|Nobody knew what it was they were watching|
After the excitement of Syracuse's Pinstripe Bowl victory, Orange fans turned their attention to a little basketball game being played in the Carrier Dome. Supposedly nearly 20,000 actually attended this game, while many of us gathered in bars around NYC and asked bartenders to put SNY on the TVs. Big shoutout to Murphy's on 2nd Ave for their hospitality, food, and drinks. Anyway, it's a good thing this establishment had alcohol, because the basketball game between Syracuse and Alcorn State was awful. Syracuse played poorly but, thankfully, the Braves were worse. Syracuse wins 57-36.
- CJ Fair led the way for the Orange with a 13-point performance on 6-12 shooting. The only other double-digit scorer for Syracuse was Trevor Cooney, with 12.
- Cooney played 26 minutes, and actually provided the Orange with a spark in the second half, hitting a three for the first field goal of the half -- with 11:26 to go in the game!
- After a 32-point output by Syracuse in the first half, you would have thought scoring would not have been such an issue. But this team seems to be defying conventional wisdom lately.
- Syracuse shot a putrid 37.5% for the game, 20% from three, and 42.9% at the line.
- Syracuse won the rebounding battle 39-28, only committed 15 turnovers, and stole the ball 13 times.
- With the Braves committing 28 turnovers -- that's right, 28 -- Syracuse was able to capitalize and score 26 points off those turnovers. Being able to make something out of your opponent's mistakes is a valuable skill, and not only did that keep Syracuse in this game, but the Orange will need to do that in Big East play.
- Another good stat: Syracuse led in points in the paint 32-18. The Syracuse zone wasn't especially effective, but it certainly had the Braves stifled.
- In 2010, Syracuse finished the regular season at 7-5.
- In 2012, Syracuse finished the regular season at 7-5.
- In 2010, the San Francisco Giants (my favorite baseball team) won the World Series.
- In 2012, the San Francisco Giants (still my favorite baseball team) won the World Series.
- In 2010, every seat in the House of Representatives and one-third of the seats in the Senate was up for election.
- In 2012, every seat in the House of Representatives and one-third of the seats in the Senate was up for election.
- In 2010, Syracuse was selected by the Pinstripe Bowl to be the game's representative from the Big East.
- In 2012, Syracuse was selected by the Pinstripe Bowl to be the game's representative from the Big East.
- In 2010, a major snowstorm struck the northeast in the days leading up to the Pinstripe Bowl, forcing snow to be plowed from the field at Yankee Stadium.
- In 2012, a major snowstorm struck the northeast in the days leading up to the Pinstripe Bowl, forcing snow to be plowed from the field at Yankee Stadium.
- In 2010, Syracuse won the Pinstripe Bowl.
Anyway, onto the game. Unlike most bowl match-ups where two teams from different conferences that know little to nothing about each other play, Syracuse and West Virginia have a history. An annual history. To the point that the annual winner took the Schwartzwalder Trophy* (not this time). Bottom line is, these two teams know each other. The Mountaineers know Ryan Nassib, and the Orange know Geno Smith. Thing is, Syracuse beat WVU the last couple times out. I know, personnel change; coaches change; schemes change. But that's no different than what these two teams would deal with prepping for their annual conference tilt. This year's WVU squad features a high-powered offense and a porous defense. Those are clearly the strengths and weaknesses, respectively, for this Mountaineer team. Syracuse in 2012 has featured a more balanced attack, with no one squad consistently dominating but rather the team just finding ways to win games. Of note is West Virginia's center being out for this game for academic reasons. Syracuse has some suspensions of its own, but I think those are in areas where others can pick up the slack. Geno Smith needs clean snaps in order to be effective, especially given the weather forecast of mid-30s with snow. If Syracuse can exploit that, create some turnovers, and limit Mountaineer offensive possessions that result in scores, then the Orange has a good chance in this game. If I'm Doug Marrone, I want the ball first: get out there, pick apart the WVU secondary, and put points on the board. Then go out there and play the defense of your life. If Syracuse can grab the early lead and put Geno & company on their heels, Syracuse has a good chance of winning. Despite the vulnerable WVU secondary, Syracuse must establish a balanced attack on offense and throw in plenty of play action, so the defenders are always guessing. Defensively, Syracuse needs to contain Geno Smith. Easier said than done, and obviously don't get frustrated when he throws for touchdowns; it's gonna happen. But it's all about the pressure, creating turnovers, or field goals instead of touchdowns. In last year's Friday night game in the Dome against West Virginia, Syracuse won, in a blowout. The Pinstripe Bowl won't be a blowout, but I pick Syracuse to win on Brian's 30th birthday 44-35.
In case you missed it earlier, check out the back and forth I had with Chris Sedenka of The Jack Fleming Society here, along with my answers on their site here.
Yes, that's right. Internet rumors are true, this game is being played on my 30th Birthday. While we'll have fun either way, a win would go a long way in ensuring a great time in NYC the entire weekend. Either way, it should be a great game to watch. The game is on ESPN at 3:15pm. So find your seat or your television. I may be dead on Sunday, but we live the dream Saturday. And as always, GO ORANGE!
Chris: There were a few factors. The first being that the terrible defense finally caught up with WVU. The unit got away with it against Baylor and Texas. However, when a unit is that bad it's only a matter of time before it gets burned. So, the minute the offense slipped, WVU fell off. The amount of pressure put on Geno Smith and the offense was just too much. If WVU had to punt a few times early they would find themselves down two scores in no time. It just became impossible for them to keep up with efficient teams. After a few losses the team's confidence was noticeably shaken, and games that should have been wins just ended up being garbage fires. It took a Herculean effort led by Tavon Austin to right the ship.
O::44: How have the fans reacted to now playing Big XII opponents?
Chris: It's been a great transition. Sure, the season hasn't gone the way most would want, but it really has been fun. Changing UConn and Rutgers to Oklahoma and Texas has been incredibile. Especially for one of the lone Big East schools that was football-first. I think most fans would love to still have Pitt and Syracuse on the schedule, but really nothing else is a huge miss from the Big East.
O::44: What is the most important unit to the success of West Virginia?
Chris: It would have to be the offense. The defense just doesn't have the talent to keep WVU in games, so the offense better be hitting. Look for WVU to use Austin a lot early to try and create some big plays. The Mountaineers will give up points, so Geno and the offense better be ready to keep pace.
O::44: Obviously the WVU offense can score. Why does the defense have such trouble stopping opponents?
Chris: A lack of consistent pass rush, which then kills very weak cover corners and backers. There's just not a lot of talent, experience or depth at those positions, and it has really hurt WVU. The middle of the field is pretty good. The Mountaineers can and have stopped the run. However, the pass has simply murdered WVU all year. If Ryan Nassib has a good pocket, he will pick the secondary apart.
O::44: Most fans don't seem happy being in the Pinstripe Bowl. Why is that? What are your thoughts?
Chris: The fans are ridiculous. A bowl game is a bowl game. Anytime you make the postseason it's a good season. The problem is many thought this team had a chance to make a serious run at the BCS this year. That was never going to happen with the defense that WVU put on the field.
It's also great for a big alumni base that typically is untapped. Folks don't understand how big the northeast WVU alumni base is. Northern New Jersey and New York have very good alumni numbers, and I expect a decent showing in the Bronx. Plus, it's not a bad drive from Maine, so I'll take it.
O::44: WVU is favored, but the crowd will definitely be more SU fans than WVU. I think this game is more of a push, don't you agree?
Chris: This game is completely a push. There should be more Cuse fans, but I still expect a nice showing of blue and gold. On the field we have two offenses that will probably dictate the game. If you're a betting man take the over.
O::44: Final predictions?
Chris: First to 40! I'll take WVU 42-40 Maybe they'll have the ball last. I really dont expect WVU to stop Syracuse. I also think Geno, Tavon and Stedman Bailey will have huge final games for the Mountaineers. Plus, Dana Holgorsen will have nearly a month to create some crazy gameplan.
Thanks to Chris and the fellas over at the site. My answers to his questions can be found here, so be sure to check those out as well. We'll be seeing Chris in New York and there's a Twitter bet on the line so stay tuned.
- James Southerland was the leading scorer for the Orange, who had another great day from behind the arc. He was 7-12 from the floor and 5-8 from 3. He drilled several huge shots in this game. He finished with 22 points in 31 minutes on the floor.
- Michael Carter-Williams was the only other Syracuse player in double digits for scoring. He finished with 12 points, ten assists, and he made 9-10 free throws. He also had six turnovers however, leading the team in that category.
- Rakeem Christmas had a solid game, earning seven points and eight rebounds. He continues to be very solid on defense as well.
- Brandon Triche had a rough night, fouling out in the last few minutes of the game and going 1-6 on the day. He'll have games like this, which is fine. He'll be having far more successful games more often than not.
- Syracuse lost all of their momentum near the end of the game. They were content to run the game out with ten minutes left, letting up on defense and failing to be as aggressive or creative on offense as they had been earlier in the game. This led to Detroit severely closing the scoring gap, outscoring the Orange 47 to 32 in the second half.
- Syracuse shot 46.8% from the floor and 37.5% (6-16) from behind the arc. Detroit shot a very close 46.7% from the floor, but only shot 16.7% (3-18) from three. That was probably the difference in this game as that is well below the usual average of Detroit, a very talented shooting team.
- Jim Boeheim wins #900, joining Coach K and Bobby Knight. Boeheim is the only coach of the three to do it all at one school.
- Several Syracuse players walk away with decent stats from this game, due in large part to the second half effort.
- The leading scorer was James Southerland, who had 21 points on 9-14 shooting, including 3-6 from three. Also in double digit scoring was Brandon Triche (19), Michael Carter-Williams (12), and Rakeem Christmas (10).
- MCW recorded yet another double-double with 12 points and 14 assists. Of note is that he only had one assist the entire first half. I see a correlation.
- The starting five plus James Southerland logged the majority of the minutes for the Orange. Other than those six, the only other player with meaningful time was Baye Moussa Keita with ten minutes.
- Aside from the offense improving after halftime, the defense really stepped things up in the second half. Syracuse ended the game with seven blocks and nine steals.
- Other second half nuggets: Syracuse held the Griffins to two points in the paint and two fast break points in the second half.
- On the flip side for the second half, Syracuse scored 26 points in the paint and had 12 fast break points.
- Canisius had 19 turnovers.
- Billy Baron can ball. Good bloodlines there. Thankfully his 15 points wasn't enough to do it for the Griffins.
- Isaac Sosa can shoot the three -- Saturday night he hit five of his nine attempts.
- As a team, though, Canisius shot poorly for the game: 35.1%.
- Syracuse was 46.4% in the first half and 61.76% in the second for a total of 54.8%.
- Free throws are becoming an Achilles Heel for the Orange again, as only 50% of their shots from the charity stripe fell in. That's not gonna kill you against a team like Canisius (though it was evident in the first half), but this needs to improve for Syracuse to be successful in close Big East games.
- Brandon Triche was the leading scorer with 18 points. He also added eight assists and five rebounds. It was a quiet 18 points as a lot of the attention was on Michael Carter-Williams and Trevor Cooney, but Triche continues to have a great season as the reliable but understated scoring guard.
- Speaking of MCW, he had 15 points on 6-10 shooting (2-4 from behind the arc). But finishing with 16 assists (3rd all time in a game for Syracuse) was the biggest news of the day. He also had five steals, four blocks, and only three turnovers.
- DaJuan Coleman also had a nice game. He pulled down 14 rebounds and earned 11 points on 4-11 shooting. He is looking more confident in the post in each outing he does. He needs to decide more between banking short shots or just trying to put it in. In between those two options do not work.
- CJ Fair earned another double-double getting 14 points and ten rebounds. He continues to be the glue guy of this team.
- Rakeem Christmas had a good day earning 11 points on 5-7 shooting, and blocked four shots. Granted, most were slam dunks, the highest of high percentage shots.
- James Southerland didn't hit any three pointers, but he did make 6-11, for 14 points off the bench. He also added three rebounds and two steals.
- Baye Moussa Keita is still very solid on the defensive end. He also pulled down ten rebounds in this game.
- Trevor Cooney continued his good shooting in this game by hitting 5-10 from the floor and 5-9 from long range for for 15 points in 20 minutes on the floor.
- Syracuse finished the first half and continued the second half on a 21-0 run, putting the game definitely out of reach for the Hawks.
- Syracuse hit 51.2% and 36.7% (11-30) from long range. The Hawks hit 31.8% and 25% (5-20) respectively. Syracuse did take a dip only hitting 48.1% (13-27) from the free throw line.
- Syracuse obviously led in rebounding. It was 58 to 29. They also led in assists 30 to 12. Syracuse also only had 15 turnovers to the Hawks' 21.
- I'm not exactly sure which Syracuse player I want to talk about first, because this was a very balanced attack, with a lot of different contributions from a lot of different Orange players. So, for a writer, this is a good problem to have.
- CJ Fair I guess will get the nod, since he was the team's high scorer. 16 points on 6-10 shooting, 1-1 from three, 3-4 from the line, and 13 rebounds. Yes, a CJ Fair double-double.
- Michael Carter-Williams also had a double-double, but hit stats were a bit different. MCW's 15 points coupled with his ten assists to give him the honor. In his team-high 32 minutes, he was as active as you'd want a guard to be. One facet of his game which really seems to be coming along nicely is his outside shooting. In this game he was 3-8. If I had to nit-pick anything, it would be MCW's overall shooting percentage: 5-16 or 31%. You're not always gonna see great shooting days, but his contributions overall were fantastic.
- Brandon Triche, Rakeem Christmas, and Trevor Cooney each had 11 points. Specifically, Cooney's 3-point shot is really coming along. I'm glad he's gaining that confidence, because obviously he knew from practice he could shoot. It can't be easy to snap your fingers and have that translate into good game shooting, so getting used to the college game, the Carrier Dome, whatever it was, it all seems to be coming together now.
- This is really important because guard is the position this team not only needs production from, but is the least deep. You can always get that game-long rotation of Triche, MCW, and Cooney, but all three of them have to be able to contribute -- otherwise those Cooney stretches will just be garbage time. So, keep up the good work, Trevor!
- Though DaJuan Coleman had an 0-for shooting day, I still say he had a good night on the floor. He was active on the defensive end, grabbing eight of his nine rebounds there. He also had three blocks and served as an imposing presence beneath the basket. The more he plays the more he learns the college game, and it's coming along nicely.
- Jerami Grant with another solid contribution off the bench, with nine points and five rebounds. He probably not going to be a player this team needs to consistently rely upon, but to be comfortable with him being on the court and helping the team where he can, that's a great asset to have.
- Syracuse led in rebounding 53-39, in assists 21-15, and in shooting 41% to 29%.
- DaJuan Coleman led Syracuse in scoring with 14 points. He went 5-6 from the floor, and interestingly was 4-4 from the free throw line. He also had five rebounds and two steals. This was a slower paced game than Arkansas was, so Coleman could settle in and really worked well in the low post. Granted he was playing Eastern Michigan and not a Big East team, but Da'Shonte Riley started so it's not like this was some scrub team. Coleman played well for sure.
- Michael Carter-Williams led Syracuse in rebounding with seven on the day. He also added 11 points and 11 assists. However, he did have six turnovers, leading the team in that category.
- Brandon Triche added 12 points on the day. His day was not as good though, hitting 5-11. He also added four rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
- CJ Fair had nine points, but it came on 3-10 shooting. He also added five rebounds. Shockingly his mid-range jumper was off in this game and he really never got going in this game offensively.
- Jerami Grant, welcome aboard. While playing sparingly in San Diego, this was his first game with significant minutes. And he made good use of them. He scored 11 points on 4-4 shooting, 1-1 from long range in 15 minutes on the floor. If he continues to get decent minutes in these games he could actually see some time during conference play, but more importantly will be a nice role player next season and during his career.
- Trevor Cooney. Trevor, Trevor, Trevor. Still good on defense. Offense still needs to improve. He did actually manage to hit two long balls. He was 2-6 shooting from behind the arc. He was 3-8 in the game in 18 minutes. The Dome clearly wanted him to finally hit one and the crowd was very loud when he finally did.
- Syracuse hit 44.1% (30-68) from the floor and 22.7% (5-22) from behind the arc. Eastern Michigan was 29.5% and 21.1% respectively.
- Syracuse led in every statistical category. However, Syracuse did have 18 turnovers in the game. Syracuse, going forward, needs to commit to better ball control and passing. As MCW grows more into the starting point guard roll that should improve.
OK so maybe most of that isn't true. But I do help write a blog. This one. And this one does an annual Bowl Pick'em over at Yahoo! fantasy sports. This year's group is #6374 and with a Yahoo! account you can register your picks with our group by clicking here. Last year we did confidence picks, but this year we're going straight up, most correct wins. You may or may not win the Schwartzwalder Trophy. This will be determined at a later date. But either way, you'll win bragging rights; which means a lot around here. Good luck!
- James Southerland was obviously the best player in the game. He earned a career high 35 points on 12-17 shooting and 9-13 from behind the line. He also added six rebounds and a block. His offense was masterful. Honestly, the only shot he can't hit is wide open at the top of the key. For some reason.
- CJ Fair was solid in his 39 minutes on the floor. He was 5-10 from the floor, good for 14 points, four rebounds, and two assists.
- Both Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams each finished with 17 points. Triche was ice cold for most of the game, but in the second half when the game got close he hit three big shots in a row to give Syracuse a nice cushion. MCW generally played well, but had some spectacularly dumb moments like taking a really long three when the game got close. He settled down after Boeheim to him to run the offense. MCW also had nine assists.
- Trevor Cooney is good at defense in the 2-3 zone. Trevor Cooney was not good at anything else in the game. Including free throws.
- Baye Keita had some productive minutes on the defensive end of the court, and pulled down six rebounds. He also added three points.
- DaJuan Coleman is also a power defensive presence but you can tell he is raw in the post and on offense. He was 1-5 from the floor, but the good news is he should improve. Additionally, the more in shape he gets the more he can handle games like this that are up and down.
- Syracuse led the game in rebounds, assists, and blocks. Sadly, they did not in turnovers however. Syracuse had 19 to Arkansas' 14.
- Syracuse hit 48.5% (33-68) from the floor, and 42.3% (11-26) from behind the arc. This is in start contrast from Arkansas which went 38.7% (24-62) and 20.8% (5-24) respectively.
* Kent State and Georgia tie for biggest falls. Northern Illinois jumps the most. Then head to a BCS Bowl in real life, but they are out of the Top 16 on my poll.
* Georgia played a hell of a game against Alabama, but they had to drop below the other teams that were idle or won their game this last week.
* Alabama takes the top spot, with Notre Dame behind. I like Oregon and the rest of the teams the way they are. I think maybe Florida would be the only one a little below where they should be, but they didn't have a game to elevate themselves before the final standings.
* Florida State won the ACC but it was only by a score against then 6-6 GTech, so they didn't move up.
As always, if you see something crazy send a comment. Let's hope the powers that be at the BlogPoll call me out again. I can't wait to go off again. Last I checked you made a poll and then if the teams play and someone loses you drop them. That's what I did with Georgia here. WOOOOW! THE PROCESS WORKS!