Too lazy for a real picture, so enjoy the pissed off girl with a basketball.
If you're reading this, is either means you have no idea what happened at Madison Square Garden five days ago; or, one of the bowl games you're currently watching is really boring. Either way, thanks for making it over to Orange::44. So yeah, Syracuse played Temple in MSG last Saturday in the premier game of the Chevrolet Gotham Classic (I say premier game because Syracuse still has one more game to play in the Gotham Classic, this Saturday against Alcorn State). Syracuse got the wake-up call it probably needs with Big East play starting soon, because the same poor defense and shooting effort it showed against Temple won't work against Big East opponents. I know this because it didn't work against Temple. The Owls beat the Orange 83-79.
You really can't point to any one thing and say "That's why Syracuse lost." I mean, the stat that stands out the most is free throws: Syracuse only hit on 19 of 34 attempts. So yes, leaving 15 points on the floor in a 4-point margin of loss is a reason Syracuse lost.
Shooting 16.7% from three (1-6 each half) is a reason Syracuse lost.
Committing eleven turnovers is a reason Syracuse lost.
Allowing Khalif Wyatt to put up 33 points and Anthony Lee to drop 21 points is a reason Syracuse lost.
Getting absolutely no help from your big men (save Baye Moussa Keita) is a reason Syracuse lost.
Michael Carter-Williams having an off night, and James Southerland not really even showing up is a reason Syracuse lost.
And of course, there were many other reasons Syracuse lost. You put them all together and you get the big picture of why the Orange couldn't leave the usually-friendly confines of MSG with their heads held high.
One player who can, though, is CJ Fair. CJ scored 25 points on eight of twelve shooting, and guess what, he made all eight of his free throws! It's unfortunate that he only made it to the line eight times, compared to MCW who found himself there 15 times -- many at crucial moments in the final minutes -- and could only hit seven.
The Orange was pretty flat for much of the game, which I think is a large part of the reason Jim Boeheim put the team into pressure defense. This strategy sent Dajuan Coleman to the bench, and shifted Rakeem Christmas or Keita to the middle of the zone -- if the team was ever able to make it back to set up the zone. We can debate whether Boeheim stayed in the press too long, but at the end of the day, going to the press to begin with was a function of the team being flat. We've seen this too often with this team this season, and with tougher opponents on the horizon, it's a problem that needs to be fixed ASAP if Syracuse wants to be in the "elite national title contender" conversation again.
Syracuse gets a week off for Christmas (Jesus' birthday, not Rakeem), and returns to action Saturday in the Carrier Dome against Alcorn State, in the final game of the aforementioned Gotham Classic. The game gives Boeheim a second shot at career win 901 -- something that the others to win 900 (Bob Knight and Coach K) needed as well. Check back here tomorrow for a preview of that game, which Brian and I will have to watch at a bar in New York City since we'll be there for the Pinstripe Bowl. Orange::44 will also have a bowl preview up later as well, so look out for that.
And a belated very Merry Christmas to all our readers from Brian and I.