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This is what a mid-air flagrant 2 looks like

In the Spring of 2008, Indiana hired Tom Crean to be its new head coach, after Crean had shown great success building the Marquette program. At the time, I thought very highly of Crean, and thought that would be a great hire for the Hoosiers. And I still think that. But even Crean has his kryptonite: the 2-3 zone defense. Only eight and one half months ago, Syracuse embarrassed Indiana in the Sweet 16. Nothing could get going against that 2-3 zone. So you'd think that when it was announced that Indiana would travel to Syracuse to play in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Tom Crean would, oh, maybe devote a little more time to trying to figure out what to do against the zone. Several months is better prep time than five or six days, after all. But once again, the Syracuse zone was locked in, and Indiana's offense struggled as a result. Spurred by a crazy run in the second half, Syracuse rolled against the Hoosiers and won one for the ACC, 69-52.

  • Trevor Cooney came to play. Again. My wishes from the first game have, for the most part, come true. Cooney played well in Maui, and that continued back here on the mainland: 21 points on 6-12 from the floor, 5-9 from three, 4-5 from the line. He was also active on defense, grabbing four steals.
  • One of those steals led to a Cooney fast-break, and as he drove through the lane towards the basket, as if to either slam the ball or lay it in, he was fouled hard from behind by Austin Etherington. Officials immediately called in a flagrant foul, but consulted the replay monitor to ultimately determine it was a flagrant 2: two shots and possession for Syracuse, ejection for Etherington.
  • Tyler Ennis continued to play not like a green freshman, but a season veteran: 17 points on 6-8 shooting, seven rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. 38 minutes out of your starting freshman point guard with offensive and defensive contributions like that is phenomenal.
  • CJ Fair. Senior. Leader. Leads by example. 15 points on 5-10 shooting, 5-7 from the line, four rebounds. Steady as he goes.
  • The rest of the team? Well, offensively, there's a lot to be desired. Baye Moussa Keita is a huge liability on offense -- he can't catch a pass, he can't hit a layup. DaJuan Coleman still doesn't seem comfortable under the basket. Rakeem Christmas has a hard time creating position for himself to score. Michael Gbinije just seems too hesitant and lacking the confidence to step up and make things happen. At one point, both he and Ennis were on the floor, and Silent G just seemed out of sorts as a shooting guard.
  • Defensively, though, those same players each had their contributions. You can't argue with the length those players give you in the zone, and when they shift properly, you can see how a zone-inept team like Indiana can get shut down.
  • Syracuse shot 51.1% from the floor, compared to Indiana's 36.6%.
  • We all remember how well Syracuse shot from the free throw line in Maui. Well, those numbers came back to reality in this game, as Syracuse only hit 15-25 for 60%. While it obviously wasn't a game changer here, you just know there will be a big game coming up where the free throws will bite Syracuse.
There are certainly a lot of aspects of the game that Syracuse can improve, but any Orange fan must really like what they're seeing out of this team, this early in the season. And it's not just against the traditional "cupcakes" but Syracuse is looking impressive against ranked teams. This team will definitely be battled-tested before the gauntlet of the ACC. As for Indiana, they have some big talent losses they need to overcome if they want a chance at making it back to the Sweet 16. That talent loss was evidently too much for one female Hoosier fan to handle in section 317 the other night. But I can assure my fellow 309 fans that under no circumstances will I strip down to my underwear during any Syracuse basketball game.

Syracuse has one more game -- against Binghamton on Saturday night -- before breaking for a week for finals. The Orange needs to maintain its high level of play against the inferior Bearcats, or else face the wrath of Jim Boeheim. And bloggers, probably.

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