as soon as he was in the game, got a steal and an and one. Kristof! is poised to make quite the impact in the NCAA Tournament.

Rick Jackson had seven points and three rebounds. He had a better day on defense than the last few, but it was still not the effort that Syracuse needs consistently. He bricked an eaaaaaasy bucket but made up for it on the next possession. Either way, he did pretty well on a 3-5 shooting effort from the floor.

Paul Harris only had four points in 24 minutes of action. However he did have six points and five assists. He is also still one of the best teammates to receive passes around the hoop from Flynn. Must have been the high school years.

Syracuse jumped out to an early lead, but coughed it up early in the second half because of lackadaisical defensive effort. However, Syracuse buckled down and played solid defense for the majority of the second half.

Syracuse put on a fast break clinic in this game. They had over twenty points from the fast break. Flynn, Kristof!, Harris, and Rautins were masterful in passing. Syracuse tied the record for assists in a single Big East Tournament game with 30. That’s also 30 assists on 37 field goals. There was excellent passing and ball movement in this game and it was easily the best passing we have seen from the Orange all season.

Syracuse shot 56.9% from the floor (37-65) and 50% (9-18) from behind the arc. This was an excellent shooting performance from behind the arc in the second half. What was not a good shooting performance was from the charity stripe. They only made 6-20 (30%). Still dreadful, but luckily it was not a factor in this game. It could be against Connecticut.

Now to the extra curriculars. This was not acceptable by either team. But I will say that it was John Garcia of Seton Hall that initiated the technical fouls by giving the old jibba jab after he was cleanly blocked by Onuaku, but Onuaku was clearly wrong by clapping in his face. If he wanted to clap and walk away that would have been fine, but right in the guy’s face definitely earned a tech. As for Devo and Eugene Harvey, that was ridiculous. While I expect that from Devendorf, putting your hand in another mans face and shoving is unacceptable. Devendorf never put his hands on anyone in that scrum, but Harvey had his hands all over Devendorf’s face and he should have been ejected for that. Either way, it was fine that they both got technical fouls again. It probably helped in that it motivated Syracuse out of a lull and spurred an offensive run.

We saw a lot of DOCTOR Gross behind the SU bench, wearing a grey turtleneck. Just great.

Also in the gallery was Gerry McNamara, who’s 2006 heroics I saw completely and in person courtside. I will never forget that, and I cannot imagine I will ever witness a better Big East Tournament. I was glad to see him and his hot wife Katie on the television.

All in all, this was a great game despite the fights. We will now see Syracuse taking on Connecticut in MSG. It should be an interesting game. While I picked Connecticut to win this game, I would not be surprised at all to see Syracuse pull another big upset at the expense of Connecticut. After all, UConn is known in New York to get off the bus, play the game, get on the bus, and go home. We’ll find out after 9:00pm live from New York.

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Day two and we saw some very good and very bad hoops.
There were some entertaining contests on the second day in New York City, and the first day in which a few of the conference heavy hitters appeared. It was an entertaining day in the Mecca of basketball. Since you can see my complete postgame reactions on the Syracuse game, here are the other three games.

#16 DePaul v. #8 Providence
The first game of the day proved to be the obviously more entertaining match of the early session. It is very rare when two teammates have 30 point games and their team does not end up winning, but that is what happened with DePaul. Will Walker and Dar Tucker had 31 and 30 points respectively. Providence, who trailed for about 80% of the game, would not go away and kept scoring, until they put together a big run down the stretch. DePaul also helped by having over eight minutes without a field goal in the middle of the second half and the rest of their team only combining for 13 points. Final Score: DePaul 74 – Providence 83

#13 St. John’s v. #5 Marquette
This was all Marquette from the jump. This game was never in doubt and at times Len Elmore and Dan Schulman had nothing to talk about because of how much St. John’s was trailing. St. John’s only managed ten points in the first half, the lowest in any Big East Tournament game. Paris Horne took a while to get going, but he did finish with 15. Either way, it was not enough as four Marquette players had double figures in scoring, led by Wesley Matthews with 20. St. John’s takes the not trip home. Final Score: St. John’s 45 – Marquette 74.

#10 Notre Dame v. #7 West Virginia
Notre Dame gave it a good effort, closing the gap to seven early in the second half. But Alex Ruoff had a great game, scoring 25 points, bouncing back from a zero point performance at their Senior Day. Luke Harangody had 27 points, but it was not enough as West Virginia never trailed in this game and the Mountaineers advance to play against their rival Pittsburgh in a Backyard Brawl in MSG. Final Score: Notre Dame 62 – West Virginia 74.

So there you have it. No surprises on Day 2 of the Big East Tournament. It shook out exactly as I predicted it here earlier. We’ll see if the big boys of the conference show up to play, or we see some upsets in Round 3. We’ll see you back here later.

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Nunes::44 - 3/11/09

Nunes broke some ankles in his day.
Just a couple hours before Syracuse takes on Seton Hall, Sean from Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician got in his answers for the week, talking about seeding in both tournaments, how that Marquette win went, as well as other fun things. So you should check it out.

1. Orange::44: Closing thoughts on the Marquette contest?

Nunes: A nice reminder that this is not last year's Syracuse squad. This is a team that will win tough games and gut its way out of rough patches when it has to. I have no illusions about this Marquette team and how we caught them without their best player, but it was further proof that showed this SU team might not be great...but they're pretty good.

We won't be able to hang with the elite teams on a consistent basis and ultimately that will be our downfall. But we can hang with any second-tier team in the nation. And there's a lot more of the latter than the former.

2. Orange::44: Was this season successful in your mind and what criteria would you judge that by?

Nunes: At times it didn't feel like it but this season has to be considered a big success.

We accomplished our main objective...making it back to the NCAAs. We finished with a great overall record and we did it against a tougher schedule that usual. We finished with a very respectable record in the toughest conference in the country. We played through some injuries and a couple player funks and finished the season strong. And we have the chance to be a top-five seed. At worst we'll be a six-seed and you won't hear many complaints from SU fans regardless.

Sure, I would have loved to have beaten Louisville, UConn or Pitt at least once. But it doesn't seem right to hold it against this team for the moment.

Now, if we lose in the first round of the NCAAs that will be disappointing. No matter what, you never expect to see SU do that. If we lose in the second round, it will probably also be a bit of a bummer. If we can make it to the Sweet Sixteen, I think that's where everyone will feel completely fine with the season as a whole. And anything past that is gravy.

3. Orange::44: How do you think Syracuse will do in New York and what would you like them to do or not do?

Nunes: Well, I write this just hours before our game with Seton Hall so don't hold it against me if we've already lost by the time you read this...but I think we'll win one and lose one...and that's fine. Believe me, I'd rather not lose to UConn. But I just don't think we're on their level this year. At least, we haven't played like it.

Much like getting to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAAs would be fantastic, if we could get to the BET semis but no further, that would be a huge boost for the team. It would put us over the edge for a five seed and give us the knowledge that we can beat an elite team on any given day.

4. Orange::44: What seed would you like to see Syracuse have in the NCAA Tournament and what realistically do you see the committee putting them as?

Nunes: I think Syracuse has earned a five-seed. Despite all of the negatives that come with that number known for being upset, I think 23-wins, 11-conference-wins and wins over Kansas, Memphis and Florida is a good-enough resume to warrant that.

If SU beats Seton Hall and loses to UConn, I think we're probably going to get a six-seed. I think the committee will hold it against the second-tier Big East teams when they give Louisville, UConn, Pitt and Villanova very high seeds. They'll want to spread the wealth after that. Just a thought.

If we can win two or three games, we're a lock for a five seed with the possibility of a four. But I wouldn't hold your breath.

5. Orange::44: So Oku finally made a choice and stuck with Tennessee. Does this effect you one way or the other?

Nunes: Not really. I think we've known for a long time that he wasn't coming to Syracuse. I'm willing to bet SU was off the table a lot sooner than it was intimated anyway. The value of the Oku situation is that he put us back in the national recruiting discussion. It made people wonder about this new staff up in Syracuse that could suddenly compete with the Tennessees and Auburns of the world. Syracuse is going to be a great recruiting school within the next 1-2 years, I think it's obvious. But I'm also biased, so, you know.

6. Orange::44: If you could change one thing about the Big East Tournament what would it be and why?

Nunes: Go back to the way it was. I mean, it's cute that DePaul got that win over Cincy and all. And it's nice that they let St. John's in the building. But really, what good can come of it? Is it really in the best interest of the conference to have a #15 or #16 seed run the table one day? If DePaul went on a magical run and won the Big East Tournament, wouldn't that ultimately cheapen the conference as a whole?

There was nothing wrong with the way it was. And I think the idea that you have to fight just to make the tourney is a valid in-season battle to bring back. I guess they make more money this way, although you wouldn't think so from all the empty seats, but it just feels like a waste of time to me.

7. Orange::44: Finally, for the regular season who is your best player in the Big East and who is your most overrated player?

Nunes: Best player, I probably have to go with DeJuan Blair. I think Thabeet is a monster and a game-changer but you can't deny that Blair owned him both times they played.

Most overrated? Harangody? Great players rarely let their teams sink the way Notre Dame did. They put the team on their backs for at least a little while...

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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2009 Big East Tournament Predictions

Another tournament, another week of excellent basketball.
Well what do you know? It’s Championship Week and Syracuse is not on the bubble. Simply amazing. It is a nice feeling knowing that no matter what happens in New York City at the Big East Tournament in all likelihood Syracuse will be in the NCAA Tournament. But no one wants to lay a stinker in the BET on the first day they play. Therefore, below is how I think rounds 2-5 will go for the Big East Tournament.

Round 2 – March 11th

12:00pm #16 DePaul v. #8 Providence – Lightning may have struck once in New York City for DePaul, but do you really think it will happen twice in two days? Granted once upon a time it did for Syracuse, but that was a completely different situation. Providence is going to win this one by a decent margin and advance. You have to think every Providence fan is thrilled with this match up. DePaul is feeling good being in NYC though, so this will be closer than Providence would like, but clearly they should win this one.

2:00pm #13 St. John’s v. #5 Marquette – Marquette has been reeling lately, but rest assured that St. John’s does not have the offensive firepower to keep up with this team. This senior laden team of Marquette should end the hopes of the hometown heroes. Marquette is a fine team and St. John’s could take out a weak Georgetown team, but it will have a lot of trouble with Marquette. Look for them to advance.

7:00pm #10 Notre Dame v. #7 West Virginia – Notre Dame has not been good for most of the year, losing to West Virginia on February 18th. Notre Dame only managed eight wins this season, after being ranked pretty highly early on in the season. West Virginia has played well down the stretch. I have to go with West Virginia and Huggins.

9:00pm #11 Seton Hall v. #6 Syracuse – No way am I taking anyone but Syracuse in this game. Syracuse destroyed the Hall for the last game in 2008 100 to 76. It was not pretty for Seton Hall then and it shouldn’t be for them tonight. The Orange will be meeting its old foe.

Round 3 – March 12th

12:00pm #9 Providence v. #1 Louisville – This is an intriguing match up, must like all of the games in this round. Providence lost big to Louisville in the regular season, and the number 1 seed should be able to dispatch pesky Providence with a little effort. Louisville should advance to the semifinals.

2:00pm #5 Marquette v. #4 Villanova – These two teams split during the regular season and should be one of the best games of the tournament. Both teams have high powered offense and both teams have certifiable stars in this top league. Because of the fact that Marquette dropped for straight, and Villanova has seemed unstoppable as of late, save for their Georgetown slip. Villanova will take this one down.

7:00pm #7 West Virginia v. #2 Pittsburgh – This rivalry game will be exciting and emotions will be running high, but Pittsburgh is clearly the better team in this match. West Virginia would have to play a flawless game and manage to stop DeJuan Blair from scoring at will. Not likely. Look for West Virginia’s run to end here.

9:00pm #6 Syracuse v. #3 Connecticut – This is a tough one to call. Ideally Syracuse would win this game, avenge an earlier loss, and then lose tomorrow to rest for the Big Dance. Practically, I just do not think this is the year that Syracuse can again beat Connecticut in New York City, even though it has been Connecticut’s MO to tank it in New York straight out the game. I’m totally willing to admit I’m wrong if we win this one, but I’m calling Connecticut in a close one. I wouldn’t be surprised if Syracuse did win this one however.

Semifinal Round – March 13th

7:00pm #1 Louisville v. #4 Villanova – I know having the top four picks advance is not that sexy, but there is no doubt in my mind that these team are very good and should win their matches. That being said, this is a tough one to call.

9:00pm #2 Pittsburgh v. #3 Connecticut – Another prime time match that is huge. We all know how hard it is to beat a team three times in a season. Well if Connecticut makes it this far, that should exactly be the case. Connecticut has not played well in New York the last few years and Pittsburgh won both of the regular season matches. The same will happen. Give it to Pitt.

Championship – March 14th

9:00pm #4 Villanova v. #2 Pittsburgh – This will probably be a boring tournament final in New York City. However, one of Pitt’s three losses is to Villanova. This team will play tough, but Blair, Fields, and Wannamaker should beat the boys from Philly. As I said, I have a feeling Pittsburgh will be all over Villanova on the neutral MSG court so this should not be close, but you never know. Either way, Pitt should win this one.

Big East Tournament Champion Pick – Pittsburgh

So there you have it. Another year of predictions that are probably wrong, despite me being very close on most of the games throughout the regular season. Either way it should be a fun tournament and I look forward to Syracuse giving us a fun game to watch tonight, along with a lot of other entertaining games to watch. Frankly I didn’t think there would be entertaining games yesterday, but sure enough there were. Either way, look for complete recaps from every day of the tournament, and even though I will be on Spring Break, I’ll break down my bracket and picks for how the Big East will do. Also look for our weekly lacrosse feature coming soon. Until next time, enjoy some quality basketball.

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Some Enjoyable Linkables

The best conference is about to have the best tournament.
I’ve done some blogging work lately, but they have not been appearing here because other good folks on the internet have been posting it. To gear you up for the delightful Big East Tournament The East Coast Bias has compiled some bloggers from around the league to answer questions about our favorite players, teams, how our teams have done, and overrated and underrated things. For some reason a lot of people do not like the Carrier Dome. Check out the Big East Bloggers Roundtable Q & A right here. Also, Sean asked the questions and I answered them over at his site. Check out the latest installment of Orange::44 is an Absolute Magician. I’ll be back tomorrow evening with my preview for the good part of the Big East Tournament.

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Andy! Why didn't you play like this all year!?
Well that was one hell of a game. Any game that goes to overtime is probably exciting, but this one was a treat to watch not only for the outcome, but for the show we got as well. This was a very good game to watch, and the final punctuation on a good end to the regular season in which Syracuse’s NCAA Ticket has surely been punched before the Big East Tournament. Syracuse beat Marquette in overtime 86 to 79.

Jonny Flynn was Syracuse’s leading scorer with 24 points. 20 of those points were in the second half or beyond. A slow start to Flynn’s day, he exploded with the Jonny Flynn we know and love, making 10-23 field goals from the floor and earning six assists. On occasions he tried to do too much, but the key play of the game was intercepting a pass, earning a bucket, and making the and one. An excellent performance for what could be Jonny Flynn’s final regular season game in Orange.

Andy Rautins had 20 points off the bench. He had a phenomenal shooting day from the floor. He hit four of nine from long range, seven of 12 overall, and had another key play in overtime after draining a three by driving the lane, much like Jonny Flynn, and hit a lay up to keep the lead in the overtime. The best performance of the year from Rautins since the Coppin State affair with nine threes.

Rick Jackson also had an excellent offensive game earning 17 points, eight rebounds, and five blocks. Offensively he had every move working, and went 8-9 from the floor. Defensively, it was the same story, different day, in which he was lax on defense and allowed people to get behind the zone unchecked and failed to step out in the lane and help properly. But again, on offense he had a virtually flawless day. If only he could have made one more free throw, the overtime drama could have been avoided.

Eric Devendorf earned 12 points on a pretty good shooting effort. He made 5-10 and 2-4 from long range. He had some great moments driving to the hoop and shooting. But he was not as effective as the last few games as he coughed up the ball three times and did not have as good of a shooting outing as the last few. However, this was not a bad game for Devendorf.

Paul Harris also had a decent day with nine points, hitting 4-6 from the floor. He coughed up the ball five times however. This was certainly not the show that we got during the Rutgers game. Either way, still not bad from Harris.

Kristof! only played nine minutes in this one because Jackson was playing so well, however he did hit a key basket in traffic to keep us up in the second half.

Arinze Onuaku did not have a good day, having only two points. He did have eight rebounds and one big block though, so at least Onuaku was active on the boards.

Overall, Syracuse shot the ball extremely well from the floor compared to Marquette. Syracuse shot 56.3% from the floor (36-64) and 35% (7-20) from long range. Marquette only shot 36% on senior day. Speaking of seniors, Jerel McNeal had a great day with 25 points, and hit a key three at the end of the game, but just did not come through in the overtime on Senior Day. Also, with four seniors in the Marquette starting line up, they are screwed next year.

The defense and rebounding was far better in the second half than the first, which was the key to this victory. Syracuse also came through in the clutch and played pretty flawless in the overtime. It was nice to see that the team did not crumble like we have seen a lot this year.

Syracuse earned a huge overtime win against a great team to earn a four game win streak heading into New York City. They earned a six seed and the possible third round match with UConn. IT should be an interesting time in New York, but before then we take a couple of days to enjoy a huge win to end the season. It has been a fun one.

Stay tuned for Lacrosse Weekly to wrap up a nice win in DC against Georgetown, and look early tomorrow for a preview of the Big East Tournament.

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Syracuse - Marquette Preview

Syracuse students agree: A six seed would be nice.
It all comes down to this for the final chance to control Syracuse’s destiny in New York City. #25 Syracuse is traveling to #15 Marquette to see if Syracuse can lock in the six seed for the BET, and that would also assure that Marquette would not receive a double bye. This win would also give Syracuse one final nail in the NCAA bid coffin. Marquette is a dangerous team however, despite the indefinite loss of guard Dominic James. The Golden Eagles’ leading scorer is Jerel McNeal who is averaging 19.9ppg, 4.7rpg, and 4.0apg. He is a very dangerous guard. Wesley Matthews is also a dangerous guard averaging 18.7ppg and 5.2rpg. Additionally, their best forward, Lazar Hayward is averaging 16.1ppg and 8.6rpg. Syracuse will have to have a virtually flawless game, unlike the first half of the Rutgers contest, to hang with this team if they are on. However, opposite of Syracuse, Marquette had dropped three in a row to pretty good teams. It will be interesting to see how Marquette responds to a pretty good Orange team. The Syracuse shooters will have to be on early, and Marquette likes to get good ball movement and spot up for both threes and difficult jumpers inside the arc. Good defense and zone coverage is imperative, and some good play inside from Harris, Jackson, and Onuaku, especially rebounds, is imperative as well. I do like Syracuse’s chances in this one however, but it will be close. Syracuse over Marquette by eight.

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Lacrosse Weekly - 3/5/09

It was a great effort, but just too short.
You could not ask for a better showcase and game last Friday in Syracuse. You had #1 versus #2, and on top of that it was Syracuse versus Virginia. One of the best, if not the best, lacrosse games every season. Heading into this game Syracuse had the last laugh, beating them in a second overtime period in the national semi-final game last season, which vaulted Syracuse to the National Championship. Virginia went home bitter. They had their revenge unfortunately in the Dome, but it was a game that any lacrosse fan can appreciate. Syracuse loses in a close one in front of a huge crowd (16,595) 13 to 12.

This game was close for the majority of it. Virginia got off to the early lead with a goal within the first minute of play. It then went back and forth in scoring, ending at the half with a four to four tie. Then Virginia opened up the third quarter with three goals in a row, and six goals in the quarter, while Syracuse only earned two. But this game was by no means over. In the last five minutes Syracuse scored four goals, to pull within one. Syracuse had a chance with about a minute left to get a score, but some bad passes created a turnover, and that allowed Virginia to run out the clock and come away with a narrow victory over Syracuse. In general, Syracuse looked sloppy in this game, making some genuinely bad mental mistakes, while Virginia looked sharper and more intense and focused. Syracuse certainly is an offensive juggernaut, but the passing fundamentals need to be sound when you are playing the best team in the nation, and mental mistakes need to be few and far between. This was sadly not the case for Syracuse, even though they rallied to make this a game.

Kenny Nims was the leading scorer for the Orange with four goals. #22 Dan Hardy and Georgetown transfer Scott Kahoe added two a piece as well. Josh Amidon led Syracuse with two assists, half of the total four assists Syracuse had on their 12 goals. Ground balls were distributed fairly even, but Joel White led Syracuse with four. Syracuse struggled at the face off X. Jake Moulton, who is taking most of the face offs, had an alright day winning six of 14. Tim Harder won one of three, while Josh Knight won two of four. Scott Kahoe won a pitiful three of eight however. John Galloway made 13 saves and allowed 13 goals in 60 minutes of work. At times he looked brilliant, stonewalling some point blank shots, but other times he looked like he played for UMass, allowing several soft goals and several in a row.

For the first time all year, and the first time in several games, Syracuse had fewer shots than their opponent. Virginia took 49 shots, while Syracuse took 34. Syracuse picked up 31 ground balls overall, while Virginia only grabbed 27. One of the key issues was face offs, and Virginia won 17 of 29, while Syracuse only had 12. This led to a far greater time of possession for Virginia than Syracuse had. Where have you gone Danny Brennan? Come back DBren! Virginia cleared 20 of 22, while Syracuse cleared 23 of 26. Syracuse for the first time all year allowed an extra man goal. Virginia converted on one of two chances, while Syracuse converted on one of four Virginia penalties. Finally, Syracuse had 13 saves, while Virginia had ten. The complete box score can be found here.

Syracuse, by losing this game, ends up #2 in both the coaches’ poll (found here) and the Inside Lacrosse media poll (found here). They are both behind Virginia, who is the unanimous #1 team in the nation, and is not the odds on favorite for the National Championship. Virginia earned all first place votes in both polls, and Syracuse earned all but one second place votes, which was given to North Carolina in the coaches’ poll. I do not think at this point there is any doubt that it is Syracuse and Virginia in the top two spots, then a gap, and then #3 and beyond.

Other notable scores from the past week of lacrosse:

Saturday February 28:

Johns Hopkins 8 – Princeton 14

Dartmouth 7 – Notre Dame 19

Towson 11 – Air Force 9

Hobart 8 – Providence 6

Yale 6 – Massachusetts 18

Rutgers 7 – St. Joseph’s 10

Georgetown 9 – St. John’s 10

Colgate 9 – UMBC 13

Duke 8 – Maryland 11

Pennsylvania 7 – Villanova 14

Cornell 9 – Army 8

The complete scoreboard can be found at Inside Lacrosse here.

Sean at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician posted an article recently about how the future Big East lacrosse teams are doing, and they are doing pretty well. That is good news as I was one of the biggest skeptics of this new lacrosse league. As stated previously, I thought it was great for the sport, but not a great move for Syracuse. Either way it is happening, so it will be interesting to see how these teams grow and improve heading into next season.

Syracuse will next play #11/12 Georgetown (1-1) Saturday March 7th at 12:00pm. It should be a decent game to watch, and chances are Syracuse will bounce back and earn another win. I am sure veteran Hoya Hater and lacrosse buff Matt Glaude at Hoya Suxa will weigh in on the affair, so look for that on his site. We did lose but do not fret too much. If you watched you saw a fantastic lacrosse game, and I have a feeling these two teams will meet again before the season is over.

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Thanks for a great two years.
Another game, another blow out. At this point in the year would you want it any other way? Although the team came out flat and shot a season low 19 points in the first half, the offense exploded in the second half, giving Syracuse a 30 point victory. Syracuse blew lowly Rutgers out 70 to 40.

Your leading scorer was “Do It All” Paul Harris, who finished with 18 points on 6-8 shooting. He also made six free throws on six attempts and pulled down nine rebounds. He had a great game with some pretty spectacular aerobatics and slams. Very entertaining and enjoyable to see, especially this late in the season.

Andy Rautins, who helped spark the second half smackdown, finished with 11 points. He made three of four shots from behind the arc, and added a field goal, three assists, and two rebounds. His shooting was on the money, and unlike other Syracuse players, Rautins is a master of the pump fake. He was one of the reasons Syracuse won by 30.

Arinze Onuaku had ten points in a nice game, once Syracuse made a conscious effort to get him the ball in the paint. He also had nine rebounds and three blocks. Once he seemed to have the confidence to body down the Rutgers players he was excellent. He did not seem to stand out that much because Paul was having a killer game.

The other ten point scorer was fan favorite and retiring senior Kristof!. In his last game in the Carrier Dome he had an excellent game, playing 25 minutes and going 5-6 from the floor. He had six rebounds, two steals, and a big block. He also had the huge slam pictured above, and the crowd went nuts because of it. He had been an excellent contributor as of late, and hopefully that will continue through the next game, the Big East Tournament, and the NCAA Tournament.

Jonny Flynn had an uncharacteristic seven points. He had a bad game in general, save his ten assists. Sadly Flynn had seven turnovers and in general was a quite force in this game.

Eric Devendorf also had a pretty bad day, only earning three points on one of eight three point attempts. He, much like Flynn, had some horrific offensive fouls that were easily prevented. Devendorf only had two assists and a steal as well. Overall he was more harmful then helpful in this one, just chucking up the ball on several ill advised occasions.

Rick Jackson was a non-factor in this game, only earning two points and playing some of the worst defense of the season, even against lowly Rutgers. Thanks.

Justin Thomas and Jake Presutti also had their last game in the Carrier Dome, and they made the most of it giving the crowd a treat at the end of the game. Presutti made a big three after bricking two shots, giving his huge cheering section a reason to go nuts, and put a huge grin on Jim Boeheim’s face. Justin Thomas went two for two at the end of the game hitting a pair of jumpers for four points. Congratulations to the two of them.

Syracuse was abysmal in the first half, coming out flat and letting the Rutgers defense get the best of them. They shot a season low 19 points, trailing by one to Rutgers. However, Syracuse stepped it up in the second half and proceeded to shoot 75% from the floor. Syracuse finished shooting 28-51 (54.9%) from the floor, and outscored Rutgers in the second half 51 to 20. Rutgers definitely had an off night, only shooting 15-59 (25.4%) on the night. And yes, I think it was because they had an off night, not because there was outstanding defense going on. However, the zone did stifle several possessions and create turnovers.

That is three huge wins in a row, with an average margin of victory of 27.7 points. This is the right time to peak. Granted, they played two shit teams and one that is pretty good. However, it is a great time to be playing great basketball and the momentum and confidence, combined with the fact that Marquette just lost their point guard, SU has a real shot to win the last game of the regular season. The good news is that Syracuse has earned the benchmark of ten Big East wins, they have won five of the last nine, and should get no worse than a seven seed in the Big East tournament. As of right now, they hopefully will earn a six seed and win a couple games in NYC. They will most likely have a six seed in the NCAA Tournament as well, but it is quite possibly with a big win over Marquette, and a couple in New York, their NCAA seed could improve. Either way, it is pretty fun to be a Syracuse basketball fan as of late.

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Rutgers - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: A blowout on Senior Night is a rare treat.
Rutgers, unlike Cincinnati, much like St. John’s, is not a good team. They have only managed one win in the Big East, and only ten wins overall. Nine of those wins, mind you, came during one of the weakest non-conference slates by any Big East team this year. Currently they are second to last in the league, only ahead of pitiful DePaul. They have lost to such stellar teams as St. Bonaventure, Binghamton, Lehigh, and yes even St. John’s. They have only beaten teams like Marist, Delaware, and notoriously bad in state opponent NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology), the worst Division 1 basketball team in the nation. Is there any doubt that Syracuse is going to win this game at home? Syracuse already beat Rutgers at the RAC 82 to 66 on January 10th. The Scarlet Knights are only 1-20 lifetime in Syracuse, and they have never won in the Carrier Dome. Rutgers, unlike every other team in the league, only has one scorer that is averaging double figures. Mike Rosario is their star, who is averaging 16.9ppg and is shooting 30.6% from long range. This kid can score but only sparingly compared to other key players in the league. This game should look about the same as the last couple. This game probably will not be close at all, and the scoring will be distributed pretty evenly. Onuaku, Jackson, and Harris will have pretty free reign of the low post and baseline, while Flynn, Rautins, and Devendorf will continue to both shoot it up from long range, and have their chances to penetrate and score or penetrate and dish for some assists. You do not need to be a basketball expert or a rocket scientist to pick Syracuse in this one. Look for Kristof! to get some quality minutes in his last game in the Carrier Dome on Senior Night. Also, look for Boeheim to get fellow seniors Justin Thomas and Jake Presutti some good minutes at the end of the game. Congratulations to those three young men for representing the Orange well throughout their careers and Orange::44 wishes them the best of luck in the future. There is also the possiblity that this is Jonny Flynn's last game in the Carrier Dome as well. While I personally do not believe this fact and I think we will have one more season with him, there is a possibility so if that is the case, thanks to him as well. Syracuse over Rutgers by 23.

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Boom, your ankle's broke. Sucka!

There was another drubbing of a Big East school by Syracuse yesterday. And this time it was not a one win team. It was a pretty good Cincinnati team, who has a bone fide great player. But this game was not close except at the very start. Syracuse demolished a surging Cincinnati team 87 to 63.

The leading scorer for Syracuse was Jonny Flynn who put on another show and broke some more ankles. He finished with 17 points and seven assists. He again sliced through the lane, dished the ball superbly, and was generally a part of every play that was dazzling. That is until he was taken out of the game and proceeded to lie in front of the team bench mugging for the video board camera, which was pretty funny to see. Great game Jonny.

Paul Harris had 16 points, and clearly had his baseline game working. He also made several mid range jumpers and played one of his best games of the year. He also did not make any horrific, horrific decisions in this game and managed one huge block early on in the game.

Eric Devendorf finished with 13 points, five assists, and three steals. Sadly he only managed 4-12 from the floor and 1-4 from long distance. He did make 4-4 from the free throw line which is always good for this team however. Either way, not Eric’s best game, but in a game like this, much like the St. John’s game, how can you really complain too much.

Also with 13 points was Rick Jackson, who had a much more successful day, going 6-6 from the floor. He also had three blocks and three rebounds. Jackson did well from the floor, but was lazy and clueless on defense at times. But his offensive game was in top form.

Arinze Onuaku had ten points and seven rebounds. He also had a much needed good day on offense, and went 5-7 from the floor, and he bricked his one attempt at the line, despite making six or so in a row during warm ups as he earned hearty applause from the crowd. Now if he could make them actually in the game, I am sure more applause would occur.

Kristof! had an excellent game, and I was so rooting for him to get a double-double. Alas, he only finished with seven points and nine rebounds. He also made 5-5 from the free throw line. He also managed to pull down rebounds that no one else on Syracuse tried for and also managed to pull down rebounds after getting boxed out. He was on today, and there were actually Belgian flags being held up in the student section, so maybe this will come true even more.

Kris Joseph had some solid minutes, earning eight points in nine minutes. Also several walk ons got in the game in the end. How much of a horrific bust has Sean Williams been? I seriously doubt he will ever be good enough to play in the Big East. Ah well, it’s just like $130,000 down the tubes. Andy Rautins was also a pretty big non-factor, but when you have your starters in double figures it is not much of an issue. He did get four rebounds and three spectacular assists.

At the half, Syracuse retired another number (gag!). #17 Billy Gabor’s number was retired. Now I am pretty knowledgeable about Syracuse basketball, but I have never heard of this guy before Sunday. Additionally, Syracuse ruined his ceremony by giving him a microphone that did not really work, and on top of that he was so old that he did not really know how to use it even if it was working properly. I could basically make out his speech though, and it was nice. Congratulations to him, and congratulations to the Athletic Department for ruining another thing.

Syracuse shot 50% (30-60) from the floor overall. Additionally they shot 75% from the free throw line. Sadly they only shot 6-22 (27.3%) from the three point line. But they almost scored at will from inside, so the six from long range is about right. Syracuse also only had a season low six turnovers. A fantastic job of not playing too loose and out of control with a huge lead on their hands.

After a pretty great steal by Paul Harris, he was flagrantly fouled and Alvin Mitchell from Cincinnati was ejected. This was correct in that if Kristof! is going to be tossed for an incidental elbow, this seemed like exactly the right move for this veteran Big East crew. Not that it mattered much. Mitchell was 0-4 from the floor and 0-3 from behind the arc.
Now that's a good looking arse.

Overall, Syracuse earned a big win against a decent Big East team, but this game clearly illustrates the big difference this season between the top eight in the conference and the bottom eight. This win guarantees that Syracuse will have at least a .500 mark in the Big East, and I do not think I am being too forward when I say that Syracuse will have ten Big East wins at the least. Yeah, considering Syracuse is playing Rutgers tomorrow, it is not too much of a mystery. Then, Syracuse will take on Marquette. But first, Kristof!’s last game in the Dome. Hopefully we can send him out on a win. Not even Gerry McNamara earned that. In honor of Kristof!, here is my video of him earning two points after getting fouled in the Dome on Sunday.


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Cincinnati - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: A win would go a long way at this point.
A lot is at steak in this game. Whichever team wins is assured to finish .500 or better in the league. It would give Cincy a big win down the stretch, and it would give Syracuse 21 wins on the season. Cincy has won six out of their last ten, including wins against West Virginia and Georgetown. This is a team that should not be underestimated. They are helmed by Deonta Vaughn who averages 15.4ppg and 4.8apg, and shoots 34% from downtown. Earlier in the year I named him my Big East player of the week, because he can score like Donte Cunningham and really hurt your team’s chance of winning. This game will again come down to if Syracuse can find a balanced attack on offense, getting the ball to their big men for high percentage shots. That will obviously open up the shooting game quite nicely, such as against St. John’s. Syracuse will need to not play as fast and loose as they did in New York and really try to curtail the turnovers again. This is a sneakily good team and Syracuse needs a win to get that vaunted .500 mark in the league. Most people have us in, but until Selection Sunday nothing is a lock. A Cincinnati game hasn't been this important since Gerry McNamara's runner in 2006. I’m going with Syracuse however, by eight.

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