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At this point, it is what it is
As if Syracuse fans needed more reason to think the national media wasn't giving the Orange its proper due, we find ourselves in an officiating controversy with the game on the line.  I'll get into that more in a bit, but suffice to say last Saturday's game against West Virginia ended up being a lot closer than it should have been.  In a hard-fought battle before a season-high 28,740 fans in the Carrier Dome, the Orange outlasted the Mountaineers 63-61.
  • CJ Fair earned another start in place of currently-ineligible Fab Melo.  This marked the third game Melo hasn't played, but the first at home.  Melo was with the team and on the bench, but in what is colloquially known as "street clothes."
  • Player of the game awards probably go to Brandon Triche: 7-12 shooting for 18 points, two assists, and two steals in 24 minutes of action.  He was the most consistent player for the Orange up and down the court, and hit shots when it counted.  Of note, he was also 2-4 from three and 2-2 from the line.
  • Though he didn't have a consistently good game, and at this point seems to be wasting everyone's time in shooting from three, Kris Joseph proves to be the go-to guy yet again.  Clutch down the stretch, Kris finished with 13 points (including 5-5 from the line), hit the boards hard with seven, and also added three assists, two blocks, and two steals.
  • Jim Boeheim was riding Kris real hard from the start of this game.  Several times, Boeheim could be seen questioning Kris as "What are you doing?" or "What are you thinking?"  It's clear coach is holding Kris to a high standard, and wants the very best from his senior leader.
  • Also in the Boeheim doghouse was Rakeem Christmas.  Rak was pulled early on in favor of Baye Keita, but as Keita got in foul trouble, Rak saw more minutes until finally fouling out.  His one rebound, one block, and one steal effort in 14 minutes on the floor was anything but good.  You want to know why we miss Fab Melo?  That's why we miss Fab Melo.
  • For his part, Keita did what he had to do.  He's not gonna wow you with his play, and he won't light up the box score, but he did what he had to do.  In 25 minutes: four points, five rebounds, and "three" blocks.
  • With time running down in regulation and Syracuse up by two, West Virginia attempted a three-point shot.  The shot fell short, was rebounded under the basket by Deniz Kilicli, who kissed the ball off the backboard before it was blocked by Keita.  The ball went out of bounds, possession remaining with West Virginia with six seconds remaining.  A desperation three with time expiring fell short, and Syracuse hung on for the victory.
  • Keita's block was, of course, a goaltend.  Had the officials called it correctly, West Virginia would have been credited with a 2-point basket, the game tied at 63, and Syracuse possession with eight seconds to go.  Syracuse could have scored in that eight seconds to win the game, or the game could have gone to overtime.  Instead, the officials missed the call, the Mountaineers retained possession with six seconds, and failed to score.  That's it and that's all.
  • Syracuse was once again killed on the boards, 40-21.  Those numbers get better if Fab's on the floor, but not significantly.  This is a team issue that needs to improve if Syracuse is to go deep into the Big East tournament or the NCAA tournament.
  • Syracuse was 4-20 from three for the game, or 20%.  Many of the misses came on wide open looks.  There's the school of thought that says if you get the wide open look you take the shot.  There's the other school of thought that if you can't hit the broad side of a barn you shouldn't take the shot.  Each school has its wisdom, but my biggest gripe here is that these wide open misses are resulting in empty possessions.  I'll take two any day and every day, over zero.
With the win over the Mountaineers, Syracuse improved to 22-1 on the season, 9-1 in the Big East; West Virginia fell to 15-7 on the season, 5-4 in the Big East.  The current Fab Melo absence is coming at probably the most opportune time of the season: while ND/Cincy was Saturday/Monday, WVU followed on Saturday, and Syracuse doesn't play again until this coming Saturday at St. John's.  If it is indeed an academic issue, that's a lot of time to clear up the issue without missing too many games.  So we all hope things are clear for this Saturday.  Syracuse loves to play in the Garden, and Syracuse fans love to be there and make it a home atmosphere.  Brian and I will be joining the legions of other Orange fans at MSG on Saturday, so keep it here and on twitter for coverage of that game.

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West Virginia - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: The season sweep would be excellent.
Syracuse bounced back from their loss to Notre Dame last Saturday to beat a pretty good Cincinnati team at home on Big Monday. Now the Mountaineers come into a fairly packed Carrier Dome for a Saturday afternoon affair that pits the fourth place team in the Big East versus the top dog. Can Syracuse handle the leading candidate for Big East PoY?
Syracuse is again without starting center Fab Melo. He is out until further notice, with rumors swirling that he could be back next game or in "a while". Moral of the story, only Syracuse University knows at this point. Either way, this is a winable game for Syracuse at home in front of a friendly and full crowd. Over 27.5k tickets have been sold for this game, which will make it the largest on campus crowd of the season so far. And that bodes well for the Orange as the Mountaineers have had problems on the road as of late. Specifically at St. John's, where the lost on Wednesday 78-62. WVU's freshmen players have not adapted to playing well on the road in Big East play as of late. Kevin Jones (20.9ppg, 11.6rpg), is their leading scorer and rebounder however. And he has played great all season. He scored 26 points in that loss in MSG. He will score a bunch today most likely. The key is to limiting WVU to as few possessions as possible and getting in an offensive rhythm. Transition buckets, which have not come easy to the Orange the last few games will also be key. While Jones doesn't turn the ball over that much, Darryl Bryant turns over the ball quite a bit. 56 turnovers to his 57 assists. The Turkish Thunder Deniz Kilicli will be tough inside, but his main strength is rebounding. Aaron Brown, off the bench, will be the best three point shooter for West Virginia. Moral of the story, if Syracuse wants to win they need to convert easy baskets and execute good half court offense. West Virginia's strength is their defense and rebounding. WVU will have trouble penetrating the zone. Adequately guarding three point shooters and pulling defensive rebounds are needed. If Syracuse gets their transition offense going this game is over early. If not, Syracuse will have a game similar to the Cincinnati game. They might be down early, but more likely it will simply be close until later in the second half, when Syracuse will get the lead or really pull away. Syracuse is just too deep and too talented. And you have to assume Dion Waiters will wake up in front of the home crowd. Syracuse earns a nice Big East win at home by 12.
This game is broadcast nationally on ESPN U at 1:00pm this afternoon. You can also watch on your home computing device. We're in the Dome today and there's a big crowd so phone action will be spotty at best. Enjoy the game and a fine Saturday. We all hope.

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Orange::44 On The New Nike Uniforms

This will be worn against South Florida in the Dome.
Editor's Note: We here are used to writing about uniform changes at Syracuse. We've done it quite a bit over the years. Below are the thoughts of  Correspondent John Brennan and I on the new uniforms.
Brian: Syracuse is (or should we say Nike) is shoving a new design on several schools this and next month for their uniforms. Not particularly surprising. It's what Nike does. I've long been on record as hating gray or "platinum" as a home uniform. However it makes sense for schools like Georgetown, a school who's color is actually gray. I think it's ugly anyway, but it makes sense for Georgetown. Therefore, it would make sense that for school with only one official color, like Syracuse, that a home jersey would be white, and your road jersey would be your school color. For a school like Syracuse, Alabama, or Duke where colors are part of their nickname, this takes on even more gravity. Either way, I'm on record as well as saying that I don't think wearing gray is traitorous or any sort of reference to Georgetown, but I do think it's just stupid and ugly. I said this before seeing the actual designs above. I haven't changed my mind.
When Nike tells you to wear a new uniform you do it. We understand this to be true. But why? Yes, they are shelling out millions to outfit your guys. But it it wasn't Nike it would just be Under Armor or Adidas or any other company. So why grant that much control over your uniforms to a company anyway? Without the team and the University there wouldn't be anyone to wear the uniforms anyway.

We all know this is just to sell jerseys. Syracuse is wearing their usual white jerseys at home after this, and orange on the road. So that's awesome. This is just to make a quick buck. And the worst part is they will sell. There is always a segment of people that will buy these. So thanks for being most of the problem. But this just isn't that great of a design anyway.

Every school is a gray jersey with their school's color down the side and their color sneakers. Not that creative. The designs on the back aren't that intricate. And last I checked we were the Syracuse Orange. Not the "CUSE" officially.

Either way, these are minor gripes. The real issue is that this kind of idea, were there is just a one off of a jersey just to sell them, is ridiculous and shameful. But it's just the kind of move I'd expect from Nike and Syracuse University Athletic marketing. After all, they are the ones that sold a wildly dumb 20-0 shirt.

The final point I'll leave you is the idea that complaining over what this team wears is stupid. While it maybe be "just a jersey" it represents the team. A team that would be playing in front of an empty stadium without fans and specifically alumni. The fact that Nike thinks you're a sucker and will just buy anything with "CUSE" on it should be an affront to your sensibilities. But maybe that's just me.

John: It's Nike being Nike.  Let's not lose sight of that.  We know they're gonna do what they need to do to make money, and if they think this is what will do that for them, then all the more power to them.
Do I like them?  No.  As with mostly everyone else's complaints, it's really the gray/platinum that turns me off.  It's just not a good combination.  I'd really hate Syracuse wearing these against Georgetown, but it looks like we're safe from that.  But beyond that, why do we hate the gray?  I think it's because we are the Syracuse Orange.  When the school decided to identify itself as simply a color, that became our main focus. While many schools have a color in its name (Marquette Golden Eagles, Tulane Green Wave, Duke Blue Devils, Alabama Crimson Tide, etc.), we are JUST a color.  We don't have a tangible thing like an Eagle, a Wave, a Devil, or a Tide to fall back on.  Just the color.  So when a uniform undermines orange, we believe it undermines The Orange, we believe it undermines Syracuse.  We take it personally.
But "we" are fans.  We care about aesthetics.  We care about common sense.  We care about tradition.  But "we" don't play basketball for Syracuse.  We aren't wearing those uniforms on the court, dribbling, passing, shooting, and dunking.  So as long as the uniforms don't impact how the players play, then who REALLY cares? That said, there are a few aspects of these new uniforms that I think could improve upon what we have now.  I'm assuming the fabric and venting choices are technological improvements over the current.  And while "'CUSE" isn't my first choice for the front of the jersey, it's not horrible either.  If there was going to be an alternate jersey in the regular rotation, I wouldn't mind if it said 'CUSE.  On the back of the jersey we currently have a lot going on in that mesh thing with scenes from campus.  The new alternates have a huge block S, what appears to be the top of the Carrier Dome, and a star with an 03 in it, honoring our National Championship season.  That's nice.  The shorts have a thick orange stripe down the sides, with a block S and Syracuse bannered over it.  I like that better than the current blocks of colors.  The orange shoes and orange socks?  They speak for themselves.
At the end of the day, Syracuse is only wearing these uniforms for the South Florida game on February 22.  As a fan, I can stomach that for one game, especially that one.  Unless contractually obligated, it appears Syracuse would be foolish to roll them out again, based upon all the negative feedback that has been acknowledged by both the SyracuseU and suorangeempire twitter feeds.  So for now, let's just appreciate that Nike wants to honor Syracuse as an elite program (even if we disagree with the way they do it) and hope that future experiments take into consideration the reactions of the fan base (i.e. potential customers).

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Scoop will hit shots when he needs to
Anytime you lose a game, the next game becomes very important. A win gets you back in the right direction, but another loss sends you further down the wrong path.  After Syracuse won its first 18 games last year, it lost to Pitt and then lost its next three games.  We were all screaming that the sky was falling.  Syracuse did eventually fall out of that rut last year, but it took its toll on the team.  So this is why tonight's game against Cincinnati was so important.  And it would have been easy to lose it: the Orange had just lost at Notre Dame; the middle of the zone was still reeling from losing Fab Melo; Cincy was playing well and hosting a whiteout in its first Big Monday.  In a hard-fought battle, Syracuse beat Cincinnati 60-53.
  • Kris Joseph was your leading scorer for Syracuse (a go-to guy?) with 17 points on 8-11 shooting.  Interestingly, though, Kris shot 0-3 from three, which means that he hit all shots within the arc (including some nice dunks).
  • Other double-digit scorers were Scoop Jardine with 13, and Brandon Triche with 11.
  • Scoop started real slow, but poured it on when it mattered, late in the game when Syracuse was really pulling away.  Scoop was 2-4 from three.
  • In his second start, CJ Fair put in another solid effort with six points and six rebounds (four offensive).
  • Sliding Rakeem Christmas over to cover Fab's spot resulted in nine rebounds from Rak, three blocks, and a solid player in the middle.  I think he's done a lot of growing up over the past few days, and he's gained a pretty good understanding of this 2-3 zone.
  • While Rak was active in the zone, he "held" Yancy Gates to 16 points.  I say that because I really think Gates would have scored a lot more if the middle of the zone were exploitable like it was Saturday against Notre Dame.
  • Cashmere Wright was the leading scorer for the Bearcats with 17, mostly aided from going 5-8 from three.  Cincy started hot, especially from three, which gave us all that "Oh crap here we go again" feeling.  Good thing that didn't last.
  • Comparatively, Syracuse outshot Cincy 46.4% to 34.4%.  Cincy held a slight edge from three, 32% to 25%.  Syracuse edged by on the rebound battle 36-35.
Just as I said it's important to win after a loss, I'll be a bit obvious and say it's important to win after a win.  That's the task this Saturday, as Syracuse hosts West Virginia in the Dome.  Between now and then, Syracuse will be working on continuing to move on without Fab Melo (assuming that's the situation).  Fab Melo will be working on whatever it is he needs to work on so that playing without him is not the situation.  And we'll be working on bringing you all the latest in Syracuse sports.  Maybe even figuring out why Dion Waiters was such a non-factor tonight.

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Syracuse - Cincinnati Preview

Syracuse students agree: Time to bounce back in a big way.
Tough loss on Saturday. Syracuse is no longer #1. #3/4 isn't so bad though. And now they travel to Cincy to take on the pretty good Bearcats in a sold out arena. Although Cincinnati can't spell the word involved (look closely), this game will be tough.
Fab Melo is still not where the team is. That is a problem in terms of being able to stop Yancy Gates. He averages 12.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, and has one hell of a right cross. You can debate for yourself if he should still be on Cincy, but he is and will probably eat up Baye Moussa Keita and Rakeem Christmas on the inside. Which means that Syracuse has to score. Especially since Sean Kilpatrick averages 16ppg. While they don't have one individual that can consistently hit outside shots, they shoot the ball well from the outside as a team. Syracuse will have to be active guarding the perimeter but not fall into the huge trap of biting on every overload of the zone, giving Gates a really easy bucket. Really though, this preview comes down to the gut feeling and pretty standard logic that after a team has a really bad shooting night like Syracuse did Saturday, where three or four big time players had a terrible offensive night, that that doesn't happen two games in a row. Syracuse has to play Gates tough, but Syracuse has really owned Cincy for the most part since entering the league. Syracuse also has 8-9 reliable scorers, where Cincy plays eight, and only seven really do much of anything. Especially if Gates gets into foul trouble, this game could be a nice win for Syracuse. I do like the Orange, but this will be another close game and Syracuse will probably have to play from behind but should take the lead down the stretch in the second half. A nice start would also help. Syracuse needs to come out firing on all cylinders, as Cincy will probably do the same. Our good friend Scott knows I'm pretty good at picking Syracuse/Cincy games, so he'll be sad to know I'm picking the Orange by 8.
This game is again on Big Monday. ESPN national broadcast with the A Team of McDonough/Bilas/Raftery on hand, starting at 7:00pm. Should be another game that Syracuse fans will sweat out. Since this is on the road be sure to check out Twitter and harass Scott from The Bearcats Blog @BearcatsBlog, and join our tomfoolery of course. Enjoy.

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Well that sucked to watch. Unless you're an ND fan.
South Bend: Where #1 goes to die. While the result wasn't too much of a surprise it was still unpleasant to watch. Syracuse falls, but the good news is that this was a road loss we knew would happen eventually, and Syracuse is still in solid command of first in the Big East. The absence of Fab Melo did not help either. But let's talk about this game first.
Notre Dame got off to a roll hitting two three pointers right away. Syracuse never led in this game. They had a season low half output of 23 points to ND's 35. Luckily Dion Waiters hit two back to back three pointers before the half to only make it 12 points. Then in the second half ND and SU basically traded baskets, with both teams going on mini-runs of points, with Syracuse never really getting closer than seven or eight points. Missed free throws and failing to take advantage of turnovers really never let Syracuse get back into the game. Oh yeah, and a ton of bricked three pointers. Syracuse ends up going down 67 to 58. Not bad considering how good ND played and how bad Syracuse shot in this game.
  • Syracuse's leading scorer was James Southerland off the bench with 15 points. He probably played the best offense for Syracuse looking at the game in total. He was 5-10 and 3-7 from the floor respectively. He also was 2-2 from the line.
  • Kris Joseph was the leading rebounder on the floor for the Orange with five. CJ Fair and Rakeem Christmas each added four.
  • Scoop Jardine, as usual, led in assists with seven.
  • Syracuse missed Fab Melo. They only had two blocks in the game.
  • Despite the fact that Notre Dame turned the ball over the least in the Big East going into this game, Syracuse caused 17 for the Irish, and had nine steals. Sadly that didn't equate to a win like it normally would. In the circumstances, it really didn't feed any transition offense in the vast majority of the turnovers.
  • Syracuse shot the ball poorly. They were 18-53 (34%), and 7-23 (30.4%) from three. Syracuse missed 14 of their first 19 field goal attempts. The worst way to start a game on the road, let alone against a team in the Big East.
  • Notre Dame, conversely, shot the ball better. They shot 50% both overall and from behind the arc.
  • Syracuse only got 28 points from their starting lineup.
  • Scoop Jardine was 0-5 and 0-2 in the game. His only points were two free throws out of four. He couldn't hit the ocean from a boat on Saturday night.
  • While Fab Melo was not the reason Syracuse lost the game, and he would have only contributed a few baskets at the most, where he was missed was simply being in the zone. A seven footer makes players alter their shots and think twice about driving in the lane. He also blocks shots. He would have given Jack Cooley a run on his scoring.
  • Baye Moussa Keita can't catch the ball worth shit. And he has no excuses as his thumb is healed and unwrapped. He couldn't catch it wide open, let alone hot underneath the basket. I mean, how is that possible?
  • Similarly, Kris Joseph couldn't dribble in this game. At all. What's up with that?
  • I defer to our friend Russ at the Three Idiots with this post. In it, about the blocks/charges he says "The block/charge call is ruining college basketball. The refs screw it up more times than they get it right and it takes the aggressiveness out of the game -- the flopping is worse than it is in a European soccer game. In my opinion, unless a guy is an absolute statue, the call has to be a block. If the game starts getting called that way, you'll see a lot fewer guys sliding over at the last second and taking guys out too." Nailed it. And I'll add that the charge that Waiters "committed" was a block. It was a secondary defender sliding over standing directly over the arc line. Stationary or not, that is a block by the new rules. In the arc as a secondary defender? That's supposed to be a block. Higgins called it a charge.
  • Cooley, in a three person trap from the press of Syracuse, swung his elbows and hit CJ Fair. It was a textbook Flagrant 1 as the rule now states and it was called that after a review. Good for the referees. It was about the second or third one he committed on the day.
  • No one player played completely bad from the floor on offense, but almost every player had a good stretch where they were just awful or made a terrible shot selection. Notable examples were Watiers, Fair, and obviously Scoop.
  • Yelling "Overrated" at a team you are beating devalues the win. Most people know this except the one jackass that starts it in every student section in the nation. Also, as someone pointed out, if Syracuse was so overrated why are you rushing the court?
  • Chanting "Fab Can't Read" is funny. Is it also over the line? That's debatable. You want to yell that? Fair enough. I expected that at UConn,WVU, Pitt, or Georgetown, but not at ND though.
Syracuse now travels to Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats. Will Syracuse play better with the still absence of Fab Melo? Will the pressure of being #1 now lifted will Syracuse simply crush? We will find out Monday night. Let's just hope everyone involved forgets about this game quickly.

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Syracuse - Notre Dame Preview

Syracuse students agree: Everyone loves beating Notre Lame.
Syracuse, fresh off a nice win against Pittsburgh in the Carrier Dome, has had since Monday night off to prepare to play Notre Dame in the Joyce Center in South Bend. They are 20-0 and undefeated. Can that last against the Irish?
Notre Dame is interesting. They don't have consistent three point threats as they have had in the past. Statistically, their best shooter sits the bench with an ACL tear, out for the rest of the year. Also, their second best rebounder, in Tim Abromaitis. That means their best player now is guard Eric Atkins, averaging 13.3ppg, and shooting 44.3% from behind the arc. After that, it gets significantly weaker in terms of offensive production. The difference in this game will be Notre Dame's ability to handle three points. Limiting turnovers is the first. They have the least amount of turnovers in the Big East. If Syracuse cannot create turnovers or steals to get some easy baskets they could struggle. Slowing the pace of the game is the second. Syracuse is beatable if you keep them consistently playing half court basketball. While they can score (obviously) in the half court, it makes it harder for them. Additionally it limits possessions. Finally, Notre Dame has to rebound. They will probably out-rebound Syracuse like they have been for several games this year. But limiting second chance baskets will be key for the Orange. If the fail to do that, and ND gets a kick out to an open shooter, it usually bodes well for that team. Syracuse is more athletic and deep though. We should see nine guys today. I have a feeling Baye Moussa Kieta will see some significant time today, but really it is Syracuse's back court with Scoop Jardine, Brandon Triche, and Dion Waiters that will carry this team today. Scoop has been playing very well lately, averaging 11 points and 9.5 assists his past two games. He's only committed a couple turnovers in that stretch as well. He's good for one horrific turnover a game, but since it's only one it's pretty forgivable. Kris Joseph should shoot well today and I think James Southerland and CJ Fair will obviously play a huge part. While I think this game will be close, I'm taking Syracuse in a tight game. The Orange stay unbeaten by five.
This game is available nationally tonight at 6:00pm EST on ESPN. Also available online. This should be a close and probably uncomfortable game to watch for the Orange faithful, so distract yourself with some Twitter snark when you can. Enjoy your Saturday.

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Tomaselli's Pants are on Fire

When I originally typed that title, I was thinking of the "liar, liar, pants on fire" thing.  Then I thought more about how he's a convicted sex offender, and I guess the "pants on fire" thing takes on another meaning.  I'm like totally smart like that.
Anyway, to the nitty gritty here.  Today, Zach Tomaselli -- the third accuser in the Bernie Fine saga -- admitted that he had doctored emails he provided to the Post-Standard, and that he lied about things in order to get people to believe him.  You follow that logic?  Good.  This, of course, is a huge blow to his already shaky credibility.  With the Tomaselli accusations being the only potentially prosecutable case against Fine, these latest credibility issues really throw a wrench into that.
For the Feds (or anyone else) to bring Fine to trial on these accusations, they need to have credible evidence.  Prosecutors have a duty to do justice -- which often times means not prosecuting a case if they don't have enough evidence for a conviction.  In a sex abuse case where there is little to no physical evidence, the lion share of the proof presented at court will be the testimony of the alleged victim.  Therefore, that alleged victim's credibility is of the utmost importance; if the jury doesn't believe the alleged victim, they have nothing on which to base a guilty verdict.
So let's count the credibility issues of Zach Tomaselli:

  • He first contacts ESPN, who puts accuser Bobby Davis in touch with him.  Then he goes to the authorities.
  • He evidently doesn't know the difference between UConn and Pittsburgh.
  • His school says he was in school when he says he was in Pittsburgh.
  • He doesn't know how he got to Pittsburgh or who else was with him.
  • He admits that he doctored emails he showed to the Post-Standard in order to get them to take him seriously.
  • And, oh yeah, he pleaded guilty to sexually molesting a young boy and is awaiting a lengthy prison sentence.
Now, I'm no expert -- no, wait, I am -- but no prosecutor is going to prosecute a case against Bernie Fine on the Tomaselli allegations.  Of course, following his revelations to the Post-Standard today, he then texted the paper that he wants the police to drop its investigation, leave him alone, and that he'd also be dropping the civil suit against Fine.  A non-cooperating complaining witness doesn't necessarily mean that the police wouldn't follow through with their investigation or that the prosecutor wouldn't prosecute -- that happens all the time -- but realistically I imagine Fine is fine here.  I mean, with Tomaselli facing three years in prison, he'd be testifying in Fine's trial wearing prison garb.  Strike One.  And then lie after lie after lie.  Strikes two and three.  He's out.
I imagine, however, that the Feds will continue their investigation of Bernie Fine, with or without the cooperation of Tomaselli.  They need to make sure there are no other potential victims.  They need to make sure that they have conducted the most thorough investigation possible, so that nobody can ever say that this was swept under the rug.
Many have asked about the effect Tomaselli's lies will have on the search warrants.  Initially, not much.  The warrants were already issued and executed.  To my knowledge, nothing damaging was recovered.  If this case did actually go to a criminal trial, the defense would surely challenge the warrants, claiming that the applications upon which the warrants were based did not have probable cause and were unreliable.  It's easy to say that in retrospect, knowing what we know now about Tomaselli.  But at the time, the judge has sworn affidavits in front of him, claiming -- under penalty of perjury -- that everything contained in the affidavit is true.  The judge has to take those affidavits for what they are and, to an extent, assess the reliability of the information.  My thought here is that the judge probably acted within his discretion in finding there was enough probable cause for the issuance of the search warrants.  If anything, the police will get some slack in not thoroughly investigating Tomaselli before vouching for his credibility in bringing his accusations before the judge for the warrants.
But, as Brian noted on twitter earlier today, this is all probably a moot point.  If Fine isn't prosecuted, then the legality of the search warrants is immaterial.  If there's no trial, then there's no need to suppress evidence.  Simple as that.
And so, the saga continues.  With Bill Fitzpatrick being right about there not actually being a Victim #4, and with Zach Tomaselli all but convicted of perjury, we're only left with our original two accusers -- Bobby Davis and Mike Lang.  As has been reported here and pretty much everywhere else (maybe even on ESPN), the accusations of Davis & Lang are beyond the statute of limitations.  So as it stands now, unless there is another accuser out there, Bernie Fine will not face criminal prosecution for any of these alleged acts.  And also, with the civil suit by Tomaselli being withdrawn, Fine currently has no court case against him whatsoever.
Is this justice?  Hard to say.  Nobody knows what the truth is or whether any of these things actually did happen -- except Bernie Fine and the accusers.  And -- debate on the statute of limitations issue aside -- how this case has developed and continues to run its course should give people some confidence in the criminal justice system.  The rights of the accused are, and should be, at the forefront of every case, from initial accusation to disposition.  Even more important than the victims.  That might make me unpopular, but you rest assured that if you are the one being accused of something -- wrongly or rightly -- you want the process to treat you fair and you want all of your rights honored.  You want the system to get it right, and protecting the rights of the accused is the best way to get the right result and protect the integrity of the system.  And if that means that some guilty people "get away with it," then so be it.  Guilty people going free is better than innocent people being convicted.
Now we wait for the next development in the life of Bernie Fine.  And you know us lawdogs here at Orange::44 will be here to break it all down for you.

We're upset the refs don't know charges from blocks too, Jim.
Big Monday. ESPN. McDonough/Bilas/Raftery. It doesn't matter who you play; it is what it is and it's always gonna be a rough game in the Big East. This past Monday's matchup in the Carrier Dome between Pittsburgh and Syracuse was no different. The Orange had a lot riding on this game: the potential for the best start in school history at 20-0, a chance to widen its lead in the Big East standings, and a chance to beat Pitt in the regular season for the first time since 2003.  And so the magic continued, as #1 Syracuse beat Pittsburgh 71-63.
  • I vividly remember last year's game at Pitt. I watched on TV with Brian at The Green Derby, a local Elmira restaurant and bar.  That game began with a 19-0 run by Pitt.  Syracuse followed with a 17-0 run of its own, but eventually came up short.
  • This year started much the same, only it was Syracuse that began with the big run to start the game. Though it was 13-0, that run provided the Orange with the cushion it needed to keep the lead in this game.
  • Dion Waiters led the way for Syracuse with 16 points on 4-9 shooting, including 2-3 from three and 6-8 from the line. He's a gamer and one of the go-to guys. Take note, America.
  • Three others had 12 points: Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine, and Brandon Triche. Rounding out the double-digit scoring for the Orange was Fab Melo with 10 points.
  • Add to Fab's 10 points his 10 rebounds, and he has a double double.
  • Scoop also had a double double: his 12 points with his 10 assists were Scooperific.
  • Funny that CJ Fair doesn't get a mention until now, but check this: seven points, five boards, and three blocks in 28 minutes, including a monster flying dunk that made #1 on the SportsCenter top plays. Just another day at the office for CJ.
  • Though he had a good game, including his double double, Fab Melo was a liability out there on the floor for much of the game. He was absolutely being abused by Pittsburgh, and the refs were hesitant to call anything. But when it came to Fab pushing the line, it was called post-haste. Fab fouled out eventually. It's the Big East, that'll happen. But Fab's hands were the liability. He just couldn't hold onto the ball. In fact, he had six turnovers. It got to the point where I was callling for Baye to enter the game, because I didn't think his ball handling could be any worse than what we were getting from Fab...
  • And when Keita entered, I was proved wrong immediately as he had a turnover. Sure, that was his only one of the game, but that's only because he saved himself or his teammates bailed him out a few times. Can these guys just get some strong hands, please?
  • What else was a big liability? Rebounds. We knew that would be a statistical category we'd probably lose to Pitt, who currently is one of the best rebounding teams in the country (proving that rebounding doesn't equal winning). The margin here was 40-28 favoring Pitt, but it seemed like it wasn't even that close. In my experience it's tough to win a Big East game if the margin is 10 or more, or if you can't even reach 30; but Syracuse debunked that. So, there's that. Which is nice.
  • Defensively, Syracuse played the game they needed to, and didn't let any one Pitt player dominate: Lamar Patterson, Ashton Gibbs, and Cameron Wright all led the team with just 10 points.
  • Statistically, Syracuse out-shot Pitt 46% to 39.3%.
  • I'm not even going to do any more statistical comparisons, except for the one that mattered the most: free throws. Syracuse was 20-23 (WHAT?!? YES KEEP DOING THAT!), while Pitt was 12-23. Same number of attempts for each team, but Syracuse hit the eight that Pitt couldn't. The margin of victory was eight. You do the math.
Syracuse improves to 20-0 on the season, 7-0 in the Big East, and earns a hard-fought victory over a perennial rival. Pitt continues its descent into the under-belly of Chicago's sewers, as the bottom of the Big East has been known in recent years due to its occupations by DePaul (who, it should be noted, also beat Pitt). And so now it's time for Syracuse to face a couple true road tests, on Saturday at Notre Dame and on Monday at Cincinnati. They should be good games, and they're both on ESPN, so, no excuses to not watch.

Pittsburgh - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Pittsburgh is not the same as they were.
Pittsburgh is a mess right now. Syracuse is the absolute opposite of that. The #1 team in the nation, they are undefeated on the year at 19-0. One more win and Syracuse will have their best start in program history. But what about today's game?
Good news for Syracuse is that this game is being played in the Carrier Dome. Obviously the chance for a major upset highly decreases on the road, and Pittsburgh will have to play a pretty perfect game. Ashton Gibbs is the clear star for Pitt, averaging 16.9ppg. Gibbs can't do it alone however. He had 29 points against Marquette, but Pitt still lost by five points at Marquette. Pitt's real problem is they turn the ball over a lot. Syracuse causes a lot of turnovers. I personally think Pitt is screwed. However, if Nasir Robinson (12.4ppg) also gets hot, Syracuse could have some trouble putting this game away early. Pittsburgh is also a great rebounding team. Syracuse had a bad shooting affair in the first half against Providence on Saturday. That shouldn't happen against Pittsburgh today, especially because the revenge factor for this team is high. Any team that beats them last year they remember and are sure to finish them off this season. Again, Pittsburgh can rebound. However Syracuse is still undefeated and they haven't always led in rebounding. Like both games against Providence. Dion Waiters is still very hot, and Kris Joseph is playing well, leading Syracuse in scoring. I'm picking the Orange at home. I still can't decide if Pitt's offense or defense is worse. If Syracuse plays halfway decent defense they should be fine. Syracuse wins this one on a BIG MONDAY by 11.
This game is available on ESPN nationally tonight at 7:30. I'll be in the Dome tonight so there will be little Twitter activity tonight. But we'll be sure to slander Pitt on our trip up. Enjoy your Monday, and most likely your holiday off from work.

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Providence - Syracuse Postgame Reactions OR Friar Fail

Yes Jim, sometimes we look like that when we see dunks too.
19-0. It ties a school record for best start to a season. It came against Providence, who Syracuse beat only a few weeks earlier. Leading scorer Vincent Council was held out of the game due to a coaching decision. While I respect that choice Coach Cooley made to hold him out, following the standards he has set for his program, he assured this game was over before it started.
The game started off slow. The game went back in forth until about 6:30 to go in the first when Syracuse went on one of their big runs that they do often this season. The went into the locker room on a big three at the buzzer from Scoop Jardine for the second game in a row, up 38 to 21. Syracuse continued their dominance. While there were some offensive lulls, the lineups of Syracuse players weren't exactly their top guys in all the time. Syracuse was your winner 78 to 55.
  • Kris Joseph led the Orange with 13 points on 4-10 shooting, hitting 4-4 from the free throw line. Dion waiters added 12 points, Scoop Jardine and Mookie Jones (yes, that Mookie) each added ten.
  • CJ Fair again led the team in rebounding with six. There was a pretty even effort at rebounding in this game.
  • Scoop Jardine almost had a double-double. He finished the game with nine assists.
  • Dion Waiters continued his defensive dominance with four steals.
  • Fab Melo had four blocks to lead the team. There were ten in the game for the Orange.
  • Syracuse only had eight turnovers in the game, with Fab Melo committing the most with three. Providence had 22 in the game.
  • Syracuse finished in the game shooting 43.5% (30-69) from the floor, 5-20 (25%) from three, and 13-18 (72.2%) from the free throw line. SU limited Providence to 35.1%, 21.4% (3-14), and 80% (12-15) respectively.
  • Providence outrebounded Syracuse again. This time only by 1, 38 to 37.
Syracuse takes on Pittsburgh on Monday night for Big Monday next. Pittsburgh is on a six game losing streak, including 0-5 in the Big East. In what can only be described as a garbage fire, Syracuse is facing them in the Carrier Dome at the best time. More on that later. For now, enjoy some football.

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Providence - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Time for another win against Providence.
Syracuse is looking to tie the school record for wins to start a season. Sitting at 18-0 they are playing Providence, who they defeated only a few games ago at Providence. Can the Orange keep the streak alive?
Providence is coming off their best win in an absolute demolishing of Louisville 90 to 59. Easily their best performance all season. In looking back, Syracuse beat Providence in the Dunk 87 to 73. The game was never really close after the 18 minute mark in the second half. The game was never closer than a two to three possession game down the stretch. Whenever Syracuse needed a basket they got one from someone in that game. Providence out-rebounded the Orange in their game as well which is of note. The simple fact is that Providence cannot keep up with the offensive output of Syracuse. They are also not nearly as good on the road as they are at home this season. While they played a perfect game at home versus Louisville, they obviously did not against Syracuse when they were there. Vincent Council is still the player to watch for Syracuse, averaging 16.4ppg. He is also great at distributing the ball, allowing others to score. Honestly I think this game will go about the same as it did in Providence, but with a much wider margin for most of the second half. I'm picking Syracuse by 14.
This game is on regionally on SNY, TWCS, ESPN 3 online, and any other network that shows Big East Network games. I'm not in the Dome today, so we'll be on the Twitters of course. Enjoy this on your laptop if you plan on also watching football.

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Scoop leaves his last game in front of his hometown Philly crowd #1
In a normal season, you'd see the schedule and see Syracuse at Villanova and that would be a hot ticket.  It would be a matchup between two top-25 teams, two teams in the upper echelon of the Big East, jockeying for position within the conference.  But evidently 2011-2012 is not a normal season.  Instead, this Syracuse at Villanova matchup featured two programs going in opposite directions.  Those trends continued on Wednesday night in a game that was never really close, as Syracuse beat Villanova 79-66.
  • While Syracuse sent the same starting five onto the court for the 18th straight game this season, it wasn't the starters in the spotlight.  The stars of this game were bench players Dion Waiters, CJ Fair, and James Southerland.  Not only were they the three top scorers (at 20, 9, and 15 respectively) but they were the playmakers.
  • Not to say the starters were bad, because they weren't.  But they left a lot to be desired.  Take Kris Joseph, for example.  In 30 minutes, he was only 2-9 shooting (0-4 from three) and a perfect 4-4 on free throws for eight points.  That's just abysmal shooting, and this team needs more out of its senior leader, especially one playing the most minutes for the team.
  • In all, the starters were 12-28 (43%) shooting for 32 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists.  The bench, meanwhile, was 16-35 (46%) shooting for 47 points, 22 rebounds, and six assists.
  • Dion Waiters had a usual great game, this time in front of his hometown Philadelphia crowd (has that been mentioned much?).  8-13 shooting (including 2-4 from three) for 20 points, five rebounds, five rebounds, and two assists.  Not to mention he rolled his ankle late in the first half and then still went out there in the second half and played like he didn't feel a thing.
  • Scoop Jardine didn't wow anyone with his play, but he gave his Philly phollowers a memorable moment when he caught an inbounds pass near halfcourt from CJ Fair with time expiring at the half and banked in a three pointer.
  • The banked three from Scoop was enough to get Dion to jump up out of his chair, limp-run over to Scoop, and do the most half-assed hip-bump I've ever seen.  Surely, that was all adrenaline.
  • The first half also saw Syracuse's patented offensive run, this time 20-2, to secure a lead they would not relinquish.  That's good though, because for the second straight game Syracuse basically traded baskets with its opponents in the second half.  In fact, Villanova outscored Syracuse in the second half 42-36.
  • Remember when we were concerned about Syracuse starting games slowly and then having to fight back and build a second half lead?  Yeah, that's over.
  • With a team this deep and a pretty clear rotation of players, it's not a matter of endurance or being gassed in the second half.  It's complacency.  There may be turmoil in the Big East, but there games won't get easier.  Syracuse gets beat in the game where they become so complacent that their opponent actually ties it up in the second half.  And, of course, takes a lead and keeps it at the end of the game.  That's how wins work.
  • Villanova is not a good basketball team.  Now at 8-9 on the season, 1-4 in the Big East, things look pretty grim.  The Wildcats will be in the unfamiliar territory of a Tuesday afternoon Big East Tournament game and, unless they rip off five consecutive wins in New York, they will be missing the NCAA Tournament.
  • Nova doesn't have any big-name players, any superstars, anything of note.  They're young and I'm sure Jay Wright will work his magic and get them back up to Nova standards soon, but with Syracuse leaving for the ACC (sometime...), we might never see it.
  • That said, Nova did have three players in double-digit scoring: Mouphtaou Yarou, Dominic Cheek, and JayVaughn Pinkston, all with 12.  The rest of the team was... meh.
  • Syracuse out-shot Villanova 44.4% to 32.8%.
  • Syracuse also held the rebounding margin 40-36.
  • The block party continues for the Orange, who had eight in this game.
  • Baye Keita's play off the bench hasn't been talked about here, but he had a pretty solid 19 minutes.  He knocked down two free throws, grabbed seven rebounds, and had two blocks.  I just wish I didn't have to hold my breath every time he touches the ball.  Nothing's wrapped anymore, so he has to be more confident in holding onto the ball.  That would help me feel better.
  • Jim Burr was on the call, along with Karl Hess and Michael Stephens.  A much better officiated game than the last two we've seen, but how about that crazy blocking call on Fab when he had the ball!  When asked about it after the game, Fab disagreed with the call.  And so do I.
And so, Syracuse leaves Philadelphia 18-0, 5-0 in the Big East, and returns Saturday to the Carrier Dome looking to match its best start in program history.  I didn't follow college basketball much while I was in high school (gasp!) but in 1999 I do remember seeing that headline about the Orangemen winning their 19th straight to open the season.  That was kinda cool.
Anyway, neither Brian nor I will be trekking up to the Dome on Saturday for the game against Providence.  My excuse?  My 49ers play the Saints in the NFC Divisional playoff game beginning at 4:30pm.  Due to my overwhelming need to watch both that game and the SU game, I'll be required to once again view from my command center in my living room.  So for those of you who will be in the Dome, be sure to cheer extra loudly for me.

Syracuse - Villanova Preview

Syracuse students agree: Villanova... wha happened?
Syracuse is still undefeated, having a three game week wrap up with a solid victory at home over #20 Marquette. Now they travel to Philadelphia to take on a Villanova team reeling right now. Normally Syracuse would be walking into a Villanova buzzsaw, but now there are several questions.
Syracuse by all accounts is the far better team on the court tonight. Syracuse is a perfect 17-0 on the season, with four solid wins in the Big East. Villanova, on the other hand, has lost three of four conference games with the lone win against DePaul and one of the losses against USF at home. The star of the team is clearly Maalik Wayns, who leads the team in scoring with 17.4ppg. He shoots the ball a lot and much of Villanova's offense runs through him. However, he does not shoot the long range shot well. He's only shooting 28.2% from long range. In the years that Villanova has found success over Syracuse, they have had solid outside shooting. Villanova does not have that this year. Therefore, the likelihood they will find success from working outside in is slim. The zone is built to take this team and shut them down. Villanova needs to have a perfect offensive night to upset the #1 Orange in their building. The good thing about Villanova is they do rebound the ball well, something Syracuse has had trouble with at times. But their defense will help, as well as rebounding off a lot of missed three point attempts. Watch for the battle between Fab Melo and Baye Moussa Kieta with Mouphtaou Yarou. Especially the foul situation. If Yarou gets in trouble with fouls, this game should get ugly in Syracuse's favor real quick. Syracuse just needs to play a solid offensive game and continue to play good zone defense. This should be an easy one unless Scottie Reynolds gets more eligibility. Syracuse is your winner by 17.
This game will be available nationally on ESPN 2 tonight, along with ESPN 3 on the internets. You should be able to watch wherever you are. I'll be joining John in his game watching command center and I'm sure we'll be talking about our game, as well as the other Big East games on tonight. We'll be watching all three. Set your snark meter to 11.

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Orange::44's Bowl Pick'em Results

Those oranges are actually plastic, I wouldn't try to eat them
As advertised here on Orange::44, we held a College Bowl Pick'em game over at yahoo.com for our loyal readers.  The rules were simple: register a slate of picks, rank your confidence on each pick, and sit back & wait.  The winner was promised a shout-out here on the blog, to be internet-famous for a hot minute.
SHOUT OUT!
To our winner, JasonL!  He was our winner, having correctly picked the winner in 28 out of 35 bowl games, finishing with a final points total of 529.
How does one win points?  Confidence rankings.  As there were 35 bowl games, there was a score 1-35 assigned for each game, based on how confident you were that the team you picked would beat the other team.  For example, my most confident pick was Boise State in the MAACO bowl to beat Arizona State.  I was correct, so that pick earned me 35 points.  My least confident pick was the New Orleans Bowl, where Louisiana Lafayette inched away with a 32-30 win over San Diego State.  My correct pick earned me one whole point there.  So basically, it was much more than just picking winners; you had to pick winners AND earn the most confidence points.  Good stuff.
Thank you to all 16 people who participated.  One other entry also correctly picked 28-35, but fell 28 points short of the title.
Other entries of note: Brian was 24-35 for 440 points -- good enough for 5th place overall.  I had it a bit worse, only going 20-35 for 403 points, a modest 10th place finish.  I had a lot of disappointments, including LSU crapping out on me. Oh well.  I hope fun was had by all!

BlogPoll 2011 - Final Ballot

*They beat LSU, but I still have Alabama #2. Oklahoma State beat Stanford and in my last poll I had Oklahoma State #2 and Alabama #3. They both won. They both move up.
*West Virginia and Michigan jump the most. I just can't put WVU in the Top 10 with 3 losses, but they are close. Michigan deserves to be higher than the bowl losers. They also beat a tough VTech team, even though they always suck in the BCS.
*Sun Devils. Did anyone pick them against Boise except alumni? They barely hang on at #25.
*I would have put Baylor high for their offensive output (I do think RGIII is great), but that team didn't play any defense.
*No movement for USC. No bowl game to judge.
Anything crazy? Let me know. Otherwise we'll see you back here next year for more ballots.

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"So Timmy, how we gonna screw Syracuse?"  "Oh, we will, John. We will."
Before I get into the recap here, let me give a big thanks to the Post-Standard and photographer Frank Ordonez.  That gem there is Frank's work, and he has a collection of 25 awesome shots over at syracuse.com so go check that out after you're done reading this.
Of all the games Syracuse has seen on its schedule so far this season, this was the one that, looking at it before the game, made me the uneasiest.  The Golden Eagles are always a dangerous team, have a ton of different ways to beat you, and of course got us twice last year.  The only team to beat Syracuse twice last year.  And the team that sent us home in the NCAA Tournament.  Add to that a #20 next to their name and the huge lead they had against Georgetown the other night, and that was creating a possibility that things would be difficult.  Now, of course, they lost that lead -- and that game -- to Georgetown, so they can be beaten.  And, though it was a struggle, Syracuse held on to beat Marquette on Saturday 73-66.
  • Syracuse came right out of the gate in this one and played a terrific first half.
  • Great first half play was capped by a huge 19-0 run from 11:57 to 2:19.  Talk about a scoring drought!  Obviously, credit the Syracuse defense on that.
  • Leading the way for Syracuse was Kris Joseph, who in a game-high 38 minutes scored 17 points on 5-8 shooting, including 4-4 on threes, had four rebounds, four assists, and two steals.  You want solid play from your senior leader?  That's it.  Do it that way every night, Kris!
  • Brandon Triche had another monster game, again dropping in 16 points on 5-12 shooting, 4-9 from three, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a block.  Brandon's stat line is impressive, but it doesn't tell much about how clutch it was.  The shots that he hit, the rebounds that he grabbed, if you look at where in the game they happened, they all really helped Syracuse keep its lead.
  • Kris and Brandon were the only starters in double-digit scoring.  Fab had six in 18 minutes, Scoop just three in 24 minutes, and Rakeem scoreless in his token five minutes.
  • Rakeem just wasn't cutting it today.  In his five minutes, he missed two shots, grabbed a rebound, and fouled twice.  Head Coach Jim Boeheim quickly realized this wouldn't be the kind of game where you can rely on a freshman forward who isn't so used to the extreme physical play of the Big East.
  • Rakeem's benching allowed for the healthy-enough-to-play Baye Keita to log 20 minutes.  Baye only scored four points, but two of them came on free throws down the stretch that, as Boeheim noted, really helped seal the game for Syracuse when Marquette was within two.  Baye was also active in the zone, with two blocked shots.  Of his five total rebounds, three came on the offensive boards, giving the Orange a chance for second chance points.
  • Two of my favorite players on Syracuse lately are Dion Waiters and CJ Fair.  The minutes and the determination they provide this team off the bench are no doubt the envy of the league.  CJ scored 13 points in 30 minutes, while Dion tallied 12 on 28 minutes.  Fair was all over the boards with eight (leading the team with Fab Melo in that category), and Waiters dished out seven assists to lead the team.
  • Bottom line with those two guys, CJ and Dion, is that they just go out there and produce.  They're consistent and they're good.  If CJ is the glue guy (he's more than that), Dion must be the concrete guy.  He doesn't break easy, and he's solid as concrete.
  • To give credit where credit's due, Marquette played a great game.  They were physical, they shot the ball well, and they made the adjustments at the half necessary to go out there and close the 37-19 halftime gap.  And close it they did!
  • Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams got the most out of his starters, with three of them in double-digit scoring (Darius Johnson-Odom with 19, Jae Crowder with 15, and Junior Cadougan with 10) and the other two starters with nine (Davante Gardner and Vander "Powder" Blue).
  • Buzz had a constant rotations of substitutions, going to four bench players to keep his starters fresh.  While the bench logged 45 minutes, the bench scored four points.  I mean, Todd Mayo scored four points.
  • If you were in the Dome for this one, you know that Buzz Williams was the biggest source of consternation for Cuse fans.  Being on the court and being beyond the line of the coaching box is Buzz's style, and in this one he went wherever he wanted.  At one point, literally the entire Carrier Dome crowd of 25,412 was on its feet chanting "GET OFF THE COURT!"
  • It doesn't bother me that a coach might be fired up and coming out of the coaching box to help out his players.  What bothers me is that this coaching box rule was solidified by the Rules Committee a couple years ago, and became a point of emphasis.  A violation (usually after a warning) is supposed to result in a technical foul.  I think Jim Boeheim had to change his in-game coaching style a bit when that rule came down (I believe he actually led the charge on that, actually), so to see him abide by that rule and others just totally disregard it -- with no consequence from the officials -- is what bothers me about it all.  So, am I mad at Buzz?  No, because he saw he could get away with it.  I'm mad at Tim Higgins, John Cahill, and John Gaffney.
  • Higgins, Cahill, and Gaffney were the officials in this game.  We didn't think things could get much worse than what we saw in Providence last Wednesday, but it sure seemed like this was worse.  Fab Melo was in foul trouble virtually the entire game, and picked up a flagrant for throwing what they must have determined to be an inadvertent elbow.  I haven't had the luxury of seeing the replay on that, but in real time from my seats in section 309 I didn't see anything other than a heap of powder blue fall to the floor.
  • You might not believe this, but Marquette had 21 personal fouls to Syracuse's 18.
  • Syracuse shot an abysmal 39.3% from the floor vs. the slightly better Golden Eagles' 40.4%.  At the end of the day, the difference came from three-point shooting (Syracuse won 40% to 23%) and free throw shooting (Syracuse won 74% to 61%).
  • Syracuse out-rebounded Marquette 40-34.  Syracuse also won on the offensive boards 13-9.
  • Uncharacteristic for the Orange, the turnover margin was only +1 (16-15).
Syracuse is now getting a good, healthy dose of "Humongous Target On Our Backs."  This team will be facing adversity on every aspect of the game: from the opposition, to the officials.  The solution is not to make excuses about those things, but to overcome them.  And that's what Syracuse did on Saturday afternoon.  If the officials are going to throw you for a loop and call a certain game, change your game strategy or change your lineup.  With a team as deep as this, Syracuse can do so almost flawlessly.  The key, obviously, will be to keep these guys as healthy as possible so they can continue to be as deep as they are.  Boeheim has a lineup for virtually any situation, and his Hall of Fame credentials make him the best equipped to use this deep bench to put the best five out there in any situation.
Saturday was a day of upheaval in the Big East.  #9 Georgetown lost to West Virginia; Rutgers beat #8 UConn ;and Notre Dame beat #10 Louisville.  Syracuse held on for the victory, to improve to 17-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big East, which leads you to question who else in the conference is going to step up?  You hate to say that, because you're asking for an opportunity to eat your words in a few weeks when Syracuse gets beat.  But it will happen, eventually.  I mean, right?  Or does the fact that Pittsburgh and Villanova sitting winless at the bottom of the conference standings mean there's been a huge shift in power that could create the perfect storm for Syracuse?
Speaking of Villanova, the Wildcats are the next opponent for Syracuse.  The Orange travel to Philly for a Wednesday night tilt at 7:00pm, which can be seen nationally on ESPN2.  Look for the typical pre- and postgame coverage here on Orange::44.

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Marquette - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Before Wednesday this would have been a troubling game.
Syracuse is still undefeated. After handling two road games in the league, Syracuse is back in the Dome for a matchup against the team that defeated them in the NCAA Tournament the year before. Revenge has been easy to obtain in the Dome this season, so will that also be the case today?
Marquette comes in fresh off a major collapse on the road against Georgetown. Up 17 points in the second half, Georgetown was able to come back and win by three in the Verizon Center. Before that, they had a four point win against Villanova at home. Villanova just lost to USF the other night. Before that Marquette lost to Vanderbilt at home 74 to 57. Offensively, Marquette is not as good as we once though. Frankly, despite having a trio if pretty good three point shooters, I'm not sure how Marquette is going to penetrate the SU 2-3 Zone. Fab Melo is assuredly much better defensively last season. Darius Johnson-Odom hits the outside shot 39.2%. He can keep Marquette in a game. Todd Mayo really impressed me in the first half against Georgetown off the bench as well. And obviously Jae Crowder is a dynamic player that can shoot and dribble penetrate. He can also rebound pretty well. This is a short team though. They only have one player above 6'7''. They will have trouble against Fab Melo in rebounding and getting into the paint. The biggest question is if Baye Moussa Kieta is still unable to play due to a sore hip. If he cannot come in to replace Melo when/if he gets into foul trouble, Syracuse will have to simply go with a smaller lineup like we saw in good chucks of the Providence game. While Marquette will hit some outside shots, they will have trouble setting up any other shots for their offense. If Syracuse limits their transition game, something they also excel at like Syracuse, this game will not be close. I do think they hang around until about midway through the second half however. But Syracuse will hold on to win again in a nice conference match. Syracuse is your winner by 13.
This game is again sadly on ESPN's regional coverage. Tune in on TWCS, SNY, or ESPN 3 at 4:00pm EST. I'm not in the Dome today, but John is so look for updates from him. He'll be back with the recap sometime soon. Hopefully it's still more happy news.

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Yes Jim, those officials in Providence were terrible.
It's only been a few days into 2012 but it's already been fantastic for the Orange. Now 16-0, with three wins in the Big East, Syracuse is still riding high atop the polls. And with recent wins of Seton Hall over UConn and DePaul over Pittsburgh, Syracuse has become the team to beat in every measurable way. So before we take on Marquette this Saturday, let's look back at the week Syracuse has had.
Syracuse v. DePaul
Syracuse started the game strong against DePaul. Syracuse shot well and the defense was stingy. The Orange were up at the half 45-26, especially with DePaul shooting 30.8% from the floor, missing all eight three point attempts. That was the game. Syracuse and DePaul literally traded baskets in the second half, each scoring 42 points. Syracuse was the winner 87 to 68.
  • Kris Joseph was the leading scorer for Syracuse with 22 points. He also led with seven rebounds for the team. He shot 7-15 from the floor, and also 7-9 from the free throw line.
  • CJ Fair had 16 points off the bench and played 29 minutes. He went 6-6 from the floor and was 4-4 on free throws. He also added five rebounds. He is quietly having a fantastic season.
  • Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters tied for leading the team with three assists each.
  • Seven players had at least one steal. The team had ten.
  • Fab Melo finished the game with six blocks. He also added 12 points, hitting 6-7 shots.
  • Syracuse shot 58.6% from the floor.
  • Not as good was 25% from behind the arc (3-12).
  • The team had 11 blocks total, but did have 16 turnovers.
  • Syracuse limited DePaul to shooting 40.3% from the floor and just 3-18 (16.7%) from behind the arc.
  • Syracuse led in all statistical categories except free throws (Depaul hit 15-20) and assists (DePaul had 16, one more than Syracuse).
Syracuse v. Providence
This game was a little tougher for the Orange. The Providence fan base proved a little more noise and energy in The Dunk than DePaul. And Providence came out ready. The first half was a back and forth affair, with Syracuse only up by two at the break. Then Syracuse came out firing in the second half. While Providence fought hard, just like that Syracuse had a double digit lead. They never gave that lead up. They ended up winning 87 to 73.
  • Brandon Triche was the leading scorer with 16 points on 6-8, 4-5 shooting. He really gave Syracuse the lead in the second half with two huge three point shots.
  • Rakeem Christmas led Syracuse in rebounding with five.
  • Scoop Jardone scored ten points and lead the team with 11 assists. That's a double-double.
  • Syracuse again shot the ball well with 61.1% and 58.8% (10-17) from behind the arc.
  • Syracuse was outrebounded again 26 to 22. Guess they deserve to be ranked 4th.
  • Syracuse led in every other category except free throw percentage.
  • Providence way overachieved with their offense in this game. Shooting under 30% from behind the arc, they hit 46.2% from behind the arc, and scored 73 points. They scored 40 their previous game. This was their first conference game at home however.
  • This was easily the worst officiated game Syracuse has appeared in all season. By far. And no Tim Higgins or Jim Burr.
  • RIP Dave Gavitt.
Syracuse next takes on Marquette back in the Carrier Dome this Saturday. While this would have looked daunting a couple of days ago, they just blew a 17 point lead to Georgetown in DC, losing by three. So who knows which team will show up. But when you're #1 you have to assume your opponent will come out hot in their offense. Should be a fun one.

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Syracuse - Providence Preview

Syracuse student agree: The Dunk will be apply named tonight.
Syracuse is still #1 in the country. They are #1 still after handling their two Big East opponents so far. And for some reason there is tons of "trap game" talk for tonight. Is the 9:00pm start fooling everyone?
I watched a good portion of the second half of the Providence v. Georgetown game on New Year's Eve. In 40 minutes of basketball, Providence scored a total of 40 points. They shot 25.5% from the floor, and 3-13 from behind the arc. Oof. Oddly, they only had 13 turnovers in the game. That means that Providence was content to slow the ball down and run their half court offense. The problem was, against Georgetown, a weaker defense than Syracuse, Providence had trouble running any sets. Think Seton Hall against the Orange in the Dome. And while Providence has had a few days to prepare for the Orange, Providence does not nearly have the experience at the center position like Seton Hall does. The best offense against the 2-3 Zone comes from putting the ball in the hands of your center around the free throw line to either drive inside more, take a jump shot, or kick it back out. Herb Pope, one of the best big men in the conference, only managed four points against Syracuse. And he's far better at the position currently than Kadeem Batts, LaDontae Henton, or bench player Bilal Dixon. And despite great intentions, unless something magical happens, Providence isn't going to shoot the nine three pointers it would probably take to threaten taking out the top scoring team in the league. One thing Providence does do well is rebound though, so they should have a lot of possessions off of missed Syracuse baskets. The problem is that Syracuse will steal the ball and  get some easy run outs. Not to mention the fact that Syracuse plays ten guys, who all can score. Providence plays seven. This is the kind of game that does not favor Providence in the slightest if it turns into a run and gun type of track meet. Gerard Coleman can score against inferior defenses, but he is just not good at shooting from long range. Vincent Council leads the Friars in scoring with 16.1ppg and also in assists at 6.6, but will have trouble against Fab Melo and the other Syracuse defenders inside. Providence last took down #1 in a Pittsburgh team in February of 2009 in the Dunk. But that Providence team had more overall talent on the team. Lifetime Providence is 2-10 against #1, but that should be changed to 2-11 after tonight. No trap game here. No magic should be at hand. While clearly Syracuse is not invincible, an abnormal amount of things have to go the Friars' way if they want to pull off the upset. The probability is staggering. I'm picking Syracuse, a team that can actually score in a Big East league game, by 29.
This game is a rare 9:00pm start for the Orange, maximizing the television coverage as there are several other league games on tonight at 7:00pm. This game will be available nationally on ESPN 3, but will be available on SNY and TWCS. I'll be at the laptop helm during the game tonight so I look forward to making fun of the Providence mascot with you all. We'll be back later this week with a wrap up from DePaul and this game.

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