0 Comments Published on 2.20.2011 by John Brennan
You logged four seconds, Fab... is the towel really necessary?
In a day where the Big East was on upset alert, Syracuse had the luxury of playing at 4:00pm and watching the shenanigans from the early games... and therefore the opportunity to know that they couldn't be a part of it. Not that Rutgers didn't try its best to play the spoiler. Luckily, for the leagues dressed in orange, Syracuse prevailed over the Scarlet Knights 84-80.
- This was the first overtime game of the season for the Orange. With only three regular season games left, I'm actually sort of glad they were able to have an experience like this. As we all know, the postseason can throw you anything (i.e. 6OT against UConn) so to have the real world experience helps should they face this situation again.
- I'll get to the stats breakdown in a second, but let me just throw a few random observations out there... though Rutgers only played four off the bench, they were constantly being rotated in and out. Like literally every dead ball. A player coming out of the game wouldn't even get a chance to sit down on the bench before being sent to check in at the scorer's table.
- I don't know if that's a strategy of keeping players fresh, or trying to keep the opposition guessing, or just a coach who can't make up his mind.
- Speaking of the coach, Rutgers coach Mike Rice really has a lot of enthusiasm. That's the nice way of saying he came off as a whiny bitch. Case in point, the technical foul assessed against him midway through the second half, which by all accounts was way overdue. He literally was asking for it. Pretty sure I read his lips say "You gonna T me up? Bring it!" all the way from my seats in 309.
- OK let's break down some stats. The one that jumps out at me is 34 of 47. No, sadly, that was not Syracuse baskets vs. attempts. At least, not in the usual sense. That was 34 made foul shots from 47 attempts. Which one of those numbers is more surprising? I mean, it was after 6:30 when this game got done, and that's not just because of the overtime... think of how much time Syracuse spent standing at the foul line!
- Syracuse had four players in double-digit scoring: Kris Joseph (21), Rick Jackson (18), and Brandon Triche & CJ Fair with 17 each. Scoop Jardine chipped in nine, and the scoring was rounded out by Baye Keita with two.
- Rutgers really didn't have a player who dominated, but Rice got contributions from all his players: Mike Coburn (18), Jonathan Mitchell (13), Gilvydas Biruta (12), Dane Miller & Austin Carroll (9 each), James Beatty, Austin Johnson, & Mike Poole with 5 each, and Robert Lumpkins with four.
- Rutgers had the slight edge in shooting 45.6% to 43.1%, including winning the battle of the threes 39.1% to 31.6%. However, Syracuse, as mentioned above, hit the free throws and dominated that part of the game 72.3% to 64.3%. It should be noted that Rutgers only hit 9 of 14 from the line.
- Rick Jackson threw down another double-double, adding 12 rebounds to his 18 points. He also blocked seven shots and really put his heart into playing defense in this game. With Boeheim relying almost exclusively on this smaller lineup with CJ Fair taking a forward position, it's sliding Ricky over to the center position and really making him work that much harder on defense. To his credit, he's really stepping it up and showing this team just how important he is. He even played strong with four fouls. The kid's gotta be pretty banged up and tired, but the strength he's added and the weight he's lost should really help him power through the remaining three regular season games and be ready for the postseason.
- CJ Fair is a machine. But unlike IBM's Watson, he can play ball. Very well, mind you. Another game off the bench, and another game with starter's minutes for CJ (37 in this one). In addition to his career-high 17 points, the kid grabbed eight rebounds (three from the offensive glass), was 6-8 from the field, and hit 5-6 from the line. He's quick. He plays with his hands up on defense. He can just flat out play. You or I would have been rattled had a vital piece of our uniform come off, but when CJ lost his headband in this game, he threw it off the court and continued playing at a high level. Mad props to you, Chris Jr.!
- Kris Joseph was clutch from the line down the stretch, when Rick Jackson wasn't so much. Credit where credit's due, Rick hit the tying foul shot to send the game to overtime. But it was Kris who was knocking them down in the overtime period to grow a Syracuse lead that was never relinquished. Hitting that 3 to put Syracuse up 75-71 and put us into the Taco Time was such a clutch shot from Kris. Once he hit that, I felt a lot more relieved and knew that Syracuse would end victorious.
- Another really nice game from Brandon Triche. Though he short horribly (3-15 including 2-10 from three) he knocked down all nine foul shots, had six rebounds, four assists, and played all but one minute the entire game. When you're the shooting guard and your shooting is off, you have to find other ways to contribute to the team, and Brandon was able to do that.
- And then there's Scoop. The most noise Scoop made in this one was tweaking his hand/wrist and lying on the court writhing in pain for a few minutes. He eventually shook it off and reentered the game, and logged 43 minutes. He also missed all three free throws. Thanks, Scoop.
- Not that Dion Waiters could have done, or did, much better. In the token two minutes on the floor, he launched a three that missed. And that's his stat line.
- James Southerland found his way into the rotation, albeit briefly. Five minutes, one missed field goal, and... that's it.
- So that brings us to the Fab Melo & Baye Keita situation. Keita started the game, which I assume will be par for the course for the remainder of the season. In 11 minutes of action, he scored a field goal, grabbed two rebounds, and blocked two shots. He also picked up three fouls in that short time. It's clear to the blind that a person playing at CJ's level right now is going to play more than a person playing at Keita's level. Sure, you're bigger with Keita, but CJ is actually a positive on offense, and what he lacks in height on defense he makes up with hustle, position, and determination. As for Fab Melo, he entered the game with about 8:30 to go in the first half. Four seconds later, he committed his first and only foul of the game. He was promptly benched. Post-game, Boeheim said he shouldn't have put him in the game; he's not ready to play, and needs to learn the game and improve his skills. While I doubt we've seen the last of Fab this year, don't expect to see a lot of playing time out of him unless Syracuse is in a pinch.
- The second-highest crowd this year was on hand to watch this overtime thriller, with 28,944 in attendance. Big props to the Syracuse faithful for making it out in crappy weather conditions, against a crap team, and making it a good atmosphere inside the Dome. However, it boggled my mind that quite a few left at the end of regulation, as if their tickets said "Only valid for the first 40 minutes of gameplay." WTF?
- I'm convinced that this game went into overtime simply to make up for me missing the first several minutes of the game. My drive from Elmira took entirely too long, due to dicey weather conditions mainly between Ithaca & Cortland.
- I once again had a plastic glass of wine at this game. We're a perfect 2-0 when I drink wine in the Dome. I think the Finger Lakes Wine Association should forge a partnership with SU Athletics and hire me as the spokesman. This plan can't fail.
- There were some totally clueless people on the Kiss Cam. I think the only thing worse than rejection on the Kiss Cam is ... hmm ... maybe I should have had something in mind before I set that up. Oh well, what's typed is typed.
- For those of you following @andyrautins1 on twitter, you knew he would be among the masses in the Dome. He certainly got a loud ovation when Mike Veley announced his attendance, and he was fired up several times during the game. Don't be a stranger, Andy!
- They say "It's a whole new ballgame" when a game goes into overtime, and Mike Veley took that to heart. Having already used the "shooting a deuce for the Cuse" early in the first half, he took it upon himself to recycle it during the overtime period. I'll steal this line from Will Ferrell as George W. Bush on Saturday Night Live: "I tried folksy, but it came off douchey." Live & learn, Mike!
- Obligatory "These Refs Sucked" comment.
- Didn't effect the game, and obviously helped Syracuse get to the line for 47 shots, but still...
- Syracuse has two incredibly tough road games at Villanova and at Georgetown before returning to the Dome for the season finale against DePaul. Assuming DePaul is still in the league by then. Then again, Providence might get the boot first, for losing to DePaul. At home. Nice work out there, Friars.
Labels: Syracuse Basketball