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Cue the Smiling Child!

Syracuse beat Boston College to become bowl eligible, and this smiling child looks ready to leave his nest!

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Boston College Quick Predictions

Reminder: Boston College isn't actually in Boston.
The Orange let chance after chance slip through their fingers against Pittsburgh. But not all the chances. Syracuse has one more game in the season and one more opportunity to get back to a bowl game, after most people predicted them to only get four wins. Sadly, this is an uphill battle.
Boston College is not that great a team. But, they are a pretty good team. They do have an absolute stud in RB Andre Williams. He is the main strength of the team. They have overachieved in some games, and beat some teams they probably shouldn't have hung with. And they are currently better than Syracuse, especially when you consider that most of the starting offense is listed as out for this game. While Terrel Hunt is clearly better than Drew Allen, he still is not a top flight quarterback. Nor does he have that many people that are talented to throw to. The Syracuse receivers really can't create that much space and Hunt can't thread the needle that often. He might have exhausted his last big play of the season on an amazing TD throw in the last game. Jerome Smith will be his usual workhorse self, and he should have some nice runs in this game. But the Syracuse offense is just not good. They can't consistently move the ball down the field and score. The defense bends and doesn't break that often, but bending still lets the other team score on occasion. Sadly, Syracuse's best chance to go bowling was last week against a beatable Pittsburgh team. Despite the fact Syracuse is in the Dome, the students are gone and I'm guessing most of the community, despite the 3:30 start, will be in a Thanksgiving haze. I wish it weren't the case, but Syracuse will probably lose this one. The Eagles over the Orange 38 to 17 (yes, I'm saying they manage to get 2 extra points and not have them blocked, or maybe the only make one and somehow convert on the other).
This game will be on the ACC Network at 3:30pm on Saturday. Check here to see the local network coverage. For those out of the coverage area, you can see it on Watch ESPN. Blackout map here. John will be in the Dome. I'll be watching later. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. On yeah, basketball is pretty good.

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Baylor - Syracuse Postgame Reactions OR Maui Champs!

This pretty much sums it up; no other caption needed

Winning the EA Sports Maui Invitational, in the big scheme of things, is nice. It gets you some nice hardware; it looks nice on your resume; it gives you the opportunity to hang out in some nice weather. Nice. But in the moment, it's so much more. So this is what was on the line Wednesday night, as the Baylor Bears and the Syracuse Orange battled it out for all those niceties. Syracuse got out to a quick start, but Baylor battled back, hitting some deep threes. In fact, much of the first half proceeded in like fashion, with each team going on runs. But each time Syracuse ran, it would increase its lead a bit more, making it that more difficult for Baylor to even the score. Indeed, it would be too much in the end, as Syracuse hung on for the victory and the championship, 74-67.

  • One of the things I take away from Syracuse's performance in Maui is that these guys are playing as a team. They have some great playmakers who are putting up some great stats, but it's the playmakers' teammates who are creating the situations for those playmakers.
  • CJ Fair. ACC Preseason Player of the Year. He sure looks like it. In Wednesday's title game, CJ scored 24 points on 10-17 from the floor, 2-3 from three, and 2-2 from the line. He also grabbed three steals.
  • Jerami Grant continued his great play, with 19 points on 8-12 shooting. He is just such a dynamic player, and I think him being on the court makes everyone around him better.
  • Tyler Ennis had another great performance. 11 points, nine assists, four steals, playing all 40 minutes. Jay Bilas and Sean McDonough noted this during the broadcast, and Jim Boeheim confirmed it after the game: Tyler Ennis isn't playing like a freshman anymore.
  • Trevor Cooney keeps coming up big, too, with 11 points. The confidence he is playing with now is so important for him to continue his success.
  • Even Rakeem Christmas had a better game than he has had in a while. While he only chipped in seven points, he grabbed five rebounds and found himself involved in a lot of plays at both ends of the court in 31 minutes of play. Boeheim recognized that if Baylor had a chance to win, it would have to get good looks at the basket from outside -- and that keeping Christmas in for his length would be an asset for the Syracuse defense.
  • Another big thing to take away from Maui: free throw shooting. Traditionally a wart for Syracuse, the Orange followed up Tuesday's outstanding free throw performance with an almost equally impressive one: 10-11 for 90.9%. I'm not sure what has inspired the team in this regard, or if the rims in Maui really were soft, but let's all hope this trend continues!
  • Syracuse was again out-rebounded, 33-21.
  • Syracuse ended with 36 points in the paint, against a tough Baylor defense with a lot going on under the basket. Some of the plays -- notably Jerami Grant catching the ball under the basket, chucking it up behind him while he was fouled, and made the basket -- were exciting to watch.
  • Baylor's 20 turnovers led to 24 Syracuse points.
So there you have it. Syracuse University wins the Maui Invitational. CJ Fair wins tournament MVP. Jerami Grant makes the all-tournament team. Big props to everyone! But I think it's fair to state that the Syracuse team to leave Maui is a much better team than the one that arrived in Maui. That momentum needs to continue into a tougher-than-usual December, with the likes of Indiana, St. John's, and Villanova on the schedule before we jump into ACC games.

And on behalf of Brian, I thank you all for reading Orange::44, for your fandom of Syracuse, and wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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Jerami Grant was everywhere - including the floor

Syracuse has never played against California twice within less than a nine month period. In fact, Syracuse had only played California two times before: 2009 at the 2K Sports Classic, and this past March in the NCAA tournament. So all of a sudden, Cal is a frequent opponent (if you consider three meetings in four years frequent). At any rate, this game was for the right to play in the Maui Invitational title game. The Orange got some good news before tip-time, when Cal announced that Richard Solomon would not play, after having been on the business end of an eye poke the night before. Good news, because Solomon did a number on us back in March. This game evolved much like Monday's game: a lot of back and forth in the first half, and an eventual pull-away by Syracuse in the second. In the end, Syracuse beat California 92-81 to advance to the title game.

  • 92 points of offense means something was clicking. A lot of players contributed a lot. Let's highlight a few of them:
  • Leading scorer was point guard Tyler Ennis, who had a career high 28 points on 9-12 shooting, 2-3 from three, and 8-8 from the foul line. I mean, good God! And it's not like he was a ball hog either.
  • Trevor Cooney continued his nearly unconscious shooting, finishing with 23 points on 7-11 from the floor, 5-8 from three and 4-4 from the line.
  • Jerami Grant had a great game off the bench: 19 points on 7-11 shooting and 5-6 from the line in 28 minutes. Though he had probably the best dunk on the season thus far for Syracuse, he gets the dubious honor of being the only Orange player to miss a free throw in this game. More on that in a minute.
  • How would CJ Fair play after getting stitches in his cheek? Turns out it was a pedestrian 14 point performance. The 5-17 from the field is what doesn't give you the warm fuzzies. It's OK for him to have an off-night from time to time (and given his effort on Monday, we'll let it go) -- as long as others step up like Ennis and Cooney did.
  • What are we getting from Rakeem Christmas and DaJuan Coleman? Why are they still starting? Wouldn't it make sense for Grant & Baye Moussa Keita to start instead? Not that I'm suggesting Jim Boeheim do this, lest he go on a rant about how he must not know anything about basketball. But, just some pre-Thanksgiving food for thought.
  • On a bright note, 23-24 is the stat of the night. 23 made free throws on 24 attempts. This stat doesn't belong to the Boeheim on Basketball instructional video from more than 20 years ago. That stat belongs to the Syracuse Orange men's basketball team in Maui against California. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
  • Cal actually out-rebounded Syracuse 30-26.
  • Cal committed 13 turnovers, leading to 19 Syracuse points.
So Cal gets to play in the third place game, and Syracuse gets to play in the title game. We're all OK with that. And it looks like it's the Baylor Bears waiting for Syracuse at 10pm Wednesday night. For all the leis, all the luaus, all the mai tais, all the blue Hawaiians, all the poi, all the volcanoes... I'm done here.

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Syracuse students agree: A championship is always nice.
Syracuse has made it to the Championship of the Maui Invitational. After a fun game against Cal, which saw Tyler Ennis, Jeremi Grant, and Trevor Cooney score some bursts. Now they take on Baylor, the team ranked #18 in this great nation. While Cal switched between man and zone, really Syracuse wasn't dared to take a lot of three point shots. Rather Cooney would come off a screen and take the shot. He hit 5-8 from behind the arc. I don't know where this Cooney came from, but I want him to stay all season. He's hitting 49% from long range this season. Strangely enough, Baylor is allowing opposing teams to shoot 47.4% from behind the arc in their last three games. If Syracuse has shooting success, and it seems likely, they will cruise to another Maui Championship, and stay undefeated in Hawaii. CJ Fair had a rough game, only going 5-17 against Cal. I'm sure it was partly due to the fact he got 11 stitches the day before. In his FACE. Either way, I see CJ settling down a little bit and making more shots consistently, especially the mid range shot he failed to make a lot last night, but he usually makes 10/10 times. Ennis should continue his winning ways now that he has found some confidence. Grant throwing down some slams would also be good. However, the big men remain a mystery. All that talent and not much to show for it. DeJuan Coleman was clearly overmatched the entire game against Cal. If the guards get in foul trouble, Baylor will have the door open and the offense of Syracuse will be hampered with scorers sitting the bench. If Syracuse manages fouls well, and even gets a small percentage of help from the post in Christmas, Kieta, Coleman, or a combination therein, Syracuse should be in cruise control for the last several minutes of this game. I like Syracuse to leave the champs by 10. This game is available nationally on ESPN/Watch ESPN at 10:00pm. Enjoy it with a cocktail. You don't have work tomorrow. Of if you're a youngin' enjoy your night out with old high school buddies.

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Syracuse students agree: Cal jokes are overrated.
The Orange did what they needed to do. They got down to business and beat Minnesota by eight points (something I called in my preview). Now they look to beat Cal, a team that Syracuse beat in the Round of 32 in last year's NCAA Tournament. The final was 66-60 in a game that made all Syracuse fans nervous until the final horn. It didn't help that offense was hard to come by and the referees were bad. Either way, Syracuse survived and advanced. Now they face a Cal team looking for revenge in Maui. While their offense can be tough, the biggest strength of Cal is their ability to rebound. They have outrebounded every opponent so far this season.. Syracuse had done the same until they tied Minnesota with 32. Keeping Cal off of the offensive glass will be key in Syracuse maintaining a lead. CJ Fair took a shot in the face last night and did get stitches but he should be fine. He didn't get a Preston Shumpert eye poke or anything. The key to Syracuse in this game will be the big men. If they are able to get inside and get to the line, as well as continue to rebound well, Syracuse will head to the Championship in Maui. If they allow Cal to get inside and dominate position, Syracuse will have a hole to dig out of. Still, I like Syracuse in this game. They beat Cal by 13. This game is available nationally on ESPN / Watch ESPN at 7:00pm.

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Before first blood was drawn. Literally.

Syracuse, NY was hit by a lake effect snowstorm this past Saturday. It was cold, windy, and several inches of snow fell. Meanwhile, the basketball team was already in Maui, Hawaii preparing for the EA Sports Maui Invitational. I've been to Hawaii before, you're probably not getting better weather than there, especially considering the alternative. But when it comes to basketball, none of that matters. What matters is how you perform on the court, and the Orange was on display against the Minnesota Gophers in Monday's second quarterfinal game. Much has been said about CJ Fair getting whacked in the face while driving in for a dunk -- and no foul being called -- but the way CJ responded in his play after getting some quick first-aid for the huge bloody gash on his face is what the real story is here. Syracuse carried a 39-36 lead into halftime, and never relinquished it in the second half; the Orange beat the Gophers 75-67.

  • Not only did CJ Fair show his tough-as-nails Superman-like skills, but he put in the stats to make him player of the game. He was 7-15 from the floor for 16 points, and pulled down ten rebounds for a double-double in 38 minutes of play. That's right, blood only caused him to miss two minutes.
  • The other impressive (and surprising) performance was delivered by DaJuan Coleman. 3-4 for nine points (including 3-6 from the line), four rebounds, two blocks, and a steal. It's been a good long while since we could say Coleman had a really good game, so it's nice to see him fill in the box score.
  • Trevor Cooney found his way to the scoreboard early and often. He hit a three for the first points of the game, and was shooting with the confidence you want to see. He ended with 15 points on 5-12 shooting (5-11 from three), and was also quite active on defense at the top of the 2-3 zone.
  • Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant were the other two Orange players in double digit scoring, each dropping 12.
  • Syracuse shot an uncharacteristic 22-27 from the free throw line, good for 81.5% for those of you who like numbers like that.
  • The ESPN announcing crew seemed obsessed with Minnesota's Elliott Eliason. Maybe there was something to it, as once he got benched due to foul trouble, it really left the Gopher interior open for exploitation from Syracuse.
  • While Syracuse never gave up the lead after halftime, there were ten lead changes in the first half. You can never underestimate how important having back and forth games is for a team to build up its resilience. Especially in a multi-day/multi-game tournament such as Maui, as most of the games will be like this.
Syracuse advances to the semifinals to face the winner of the first quarterfinal, California. That game can be seen Tuesday at 7:00pm EST on ESPN. Fair warning: I'm probably gonna put a twitter block on the phrase "get back in this," so don't plan on me seeing your lame, dated, overused jokes. But, to each his own. At any rate, check back here before that game for Brian's preview. He correctly picked Syracuse to beat Minnesota by eight, so maybe he's on to something.

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Syracuse students agree: Winning the Maui would make Thanksgiving great.
Syracuse had a pretty big scare against St. Francis (NY) last week. Syracuse managed to score at the right time and get stops when they needed to, but it really came down to a few possessions that could have made the night very sour for Syracuse. They escaped and headed to Maui undefeated. They take on Minnesota, lead by a new Pitino to hate. Minnesota is high energy and high scoring. They also shoot threes above 30%. Syracuse will have it's hands full. They must be active on perimeter defense. If they can force turnovers and block shots, Syracuse will be able to muscle enough points in to hold off even on a good effort. CJ Fair rarely has two bad games in a month. Look for him to bounce back and have a killer Maui tournament. Consistent scoring is also a must in the tournament environment. I see this game being a good test, but one that Syracuse will handle. I'll take the Orange by 8. This game is available nationally on ESPN 2 / Watch ESPN at 5:30pm.

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Cue The Crying Child...

A one point loss should make everyone cry.

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Pittsburgh Quick Predictions

Well hello again.
One win is all it takes for either Pittsburgh or Syracuse to get back to a bowl game. Both these teams are very familiar with each other having played every year for a good long while now. So who will earn another ACC Bowl spot?
Syracuse comes in very banged up after playing Florida State. PTG is out with an ankle injury he re-aggravated at FSU. Jerrod Smith is listed as out as well, which won't help Terrel Hunt move the ball down the field better. Pittsburgh has a great DT in Aaron Donald and a great WR in Devin Street. I think Syracuse can negate the defensive pressure of Donald by running the ball more, which is their offensive strength anyway. But the real key in the game will be getting to QB Tom Savage. You might remember him from such teams as Rutgers, where Syracuse sacked the shit out of him a few years ago in the Carrier Dome. The wide receivers of Pittsburgh will have a day if Syracuse is not able to put Savage on the ground again. If Syracuse manages to get 5-9 sacks, Syracuse will put itself in a good position to get to a Bowl game. If they can't, Syracuse will have a hard time stopping Pittsburgh from scoring. Syracuse's offense will already be having trouble moving the ball, so adding the fact they would have to come from behind makes the likelihood of bowling on the back of Pittsburgh unlikely. This game is basically a toss up, but the fact Syracuse is at home puts me more at ease. I'll take the home team Orange 24 to 17.
This game is at 12:30pm on the ACC Split Network. You can check to see if the game is carried on your television here. The game is available on Watch ESPN, but there are blackout restrictions so check that map here. However, the game should be available on nationwide for your viewing pleasure. Click here to watch. Both John and I will be in the Carrier Dome for this one so we'll have updates on the day. Enjoy your weekend and hopefully we all see Syracuse get back to a Bowl.

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This guy isn't the first Side Judge to taste Scott's wrath this season.
Well that was rough. Let's be honest, unless you are mentally ill you didn't think Syracuse was going to upset #2 Florida State in Florida. And they didn't. But it was brutal to watch, the score was lopsided, and a decent percentage of Syracuse ended up pretty seriously injured. FSU won 59-3. Now is the time where I point out that I only grade on a very slight curve.
17 first downs is good. 6-18 on third downs isn't bad. 2-3 on fourth downs is really good. 247 total yards is not good. Neither is losing a fumble and throwing an interception. Terrel Hunt (10/18, 75yds, 0 TD, 0 INT) didn't have a bad day but he didn't do much to keep Syracuse moving in the direction of the end zone. Drew Allen was worse, throwing a pick. PTG was really ineffective with his ankle, and Jerome Smith never got going. All in all a bad day for Syracuse.
This was about the performance we thought we were going to see. Syracuse held FSU to 1-4 on third downs, but that's because they earned 20 first downs total, mostly on downs not labeled with a three. They had 523 yards and put up 59 points. The only reason Syracuse didn't earn an F here was because they were playing #2 Florida State.
Special Teams
Hey, we got points! Ryan Norton, remaining perfect after coming off a suspension, nailed a 32 yard FG, his only attempt. Otherwise, punting was average and the coverage was average. But hey, points!
Maybe the referees felt sorry for Syracuse, or maybe Syracuse finally stopped committing dumb penalties, but the penalties were way down compared to the last few contests, only netting three for 20 yards total. The coaches deserve credit for that. And the play calling wasn't bad when faced with the monumental task of moving the ball against the FSU defense. It doesn't help that both Quarterbacks were really ineffective at moving the ball, forcing the run game to work even harder. Either way, an average effort.
C- 1.75
All in all we got the game we expected. So you can't really fault Syracuse for being outmatched in the talent department. They performed about how I think they should have, rarely underachieving in a game they were clearly outmatched in. Solid effort. Now time to win the games that are left that are winable.
Syracuse faces longtime opponent Pittsburgh in a winner goes bowling scenario. At least that game will be more fun to watch.

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St. Francis (NY) - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We want real games to start.
Syracuse, while not looking terribly impressive in any of the games they have played so far, is still undefeated. That will most likely continue against St. Francis (NY), a team Syracuse last beat handily in 2009. Syracuse will again have to contend with a team that is undersized and will most likely send Syracuse to the foul line many times in this game. Syracuse actually hasn't been that bad as a team with free throws the last couple of years overall, but of course that won't stop the folks out there from pulling a Gottlieb and just saying the old adage that Syracuse can't make free throws. That being said, the team was dreadful at them in the last game against Colgate, only making 12-28. This is not a problem for Syracuse now, but it could be down the line later. As these things often are. That all being said, St. Francis is not a team that shoots the long ball very well as a team. So far they are collectively shooting 29.1% from behind the arc. That isn't good. Not sure we'll be in a Cornell, or even a Colgate situation. This game should be won by a little more comfortable of a margin. Look for Syracuse to dominate from tip to horn. Syracuse over St. Francis (NY) by 32. This game is available at 7:30pm nationwide on Watch ESPN only.

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Cue the Crying Child...

Losing to #2 Florida State 59-3 is like dropping the scoop of ice cream off your ice cream come. Nothing you can do about it. A lost cause. You're better off just walking away from it.

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Colgate - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Colgate is just a game we play every year.
Syracuse looked far better against Fordham than they did against Cornell. But still, fouls caught up with Syracuse at the end of the game. This may happen to Syracuse again, but Fair was far more confident in the game, and Grant was able to return. Christmas played well, and everything seemed to be clicking. The same should happen in this game. It's Colgate. Syracuse has beaten them 47 times in a row. It should be 48 after today. Syracuse wins by 23. This game will be on at 4:30pm and available on most of the same networks you watched Syracuse/Maryland in football. Look for the game on YES today in New York.

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Florida State Quick Predictions

This is a tall task for the Orange.

Syracuse is one game from Bowl eligibility. With three games left in the season, you would think that things were looking good for the Orange. And yes, I think they are. But this is a tough week to earn that honor of heading to a Bowl game. Syracuse is heading down to play #2 Florida State.

QB Jameis Winston of Florida State is now under a newly initiated sexual assault investigation that we all found out about this week. But that won't stop him from leading the Seminoles onto the field to play Syracuse, a team that has a major uphill climb. Winston, despite the distractions, will put that all aside and play the game he has excelled at all the weeks of this college football season. If Syracuse is to have a chance in this game, the offense has to consistently produce. The defense will only be able to do so much. Even if Syracuse manages to get turnovers, Syracuse will have to capitalize on those turnovers and turn them into points. If Syracuse can't score against FSU's defense, then obviously it will be a long day. Syracuse is a massive underdog in this game. And I'm not insane. I think Florida State is going to win. I just hope Syracuse can score at least once, something they couldn't do against Georgia Tech, and something they did a couple times against Clemson. Seminoles win 56 to 14.

This game will be available for the greater ACC Footprint on ABC and ESPN 2 for the rest of the nation at 3:30pm. You can check out which area you are in here. For those able to watch on ESPN 2, the game is also available at Watch ESPN. John will be watching the game and on the Tweets, but I'll be out of the home office. Enjoy the game. It should be... interesting.

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Beating Maryland would give me that smile too.
The Orange headed down to College Park hoping to get a win. Instead they prevented Maryland from scoring a touchdown and left with a win. While some fools thought it was a Maryland collapse against a "very bad" Syracuse team, we all know that Syracuse played a good game with strong defense and a rushing attack that finished off Maryland 30-3.
It started with a great drive down the field, but then the offense sputtered out. Syracuse was 3-14 on third down, but did lead in yardage with 382 and they were 2-2 on fourth down. Terrel Hunt (15/24, 140 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT) did not have a great day. Luckly Jerome Smith (28 car, 118 yds, 4.2 avg, 2 TD) did have a great day. He was the majority of the offense.
Syracuse limited Maryland to 292 yards, 19 first downs, 5-17 on third downs, and 1-4 on fourth down. In general Syracsue played great defense in the game up front and pretty good defense in the secondary. The front line harassed Maryland's QB all day. Syracuse also managed two INTs on the day, which always helps.
Special Teams
Ryan Norton came back and drilled two field goals with a long of 34 yards. He also added two extra points. Coverage was good, and returns were good. What was not good was a kick catch interference penalty that Syracuse got on their coverage, but that was an absolute incorrect call.
In general you had to like the offensive play calling in this game, as well as the decisions to go for it when Syracuse had fourth down. But 12 penalties for 115 yards is ridiculous. This team has to improve it's dicipline, and that starts with the coaching.
B+ (3.25)
Overall a great effort led to a nice win for the Orange. And that put Syracuse with more chances to get to a bowl game than not.
Syracuse will now play the buzzsaw that is Florida State. That probably won't go well. But that's a story for tomorrow.

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Fordham - Syracuse Postgame Reactions OR Defense?

CJ had a decent game

The problem for the Orange in the game against Cornell last week was the slow start. The halftime deficit. So it was no surprise that Syracuse came out hot to start the game against Fordham on Tuesday. Syracuse ran the floor, Syracuse hit its shots, Syracuse played strong defense. Syracuse was playing Syracuse basketball. But in flip-flopping John Kerry would be proud of, Syracuse played the second half against Fordham like it did the first half against Cornell. Thankfully, the Orange halftime lead was still too much for Fordham to overcome, as Syracuse won on Tuesday 89-74 to improve to 2-0 on the season.

  • BOMC is CJ Fair, who led the team in points with 26 on 9-17 shooting, including a studly 7-7 from the foul line. CJ made the most of his 32 minutes, grabbing six rebounds and two steals.
  • Tyler Ennis stepped up offensively in his second regular season game, scoring 16 on 4-8 shooting and hitting 8-10 at the line. With five assists, four rebounds, and four steals, this was easily a career game for Tyler. Production like that, game in and game out, and watch out, America!
  • This game saw the reintroduction of Jerami Grant, after his one-game suspension for playing a game in a summer league. Grant reminded us how important he will be to this team, scoring 16 on 6-12 from the floor, ten rebounds, and three steals. Jerami was one of two Orange men in the double-double.
  • The other was DaJuan Coleman, who had the traditional big guy double double with ten points and ten rebounds.
  • Trevor Cooney left all his threes on the court against Cornell, and didn't leave any for Fordham. He hit one field goal the entire game, and was essentially a non-factor. Remember what I said about consistency?
  • Syracuse won the rebounding battle 48-29.
  • Syracuse won the first half 46-21, but lost the second half 53-43.
  • Syracuse defenders put a lot of focus on Fordham's Jon Severe, who struggled in the first half. But then he blew up in the second and ended up with 19 points on the night.
  • He was bested on his team by Branden Frazier, who dropped 33 on the Orange. I guess when you hit 4-6 from three and 11-13 from the foul line, you'll end up with decent numbers.
  • I'll say it now: I'm not a fan of the ESPN3-only broadcasts. I'm not sure if it's a production issue or what, but my picture quality was horrible during the game -- the commercials were crystal clear, though. Gots to pay the bills, right?
New York's College Team improves to 2-0 on the season, and 2-0 in the Governor's cup. The next NY matchup comes this Saturday as Syracuse takes on longtime rival Colgate at 4:30pm. By then, none of us will want to opt for the 3:30pm football game against Florida State on our main TVs anyway, so switch your big screens from ABC to YES, put ABC on your secondary TV, and sit back and enjoy a couple bloodbaths.

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Fordham - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Fordham has a cute mascot but will lose badly.
Syracuse learned a massive lesson in the first half of the Cornell game. That was, you better pay attention on defense. Cornell's open shooters gave the Big Red a nice cushion. It took Trevor Cooney, of all players, to get Syracuse back in the lead and allow them to cruise in the second half. While no player will consistently hit seven long field goals in a game, Syracuse should come out ready to play Fordham tough from the jump this time. Jerami Grant will be suited up and will see some action in this game. That is the good news for Syracuse who, although Fair had 19 points, failed to be consistent on the floor on offense. If Syracuse can contain Fordham's Jon Severe from going off like some of the Cornell shooters, Syracuse should have a relatively comfortable win. However, if Syracuse fails to block out shooters, and gives up too many defensive rebounds for second chance points, Syracuse could be in for a rough first half again. Syracuse used transition buckets, specifically Cooney stopping and hitting, to get the momentum from Cornell and on their side. Obviously Fordham is fairly athletic, but they will probably not be able to run with Syracuse for 40 minutes. I think, pending another epic outburst of threes, Syracuse should have a nice comfortable win. And look for CJ Fair to settle down into the go to, leadership roll for this club after having seven turnovers against Cornell. I'm picking the Orange to win by 24. This game is available on Watch ESPN online exclusively at 7:30pm.

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Cue The Smiling Child...

Jerome Smith loves puppies, I bet.


Syracuse - Cornell Postgame Reactions OR Hey Trevor!

Where has this Trevor Cooney been?

The Syracuse Orange opened the 2013-2014 season Friday night against upstate rival Cornell. Since the Big Red's run through the NCAA Tournament a few years ago, they've gone back to their traditional role as a cupcake. Maybe that was the attitude the Orange had straight from the opening tip, because Cornell was able to exploit something. They were hitting their shots, forcing turnovers, catching the Orange a step behind. The result? At one time, a 14-point Cornell lead. Ugh. But Trevor Cooney -- Trevor Cooney -- kept Syracuse in this, especially with a couple huge threes late in the first half to close the gap to six. Syracuse actually had some great momentum going into halftime, only down 38-32. The first half was just the preview of the Cooney Show. He opened it all up in the second half, helping Syracuse tie and take the lead, ultimately never giving up the lead once Syracuse gained it on a made Cooney three at 14:56 to pull ahead 47-45. Syracuse goes on to win 82-60.

  • BMOC is obviously Trevor Cooney: 10-12 includng 7-8 from three for 27 points. Both his point total and his made threes were career highs. Showing some defensive prowess in the backcourt, Cooney also gathered four steals.
  • The reaction to Cooney's great game has been positive, as one would expect. But does that undo our feelings of disappointment from last year? A couple ways to look at this: one would be to say this year is this year, last year was last year, let's take what we can get. Another is a more cautious approach: let's wait and get some consistent good play from Cooney before we anoint him the next coming of Gerry McNamara.
  • I'm in the second camp, for the record. Even if Trevor can be half as productive as he was on Friday night, game in and game out, then that's the kind of good consistency we need to see from him. I think we'd all take that.
  • I think through the course of his career, I've made some reference to CJ Fair having a quiet, good game almost every game. Friday was no different: 6-11 for 19 points in 35 minutes. CJ battled inside, and was awarded with seven free throw shots (he made six).
  • Baye Moussa Keita didn't light up the scoreboard, but he showed he can still grab rebounds (finished with seven).
  • That didn't lead the team though. That honor goes to Tyler Ennis, who grabbed eight rebounds.
  • Ennis is a freshman. This was his first college game, his first start. He impressed us in Canada. He impressed us in the two exhibition games this month. But he's still a freshman. Head Coach Jim Boeheim wants us to remember that. Ennis's box score will too: 0-6 from the field, finishing with one point, eight rebounds, seven assists. I mean, that's decent, and the long rebounding and assists is what you want to see from your point guard.
  • Jerami Grant was in street clothes and was held out of this game, allegedly for an NCAA violation for playing in a summer league.
  • Who doesn't hate the NCAA?
  • As a team, it was the tale of two halves: Syracuse shot 13-29 in the first, 17-27 in the second. Points-wise, that translates to 32 in the first, 50 in the second.
  • For the game, Syracuse won the rebounding battle 38-26, dished out 19 assists, and caused 17 turnovers.
  • For Cornell, it was all about Nolan Cressler. in 35 minutes, Nolan 23 points on 8-16 from the field, 3-10 from three.
  • Cornell was able to force 14 turnovers.
  • Props to the crowd, who came out to the tune of 24,788 for the season opener. This included a very full student section. Obviously, we'll see a drop-off until ACC play begins, with the exception of the Indiana game and the Villanova game.
So, the season has begun. Syracuse starts with a win. There's no doubt this team is young and lost some great talent in Michael Carter-Williams, James Southerland, and Brandon Triche. But Syracuse has brought in some equally great talent to help close the gap, and the four games in Canada in August certainly gave this team a great opportunity to build some chemistry, learn the college game, and hit the ground running. It'll still be a work in progress, and with a tougher than normal non-conference slate, Syracuse will indeed be battle-tested by the time it opens ACC play on January 4. Next up: a Tuesday night tilt against Fordham.

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Credit the Syracuse defense for this win

This game was a 12:30pm start. It was just after noon and we were in the parking lot finishing up our last beers & cleaning up our tailgate before trekking up the Hill to get to the Dome for kickoff. Turns out, we could have tailgated another two hours, and not missed a thing. Neither team scored in the first half -- something that defensive-minded Head Coach Scott Shafer thought was "sexy." Out of the locker room, Syracuse was able to put up 13 in the third quarter, which is all the scoring this game ended up seeing. Syracuse wins 13-0, advancing to a 4-4 record (2-2 ACC) and two wins away from bowl eligibility.

Some may call this grade harsh (like probably BH, who would've given them a solid B probably), but let's face it, overall they played average. Not putting anything on the scoreboard for three of the four quarters isn't exactly good offense. Terrel Hunt had a decent 18-30 passing day for 144 yards; he also ran the ball ten times for a net gain of 36 yards, and scored the game's first touchdown from six yards out. Prince-Tyson Gulley and Jerome Smith again split the majority of the rushes, combining for 147 yards net. As a team, Syracuse passed for 169 yards and rushed for 183. Clearly the play of the game was the reverse to Jarrod West, who faked a run and instead threw to a wide open Brisly Estime in the end zone for the touchdown. He caught it right below my seats in section 215, I had a great view of it. It was a greatly designed play, and props to the players for executing it. Sadly, it couldn't create any more offensive momentum for the rest of the game.

I teetered between A and A+ for this grade, but settled on the A+. They held a conference opponent scoreless for the entire game. They allowed only 173 yards passing, and held Wake to an abysmal 25 yards rushing. Not a typo. 25 yards. This was absolutely the key to the game. The defense also produced three QB sacks, and Isaiah Johnson came up with the big interception that led to Syracuse scoring on the trick play. I don't think you can ask your defense to do much else, especially when your offense really isn't explosive.

Special Teams
Syracuse punted 11 times for 442 yards -- but of note, three were punts of 50 yards or more, and three were pinned inside the Wake Forest 20. In a back and forth battle of field position, you need your punting team to step up and play like that. With Ryan Norton suspended for the game, Syracuse attempted no field goals, and went 1-2 on extra points.

Most of the credit here goes to the defensive game plan to stop the Wake run and get tackles for losses, and for the designed reverse run fake to pass for a touchdown. Other than that, the offensive game plan left much to be desired. Still, though, a win is a win.

B (2.925)
It wasn't necessarily pretty (especially if you like scoring), but a win is a win and you really have to feel good about the way the defense played. Granted, Wake Forest contributed to its own incompetence, but Syracuse exploited it.

It should also be noted that Syracuse honored legendary quarterback Donovan McNabb during a halftime ceremony, and his #5 jersey now hangs in the Carrier Dome rafters. DNabb thinks Hunt will be a really good quarterback next year. Let's hope so! But before we talk about next year, we have a game coming up against departing ACC member Maryland, with an opportunity to get one game closer to bowl eligibility.

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Maryland Quick Predictions

Look at that cute little guy.
While not overly impressive in and of itself, Syracuse's 13-0 win against Wake Forest was notable. It was a vast improvement over the brutal loss two weeks prior at the hands of Georgia Tech. But not Syracuse will again try and prove itself away from the Carrier Dome as they travel to face ACC opponent (for the last time) Maryland.
Maryland is a team that is more than capable of putting points on the board, but their strength is in the run now that two of their starting receivers have fell to injury. Lucky for Syracuse, their defensive strength is at stopping the run. This game is simple. If Syracuse manages to put some offensive drives together, they will win the game. If Maryland is able to frustrate Hunt and the other offensive players, Syracuse will be in for a long day, as the Maryland offense is in a beatable place. Syracuse will either win or beat themselves. But I called Syracuse winning this game at the beginning of the year, and I'll call this one an Orange win still. Syracuse over the Terps 24 to 17.
This game is again available regionally so check the stations it is on here. For those outside the TV viewing area, you can watch on Watch ESPN if not blacked out. It will be on live at 3:30pm today. I'll be in the home office, and John will be as well. He'll be back with a Wake Forrest report card this weekend, and I'll have the Maryland recap. And we'll get around to talking about that Cornell win soon as well.

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Cornell - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Always good to start the year with a win.
Syracuse begins the 2013-2014 basketball campaign with a familiar foe in the Big Red from Cornell who take the short trip up from Ithaca to play Syracuse, who they have played 118 times before. Syracuse leads the all time series 87-31 and they own a 33 game win streak. Cornell is not that tall, or probably athletic of a team. They are replacing four starters, and had a less than stellar year in the Ivy last season. Syracuse, meanwhile, has a good core of experienced big men, but is trying out a freshman point guard in Tyler Ennis. He will surely make some freshman mistakes. Hopefully he does them against a team like Cornell. The only way Cornell will even get this game to within single digits in the second half is if they are draining three pointers like they study for a chemistry exam (early and often). Cornell is a smaller team and should be dominated inside by Syracuse, in both scoring in the paint and in rebounding. Syracuse should definitely get an even bigger rebounding edge if Cornell is throwing up threes. The question is how well the freshmen and specifically Ennis will be in defending the three point attack of Cornell. There were clear rotation issues shown by the freshmen in coming off the bench in the fake games Syracuse has played so far. Will that come to haunt Syracuse? Maybe in Maui, but not in the Dome tonight. Syracuse will roll in front of a nice Friday night crowd against the local Big Red by 34. This game is available tonight locally on the ACC Regional Sports Network, channels listed here. For the rest, you can see the game on Watch ESPN at 7:00pm tonight.

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Cue The Smiling Child...

The game may have been ugly, but this is definitely as cute as a win.


Wake Forest Quick Predictions

Syracuse needs to bounce back. Big time.
Syracuse is again coming off of the bye week. But, of course, there was a bye week causality with the loss of Ryan Norton, suspended for a game for an arrest. But the rest of the team is rested and should be ready to take on Wake Forest.
Wake has essentially beaten teams they were supposed to but lost to the big time teams in the ACC. This game really should be evenly matched. It will come down to the little things. One weakness that Syracuse must attack is the offensive line of Wake. While they haven't allowed that many sacks the last few weeks, clearly the Wake line is vulnerable. Syracuse has one of the strongest defensive lines in the ACC and country, being in the top ten is tackles for loss. If Syracuse can sack Tanner Price Syracuse has a good chance to earn a nice win. Neither offenses have been stellar this season, so it will come down to whichever defense plays better. I think Syracuse has a better chance, especially at home, to do that. But I'll be honest, this game just seems boring to me. It isn't that compelling of a matchup. This would be, to me, like Syracuse playing Seton Hall in basketball last year. Yeah, Syracuse wants to win, and is favored to win. But I'm not inspired to hate them yet. I'm not burning with hate. I think Syracuse wins this one, and we continue not really hating them. I'm picking the Orange 24 to 20.
This game is available today at 12:30pm on regional television all along the east coast. For those elsewhere, it should be available on ESPN 3. Check out the blackout map here, and if your blacked out, check which station you can see the game on here. Programming note: The game will be on in New England on NESN+ due to the Red Sox parade coverage. John is in the Dome and I'll be in the home office so you'll have plenty of media to consume during the game. This should be an even, good game to watch at least.

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