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Pittsburgh - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: The Big East is back and we're still great.

Syracuse started the Big East a little roughly, turning the ball over 20 times against Seton Hall. However Syracuse will be back in the Carrier Dome this Saturday and should win their first game in 2010. The simple reason is Pittburgh is a shell of it's former self. They lose their best player in DeJuan Blair and are not scoring nearly the points they did last season. Syracuse is averaging 87.7ppg, while Pitt is only scoring 66.2ppg. That is a 20 plus point differential. And with Syracuse playing at home, it will be awfully tough for Pitt to outscore this potent Orange offense. While Brad Wanamaker (12.8ppg, 6.7rpg) is back, their best scorer is Ashton Gibbs who averages 16.9ppg. Everyone else only averages single digits. If Syracuse post defense in the zone holds up Syracuse should easily win this one at home. Syracuse over Pittsburgh by 17.
I'll have a joint recap of this game, as well as notes from Seton Hall, and even some words on the SU women's game against Georgetown late on Saturday. Until then, Happy New Year. Enjoy some bubbly and some terrible decision making as we all hope next year will be better than the last.

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Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Podcast 3.0

Yeah it happened. We wern't big liars.
The latest episode of the best Syracuse chit chat recorded for the internets is now available. I chat with Sean of Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician of course. This time we chat about Syracuse basketball, the good Doctor, Club Four Four, Jake Crouthamel, and have a debate about pitas. It's pretty much a must listen for any Syracuse fans. You can download it here, or feel free to listen down below. I promise more good times like the last episode.

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Merry Christmas From Orange::44!

One more crying child before the year ends.
A very Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and yours from all of your friends here at Orange::44!

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This is what happens when you just listen to the HOF'er.
The Orange have played two games since I last checked in here. That's two more wins for the #5 Syracuse Orange. The team continues to roll as they now will enter Big East play at 12-0. But before that, we will see how they got there.
Syracuse was clearly off when they played St. Bonaventure last Saturday. However, that only lasted for one half, as Syracuse rolled in the second. Syracuse only had a four point lead at the half, but with big three point shots from Brandon Triche and Andy Rautins prevented Bonaventure from getting any momentum in the second half. They won 85 to 72.
Rick Jackson was the leading scorer, earning 18 points on 8-11 shooting. He also earned 10 rebounds. He had several good post plays down low against the smaller Bonaventure team throughout the game. However he did have five turnovers as he failed to pass to an open player when he was double or even triple teamed. He lead the team in that category. He also tied Wes Johnson with ten rebounds for the most on the team.
Both Kris Joseph and Johnson had 17 points in the game. Joseph was excellent off the bench and added a real spark and lift to the team when Bonaventure pushed to close the gap in the second half. Johnson also had a double-double.
The reason for Bonaventure's early success is the 17 total turnovers Syracuse had in this game. Bona only had 13. Syracuse's success in the second half shooting however, overcame their offensive troubles in the first half. They finished 40% from long range, while Bonaventure only had 22.2% success.
Not to be missed in this recap is the fact that Andy Rautins got smacked in the cash and prizes by Andrew Nicholson, the leading scorer of Bonaventure. He was subsequently ejected from the game by Tim Higgins. Andy not surprisingly missed his two free throws immediately after this incident. We forgive you Andy. Every dude knows how much that sucks. Moving on.
This past Tuesday Syracuse then faced their final non-conference foe before traveling to New Jersey to start the conference. This game was never in doubt. Syracuse put the money in the bucket early and often. They won over Oakland 92 to 60.
Brandon Triche had a career high 27 points as he led the Orange, hitting 6-6 from behind the arc and 9-11 from the floor. Even while on occasion he was out of control driving through the lane the ball somehow managed to find the bottom of the bucket. He was unstoppable in this game.
Johnson also played well again. He earned another double-double, making 19 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. He was 8-12 from the floor. He is a superstar.
Syracuse shot very well from the floor, shooting 55.4% from the floor and 45.5% from three point range. What really helped Syracuse win by 32 was both their defense and Oakland only shooting a dismal 9.1% (2-22) from long range, effectively shooting them right out of this game early and often. While Syracuse caused 16 turnovers, they had 15 themselves, which is still too much and sloppy. However, this is skewed because the second and third string players were in with about eight minutes to go. Either way, it is simply too many turnovers, but when you win by 32 in the grand scheme it is a moot point. This time.
This team is absolutely rolling and shouldn't be stopped anytime soon. This team will enjoy a nice Christmas and a few days rest, but will be hitting the road heading to New Jersey on Tuesday to take on The Hall. We'll see who will lead the team in scoring that night, as on any given night it could be anyone. That is one of the reasons why this team is so fun to watch. Unselfishness always makes for more entertaining basketball.

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Oakland - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Being undefeated is a great Christmas present.
Syracuse continues their way through the non-conference slate, taking on Oakland. This is their last game before the Big East Conference fires up, and will be a nice final tune up for the gentlemen before traveling to New Jersey. But before that, they have to face Oakland, picked to finish first in the Summit League. Their best player is center Keith Benson, who is averaging 17.7ppg, and 11.1rpg. That's a double-double for those keeping score at home. This is a team who can pound the boards, and if Syracuse performs on the glass like they did in the first half against St. Bonaventure, this game will sadly be too close for comfort. However, if Onuaku is healthy, comes back, and plays well, as well as Rick Jackson doing his part down low (oh yeah and passing to someone open when he is TRIPPLE TEAMED), this game should be Syracuse's. They beat Oakland by 20 last season in the Carrier Dome, and in theory this is a better team. Syracuse is also averaging about 18 points more a game, so if Syracuse settles in to a decent shooting performance, gets some good looks in the post, and boxes out, nothing will prevent Syracuse from enjoying an undefeated Christmas or any other unspecified holiday they may celebrate. Syracuse over Oakland by 25.
I'll have my recap of this game, as well as some notes from the St. Bonaventure game soon, just in time for your Christmas enjoyment. Until then, enjoy some classic stuff during the game on Twitter at @BH_Orange44, and of course from Correspondent John Brennan at @JBren.

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St. Bonaventure - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We'll still be undefeated after this game.

Syracuse is undefeated entering the eleventh game on Syracuse's schedule. They take on a familiar foe in Olean, New York's own St. Bonaventure. The last time the Bonnies came into the Dome and won was half past forever ago. Syracuse is on a roll, still averaging 88.3ppg, while the Bonnies are only averaging 72.9. Bonaventure only has one truly reliable outside shooting threat in guard Chris Matthews who shoots 48.4% from behind the arc and averages 11.9 points. Other than that, their leading scorer is Andrew Nicholson who puts up 15.3ppg and 7.4rpg. His scoring is all from inside the arc. Therefore, with only one ligitimate outside scoring threat Syracuse should have no trouble handling the Bonnies. Although they did recently beat Le Moyne, so maybe we should be worried. Either way I'm picking Syracuse by 23.

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Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Podcast 2.0

Troy's voice isn't nearly as smooth as ours.
It's been six months, but it finally happened again. Sean Keeley of TroyNunes is an Absolute Magician and I spend around 45 good minutes chatting about Syracuse Athletics. We do it so you don't have to. We talk about it all. We cover the past football season, how we can shit talk about this basketball team, the impending lacrosse season in the new Big East league, and the hot topic of the day; Big Ten expansion. I lay out some suggestions, talk about how irrelevant Rutgers is, and why we should tell Notre Dame to GFY. You can access all the audio goodness here. Hopefully we'll try to do it every week.

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The Orange::44 Tampa Travelogue

The scoreboard at the scene of the crime.

Syracuse is doing extremely well this year. I'm guessing you've noticed by now. They were undefeated heading into their biggest game of the year. #7/6 Syracuse traveled to Tampa for a "neural court" game against #11/10 Florida. I was in attendance. These are their stories.

We start my trip on a flight from Elmira, NY to Detroit, MI. Sadly my tiny airport only flies to Philadelphia or Detroit, and seeing as I flew Northwest I was off to Michigan. Because there was a blizzard in the vicinity of Michigan we were delayed on the runway for 20 minutes before taking off, forcing me to sprint down one concourse, across a connecting tunnel, and down the next in the course of 20 minutes to make my connecting flight from Detroit to Tampa, FL. Luckily I made it, and luckily the trip was far better after this. I was lucky. The last time I flew from Detroit I had even longer to make my connecting flight and I ended up in Portland, ME, whereas my bag stayed in Detroit for the night. This time it made it to Tampa with me.

The next day was gameday. We made our way to the St. Pete Times Forum, my friend Dave and I. My best friend from law school, Dave was a Cortland graduate and originally from Oneida, so he, much like myself, grew up on Syracuse basketball. It, as the kids say, was on. We got there around 6:00pm in plenty of time for the Mississippi St. v. DePaul game. Despite the quality of game this was going to be, free basketball is still free basketball, so there we were. With a bar just outside of our section, and pretty good food all around the arena that is home to the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL we were pretty set. All we had to do was wait for the headline game of the day to start.

We suffered through the dreadfulness that was DePaul's effort on the floor. Wow they are going to have a bad year in the Big East, despite being better than they were last year. Anyway, with about 20 minutes before our game was about to start the arena started to fill, most decked in orange. It was both Syracuse and Florida orange. By the time it was said and done it was just about 50/50 Syracuse and Florida fans. Save for the two sections of UF students courtside, the Florida Pep Band, the Florida Dance Team, the Florida Cheerleaders, and Albert the Florida Gator. Oh yeah, this was a "neutral" game.

The warm ups started, and the tension in the building instantly rose. The tension got even higher when I saw that Jim Burr was in stripes. If you are a moderate to large college basketball fan you know who Jim Burr is, as well as his prowess to call a terrible basketball game. He did not disappoint. Then the game started.

Syracuse played a hell of a game. The quick but entertaining recap from rusty Orange::44 correspondent John Brennan can be found here. You can find the box score here as well. Check it out if you missed it, because it was big. But I'm here to talk about what I saw and you didn't.

At the half, after slugging down several adult beverages, the Florida student section got frisky. Several students, pictured, were wearing suits. They had bottles of orange juice they were banging, and several signs that were about as clever as a Family Circus cartoon. Most of it was just aggressive pointing and a lot of loud, incomprehensible yelling. All we did was drink more beer. Oh yeah and show how dumb they were. We did this by pointing at the scoreboard showing we were on top and showing that we were ranked higher. Even a stupid Florida student can see that 6 > 10. They also kept yelling about 2006 and 2007. Nither of those years is 2009 or 2010. I loved 2003 as much as any SU fan, that that was the past. Time to move on Florida. As I stated before, Florida basketball fans seem to be more annoying and act more entitled than UConn fans. It's awfully close though. They were quite annoying and seemingly delusional as to how good their team actually was. But statistics do not lie folks. This win was an easy call for me to make.

So the game continued, we won, and those same UF students in the suits that were all bent out of shape didn't even stick around until the final buzzer. They left with about a minute to go. Unfortunately they talked enough jibba jab that some rather beefy SU fans on the next section decided to chuck some half finished beers at them in the heart of the Florida students. Much like last year's Georgetown game in the Dome, while I find it hilarious to see someone that deserves it get a beer in their grill, it is not cool, not classy, and should not happen under any circumstances.

After the game, it was a sea of depressed Florida fans everywhere, which was awesome to see. Dave and I decided to just sit in the concourse for a minute, because several fans were more than likely about to throwdown. Keep in mind since the game ended we were despensing high fives like it was going out of style. All of a sudden we see a guy in a navy hoody with a UConn visor on. I said something like "check out this guy coming." He heard me say that and said, without skipping a beat, "we'll see you guys around." By far the most unexpected moment of the night. We then exited the arena, giving out more high fives, made our way to the car, and then headed home, to then watch the DVR'ed game. Because... why not?

I later headed to Universal Studios the next day, which was fun but had nothing to do with the game. You can check out my photos of the day as well. The Florida Resident discount is quality.

So that was my game experience. I tend to make it to one away game a year during the basketball season, and this was it. I couldn't have picked a better one to go to and see. While I was not able to go to the St. Francis game this past Sunday because I was still in Tampa I can't help but feel that I made out ahead of the deal. It was a great game to see, a better game to be at, and a good five days in Florida with some good friends away from the cold of New York State.

To view my entire photo album of my trip click here, it's well worth it. I'll be back with a preview of this weekend's game, the postgame wrap up, and a wrap up of the football season coming most likely next week. Additionally, if things go as planned, some brand new audio delights for you on Thursday, so stay tuned.

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Coach Hopkins tells Mookie to shut the F^@# up. Scoop looks on, having heard this before.

So this is how it's gonna be now? Syracuse can play amazingly against the likes of California, North Carolina, and Florida, and yet totally play down to a team like St. Francis? If so, maybe it's a good thing the Big East is so good. That should keep this team playing at a high level.
Of course, I'm exaggerating quite a bit. After all, this team handled cupcakes like Albany, Robert Morris, Colgate, etc. with ease and domination. But this afternoon, the crew seemed to have forgotten about that. The 24-point victory over the St. Francis (NY) Terriers, 75-51, is a bit deceiving. This game was a lot closer, and especially in the first half, many Syracuse fans had their hearts beating a bit faster than usual.
The Orangemen got off to a rather slow start. Were they still tired from playing Florida on Thursday? Did the traveling have a negative impact on the players? Did they entirely underestimate the Terriers? Could be any of these things. But early on, St. Francis was able to slice apart the Syracuse 2-3 zone, which was impressive given the obvious size advantage in favor of the Orange. To their credit, they were often times able to pull Rick Jackson out of position and find a lane to the basket. Though St. Francis only held the lead once, their ability to penetrate the zone kept this game a lot closer in the first half than it should have been.
Leading all scorers was Terrier Akeem Bennett with 15 points. He also pulled down 10 rebounds for a nice little double-double. Leading the way for the Orange was Arinze Onuaku, who netted 14 points. While Thursday against Florida belonged to Rick Jackson, today's matchup was clearly AO's to take home. Towering over the middle of the St. Francis defense, Arinze was able to take lob passes and lay it into the basket. He was like that kid in middle school who got the growth spurt before everyone else, and just towered over them in gym class. Arinze also pulled down three rebounds and had two blocks on the day.
In 27 minutes of play, Wes Johnson again was a quiet but consistent presence, adding 12 points, nine rebounds, four blocks, three steals, and two assists. While Scoop Jardine only scored three points in 21 minutes of play, he dished the ball around well, closing with nine assists. Kris Joseph continued to impress, with seven points and seven assists in 22 minutes. In all, 10 Orangemen saw playing time (much of it significant minutes) with all 10 scoring. And yet, we get Mookie Jones bitching about his playing time. After not seeing any action against Florida, Mookie clocks 21 minutes against the Terriers, and has the audacity to complain about it after the game:
“I wish I knew my role,’’ Jones said. “I’m always ready. I really don’t know my role. I hope we find it by the time the Big East gets here. I just want to contribute. It’s kind of hard. You sit down one game and then you come in the next game.’’

Um, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't he around last year? Doesn't he know how this works? Doesn't he see that he's 8th in the rotation and that there are 7 players better than him on this team? Now, I've been giddy all year about how deep this team is and how, seemingly, Jim Boeheim can put any combination of five guys out on the floor and they have great chemistry and can get it done. And I still believe that. But you look around to any team playing a Top-15 team and tell me how many minutes the 8th man gets in that game. It just doesn't happen much. My fellow Syracuse tweeters got this right: if Mookie wants more playing time, he should show us he knows how to play defense.
And sort of in the same vein, it should be mentioned that pretty early into this game, Boeheim ordered the team to press, and by and large stayed with that through the rest of the game. Pressure is difficult for a team that plays zone, because once the offense clears the ball out, the defense has to fall back into the 2-3. I don't think Mookie quite has the maturity and athleticism to perform at that level. Yet. He needs to just stick with it, and his time will come. This kid just needs some perspective, and to realize this isn't about him. If he thinks it's about him, then I'm not willing to give him another mulligan after storming into the locker room a couple weeks ago. He can go take a hike.
But back to this game against St. Francis. I think Syracuse got lucky that it was facing a team like this when they did. Coming into this game, the Terriers were not overwhelming on offense, and this game was no different. Had Syracuse been playing a team that shot better than 29.3% from the field, then this one would have been a lot closer, and may have even turned out differently. But hey, a win is a win, and Syracuse at 10-0 is off to its best start since the 1999-2000 season when they won their first 19 games.
One Catholic school down, one more to go this week. St. Bonaventure comes to the Dome Saturday night, which should put Syracuse one step closer to winning the Governor's Cup and really become NY's College Team. Even David Paterson likes what he sees! The Bonnies game will also bring my brother, Andy, to the Syracuse campus, no doubt wearing some ugly brown shirt and drowning in his sorrows.

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Syracuse - St. Francis (NY) Preview


Syracuse students agree: this is a good week to start beating Catholic schools

Don't be fooled by the Terriers, what with their innocent looking dog mascot. This team can do things. Fortunately for Syracuse fans, score a lot of points is not one of them. The Terriers are averaging 59 points per game over 8 games. This poor offensive output led them to an 0-4 start to the season. However, they seemed to have started turning things around, going 3-1 over the last 4 games, including a one-point win over common opponent Colgate. Players to watch for, if you're so inclined, include Akeem Bennett (junior guard/forward averaging 14.1 points per game) and Stefan Perunicic (sophomore guard/forward averaging 9.6 points per game). Not a large sized team, St. Francis won't be able to dominate inside the zone, and if forced to shoot the three, history shows they'll hit on a putrid 29% of attempts. That equals low numbers in my book. Meanwhile, Syracuse is coming off another big time win, this time over the Florida Gators last Thursday in Tampa, which has definitely got to be on the away side of being a "neutral site." As we all know, the Orangemen's 2-3 zone is the best it's been in years, and with the offense averaging 89.8 points per game over 9 games, look for this to be another blowout. Syracuse stays perfect, advancing to 10-0 with a 27 point margin of victory.
Some of you may recognize Allen Griffin on the St. Francis bench. He played for the Orangemen 1997-2001, was on the Syracuse coaching staff during the '03-04 and '04-05 seasons, and also has a previous stint at St. Francis during the '05-06 campaign. So for the folks attending Sunday afternoon's game, make sure you have your hand stamped and out for Allen to check it. I'm sure he'll be asking where his boy BH is at.

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What a horrible six-day stretch for the University of Florida

I know the above picture has little to do with Syracuse's 12-point victory over the Florida Gators basketball team on Thursday night. But it's Tim Tebow. Crying. You've got to appreciate that.
We are now two days removed from the third Top-25 win of the season for the Orangemen, and quite frankly, I don't think much more needs to be said on this blog about the game. Until Brian returns. I'm sure he'll give you a good blow by blow of the action, you know, since he was actually there and all.
In the meantime, check back here to Orange::44 later today for a preview of the matchup tomorrow against St. Francis NY, and tomorrow night for the postgame reactions. Until then, enjoy night two of Hanukkah if you're Jewishly inclined, or another day dodging crazy Christmas shoppers if you're one like me who enjoys pork and other meats from dirty animals.

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Syracuse - Florida Preview

Syracuse students agree: This game is big time before the Big East.
Much like Syracuse, Florida is better than you might expect. They lost their star player to the draft in the off season, but that doesn't mean that they don't have playmakers. Vernon Macklin, a center/forward combo, averages 11.3ppg and 5.9rpg. He has quality moves down low, and can body defenders. However, I do not know why anyone is saying this should be a close game. The numbers don't back that up. Florida is 8-0 but have not played a ranked team. They manhandled the likes of Rutgers, Troy, and Stetson but their margin of victories are not as large as Syracuse, nor do they score even remotely the number of points. Also, who couldn't manhandle those teams. Syracuse averages 90.4ppg, while Florida only drops 75.8. Florida distributes the ball however, so if Syracuse manages to have an active 2-3 Zone and cause points off turnovers this should be an easy victory for the #6/7 'Cuse, despite Florida having a #10/11 next to their name. Syracuse over Florida on the "neutral court" by 17.
Programming Note: I'll be in Tampa for this game, and will remain there until late Sunday. Therefore, Correspondent John Brennan will be taking over duties in regards to the St. Francis game on Sunday. I'll do my best for a recap of this one, but John may be taking that over as well. However look for my standard fare of tweets and pictures from the game live from Tampa (@BH_Orange::44). I look forward to leaving the snow, even if it is only temporary.

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BlogPoll 2009 - Week 14

RankTeam
1Alabama
2Texas
3Cincinnati
4TCU
5Florida
6Boise State
7Ohio State
8Oregon
9Penn State
10Georgia Tech
11Virginia Tech
12Brigham Young
13Northwestern
14Miami (Florida)
15LSU
16Oklahoma State
17Pittsburgh
18Iowa
19Oregon State
20West Virginia
21Stanford
22Nebraska
23Utah
24Houston
25Central Michigan

* I apologise again for the missing deltas, however I didn't submit a ballot for week 13. Let's face it, it was last weekend that really counted though.

* Alabama retakes my #1 spot after beating up on Florida in the SEC Championship. Texas is #2 and Cincy stays in the spot behind that, just over TCU.

* USC drops out. Amen.

* Much like the BCS, we got #1 and #2 right. Anything after is pretty irrelevant at this point. We'll wait until some Bowls shake some of it out.

Think I'm a fool? Of course you do. Leave a comment then. We'll see you with the final ballot of the year after the Natty Championship.

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It's all fun and games when you're up by 40.
Everyone knew Maine wasn’t a great team. Everyone also knew that Syracuse was a really, really good basketball team. However, no one could have predicted that Syracuse would play as well as they did both on offense and defense. Syracuse absolutely destroys Maine 101 to 55.

This game was never close. Syracuse started by hitting three pointers and causing Maine turnovers. The Orange transition game was the best we have seen all season, with Syracuse earning a total of 28 assists of 41 field goals made. Additionally the 12 steals that Syracuse had helped spur the transition game as well. 14 blocks do not hurt either.

Syracuse shot an asinine 65.1% from the floor, only their second time shooting over 65% since 1996. Conversely, they held Maine to 26.5%, and held them to only 4 of 31 in the first half, and they only had 12 points at the break. While it is never really comfortable to watch a game like this, you have to be impressed with how well Syracuse plays as a team on both ends of the floor.

Syracuse’s leading scorer was Brandon Triche with 16 points in 16 minutes. He also had two assists and a steal. While he does not seem to be as good of a ball distributor as Jonny Flynn was, he is certainly a scorer of high talent, as he not only seemed to be in the right place at the right time to score easy on the fast break, but he drove to the basket with skill and ease against Maine.

Arinze Onuaku was the other starter in double digits with 12 points. He also had seven rebounds and three blocks. He dominated the Maine defense off the dribble or straight to the rack. He is clearly one of the best true centers in the nation. Also luckily, he only had to attempt one free throw.

Rick Jackson had eight assists and eight points. Similar to Onuaku, he had the moves off the dribble, and clearly in the off season has worked on his sky hook. While not known for creating opportunity for others, this game was the perfect example of how a good interior game will spur on outside shooting opportunity as Jackson would pass the ball to an open shooter when the defense collapsed in on him down low.

Andy Rautins also had eight points in this game and earned nine assists. His passing performance on the day was highlighted by a backwards pass from Triche to Rautins outside the arc and instead of pulling the trigger threw it to Wes Johnson to throw down the easy bucket. Very unselfish play from Rautins yet again.

Wesley Johnson only played 19 minutes in this game, therefore he only earned seven points, but it was a fun seven points to see. He continues to be the most talented player on this team and seems destined for draft day.

Four other players off the bench scored in double figures. Kris Joseph, Mookie Jones, Scoop Jardine, and James “Southie” Southerland scored 14, 12, ten, and ten points respectively. It seems that this is the most talented team Syracuse has seen top to bottom since some faithful year that I do not want to say for fear of jinxies. Needless to say this is a talented bunch, and for the first time since Josh Pace was on the team we have a reliable bench good for many points.

But it was not all sunshine and rainbows for the Syracuse Orange. They had 17 turnovers in this game, the same that Maine had. While this is fine for a blow out of this magnitude it cannot happen against better teams. Of course, that statistic is skewed because of the younger bench players and walk-ons getting in the game for several minutes.

Additionally, Maine had 13 steals, which was one more than Syracuse. Syracuse coughed up the ball an awful lot in that game, but again most of which came in the waning moments of the second half, when the kids were out there just trying to get their name in the box score.

All in all another stellar game and a fine bit of basketball for Syracuse. Now that just leaves Florida, the last truly tough game before the conference slate starts. We’ll see if Syracuse can defend its top ten rating, as well as the honor of the Big East conference. The way UConn is playing it looks like we’ll have to.

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Maine - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We just want to play Florida already.
In the America East basketball conference (not the worst conference in the world, but certainly not the Big East), Maine is picked to finish eighth out of nine. Only above Binghamton University, who as you know has a boatload of problems. Maine only averages 65.0ppg, while SU is up around 88.9. Their leading scorer is Gerald McLemore, a guard who only averages 14 points a game. While he does average around 40% from long range, this scoring threat will be much like Colgate; not nearly enough. Their leading rebounder is forward Sean McNally (is everyone Irish on this team?) which means that their lineup is small and will again not be able to handle Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson on the inside, nor will they be able to stop the likes of Wes Johnson or probably even Brandon Triche driving. Is it possible this team is whiter and shorter than Colgate? I regress… this will be a big day for the Orange inside, if they can manage to get there because they will probably have some tempting open looks from outside. I’m guessing that Maine has seen some film on the 2-3 zone, but will be powerless in trying to penetrate it, much like every other team of Maine’s caliber we have seen so far this season. Look for another big Syracuse win in the non-conference season. #7/8 Syracuse over Maine by 24.

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Nunes::44 - 12/3/09

Paulus was alright, but Nunes would have trippled his stats.
It’s time for another edition of my weekly chat with Sean of Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician fame. It’s been a few weeks, but he’s back chatting with me about football, Marrone and his staff, how awesome our basketball team is, and of course the greatest threat to our national security; the BCS. Check it out y’all.

1. Orange::44: Syracuse finished their football campaign with a loss at UConn. This game was up and down. Thoughts?

Nunes: It was a weirdly reminiscent game from the season-ending loss to Cincinnati two years ago. The Orange looked as good as they've looked all season on offense, scored a lot of points but gave up a ton more points on defense. It would have been the perfect way to end the season if we could have won (five wins, hurt UConn's bowl chances) but the season ended about the way it should have. We're just not there yet...but we're on our way.

Plus, the antics at the end confirmed that we're going to have a bona fide rivalry on our hands. I hope the Big East continues to have Syracuse schedule Rutgers and UConn late in the season because as the Orange improve, those games are going to become big rivalries.

2. Orange::44: Satisfied with Marrone at the helm?

Nunes: From the standpoint of a first-season package, he did a tremendous job. He showed all the signs of being a first-year head coach at times but I think Marrone has us going in the right direction and I have faith in his desire to do whatever it takes to make SU a winner again. The defections and quitting has been disconcerting but I think it's a short-term effect of a coach who is fiercely loyal to "his guys." For better or worse. I fully expect the Orange to improve from here on out and be back in a bowl game within two years, if not next year.

3. Orange::44: There were recently some staff changes made by Marrone. Agree? If not, who would you have kept or fired?

Nunes: Tough to agree or disagree since we know so little of the internal goings-on. It sounds like Derrick Jackson was just kept around to maintain the status quo for Arthur Jones. As for Elizondo, not sure what else he could have done with that unit, especially once Williams quit. And as for Spence, if it's true that Marrone took over playcalling duties in the last two games, the two games that happen to be SU's best offensive performances of the season, then I completely understand the move.

I think Marrone has an extremely clear vision of how the team should run, especially offensively. He's not going to waste time with anyone who doesn't fit that design.

4. Orange::44: Basketball keeps rolling. Is it even fair playing Colgate and Columbia right now?

Nunes: Sure doesn't seem like it. And to be honest, I'm not even sure it's fair to Syracuse. The Orange actually lose RPI ranking because of these games. I know Jimmy likes them because it gives the team a chance to gel, work out the kinks and get bench experience. But I wonder if there's one too many of them on the schedule. It's easy to complain about that stuff in a year like this and not a year when the team is struggling and needs every W it can muster, but I would like to see more semi-interesting games soon. That Colgate game was downright boring, Wes Johnson dunks or not.

5. Orange::44: It is still very early, but do you think Wes Johnson is really a one and done?

Nunes: I have to think so. I mean, he's six games into the season and he's already projected to be a top seven lottery pick. Jonny Flynn jumped for less. Donte Greene jumped for WAY less. We're past the point of expecting these guys to stay at SU and play for free when they've got guaranteed millions staring them in the face. I think a smart Syracuse fan accepts that Wes is going pro, appreciates him for this season and what comes of it and then in the off chance that he returns for another year, we can all cream our pants in excitement.

6. Orange::44: Besides Johnson, who impresses you the most on the hardwood so far this season?

Nunes:
To be honest I've been impressed at some point by just about everybody. Andy Rautins just continues to become a better all-around player and not just a three-ball shooter. Scoop Jardine has improved leaps and bounds and Brandon Triche has proven he can come right in and lead the offense. Kris Joseph may be the forgotten guy because he gets overshadowed so much but he's really proving himself this season and setting himself up to be a leader next year. I'd like to see more rebounds come from the big men but Rick Jackson and AO have performed well otherwise.

7. Orange::44: Finally, The BCS sucks. It's no mystery. I've laid out my plan for fixing it. What is your solution?

Nunes: Obviously a playoff is the answer. I know most folks go with 8 teams but I would actually go with 6. When you think about it, anyone past the top six teams in the nation probably doesn’t deserve to play for the national title to begin with. So I would give the No. 1 and No. 2 teams a bye and then play out from there. That's five games, which could all be hosted by the BCS bowls followed by a title game. Then for everyone else you just do the usual bowl system to appease the old guard. Everybody wins.

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

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Big East Lacrosse Ready To Start

New season, new league, same awesomeness.
While Syracuse is a few months away from the start of another title defense lacrosse season, there is some news to report in the world of lacrosse. And an event that will start for the first time in the history of the sport. I’m talking about the Big East Lacrosse Conference, as well as the pre-season coaches’ poll and all-conference players for the new league.

Inside Lacrosse has released the lists for the Big East. It is impressive. Syracuse of course takes the top spot in the seven team conference. The list is as follows:

1. Syracuse
2. Notre Dame
3. Georgetown
4. Villanova
5. Rutgers
6. St. John’s
7. Providence

The traditional teams are right up there. Notre Dame and Georgetown, while Villanova made the tournament last year and is up and coming. Rutgers is also traditionally a decent college lacrosse team. Then it is St. John’s and Providence rounding up the last two slots. These are the freshest programs so it makes sense they are at the bottom. But Syracuse is far and away the favorite for the league and a stunning upset by any of the other teams on Syracuse will be a year making victory. Especially since Syracuse will start in one of the top two spots on the national rankings.

Syracuse also has six players selected as all-conference. The coaches’ have selected:
A Craig Dowd Sr. Georgetown
A Cody Jamieson Sr. Syracuse
A Stephen Keogh Jr. Syracuse
M Josh Amidon Jr. Syracuse

M Andrew Brancaccio Sr. Georgetown
M Justin Pennington Sr. Rutgers
FO Nolan Vihlen So. Villanova
SSDM Jovan Miller Jr. Syracuse
LSM Joel White Jr. Syracuse
D John Lade Jr. Syracuse

D Sam Barnes Sr. Notre Dame
D Barney Ehrmann Sr. Georgetown
G Scott Rodgers Sr. Notre Dame

Notably, Cody Jamieson who had the game winning shot from last year’s National Championship game makes an appearance. He has the chance to become a legendary player in orange, even though this will be his last season and he only played in a handful of games last year. It’s simple; get back to the National Championship. Josh Amidon will most likely be the key to a good Syracuse clearing game. He is an excellent midfielder and he will score some, but more likely will facilitate scoring and the transition game. Joel White should be even better, and he was the best long stick midfielder in the nation last season. Jovan Miller was good last year, and he should be better, but if he can find more opportunity to split dodge and get good looks, he will have far better stats this season.

Moral of the story, the team will be great, and they should have no trouble going undefeated in the league this season. The only shock might be against Notre Dame, but every other team, if Syracuse goes in ready to play, will be easy fodder for this Syracuse team. And with an automatic bid on the line, it will be interesting to see how desperate some teams get to make the 16 team tournament. Keep in mind that the top four teams will be making the Big East Tournament, and that will be hosted in the Carrier Dome. As always, stay tuned to Orange::44 for all your Syracuse and NCAA lacrosse news, as well as complete tournament and weekly coverage. We try and sometimes succeed to do it better than most.

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Otto is getting his Wes time in while he can.
It happened basically like I said it would. The folks from Hamilton couldn’t hack it with the fine, athletic players of Syracuse. They jumped to an early lead and never looked back. #7/8 rolls big time against Colgate 92 to 58.

Syracuse established good shooting early, jumping off to a 9-3 start. Then Syracuse took it to the inside game, dishing to Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku. Finally, the transition game earned some good buckets, including a ridiculous one handed slam alley-oop from Scoop Jardine to Wes Johnson. This team was rolling from the start and did not let off the gas.

Wes Johnson led the team with 19 points and nine rebounds. He was 8-10 from the floor and 3-4 from three in 23 minutes of action. He is simply spectacular, and although we have not seen him in a Big East game yet, it is quite possible that this player is a one and done. I believe this more and more as each game occurs.

Arinze Onuaku was the only other starter to earn double digits in the scoring column. He finished with 12 points on 6-7 shooting. He had some dominating post moves against the smaller and less talented Colgate. Brilliant.

While he did not score too many points, Rick Jackson had some good shots and did a lot in the zone defense. He had six points, but more importantly had eight rebounds and four blocks. Sadly he led the team with four turnovers.

Andy Rautins had a hot start, and finished 3-5 on the day with nine points, but he played very well on the floor. He racked up eight assists and four steals. He continues to be a floor leader and an example for the defense.

Brandon Triche also played pretty well. In 19 minutes of work he had nine points, three rebounds, five assists, and a block. He occasionally makes an errant or bad pass, but otherwise he plays like a veteran.

Scoop Jardine didn’t score much, but he had eight assists in 19 minutes on the floor. Similarly, Mookie Jones didn’t hit most of his shots, only going 4-9 in 17 minutes, but he finished with ten points. Finally, Kris Joseph and James Southerland each had ten points off the bench.

The team took care of the ball well in this game, as compared to other games this season, only amassing ten turnovers total. Colgate had 16. Additionally Syracuse shot the ball really well, making 39-68 from the floor, for 57.4%. They also made 11-27 from behind the arc, making 40.7%. Colgate made 36.4% and 33.3% respectively.

The sad part is this game was painful to watch. Syracuse had this game from the beginning and you just kind of felt sorry for Colgate. They were not even close to the level of Syracuse and it was just a ridiculous beatdown. Thanks for stopping by and letting us kick your ass. Thank goodness a big game versus Florida is coming next week to tide the fan base over until the conference slate starts. Either way, this is a nice win and probably the best we have seen this team play in terms of shooting.

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Hey! Football can be fun.
Finally football is done for another year. But before we can let it go, we must mull over the final game of the year. While the score indicates a blowout, it really was not as dramatic as the final indicates. However, it was occasionally brutal to watch, as several facets of the game simply failed. Connecticut beats Syracuse again at the Rentch, 56 to 31.

Offense
B+
Greg Paulus (24/32, 296yds, 2 TD, 0 INT) played an excellent game for Syracuse, keeping them in drives when he could. He still had some happy feet, but generally made good decisions. Who did not make great decisions was Ryan Nassib (7/9, 64yds, 1 TD, 0 INT). While his numbers are good for the plays that were called for him, he was not making good decisions as he was sacked several times to kill SU drives when he didn’t need to be. Who was good again was Delone Carter (20car, 102yds, 5.1avg, 1 TD) who earned another 100 yard game and finished the season with over 1,000 yards on the season. Not to be lost in Paulus’ and Carter’s games was the excellent play of Alec Lemon (9rec, 140yds, 15.6avg, 1 TD). He obviously had a career day and looked like that other WR that quit earlier in the year. Additionally Marcus Sales had a nice day with seven catches for 89 yards. Syracuse led in time of possession, first downs, and total yards. They also did well in third down conversions for the game with 6-14. The play calling was also good, save for the continued runs up the middle.

Defense
C-
Overall the defense played alright in this game, but they gave up big plays. None bigger than the end of each halves. Syracuse let UConn earn a big reception that set up a touchdown before the end of the first half, then allowed a touchdown as the clock ticked away as Randy Edsall had the game well in hand but decided to pour it on. The best rush defense in the league gave up 204 yards, and generally looked unprepared. They were simply beat on blocks, which is unacceptable. There isn’t much more to say accept that they were unable to pressure the quarterback and were manhandled up front. Not the best performance, but seeing as UConn is a slightly more talented team it wasn’t too out of the ordinary.

Special Teams
F
Syracuse could never get ahead in this game because of the massive special teams failings of this squad. It started on the first punt when Syracuse punted into the wind and gave UConn primo field position for an easy score to start their day. Then they gave up a kick return for a touchdown. Additionally Ryan LICHTENSTEIN missed a field goal. SU also failed to get good field position like they had been in previous games this year. On top of that Syracuse called for a fair catch on a punt on the four yard line. One of the stupidest moves I have seen by a special teams player in the history me watching the sport. Just an abysmal day for special teams. Again.

Coaching
B
Honestly the game plan was again just fine. The players just didn’t execute and the wind was a bitch. Not too much more to say than that. Based on the recent firings, if the rumor is true that Marrone was calling the offensive plays he’s earned my respect. Considering that the team was averaging 21 points and all of a sudden put up numbers in the 30’s is just more evidence that the right coach can make all the difference.

GPA
C (2.0)
This game ended about the way it should have. Syracuse was playing in bad weather, they have never won at Rentschler, and critical errors absolutely sunk a chance for a comeback. About half the team played well, the other half barely showed up. Considering that there were like 58 people on the team though, I guess it was about as well as they could do though. So I will take this one and wait. Wait for next year for even more improvement. It’s all we can do at this point. There could have been worse ways to end a season.

Coming next week we will have a full rap up of the season, including the final report card and final grades for the semester. For now, we have basketball and lacrosse. For now, that is enough. For now.

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