The Big East Conference started for Syracuse both away from the Carrier Dome (and sadly into New Jersey) and at home. Syracuse was able to win another Big East opener, but failed to defend their home court. I, along with Orange::44 Correspondent John Brennan even managed to squeeze in some overtime women's basketball as well. To the recaps.
12/29 @ Seton Hall
This was a game that was only won through the toughness of Syracuse. While the Orange led for the first ten minutes, Seton Hall took advantage of poor shooting and poor passing from Syracuse and earned a double digit lead. Some solid defense and good post play helped SU to tie it heading into the half though. Syracuse then fell behind for the first part of the second half, but came back through good shooting from Kris Joseph and Wes Johnson Syracuse manages to pull out this game and hold off Seton Hall for the last eight or so minutes. The end up winning over the Hall 80 to 73.
Johnson led Syracuse in scoring with 20 points on 8-16 shooting from the floor and 1-3 from downtown. He played well however he took a few questionable shots in this game that were clearly low percentage shots that dragged Syracuse down in the first half. However, what helped the most was the 19 rebounds he had that spurred us taking the lead in the second half and keep it. He also had five blocks. Overall he had a nice game.
The real hero of this game was Kris Joseph who had 16 points in this game. When no one else was hitting shots he was. He shot well, hitting 4-5 field goals and also making 8-9 free throws in the game. For a bench player, he played an ideal game.
The reason that Seton Hall was able to keep Syracuse down in this game was the 20 turnovers that the Orange committed. The Hall only committed 13. Similarly, Syracuse was outrebounded for most of the first half and part of the second. SU finished with 44, while Seton Hall had 43. Syracuse was sadly outhustled for a big portion of this game and luckily toughed it out with good shooting down the stretch to keep a decent Seton Hall team from regaining the lead late in the game.
Syracuse escaped New Jersey but would not remain undefeated for long.
1/2 v. Pittsburgh
Syracuse entered this game thinking that Pittsburgh was down and this would be an easy home win. That should have been the case had Syracuse actually shown up. Syracuse took themselves out of this game in the second half missing easy bucket after easy bucket and allowing Pittsburgh to easily penetrate the zone and get good looks close to the hoop. Sadly Syracuse had a shot to get back into it, but the referees made sure they couldn't. Syracuse lost at home 82 to 72.
Wes Johnson again led the scoring for the Orange with 19 points. He also had six rebounds and two steals. Once again when others were missing shots he consistently had the best play around the hoop. While he missed six shots from mid range and around the basket and one from behind the arc again he did play well most of the game and helped mount the attempted comeback.
Kris Joseph again had a great game off the bench with ten points and nine rebounds. In the last two games he has become the best player off the bench. Even better than Scoop. He did have 15 points off the bench as well, however he had two big turnovers in this game because of when they happened and was 6-13 from the floor.
Speaking of turnovers they honestly were not the issue in this game. Syracuse did have 14, but compared to the 20 they had in Jersey that isn't that bad. Pittsburgh even had 18 in this game, especially due to the mostly effective pressure defense SU used in the game. No, what really happened in this game was Syracuse's poor shooting from long range (1-13) and poor shooting overall. Well that and the next issue.
The referees in this game were atrocious. Karl Hess, Michael Stephens, and Bob Donato were the stripes for this affair. Bob Donato is a veteran official who you may remember from the 6 OT game in MSG. He was fair in this game and did a nice job overall. Michael Stephens was a little less unbiased in this game, as he called some questionable fouls on Syracuse, as well as some pretty blatant no-calls such as a backcourt violation. But the absolute worst was Karl Hess. It was absolutely the most biased game called I have ever seen in all of my college basketball viewing. We're talking hundreds of games. And as a former referee I am critical of terrible officiating, and this was easily the worst called game I have seen ever. Jimmy Burr had a couple terrible ones in the Florida game that were just wrong, but even he was not even close to being this terrible as Hess in this game. At least they weren't biased, just wrong. This game was full of clear bias to the point of sickening frustration. You hate to blame the referees, but literally any person that saw this game, SU fan or otherwise, could easily see that this game was horribly called. I thought you were supposed to protect the better team? I guess you have to be Duke for that kind of thing. Just the worst.
So with that SU's undefeated season comes to an end. Sadly it was not the only team's undefeated streak ending.
SU Orangewomen v. Georgetown
Yes, I still call them the Orangewomen. They were undefeated heading into their Big East slate. In case you don't know, but seeing as you are probably one of the regular readers perusing this article you probably do, Syracuse playing Georgetown in anything is big. Ant this game had a BET feel I have to say. This was my first time seeing the ladies in action and they played well. Syracuse trailed since the game was 5-4, but made a great comeback to attempt to tie the game in regulation. The big excitement came with less than two seconds left when Syracuse was fouled shooting a three. SU hit all three baskets to send the game to overtime. However, Syracuse just couldn't pull anything out with one final possession and 11 seconds to go. After a big upset win in past years, Georgetown comes away with the win over the ranked team, ending both team's undefeated streaks.
Juanita Ward was the leading starter with 17 points in the game, but clearly the best player in the game was freshman center Kayla Alexander who also had 17 points off the bench. She was 7-11 from the floor around the basket and was outstanding in the post. She also had two blocks on G'town. She to me was the best player in the game. Zero of the game was Tasha Harris who was the starting point guard and finished with 0 points and did nothing on SU's final possession but hold the ball while the time ticked down.
While the game was a nice game to see and was easily more exciting than the men's game earlier, the best part was seeing Coach Q's interactions with the referees. He was giving them an earfull, as some calls were certainly suspect in terms of charges or blocks. He was out there giving them the business one minute, and schmoozing them the next. It was easily one of the most entertaining parts of the game. And the guy can coach, which is good to see as well.
I had a chance to check out the now open Club Four-Four. Eh, it's OK. Nothing too special. Maybe it will be different when it's full and there is a game going on. Check out the photos here.
We'll be back with coverage of SU's last non-conference game of the semester when the fellas take on a reeling Memphis club in the Carrier Dome. I do feel bad for Memphis. They hire a guy who gets their Final Four vacated (another for him), then he leaves with recruits for more money and a bigger job at Kentucky. Just doesn't seem fair for Memphis. Either way we're playing them and we'll be there. Until you hear from me again enjoy some "quality" Bowl Games and stay tuned for the next Troy Nunes is an Absolute Podcast coming later this week.