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Villanova - Syracuse Preview OR GAMEDAY

Syracuse students agree: This game is the biggest of the regular season.
#4 Syracuse has #7/8 Villanova enter the Carrier Dome for College Gameday. Everyone wants it, Syracuse has got it. This is a huge match and there are a lot of implications. While Syracuse has already secured a double bye into the Big East Tournament, it would be nice to win the league in the regular season for the first time in a good long while. The winner of this game will probably, pending some unexpected events, become the Big East Champion. Villanova could possibly get back into the #1 Seed discussion with this win, or Syracuse could lock up a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament with a win against 'Nova. Syracuse has five of their seven playing athletes in double figures scoring. Meahwhile 'Nova only has three. And you know their names. Orange Killer Scottie Reynolds (19.0ppg, 3.3apg), Corey Fisher (13.8ppg, 4.0apg), and Antonio Pena (11.0ppg, 7.5rpg) are the big scoring threats. Pena is a shooter, but Reynolds is the big threat. He can win a game and absolutely destroy a team. If this game is tight as the clock expires, he will surely have the ball in his hand and almost never misses a free throw. I hate to say that the key to this game will be fouls and the referees but sadly it will be. If they call a loser game that we have seen this year, Syracuse will easily dominate the inside game and they can continually feed down low. However if Onuaku or Jackson get into foul trouble like at Georgetown, this could go a different way. Villanova likes to play a multi-guard, smaller line up and they can shoot so we need to not give Villanove uncontested shots from behind the arc. They will hit the open ones. Good defense and low post play will be key for Syracuse. If the zone is on, goodnight on Villanova early. I think this will be a close game though. The good news is there's good karma heading into this game with a huge 'Cuse Cares Telethon going on today for Haiti relief, and upon the US Olympic Hockey Team shooting around 50% from the ice in the first period, announcer Mike Emrick said "I think Jim Boeheim might take that." Everything is coming up orange right now. This is going to be an epic and fun game and if you're privileged to be joining us in the Dome enjoy every minute. It isn't everyday you go to a basketball game with over 34,000 people. Look for Syracuse to right their home court advantage in this one. Syracuse over Villanova by nine.
PS - Don't storm the floor.

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Villanova Q&A With IBBW

You're welcome for not using that weird cat here.
Syracuse plays their biggest game of the season so far with Villanova coming into a record crowd in the Carrier Dome. This game will most likely decide the regular season Big East Champion so the magnitude of this game is obvious. Therefore we bring you another question and answer session with Chris from the great Villanova blog I Bleed Blue & White. We talked to Chris last season before that tragic game in Philadelphia for the Orange. We're hoping the outcome changes this time.

1. Orange::44: Scottie Reynolds seems like he's been at Villanova forever. What kind of legacy do you see him having once he finally leaves school?

IBBW: It really depends on how this year shakes out. If we go back to the Final Four, he's in the conversation for greatest ever. If we win it all, he's absolutely the greatest to ever wear a 'Nova uniform. He's got a great shot at becoming the all-time leading scorer in school history (I think he's got it in the bag actually).

Really, he's been the rock of this program for the last 4 (okay fine, 9) years. After Ray, Foye and Lowry left there was a lot of uneasiness about what would happen to the program. His freshman/sophomores years both felt like they would be spent rebuilding, but he continually took us to the NCAA Tournament and beyond.

I think I'm in love with him.

2. Orange::44: How has your team managed to be so successful this season? Is Jay Wright doing something different or is it simply a matter of talent?

IBBW: A lot of it is just pure talent. You've got Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher, who you could argue are the top 1-2 combo in the country some nights. Pena has really stepped up his game and is filling Cunningham's role nicely, and Reggie Redding and Corey Stokes have been there too. Then you have the new guys, who have all been fabulous for freshman. Even Mouphtaou Yarou seems to finally be coming on.

Jay deserves his credit too though, as he's instilled an attitude amongst the team that 1. we're a team, not a bunch of players, and 2. your spot is not safe. That has led to a lot of the younger guys only getting 5-8 minutes a game, but they KILL themselves while they are out there. They know their role and they are good at it, because every one of them has gone through the doghouse phase it's felt like where their effort wasn't up to par.

3. Orange::44: Unlike Syracuse getting flack for LeMoyne beating them in a fake game, Villanova got beat in a real one by Temple in their home gym. Temple is a pretty good team this year, but it's still Temple. What happened?

IBBW: You son of a bitch, I knew you'd bring it up. Temple has turned into a pretty decent team this season, so it doesn't hurt as bad, and all 'Nova fans are accustomed to our one "what the hell?" OOC loss every year.

In that game, Temple (specifically Juan Fernandez) shot the friggan lights out and we couldn't shoot it in the ocean. They are a great defensive team, so I wasn't SHOCKED we didn't shoot well, but I was shocked at how they shot. That is really the story of the game. They would wind the clock down, hoist a 3, and bury it.

4. Orange::44: How will Villanova attack this revamped 2-3 Zone and do you think they will find success?

IBBW: I know you don't want to hear it, but we are one of the few teams that has consistently been able to beat your zone. I realize it is revamped, and I also realize that we don't have Dante Cunningham's automatic 12-15 footer anymore, which is a big issue.

Pena hasn't shown he can hit that foul-line jumper, but I think he's a smart enough player to do some damage in that area. And we're also going to need Corey Stokes and Taylor King to have great shooting nights. There will be stretches where we can't get it inside, so can we hit the jumpers? That's a big issue. Corey Fisher should be able to get by the top of that zone though, and he can cause havoc in the lane.

5. Orange::44: Who, besides Reynolds, will step up for Villanova and make an expected or unexpected impact on the game?

IBBW: As I just mentioned, Stokes and King will be huge. If we're going to win they need to hit some treys. Corey Fisher as well, because if he can get into the zone, he can get the bigs in foul trouble and finish as well. And lastly, Antonio Pena and Mouphtaou Yarou are going to need to deal with Jackson and Onuaku. They're a load. Pena needs help and Yarou looks like he cold be ready to play some D.

6. Orange::44: Finally, prediction time. How do you see this game playing out? Who do you see claiming the top spot in the league?

IBBW: My head says Syracuse. Playing too well right now, and The Dome is going to be insane (still pissed I'm not going). I think they'll be too much for us at their place. I can't believe we aren't playing twice this year. Seems like a crime.

But who would I be if I didn't pick my boys? Scottie adds to his legend and gets us back into the hunt for a #1 seed and gives us the inside track to the conference title. 'Nova squeaks one out 78-76.

Thanks to Chris for the time and answering the questions. The answers to his questions on his site are right here. Get your knowledge on folks.

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Lacrosse Weekly - 2/26/10

Syracuse came to play in 2010.

Syracuse began their quest for title #12, and their third in a row. While Syracuse lost a lot of firepower as they always do, my biggest concern heading into the off season was the loss of Sid Smith on the defense, and Matt Abbott who was probably the best midfield in the game last season. It was mostly the defense that was the concern though. However a lot of experts out there kept worrying about that loss on offense. Hey this is Syracuse. You don't think we have offensive powerhouses waiting to take the field? We started scoring early and often. Syracuse rolls over the Bill Tierney (6 time NCAA Champion former coach of Princeton) lead University of Denver Pioneers 15 to nine.
This game started off with a barrage of scoring. After only 41 seconds Syracuse's Jovan Miller scored. Syracuse added one more before Denver got on the board for the first time. But the Orange kept scoring in the first quarter, finishing at the end of the first with a 8-2 scoring advantage. In case you are wondering, yes eight goals in one quarter is a lot. Long and deliberate possessions in the second quarter resulted in only three goals total, putting the halftime score ten to three in favor of the hometown Orange. Syracuse started off the second half strong as well, scoring with 57 seconds off the clock. Syracuse continued to score, finishing three ahead 14 to five. They the second, third, and probably fourth string players made their way into the game and fumbled a bit as Denver scored four in the quarter, but Coach Desko got his backup players some valuable game experience.
Cody Jamieson, with his fresh donning of the #22, had a career game in the first game of his first full season. He finished with four goals and was the leading scorer for the Orange. Stephen Keogh was next with two goals, while nine other SU players added a goal in this game. Freshman JoJo Marasco had two assists, leading the category for SU. He was balsy enough to ask for #22 before the season started. Sorry kid, that number is on the best offensive player right now. Both Jovan Miller and Joel White each had six ground balls and led in the category as we got strong contributions from the midfield. The faceoff X wasn't too shabby for Syracuse either. Gavin Jenkinson was 9-13 on the day, Jeremy Thompson won 7-11, and Tim Harder was a perfect 3-3. John Galloway also had a pretty good game for the just over three quarters he was between the pipes. He finished with 11 saves and 5 goals against. At one point he left the cage pretty far, lost the ball and Denver got an easy goal. He's wondered an awful lot but that has never happened to him before. Hopefully it never happens again.
The Orange led in the shots category, taking 41 shots to Denver's 31. Syracuse picked up 41 ground balls to Denver's 26. Denver was obviously on the short end of the face off stick. They won eight to Syracuse's 19. Denver cleared the ball on 21 of 22 possessions, while Syracuse cleared the ball 24 of 29 times. Denver converted much better on extra man opportunities as well. They scored on 2-7 extra man opportunities, while Syracuse blanked on four chances. Yes Syracuse had seven penalties. The game got a little rough. Denver committed 25 turnovers, while Syracuse only 17. Finally, Syracuse had 13 total saves in goal, while Denver saved 19. The full box score can be found here.
Winning this game keeps Syracuse atop both the media and coaches polls. Syracuse received all 13 first place votes from the coaches, while getting 18 of 20 in the media poll. The University of Virginia is second in both polls. Looking around the Big East, Notre Dame jumps to #5 in the media and #3 in the coaches polls after a big win against then #3/2 Duke. Georgetown is #13/12.
Here are some other notable scores from the past week. Games in italics involve a Big East Conference member.
Friday February 19:
Manhattan 3 - Johns Hopkins 14
Saturday February 20:
Lehigh 5 - North Carolina 17
Ohio State 5 - Bucknell 11
Maryland 12 - Bellarmine 7
Delaware 11 - UMBC 10 in OT
Notre Dame 11 - Duke 7
Virginia 11 - Drexel 8
Holy Cross 8 - St. John's 9
Sunday February 21:
Denver 12 - Jacksonville 13 in OT
Rutgers 24 - Wagner 4
Tuesday February 23:
Virginia 15 - Mount Saint Mary's 7
Delaware 7 - Johns Hopkins 15
Thursday February 25:
North Carolina 11 - Navy 4
As always, the complete Inside Lacrosse scoreboard can be found here.
#1 Syracuse (1-0) will next take on Army (1-1) at 3:00pm on Sunday the 28th in the Carrier Dome. The perfect little Sunday afternoon to pair with an epic basketball tilt the night before. As a bonus, upon the conclusion of the game both Cornell and Hobart open up their seasons as Hobart have relocated their game from Geneva to the Carrier Dome. This is Cornell's first game since the National Championship last May, so coming into the Carrier Dome, even though they aren't playing Syracuse, probably won't be pleasant. But this is a good match to watch as well. It is a solid Syracuse sports weekend, and hopefully the Orange can complete the sweep. Stay tuned right here for all the lacrosse information you can handle. We're like one of the few that actually covers this stuff after all.

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Fred's offering donuts from beyond the grave
Admit it. Providence started chucking up -- and hitting -- 3's, and you thought to yourself "oh shit, this is a trap game!"
"But that's a side effect of the zone," you reassure yourself. "They'll eventually cool off." And cool off they did, as Syracuse went on a crazy 2nd half run to beat Providence 99-85 at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Tuesday night. Seems as though the Orange just can't go a game without giving its fans a scare. And I'm not sure which was scarier: giving up the huge lead to Georgetown and just barely icing it with seconds to go -- or playing significant minutes losing to the Friars while they were unconscious from beyond the arc? Either way, Syracuse was able to once again find a way to win, and their visit to the smallest state in the Union improves their record to 26-2 overall, 13-2 in the Big East, and perfect on the road.
Syracuse got off to a pretty quick start in this one, and their game plan was obvious: get the ball down low, score early, and score often. This game plan provided Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson to step up and actually have an impact on the box score. However, with PC hitting 3's like nobody's business, the Orange started freaking out. No longer could they get it inside. No longer were Rick & AO scoring with ease. No longer was Syracuse winning.
But this wasn't the time to change the game plan. This wasn't the time to change the defensive scheme. After all, we all saw what happened when Syracuse switched to man during some skirmish against a fellow school in Onondaga County that I still cannot find any official record of. Point is, the zone is vulnerable to the three. And quite frankly, if a team wants to shoot 33 three's in a game, that's fine. They won't hit them all. Providence only hit 14, for 42%. Meanwhile, even though Syracuse decided to go a stretch of the game without getting the ball inside, they decided to try to beat Providence at its own game. Syracuse put up 21 three-point attempts, connecting on 10 for a whopping 48%, Andy Rautins having 8 of those himself. But more on Andy, right after this.
A little extension of the 2-3 zone, and a little more intensity, and we started to see the Syracuse team we had expected to see. They were running up and down the floor. They were grabbing rebounds (37, including 17 from the offensive glass). They were stealing the ball (12) and blocking shots (5). They were playing Syracuse Basketball.
Leading the way for the Orange was Andy Rautins. And Rick Jackson. They each had a game high 28 points and played nearly the entire game (40 minutes for Andy, 39 for Rick). It's easy to give them each "Player of the Game" awards, and each of them were representative of why Syracuse won. While Rick represented the inside dominance of the Syracuse offense, Andy was the heart and soul of the deep ball and the active defense. Oh yeah, and there's that little matter of Andy DUNKING the ball. At the Dunk. So that was pretty nice. And that's not to take away from the rest of the actors, all of whom had decent games. AO had 12 points and 9 boards, 5 on the offensive end. Wes Johnson had 10 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals. Brandon Triche was a little quieter but still contributed 6 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals. Off the bench, Scoop Jardine had only 8 points and 4 assists, while Kris Joseph had 7 points and 8 rebounds. Decent, solid numbers from the 5, 6, and 7 spots on the depth chart, but maybe a little off from what we've been seeing.
For the Friars, Marshon Brooks and Jamaine Peterson each chipped in 23 points. My player to watch, Sharaud Curry, had a solid 11 points and 4 assists in 29 minutes of play, including 3 of 6 from outside. But it just wasn't enough.
So why did Syracuse win this game? Like a Kenyan in a marathon, they went on a huge run in the second half. That was really the needle that broke the camel's back. But more importantly, it was the adjustments Syracuse made to be able to make that run -- and the lack of adjustment from the Friars. Their game plan was to shoot threes until they were fuchsia in the face. Must be head coach Keno Davis didn't watch the Bobby Knight video that has been replayed a baker's dozen times on ESPN over the past week on "how to beat the Syracuse 2-3 zone." I mean, that video is available online on demand, meaning anytime he wanted to watch it, he could. It was right there. But, I'm not a D-1 head coach, what do I know?
This win completes a season sweep for Syracuse over the Friars, and moves the Orangemen that much closer to the outright regular season Big East title. Standing in the way, of course, is a date with destinyUSA on Saturday. Some team from Philadelphia. I hear there's a huge snowstorm coming, so maybe they won't make it. It would be a shame for 34,616 people to show up for a forfeit. But seriously, much more to come on Orange::44 leading up to the Gameday gauntlet on Saturday.
As for the t-shirt winner, big congrats goes out to Max Eckstein, who guessed Kris Joseph would play 20 minutes. He was the closest to 22 without going over. He also correctly guessed DaShonte Riley would clock in at 0 minutes, and that Syracuse would win. A big hat trick there, Max, great job! Be sure to send your information to Brian at the official Orange::44 email address above so he can mail you your prize. Remember, you won't get it before the game Saturday, unless you'll be in Syracuse and can make arrangements with Brian.
Well, unless I get crazy tomorrow and feel like posting something, I guess I'll hand the reins of the blog back over to Brian when he gets back to town. It's been fun. Look for his Lacrosse stuff later this week.

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Providence - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: this can't be a trap game
Ask a casual college basketball fan who Syracuse plays this week. Chances are, you'll get this answer: Villanova. And with Syracuse just coming out of Washington with a huge win over Georgetown, it's really easy for this game at Providence to be overlooked. But make no mistake: this is a big game for Syracuse. Not in the sense that it's necessary to secure a 1-seed in the NCAA Tourney or anything of significant importance, but more so to keep the high intensity going into that Nova game. Providence is a shell of its former self this year, somehow finding itself near the bottom of the Big East Conference, with lowly Rutgers and DePaul. Still, at 12-14 overall and 4-10 in the conference, the Friars can still steal games. And let's not forget, they beat Syracuse at the Dunk last year with both teams putting up a crapload of points.
That all said, though, I don't see this as a shootout. This should be an opportunity for Syracuse to once again show its toughness on the road, dominate on defense, and work on playing a consistent 40 minutes. If there's anything that scares me about the Orangemen, it's their inability to play 40 minutes. Sometimes they disappear at the beginning, sometimes at the middle, and sometimes at the end. Luckily they've usually found some way to win, no matter when they disappear. But I think if they make an honest effort to try to play an entire 40 minutes, that effort will pay off as we near the end of the regular season and enter conference and NCAA tournament time.
Key players to watch in this game
For Syracuse, I think it's Wes Johnson. Originally getting banged up against Providence in the Dome a few weeks ago, he hasn't truly been the same player since. He really stepped things up against the Hoyas and seems to be either on the mend or able to maintain despite the pain. I think if he has a solid game, Syracuse comes away with an easy victory.
For Providence, Jamine Peterson dominated the Groundhog Day game, so he makes an easy choice here. However, also look out for Sharaud Curry, who may be just as good for the Friars as Peterson. The Orange held him mostly in check at the Dome, and I think if that trend repeats, another Syracuse victory will follow.
Big question for the game
How will the absence of Mookie Jones affect the team? Not at all. Next question.
Who will win
Brian says Syracuse by 13. I say Syracuse by 10.
Do you want a free shirt?
Brian tells me that he has one more Beat Nova shirt looking for a nice home. If you would be interested in winning the shirt (size XL, so I'm sorry, Big John, you'll have to wear an old ragged Georgetown shirt), please leave a comment on this post with your answer to this question: How many minutes will Kris Joseph log against Providence? In keeping with Orange::44 Price Is Right style tradition, the guess that is closest without going over will win. In the event of a tie, please also list the number of minutes you believe DaShonte Riley will log against the Friars. If there's still a tie after that, stop cheating off other peoples' answers. As always, make sure you identify yourself in your post, and the winner needs to email Brian at the address at the right of the page. Please note that this shirt will not get to you in time for the Nova game itself, shipping no earlier than Friday. If you'll actually be at the game, we may be able to make arrangements for you. But otherwise, why take that chance? Go ahead and support the good people at Holy Shirt! and buy a shirt here.
To Come on Orange::44 in the Coming Days
Check back after the Providence game for my recap and shout out to the shirt winner. Brian will be back on Thursday for his first installment of the 2010 Lacrosse Weekly report. And I'm assuming we'll come up with something crazy leading up to the College Gameday matchup Saturday against Villanova.

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Georgetown Travel Recap

Many months ago when the SU Men's Basketball schedule came out, there was one date that stood out to me above all others: a February 18 matchup against Georgetown in Washington. At that precise moment, I said "I am going to that game." Not only was this a game against the most hated rival of Syracuse, but it would also happen to fall on my birthday. So I basically promised myself I would go to that game, no matter what. Luckily when I make promises to myself I always follow through with them, and so this past Thursday morning, I made that thought into a reality.
With the car all packed up and a half a tank of gas, I put the key in the ignition and turned on the car. The song playing on 80s on 8 was Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" to which I replied "Why, yes I was, 28 years ago." The trip was already off to a good start.

But it wasn't The Boss that I was itching to listen to; for most long road trips, I make a special CD. This trip would be no different. This one was called "Hoya Hater Birthday 2010" and kicked off with a special podcast recorded the night before by Brian (of Orange::44), Sean (of Nunes/Magician), and Matt (of Hoya Suxa). Because what's a better way to get into the mood to hate the Hoyas than by listening to three of the best in the business talk about it?

Soon after leaving the happy confines of Horseheads, I found myself one step closer to enemy territory, entering the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I couldn't help but think that someone with a Georgetown degree probably erected that sign. Getting deeper into Penn's Woods, I eventually found myself in Williamsport, the headquarters of Little League Baseball and the home of both a Subway and a McDonald's. This was clutch for me because I happened to have $5 in my wallet and a big appetite, along with a craving to have my first Shamrock Shake of the season. And so I had a wonderful birthday lunch consisting of a footlong Turkey & Ham, and a Shamrock Shake.

Reenergized, I continued on my way. Anyone who has ever made the trek through Pennsylvania knows that it goes on and on and on and on. So it was a very welcome sight to drive by this sign, entering Maryland. This was important for a number of reasons: I was no longer in PA; I was in an actual state; and I was almost to Washington! Oddly enough though, I was noticing that the farther south I drove, the more snow they had. Horseheads had a couple inches on the ground, but I get to Maryland and they have a couple feet!

Anyway, I eventually get into Washington, meet up with my friend Vicki, and hop on the Metro to head to the Verizon Center. For the first leg of our trip, we board the Orange Line. Unfortunately we have to transfer, but who do we bump into waiting for our next train at the transfer? The Congressional representative for Syracuse, Mr. Dan Maffei! And to his credit, he was wearing an orange tie and was also en route to the Verizon Center. Upon leaving the Metro, we walk to Clyde's, a bar next to the Verizon Center where the DC Alumni Club is having a pregame party. At the time I tweeted that there were ten thousand Cuse fans there. That may have been an exaggeration, but not by much. The entire place (huge, by the way), was completely packed with Cuse fans. And nearly everyone's wearing orange. And getting liquored up. It was certainly a great atmosphere to be in, especially when you're moments away from entering hostile territory against your most hated enemy. Strength in numbers always helps, which is why I was so happy to see the Clyde's crowd spill into the Verizon Center and virtually take over the place.

By the time we got into the concourse it was only a couple minutes until tip, so I made the executive decision to go right to my seat and wait until the under-16 timeout to get food and beer. On the way to my seat I hear a "Hey John" from behind me. I turn around to see Raymond, who I first met in New Orleans in 2003. More on this later. Anyway, I won't bore you with details of the game, but Syracuse got off to a hot start. There would be no spotting the Hoyas 14 points this go-around. At the first media timeout, I was back out to the concourse where I purchased a chicken sandwich and a Bud Light. 24oz. for $7.50. And I thought for about 30 seconds whether that was a better or worse deal than at the Carrier Dome. Then I figured out that 16oz. for $5 is the same. Though in the long run I gotta give the edge to the Verizon Center, since you can buy more beer at once.
Between eating, drinking, and watching the game, I was not really into twitter as much as I usually am. But during a timeout near the end of the first half, I noticed that Brian tweeted about Erin Andrews being there. A quick scan of the arena and BOOM I'm able to spot her, standing with the cheerleaders (of course). Erin Andrews, it seems, is stalking me on my birthday. Because back in 2006 when College Gameday came to the Dome, that also happened to fall on my birthday, and I was lucky enough to get a picture with her. I had approached her that day with a "It's my birthday today, can I have my picture with you?" She replied "You don't have to lie to get a picture." I offered to show her my license, but I think she was in a hurry and just wanted to pose. So, that was 4 years ago. Now it's 2010 and she's back. She kept her distance this time, though. At least, as far as I know.

So at halftime, Syracuse is up on the Hoyas 44-31. Just dominating the game. I like the position Syracuse has put itself in. Satisfied for the moment, I go get some more magic juice for the second half, and start having thoughts of how -- and when -- Syracuse would ruin the good thing they had going. I was never really able to pinpoint a how or a when, but I knew it would happen. And it did. Luckily thanks to Andy Rautins, the Orangemen never relinquished the lead they had since the opening tip. But I think all of Orange Nation inside the Verizon Center was standing and cheering the last 2 minutes of the game. And I'm sure a lot of the "Let's Go Orange!" chants were audible on TV. Just a great atmosphere to be in under those circumstances. Syracuse got to 75 points and I celebrated a fake Taco Time, and a few seconds later, celebrated a real victory over the Hoyas! I think we all just stood there and soaked it in: that Syracuse had beaten Georgetown in its own home, and had completed the season sweep! Clearly, it was time to go celebrate with some more adult beverages.

So we made our way to a bar near the Verizon Center, RFD. Lots of TVs including a bar upstairs. And virtually a sea of orange! I'm pretty sure all the Hoya fans went directly home after the game. So we're in there having a good time, and who to I run into again? Raymond. So how do I know him? Well, long story short, my first night in New Orleans for the Final Four in 2003 I get separated from my friends on Bourbon Street, and try to walk back to my hotel by myself. Let's just say I don't have all my wits about me, I get lost, and I get in a fight with some bushes. Well, Raymond and a friend of his happen to find me, are able to elicit important information from me (i.e. the hotel I'm staying at) and they help me walk there. It helped that they were staying at the same hotel. Evidently the whole walk home I kept saying "I just wanna go to my room!" I ran into him on Bourbon Street the next night, he filled in some gaps from the night before, and wanted me to say it again, "I just wanna go to my room!" From then on, I have run into Raymond in a number of places randomly, and he always puts in the request for me to say it. So anyway, back to the bar. We exchange pleasantries, he buys me a shot, and I continue with my evening. I met up with some other Syracuse friends and continued to enjoy the night.

The next day, I completed the governmental hat trick, visiting the White House, the Supreme Court, and the Capitol. I highly recommend doing all three. Just in case you've got a Georgetown education, here are photos of what each of the three buildings look like:
The rest of the weekend consisted of an Olympics Party that had an ice luge (I represented Ireland) and my totally not exciting ride home. This was a great weekend for me, and a great weekend to be a member of Orange Nation. One thing is clear about this basketball team: they win all their games in places not called the Carrier Dome. And they win most of the games there. They find a way to win games. Sure, it's cliche, but it's true. And that's what you want in a basketball team. A team that puts numbers in the W column. All in all, a wonderful trip on a wonderful weekend. One could even call it tremendously tremendous. I recommend you all attend a Syracuse/GTown game in Washington sometime in your life.

Now, hopefully I'll have a reason over the next several weeks to travel to other places besides Syracuse to watch them play basketball...

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Somewhere Pete Fenson Is Crying

Come for the basketball analysis, stay for the curling.
If you're following me on Twitter (@BH_Orange44) you know I love many things. One of which happens to be Olympic Curling. Why do I enjoy this? Who knows. It is awesome however. I genuinely think it's cool because it is a sport you could play for gold medals or play with a beer in your hand. I first remember watching curling during the 2002 Olympics in Orange::44 Correspondent John Brennan's dorm room in DellPlain Hall my freshman year at Syracuse University, and I've loved it ever sinse. Coincidentally enough, also my first time drinking a Sam Adams, but that's another story. Either way, I've loved curling every time they are televised. Interesting as well, this notebook actually has a history of covering curling in the Olympics thanks to founder Matt Glaude, now of Hoya Suxa, and friend of the blog Dave Pearson. Therefore, although we have already seen the United States play five games thus far, it is time to fill you in on what's going on north of the border.
The favorites in this game were Great Britain to take the gold, Canada to take the silver, and Norway to take home the bronze medal. Things have shaken out differently as teams have already played four or five games and the standings are interesting:
1. Canada (5-0)
2 Norway (4-1)
3. Sweden (3-1)
4. Switzerland (3-2)
5. Great Britain (2-2)
6. Germany (2-3)
7. China (1-3)
7. France (1-3)
9. Denmark (1-4)
9. United States (1-4)
As you can see, Canada is playing well on the home ice, while Great Britain has fallen on some hard times. But none as hard as the United States, who started the games going 0-4 on four missed game winning shots in three extra end games by their Skip John Shuster. Shuster has become a pop culture phenomenon as of late because of his less than stellar curling. The internets are a cruel mistress and when it comes to the combination of national pride and unmitigated failure, the mixture is quite deadly. People had a good time changing his Wikipedia page, "Shuster" became a verb, and #Shustered made it's way around twitter to describe someone falling short or something that failed. If only John was doing better he'd still be fancy free like in this video from The Colbert Report below.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Skate Expectations - Curling Team Tryouts - Colbert vs. Shuster
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorSkate Expectations

Sadly for Shuster, before yesterday's match versus France in favor of alternate Chris Plys. USA subsequently won that match 4-3 by stealing a point in the 10th and final end. The reason was the bad performance of the US team in their first four games. Jason Smith, the Vice Skip, has been shooting brilliantly in the entire games and has taken to being the forth shooter and it paid off for the US against France.

The US Results so far are as follows:

Game 1: US* 5 v. Germany 7
Game 2: US* 5 v. Norway 6 (11 ends)
Game 3: US 6 v. Switzerland* 7 (11 ends)
Game 4: Denmark* 7 v. US 6 (11 ends)
Game 5: France* 3 v. US 4

And now we break down the levels of competition based on what we've seen so far into chances of making the medal rounds and talent:

Elite (Are in for the long haul. Will drink with you all night and end up at the diner stealing your bacon. Canadian bacon.)
Canada, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland
These teams are sitting pretty right now, as they are in the top four and are curling really well. Canada is on their home ice, Norway looks good, Sweden is just happy to be there, and Switzerland is indifferent. These teams are in control of their own destiny.
Game to watch for: Canada v. Great Britain Sunday Feb. 21 at 10:00pm EST.

Alright (Good for most of the night. They will drink for a while but will disappear without saying goodbye because their lady friend texted.)
Great Britain, Germany
Germany played a brilliant game against the US, and Great Britain is comprised of players from Scotland, the birthplace of the game, but have just come up short. These teams could get hot but are definitely on the bubble.
Game to watch for: Germany v. Great Britain Monday Feb. 22 at 10:00pm EST.

Not Good (Leaving early. Won't drink the shots you bought them and will sip the same beer for an hour while you plow ahead.)
China, France, Denmark, United States
The US has really had a disappointing route, losing three of their four games by simply missing routine or simple shots. China is relatively new at the sport, Denmark doesn't have cool pants and their only win was against a US team that failed to hit a final shot. France sucks at most things. These teams will really have to hope for the teams at the top to start sucking for them to even remotely have a chance.
Game to watch: The remaining US games.
Feb. 20 12:00pm EST v. Sweden
Feb. 21 5:00pm EST v. Great Britain
Feb. 22 12:00pm v. Canada
Feb. 23 10:00pm EST v. China

The ladies are not doing much better at 1-3, but they have a chance to move up more than the men do. Either way, it's exciting stuff. Enjoy the curling tweets, catch the curling fever (not an STD), and if you fancy, you too can own the lucky Norway curling pants, you can purchase them right here.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled SU sports analysis. For now. Lacrosse Weekly starts up soon. In the meanwhile, I was on Matt Mc's Sports Fix yesterday talking about the Georgetown game, so go here and download the podcast, or just click here.

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Syracuse - Georgetown Postgame Reactions OR SU Sweeps!

You know I'm the best at 5 Good Minutes Tony.

Syracuse loves the drama. That and the fact that it is Syracuse versus Georgetown, and no game comes easy in this rivalry. Well, it could be that the referees bet the point spread or that ESPN needed the ratings. Na, it just has to be the fact that Syracuse and Georgetown play in the Big East. Either way, this game was exciting, dramatic, entertaining, and occasionally frustrating as hell for both sides. Syracuse ends up winning this one though, 75 to 71, completing the season sweep of the Hoyas over Georgetown, and winning for the first time at Georgetown since 2004.

This game started off the exact opposite as the game in the Carrier Dome did earlier this season. Syracuse jumped out to an early 13 to 2 lead. Syracuse simply dominated the first half, causing several Georgetown turnovers and shooting the ball very well. While Georgetown came to bring it down to just a four point lead in the middle of the first half, Andy Rautins was definitely hot and SU finished up 44 to 31 at the half. Georgetown was facing the best half of defense Syracuse was playing all year. In the second half Syracuse missed a lot of easy shots and their shooting percentage fell from 54% to below 30%. Rick Jackson even missed a dunk at one point. Joseph was shooting poorly as well. Georgetown suddenly started getting the ball inside to Monroe and subsequently both Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku fouled out due to getting some quick whistles in the first half. Monroe simply dominated the smaller Syracuse inside the zone. It was very active in the first half, but the team was tired in the second half allowing Monroe to get more looks and easy baskets. Syracuse managed to hit a lot of free throws in this game however, and Kris Joseph made a brilliant basket going straight through the lane as time winded down, as Syracuse ended up pulling out a big win over #10 Georgetown in DC.
Andy Rautins played his best game of the year as well. He was simply brilliant in this game, especially in the first half. He earned 26 points on 6-11 shooting, 5-9 on three point baskets, and hit 9-11 from the free throw line, including two at the end of the game to give Syracuse a four point lead, putting the game out of Georgetown's reach. He also pulled down seven rebounds in this game, and picked up a technical foul for doing not much of anything.

Wes Johnson had 16 points on a terrible shooting night. While he did hit 2-4 from behind the arc, he went 3-8 from the floor. He was a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line though. He also had eight rebounds. His big contribution to the game however was his wing defense and his five blocks on Georgetown in the first half. He still did not take over this game on offense, although he appeared to be 100% healthy in his shooting mechanics.

Kris Joseph had the play of the night in SU's final play from the floor. With 25 seconds left and only a one point lead, the play was drawn up for Joseph. The floor was spread, Joseph attacked the basket down the lane, split two defenders, and nailed the lay up. Rautins then later sealed the deal, but this game could have ended up totally different had Joseph not made that final basket. He finished with 11 points despite having a terrible day on the floor shooting 3-11.

The SU big men did not have a great day, but did do their part on defense in the first half. Rick Jackson had 12 points and eight rebounds on 4-7 shooting in 29 minutes. Arinze Onuaku on the other hand had two points on 1-3 shooting and only two rebounds. Both men fouled out in the second half with significant minutes to play. Both men should not have had so many fouls in the first half. I will add however that the foul that sent Rick Jackson to the bench was a completely legitimate blocking foul, despite what all of Twitter seemed to think. He shuffled his feat and banged the G'town player, despite being straight up and down.

Speaking of the referees, it is possible we are playing more attention based on all this referee talk and the Higgins article as of late, but they were not great in this game, especially in the first half. They were calling very insignificant touch fouls and body contact that should never be called, especially in the Big East. The days of calling fouls in one league one way and a different league another are gone, but there were still problems in this game. It seemed that the referees wanted to set the tone early that this game is not going to get too physical or out of hand. While this is not necessarily a bad strategy for refereeing as referees at every level do this, it was absolute overkill and there was no indication that the game was in fact getting to physical or chippy. This strategy resulted in a double technical foul being called on Andy Rautins and Chris Wright after right fouled Rautins hard at the top of the key. We obviously don't know what was said, but James Breeding made a completely unnecessary call.

Looking at the game, Syracuse outperformed Georgetown on the offensive end. Syracuse only shot 44.4% (20-45) in this game, but Georgetown did worse with 38.5% (25-65). Additionally, hitting 8-15 (53.3%) from beyond the arc always helps as well. Georgetown only manged 5-20 (25%). Syracuse had excellent perimeter defense in the first half, but missed a lot of open looks in the second. In the shocking statistic of the season, Syracuse shot 90% (27-30) from the free throw line in this game. Their hitting of shots from the charity stripe, and better than they have done all season, was a huge factor in keeping the lead against Georgetown. Georgetown only hit 16-24 (66.7%). Unfortunately, Syracuse had 18 turnovers in this game, while Georgetown limited their turnovers only to 10, most of which happened in the first half. Syracuse was also out rebounded by one with 30, but had two more assists with 12.

Syracuse performed a virtually perfect half to start this game on both ends of the floor, but then shot poorly in the second half and got both tired on defense in the second half, but had both their big men unavailable for a good portion of the stretch, resulting in a furious Georgetown comeback that almost turned into a Syracuse loss. But it was not to be. Syracuse hit their free throws and made big plays when they had to as well. It also helped that Georgetown took unnecessary three point shots instead of feeding their big man inside at the very end. Syracuse walks away with another win versus a ranked team and a season sweep of Georgetown. Syracuse may not appear to be invincible anymore, but when you keep winning who cares.

Finally, the big winners in the latest t-shirt contest were Ben and MCamps Mike T. You folks need to e-mail me at the e-mail on the sidebar to claim your prize. Congratulations to them and look for more chances to win in the future.

And one more thing...

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Syracuse - Georgetown Preview OR Georgetown Still Sucks

Matt Glaude doing what he does.
#5 Syracuse looks to rebound from only its second loss of the season against Louisville. But the thing is, Georgetown, a top 25 team mind you, went into Rutgers the same day and lost to them. Yes, that Rutgers. Coached by Fred Hill. I know right? After that stellar effort, Georgetown only averages 73.8ppg, while offensively stagnant Syracuse is averaging 80.8ppg. Syracuse has four scorers still averaging in double figures, while Georgetown only has three. When Chris Wright (14.2ppg, 3.9apg) averages in double figures this season Georgetown is undefeated. But he only had seven against SU in the Dome. Austin Freeman (16.8ppg, 3.6rpg) had 23 against Syracuse. However, despite the fact that Andy Rautins has been cold as of late, he's averaging over 15 points on the road, and Syracuse is undefeated in games played outside of Syracuse, NY. While this game should be tight for most of it, I do think Syracuse pulls this one out. Look for Syracuse to win over the Hoyas and sweep the season by 7.
Be sure to enter the latest shirt contest for a chance to win a Beat 'Nova shirt here. I'm still in the home office, but Orange::44 Correspondent John Brennan (@JBren) will bein the Verizon Center so look for good stuff from him on his Twitter and on this site later. Coincidentally it is also his birthday today as well. Happy birthday to him and here's hoping that SU can deliver on another birthday present.

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Still Want A T-Shirt?

These shirts are just what you need and you know it.
I've got a couple more shirts to give away. So therefore you can win yourself one of this nice Beat 'Nova shirts from the good folks at Holy Shirt!. All you have to do is guess the combined point total of Syracuse and Georgetown for tonight's game. The winner will be the closest without going over. As a tiebreak, tell me also how many points Wes Johnson will score, and how many rebounds Arinze Onuaku will have. The closest will win the tiebreaker. Just leave a comment on this page, with some sort of moniker so you can be identified. Winners will be announced in my Georgetown postgame article. Once again, you are leaving three total numbers with your name or some sort of distinguishing handle. All picks have to be in by tip off. Good luck and Go Orange! My preview for the Georgetown game will be out early afternoon today. Past winners are ineligible and I'll be shipping you your shirts very soon. You could also just buy a shirt here.

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Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Podcast 6.0

Need some Georgetown Audio Hate? Done.
It was time for Sean from Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician and I to record yet another podcast. But we needed something extra special because today Syracuse takes on Georgetown in Washington. Therefore we invited Matt Glaude from Hoya Suxa, the definitive hater of all things Hoya and the founder of this exact notebook, to join us. We talk about such things as crazy internet videos starring Matt, exactly how crafty Fred Hill is, how terrible of a place Storrs, CT is, who will win the game tonight, and even some Olympic Curling talk! It's almost 40 minutes of audio gold well worth your time and perfect to prime you for the game or indiscriminate hate of Georgetown. Something we can all get behind. You can download this show, or any of our past podcasts here, on iTunes, or just listen below. Enjoy and thanks to Matt and Sean as always!

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Anytime you want to take over a game again feel free.

Well we knew this would happen sometime, we just did not expect it to be against Louisville and Rick Pitino. Syracuse fell on Valentine's Day in front of the biggest crowd in college basketball of the season. It was disappointing but unfortunately not that surprising. Syracuse falls to the Cardinals 66 to 60.
Syracuse started the game well, and for most of the first half was out in front of the Cards. But then the 'Ville would get on a run of their own and catch up. This back and forth keep happening until Louisville took the lead in the half, but Syracuse closed out the half up by one. Syracuse was up by 11 at one point. But Louisville made good use of their possessions and, most importantly, hit big threes. Syracuse got down and made a good effort to get back into the game, but missing shots, poor rebounding down the stretch, and a suspicious intentional foul call, ended the comeback. Syracuse ended up losing by four before a cherry picking dunk as time expired. They finished down by six to lose to Louisville for the fifth time in as many tries. Balls.
Wes Johnson was the leading scorer for the Orange. He finished with 14 points, but it is a bit deceiving because he shot 5-20 on the day. He injured his thumb in the UConn game so it was unclear if this played a part in the 25% success rate, but either way this was not the performance Syracuse needed to have against a Big East team. He added eight rebounds to tie the team's high.
Both Arinze Onuaku and Andy Rautins added 12 points. AO did it on 6-8 shooting, while Rautins did it on 4-8 and 3-7 from behind the arc. Andy nailed one of them from deep in transition that was brilliant down the stretch, but failed to get a chance to take a shot when it mattered. Onuaku overall was really good from the post in this game but he continues to have trouble securing the ball if he gets swarmed in the paint. Onuaku also added seven rebounds.
Mookie Jones actually made his way into this game for three minutes. He did not get any points and missed the one shot he took. His defense was not good in this game. For those people that think he should be playing you either do not understand the dynamics of this team and Jim Boeheim's coaching, or you just do not have any basketball IQ.
Syracuse shot the ball under 50% in this game, actually being outscored in this game. They shot 41.4% (24-58), while Louisville shot slightly better at 42.9% (24-56). Syracuse actually outrebounded Louisville in this game 34 to 32 but they couldn't buy a rebound when it mattered most as 'Ville pulled them down off of missed free throws and on the offensive glass, resulting in points for them.
You simply have to give credit to Louisville. They played better defense, had better rhythm on offense, and generally had every bounce go their way. Timmy Higgins also made sure Syracuse did not have a chance to come back after calling an intentional foul. But let me be totally clear, Syracuse lost this game by how they played, not from anything Tim Higgins did. Syracuse lost. We all move on. 24 and 2 is nothing to be ashamed of. There is no need to complain about this and that after the loss like we are 2-24. We aren't. This is still a good team and this was hopefully the wake up this team needed. Until next time... at Georgetown.

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Louisville - Syracuse V-Day Preview

Syracuse students agree: Rick's getting no love from the crowd.
After a brief scare against rival UConn, Syracuse looks to a rematch of the 2009 Big East Tournament Championship. Syracuse lost that game, along with their one regular season meeting in the Carrier Dome last season. In each game, Syracuse lost by ten. Not so bad considering that L'ville was a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament that won both the regular season and the BET. But hard times have fallen on The 'Ville as most of their talent departed for the next level. They do have two solid players still though in forward Samardo Samuels (15.8ppg, 7.4rpg) and guard Edgar Sosa (13ppg, 4.1apg). But L'ville can't hit the three ball like they could last year. They only average 32.9% from behind the arc. Additionally they don't have as many weapons inside as last year. This team is 2-6 on the road and, even more tellingly dismal, only 1-6 against the RPI top 50. They are also coming off an absolute drubbing at the hands of St. John's in New York 74-55. Right now I think Louisville is out of the NCAA Tournament. They have a great opportunity to get back in with two games against Syracuse, Georgetown, Connecticut, and Marquette. But the way they have been playing this year, they haven't demonstrated they can win most if not any of those games. Valentine's Day should be no different than at St. John's. While Syracuse occasionally struggles in the half court offense, the same can be said for Louisville and that will only be magnified in the 2-3 Zone. Coupled with the marginal three point shooting of L'ville and this makes for what would look like an easy road for SU in this one. And beating Pitino after the summer he's had wouldn't be bad either. Syracuse over L'ville by 16.

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About Those New Unis...

Syracuse's new uniform, ladies and gentlemen.
So we heard the rumors, and it ended up to be the case that Syracuse, much like Duke, Texas and Michigan State. Wednesday night against Connecticut, both teams had the brand new uniforms from Nike. Enjoy this promotional video that explains the new features and the design on the back in the venting system.

So now to my opinion. Frankly I like these uniforms overall. They aren't that different from the last set of uniforms really. If anything, especially on the orange jerseys, they improved them by removing the grey accents on the shoulders. Basically they are just lighter and more breathable versions of what we already have. Seriously though, can we stop having so much grey? Orange, navy, and white should be all that we ever have on a uniform. A nice navy number outlined in white would be perfect on these jerseys. Other than that, I'm sold enough. What do you think?

UPDATE: To Illustrate my point, what do you think of this?

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The Matter of Connecticut vs. Syracuse

Don't piss on my leg and tell me UConn's a good team!
Byrd: The courtroom will come to order! The Court calls the case number 25-09-10, The Timeout: Connecticut versus Syracuse. Parties may come forward. Parties have been sworn. You may be seated.
The Court: I've read the complaint and I've read the answer. So Connecticut, you believe that you got robbed by the officials allowing Syracuse to call a time out?
UConn: That's correct your honor. You see, the official didn't grant the timeout until after the player had entered the lane and shot the layup. By the time the timeout was granted, we had already grabbed the rebound.
The Court: I've seen the video, UConn. It's not so cut and dry as you think it is. Why didn't you just play better than Syracuse?
UConn: Well, we were down by 16--
Syracuse: Well Andy Rautins was in foul trouble because the officials had it out for him!
The Court: Hey hey hey did I tell you to speak? No? Well then keep your mouth shut! You'll get your turn!
UConn: Thank you, your honor. As I was saying, we were down by 16 and we fought back and we persevered. All without our Hall of Fame head coach. Pretty impressive, I think.
The Court: Well wasn't Syracuse down by 14 against Georgetown a couple weeks ago? They didn't quit when they tied it up. They kept on going.
Syracuse: And we had to deal with crappy officiating in that case!
The Court: Why do you keep interrupting?!? You're winning this case!
Syracuse: I'm sorry, Your Honor.
UConn: What I'm trying to say is that the timeout changed the character of the game. Instead of being tied with 35 seconds left and us having the ball, Syracuse was given the ball and the opportunity to go ahead.
The Court: Yeah, and according to the answer filed by Syracuse here, Wes Johnson was fouled on the inbound after the timeout. Syracuse?
Syracuse: That's correct, Your Honor. Some very clear jersey grabbing going on there. They very well could have played it clean on the inbound and given us each a fair chance at winning the game. The score was still tied at that point.
The Court: Wow, Byrd, you ever seen anything like this before?
Byrd: No, Your Honor. Never. That's a pretty outrageous position to take by Connecticut, I think.
The Court: Look, you people. Byrd's been with me since the beginning. He knows bullshit when he sees it. Like a judge in a court of law, these officials did the best they could to keep fairness and order. They allowed the timeout. They called ticky-tack fouls but didn't call hard fouls. This was a typical Big East game. Each team had ample opportunity to step it up and shut it down. I find this suit without any merit. Judgment for the defendant, Connecticut's suit is dismissed.
Byrd: Parties are excused, you may step out.

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An old picture, but a good one.
Just great. It hasn't been but a few hours and UConn fans are already complaining about that time out call that John Cahill gave to the Orange. Yes, I'll get to it. And as a former referee it will be an explanation that makes sense. But overall you have to be happy that Syracuse won this game. Yes it wasn't exactly a blowout, nor was it an outstanding offensive effort, but it was a solid win in the Big East against a rival. And when you play a rival the little numbers next to the name do not matter.
Syracuse started this game steady with UConn hanging around. Syracuse got a ten point lead in the first half, but Connecticut chipped away at it until it was down to five when Syracuse had the last possession. Scoop Jardine then made an asinine shot that rolled on the top of the backboard and in. Syracuse was up by seven at the half with huge momentum going into the locker room. Syracuse then came out on fire and expanded their lead to 16 points by the middle of the second half. Through good penetration of the zone by Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson and them hitting jump shots Connecticut came back. Additionally, the best statistical defense in the league from Connecticut showed itself as Connecticut got on a run and Syracuse found themselves in a drought. However Syracuse managed to hit all of their free throws down the stretch and Dyson missed a big three with less than 15 seconds left that Kris Joseph rebounded and was fouled on, putting this game firmly out of UConn's reach. An intentional foul called on inexperienced Ater Majok certainly helped as well. Syracuse beat a scrappy UConn team in desperation mode 72 to 67. This time in regulation.

Rick Jackson was the leading scorer for the 'Cuse. He had some nifty moves in the post including some scoop shots when Gavin Edwards was defending him well. Jackson earned 15 points on 6-10 from the floor and 3-5 from the free throw line. He also pulled down seven rebounds and had three blocks. He was the player of the game without really making it obvious.

What was obvious was again the key play of Kris Joseph off the bench. He had 14 points on only 4-11 shooting, but he was a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. The free throws were key as somehow no team has figured out the old "home run ball" inbound play.

Wes Johnson had a decent game overall with 13 points and nine rebounds, but it was really the rebounding that was good in this game as his offense was not in prime form. He was 4-12 from the field. The nine rebounds tie for a team lead with Arinze Onuaku, who also added seven points in only 21 minutes of action. He did however have a game high six blocks from the floor. That is four more blocks in the game than conference leading blocker Gavin Edwards. Syracuse led in blocks with 12, while Connecticut, a team that has dominated the conference in blocks the last several years, had three. Syracuse also surprisingly led in rebounding by one with 38.

Andy Rautins and Scoop Jardine distributed the ball well in this game. They each had five assists for Syracuse, while Rautins added eight and Jardine added seven points. Syracuse finished with 17 assists versus UConn's 13. Rautins and Jardine also combined for only five turnovers. Syracuse finished with 20, which was part of the reason UConn almost won this game and came back from a big deficit. Connecticut had 15, while also earning 13 steals.

Syracuse shot their lowest field goal percentage of the season with 42.6% (23-54) from the floor. It does make sense as the league's best defense started shutting down Syracuse in the second half. They did shoot better than Connecticut however, probably putting Syracuse head of UConn in field goal defense. They shot 38.8% (26-67) from the floor. It was basically a wash in three point baskets however. Syracuse was 3-13 (23.1%), while UConn got 4-16(25%). Syracuse really shot their free throws well in this one however, far better than against Cincinnati. They made 23-28 (82.1%), while Connecticut made only 11-17 (64.7%).

Now onto the controversy. The applicable NCAA rules are as follows: Rule 5, Section 10, Art. 4 states: “The game clock and shot clock, if running, shall be stopped when an official grants a coach’s or player’s visual or oral request for a time out." Rule 5, Section 12, Art. 1 adds: “No timeouts shall be granted unless there is a player control by the requesting team." Also Rule 5, Section 13, Art. 1 says: “A timeout shall be granted and charged after a player or head coach makes a visual or oral request and when a player of that team is in control of the ball." In summary, it basically says that if the clock is moving the official stops it by granting a time out if a coach or player verbally or physically signals for one and that the team calling the time out has to possess the ball. Simple stuff that any college basketball fan is probably aware of. After studying the tape (because in person I had no clue how a timeout was called) it clearly shows that Jim Boeheim signals for a time out when the ball is possessed by Jardine before making his move to the basket in the lane. Referee John Cahill then signals for the time out to be granted, however this was after Jardine made the move to the basketball and subsequently lost the ball. This is irrelevant however if Boeheim signaled for the time out and Cahill grants it, be it when Jardine actually had the ball or not. It is very similar to the situation in football that happens quite frequently when a coach on a sideline calls a time out before the snap, but because the referee has to signal and run in to stop the play, sometimes the other team snaps the ball first. The time out is still valid and that time is then put back on the clock. The exact same thing happened here. Cahill and the other referees looked at the tape, determined when Boeheim actually called the time out, and adjusted the time accordingly. Despite the fact that Cahill was, for one reason or another, delayed in actually granting the time out, he still knew that Boeheim had called it when Jardine possessed the ball, making it a valid time out, and further supporting this by adding the time back on the clock. Additionally, if you notice in watching the tape, Cahill waves his arms in the "no shot" motion. Meaning that the time out was called before the ball left his hand and before his "shot" at the hoop. Hopefully this should put your mind at ease because despite all of that, UConn would have lost anyway. Jerome Dyson missed a three pointer that Kris Joseph rebounded and was subsequently fouled. Additionally, the inexperienced Majok caused an intentional foul by shoving rather than making it look like he was trying to strip the ball. Syracuse would have won either way, but the time out was also proper.

Despite how tight this was at the end this was another win for Syracuse, making it even sweeter that it was over rival UConn. Sadly Jim Calhoun wasn't there, but I guess you cannot have everything in life. Syracuse will take this one, streak alive, home court defended, and look to do the same as Louisville comes to town on Valentine's Day. Hopefully next time however, they do not squander a big lead, giving me unnecessary stress at the end of another big game. Despite the fact that UConn is floundering this year does not mean I want to dismantle them any less. I can never stand losing to Connecticut.

As for our little t-shirt contest, the teams combined for a total score of 139 points. Guesser "Mike" hit this perfectly on the head. Then there were two guesses of 138, however one guessed closer to Andy Rautins point total, therefore our second and final winner of this round is "OrangemenNotOrange". Would you too kindly e-mail me via the address on the sidebar to claim your prize. Sizes will be granted based on first come, first serve. Congratulations to the winners! If you didn't win this round, don't fret. We'll have another set of shirts to give away next week.

PS - Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker are slightly underrated. Stanley Robinson is probably correctly rated. Gavin Edwards... substantially overrated.

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Connecticut - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Connecticut is unranked and underachieving.
These two teams are teams moving in opposite directions from where they started. Connecticut started the season ranked #12 and now find themselves under .500 in the league, unranked, and in the bottom half of the standings. Syracuse is now #2/3 after starting unranked in one poll and barely in the other, they are atop the Big East standings, have a 10 win streak going, and have only lost one game. Syracuse leads the nation in field goal percentage as well. Both teams however, are very good defensively. UConn just outranked Syracuse in field goal % defense by a tenth of a percentage for best in the league at 38.2%. Connecticut in the last few years have been known for their stingy defense, shot blocking, and rebounding. But they lost their main weapon last year to the NBA, so now they rely on a freshman, Alex Oriakhi, for the rebounding and a bench player in Gavin Edwards for the shot blocking. Connecticut's top scorer is Jerone Dyson (19.0ppg, 4.6apg), who was sidelined the second half of the year after tearing his knee up against Syracuse in Gampel last season. Obviously Stanley Robinson (16.2ppg, 7.6rpg) and Kemba Walker (13.3ppg, 5.9apg) have been good for Connecticut as well. This team has talented players but always seem to come up short when truly tested. They are 1-4 when facing ranked opponents this season, and that one win coming at home against fake #1 Texas. We know how great they have been lately. They have lost to Pitt at home, lost to Marquette at home, and lost to Michigan at Michigan. MICHIGAN! They also lost to a Providence team that Syracuse dismantled by 17 points, mostly without Wes Johnson. The signs do not look good for a UConn upset tonight. Not to mention the fact that they are again without Jim Calhoun on the sideline as he did not make the trip from the Constitution State. This team has not won a game on the road in the Big East Conference all season. They also didn't win on neutral floors against teams that are ranked lower than Syracuse. Looking at you Duke. But as I famously say during these previews for rivalry games, the rankings be damned. Anything can happen in a rivalry game if UConn and Syracuse come to play. Arinze Onuaku faced consistent double teams at Cincy and he still managed 11 points. Both he and Rick Jackson will need to be consistent scorers around the basket tonight and not get a cold streak or become too tired. If Syracuse fails to have a consistent inside scoring threat, and Wes Johnson remains limited, we will be in trouble. Syracuse will also have to play excellent defense and prevent the easy transition buckets Robinson loves to get. Some continued good shooting from Kris Joseph is likely, but Andy Rautins will need to contribute some as well. He doesn't need to hit seven or eight treys, but it certainly wouldn't hurt that he hits a few. Additionally, poise on the free throw line will be necessary, as you know Dyson will hit his. Syracuse had seven turnovers against Cincy, and a steady hand is again likely and necessary. Kemba Walker has been a turnover machine as of late and that should only help Syracuse in transition from the top of the zone. This one will again be close in the first half, enticing fans to stick around, but this one should be Syracuse putting the game away past the halfway point of the second half. Look for Syracuse to keep that streak alive and grind the heel into the throat of an already reeling Connecticut team that is looking more and more NIT bound by the week. Syracuse over Connecticut by 14.
Don't forget to submit your guess to try and win a Beat 'Nova t-shirt by the start of the game. For all the details and the place to submit, click here. Also, read my annual Syracuse 1/2 Hate Week Rebuttal over at TheUConnBlog. We often joke with our fellow Big East rival bloggers and the guys over there get it. Good luck to them tonight and thanks again for having me over at your site. However, UConn... U SUCK!

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  • Air Your Grievances

  • This About Sums It Up

  • I am less smart for having read your blog.
  • - Anonymous Georgetown supporter.
  • You are an idiot...
  • - Anonymous Nunes/Magician Reader.
  • Congrats on not being very good at what you do.
  • - Anonymous ACC supporter.
  • You are a dweeb, my friend. Grow a backbone.
  • - Anonymous UConn supporter.
  • ...vacuous, asinine, and mind numbing...
  • - Anonymous commenter.
  • Honestly, just admit that you are pathetic...
  • - Anonymous commenter.
  • You just don't have hoops experience.
  • - Twitter commenter.
  • Leave the journalism to talented people. Brian is just another hack and another fair weather fan.
  • - Twitter commenter.
  • A bad blog about Syracuse athletics.
  • - UConn Fan on Twitter (after winning NCAA).