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Dayton - Syracuse Postgame Reactions OR Done

Well, it's been a pleasure, CJ

As I write this, it's about 15 hours after the Syracuse game ended last night. And I figured if I didn't write this now, I probably never would. It hurts to think about it. As fans, we invest in something -- in a belief, in a desire, in pride. So when that investment fails, we take it personally. We are at a loss. But, we're just fans. It's the players -- the ones we invested in -- that really feel the pain. They lived it. But with time and with perspective, we can all look back on this season, and be thankful for our investment. And the players can look back and be pretty damn proud of what they did this season, even if it all ended so badly. But that'll take some time. For now, Syracuse's 55-53 loss to Dayton is what permeates our thoughts.

  • CJ Fair finished his brilliant college career with a double double -- 14 points and ten rebounds. He was just 4-14 from the field, not quite finding that patented CJ Fair jumper we've grown to love.
  • Tyler Ennis was the leading scorer on the Orange at 19 points from 7-21 shooting. We'll remember Tyler's inspired play down the stretch that almost gave Syracuse the win here, but the ball couldn't drop in as the buzzer sounded. Tyler characteristically played all 40 minutes, but uncharacteristically had a couple turnovers, one of which was costly at the end.
  • CJ, Tyler, and Jerami Grant were the only ones to make it to the free throw line.
  • Jerami was basically nonexistent in this game. Four points, six rebounds, and a foul out.
  • To round out his own college career, Baye Moussa Keita's only registerable statistic is three minutes played.
  • Instead, Michael Gbinije got most of the minutes off the bench -- 22 -- and had a solid eight point effort on 4-5 shooting. We've seen some great things out of Silent G this season, and for Syracuse to be good next season, he'll have to be good.
  • Syracuse was 0-10 from three for the game. No made threes. First time Syracuse has done that since 1995 (or at least I think that's the stat I heard on SportsCenter)
  • Dayton played a decent game, shooting 41.3% for the game, and 43.8% from three. The Flyers got ten points off turnovers, eleven second-chance points, and had a more productive bench.
  • Shooting woes plagued the Orange, as they have for two months now -- a putrid 38.9%. Really, that's all the recapping I need to do there. Bad shooting.
And so, a season that started with four exhibition games in August has come to an end. Syracuse finishes with a final record of 28-6. We say goodbye to CJ Fair, Baye Moussa Keita, and maybe Jerami Grant & Tyler Ennis, too. We'll always remember the 25-0 start, the buzzer beater win at Pitt, the record crowd against Duke to see one of the best games ever in the Dome, Boeheim losing it in Durham, and our first season in the ACC. Mourn the loss now, but remember how good we had it this season. I'm still pretty happy with my investment.

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(11) Dayton - (3) Syracuse NCAA Round of 32 Preview

Syracuse students agree: You beat Ohio State. Prove you can beat us too.
The Dayton Flyers put on a good show on Thursday to advance to face Syracuse as they took out favored Ohio State. We appreciate it. Now you have to turn around and beat another good team in Syracuse.
This game comes down to a major factor. Whichever team's defense plays the best will win. Dayton limited Ohio State to 59 points. If Syracuse is only able to score about the same amount chances are Dayton is winning. However if Syracuse is able to keep scoring and Syracuse's defense is the one that is limiting points, they will be in a much better position. I actually see Dayton that would be a team that also can't handle the zone like W. Michigan was. Syracuse was able to get 13 turnovers on W. Michigan, as well as eight steals, six blocks, and led in rebounding. If Syracuse defense can again produce transition offense off steals and blocks and they can earn runouts, it will be difficult for Dayton to hold Syracuse under 60. I think the 2-3 will cause several problems for Dayton early, especially because they aren't the best outside shooting team. They were only 3-13 against Ohio State from beyond the arc. If Trevor Cooney gets going for Syracuse again, this game will be over early like it was against the Broncos for Syracuse on Thursday. I like the Orange to advance to the Sweet 16, just like I picked, by 18.
This game is available nationally on TBS (Very Funny!) with a scheduled tip time of 7:10pm. It is also available online and on phone applications everywhere. John's still in Buffalo covering things there and I'll be out enjoying the game with a few friends. Should be good times. If we win that is.

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My tourney seats are analogous to my Dome seats!

The big question for Syracuse coming into NCAA play was whether it would get over its horrible shooting woes, or continue its poor play to be prime for an upset. One game doesn't answer that question, but if that one game is any indication, we're seeing the Syracuse that was 25-0, not the Syracuse that was 2-5 down the stretch. In first ("second") round action, Syracuse beat Western Michigan in Buffalo 77-53

  • You knew the ability to score would be the difference in this one, and Syracuse responded: four of the five starters in double-digits, and eight players on the board -- one of them Ron Patterson -- BUSS!!
  • Trevor Cooney is your leading scorer. When was the last time I said that, Notre Dame? Cooney had 18 points on 5-10 shooting, which was 4-8 from three. That's the Trevor we need for this Tourney!
  • Tied with 16 points each was Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant -- which, is basically the production we expect out of those two. They each played a great game, and were key to Syracuse winning. They each shot well -- and were perfect from the line. I like all of this.
  • CJ Fair had a nice little game himself, with 14 points on 6-13 shooting and 2-2 from the line. His 11 rebounds gave him the requisite statistics for what they call a double-double, which is nice. CJ was active, especially inside and with the long jumper, and it mostly worked for him today.
  • While there wasn't HUGE production from the center position, Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita did their jobs -- a combined four points, eleven rebounds, and three blocks. The Broncos had trouble getting inside, and that was a function of the zone doing its job and the centers holding it down inside. This was nice to see.
  • Syracuse shot 49.1% from the field, which is a marked improvement from, well, the last five or six weeks. So that was nice.
  • Also nice was the 82.4% number from the free throw line for Syracuse. Not quite Maui numbers, but respectable.
Top to bottom, Syracuse dominated. Recent memory doesn't know what this is. So, if you're a Syracuse fan who knows what's been happening recently, this is a very welcomed development. It sure helped that most of the First Niagara Center (nee HSBC Arena, nee Marine Midland Arena) was clad in Syracuse Orange. They had all watched Dayton upset Ohio State before this game, and rooted for it. Personally, I think Syracuse matched up better against the Buckeyes, but, I guess we'll never know. An off day Friday will give the Orange a day to regroup, rest, and prepare for Allen Griffin and the Flyers. AG will be working the door of the balcony, checking hand stamps, wondering "Where my boy BH at?"

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Syracuse students agree: You need to avoid the upset as a 3 seed.
Syracuse is back in the Tournament and heading back down I-90 to Buffalo to take on Western Michigan. Probably the least sexy team from the state of Michigan, the MAC Champions can definitely play. David Brown is the big star on the team, leading the MAC in scoring at 19.4ppg and was the MAC Tournament MVP. The Broncos faced Eastern Michigan twice, led by Coach Murphy's 2-3 Zone. They are familiar, but they aren't as good or as long as Syracuse at playing it. However, this team, with Brown, can really stroke the 3. This almost spells like the perfect storm for an upset. However, you can't beat Syracuse by just shooting the 3. They will have to get the ball inside. That's where the 2-3 will come in. Defensive steals will lead to some transition baskets. Syracuse should be able to earn some steals in this one and some blocks and get run outs. On top of that, this should be a home game for the Orange. And I think CJ Fair will be ready to explode after not making much of anything against NC State. I'll be taking the Orange by 14.
This game is available nationwide on CBS at about 2:45pm. It is also available streaming online at March Madness Live, and on the similarly named app. I'm stuck in the office during the game tomorrow, but hopefully I'l be watching. Either way, enjoy it if you can. It's the first day of the Tournament, the most wonderful sports day of the year.

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Orange::44 Bracket Extravaganza 2014!

 It's the most wonderful time of the year.
It's that time again when the staff here at Orange::44 post our brackets for the world to see, and subsequently learn how not to pick a bracket. The above bracket is mine. Below is John's. His scanner broke. Sorry. Enjoy that to satisfy your own curiosity. Click on the brackets to enlarge.

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NC State - Syracuse ACC Tournament Recap

Yeah, Jerami, it was frustrating for us too

As the 2-seed in the ACC Tournament, Syracuse earned the "dreaded" double-bye into the quarterfinals. I say dreaded, because Jim Boeheim is on record, at least in recent Big East history, as noting that the high seeds who get that double-bye tend not to do very well. I also say dreaded, because Syracuse shot horribly and lost this one against NC State, 66-63. Poor shooting has been the biggest story over the last five or so weeks for Syracuse, and it was the story the entire game against the Wolfpack. I'll get into the numbers below, but you can imagine how pathetic they are. That's what killed Syracuse in this loss, and if Syracuse loses an NCAA Tournament game, it'll likely be because of poor shooting.

  • Despite the horrible shooting, Tyler Ennis managed to score 21 points. He was 6-18 from the field, 3-8 from three, but a solid 6-6 from the line. He had seven assists, five rebounds, and four steals. Statistically, not a terrible game; but think of how differently the game may have been, had Tyler hit a couple more of those shots.
  • Jerami Grant was able to start this game, played all 40 minutes, and scored 19 points. He was the most efficient of the SU offense, scoring on 5-7 from the field and 9-13 from the line. His ten rebounds rounded out his double-double, production we haven't seen in a while. Suffice to say, it was great to have Jerami back.
  • No one else on Syracuse scored more than nine. One of those niners was CJ Fair, who had (admittedly, I believe), a horrible game: 3-16 shooting, and shut out from three.
  • As a team for the game, Syracuse shot 32.7%. That number was even worse in the first half: 25.93%. Looking at the three point attempts, it was a putrid 23.5% for the game.
  • Syracuse won the rebounding battle, 36-33; and in fact, won second chance points 11-7. But when you consider NC State had 30 points in the paint, that's a sign the center of the SU zone just didn't get it done.
  • I guess in that respect, we'll always wonder "what if" when it comes to the center position this year: what if DaJuan Coleman hadn't gotten hurt & require season-ending surgery? It's a legit what if, because it's not like he was playing lights out when he went down -- but what sort of progress would he have made at the position had he been able to continue to play? And how much did Rakeem Christmas sacrifice having to essentially play out of position for a good chunk of the season?
  • Anyone who watched the game live, or a replay of it, or the highlights on SportsCenter, knows what Syracuse had a chance in the last 30 seconds to win this game. No, not a chance. Like, eleventy billion chances. Let me refresh your memory:
  • That clip is the perfect demonstration of what's gone wrong with this team: innumerable chances to hit shots, and not hitting them. I mean, especially in that situation when you're down by three, and you miss a shot -- to get the offensive rebound and get a second chance, well, that's gravy. BUT YOU NEED TO MAKE THE SECOND CHANCE SHOT! Syracuse's failure to do so is what ultimately did it in in this game.
  • We can't blame that sequence as THE REASON why Syracuse lost. It was similar play the entire game, just not cashing in on good shots. Makes you wonder who sold what to the devil in exchange for opening the season 25-0.
I tweeted after the game that one of my biggest disappointments in losing that quarterfinal to NC State is that Syracuse wouldn't get a third chance -- a rubber match -- against Duke. And with the NCAA brackets now set, we know that rubber match could only come in the National Championship game. And, spoiler alert, that's not what I have for my championship game. Speaking of which, check back here tomorrow for our annual Orange::44 post of our own brackets, and see how you compare with the legal minds of Brian and me. We'll also have all your Orange-related NCAA coverage here, including previews, my on-the-scene recaps from Buffalo, and more. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the Madness!

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NC State - Syracuse ACC Tournament Quarterfinals Preview

Syracuse students agree: Getting our first ACC Tourney win is a must.
Syracuse barely escaped with a win against NC State on the home floor at the Carrier Dome the last two times these teams have met. It took a last second steal and a transition layup to give Syracuse the go ahead points. Can Syracuse come out and take care of business in the ACC Tournament?
This is going to be a game about which team's stars got off the bus. The rebounding edge was practically even in the last game, and so was the score. However, in Syracuse, CJ Fair had an off game along with both Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney. If CJ Fair plays well, along with grant, and any one other player on the team, Syracuse should have enough scoring to carry the day and face whoever (hopefully Duke) in the semifinals. If TJ Warren goes off like he did against Syracuse (game high 23 points) in the last game and Syracuse can't find a way to score, it is a long plane ride back to Syracuse for Selection Sunday. I have renewed confidence in both Grant and the offense after that Florida State win in Tallahassee. I'll take Syracuse over the Wolfpack by 11.
This game is available nationwide on ESPN at 7:00pm or online at Watch ESPN. It's not the Big East Tournament, but it's still a conference tournament and it should be fun and good basketball. Giddy up, Greensboro! 

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TV Review: Requiem for the Big East

I feel the same way.
The folks at ESPN sent me a screener of the new 30 For 30 documentary Requiem for the Big East. I poured over it a couple of times now. And while it is incomplete, it is fantastic. Some thoughts on the documentary below.
  • It was great seeing it put down on video and told from some of the people that were there the origins of the conference and how it was Gavitt's ideas and hard work that got the whole thing going.
  • If you're a Syracuse, Georgetown, St. John's, or Villanova fan, you'll probably really enjoy seeing the various highlights and attention to those teams paid in the film. They book end the movie with shots from the Syracuse/Georgetown 2013 BET game, and they give a good chunk of time to Georgetown's early dominance, Villanova's surprise National Championship over Georgetown, lots of Lou Carnesecca old and current, and Chris Mullins.
  • Lou Carnesecca looks old as all hell. But he's clearly sharp and still with it. It broke my heart when he said he wasn't that hurt about teams leaving the Big East except for Syracuse.
  • A few talking heads, specifically Michael Wilbon, contradicts the main point in the documentary that football, capitalism, and the league's own success is what broke up the Big East. Wilbon, over a shot of Nancy Cantor, says it was greedy and weak minded school presidents. Judge for yourself.
  • The documentary does a really great job of highlighting the important, as it turned out, of the league denying an invitation to Penn State to join. It was probably the first domino falling in terms of the conference breaking up. It just took a while for it to matter.
  • It does a great job of showing all the big personalities that dominated the coaching ranks of the early days of the Big East.
  • Sorry, no 6 OT talk. No real mention of UConn either to be fair. Despite the fact they won a few National Championships as a member. Jim Calhoun has a few talking head moments, but that's all from UConn. Same for Rick Pitino.
  • They talk about the BET but they only talk about some from the early 80's. Obviously there have been some pretty good ones since then.
  • There was one moment that really got me. They talk about the death of Dave Gavitt and how the day Mike Tranghese found out about Syracuse and Pittsburgh leaving was the day that he found out Gavitt had passed away. They then cut to Jim Boeheim talking about that and about how it's been his whole life. He clearly fights back a tear. The room I viewed the movie may have been very dusty that day.
  • No real talk about Notre Dame, or Tranghese, or especially John Marinatto being competent enough to stop any of the expansion/raiding of the league. No one deserves a ton of blame but Marinatto was totally inept and Tranghese could have taken some other steps.
Overall, you'll like what you see, especially as a Syracuse fan. It is definitely the incomplete story of all things Big East, but it gives you a good dose of history and the personalities, both players and coaches, that built the league into what it was. If I were grading it like one of our Football report cards, I'd give it a solid B. Requiem for the Big East premiers this Sunday at 9:00pm Eastern on ESPN. You should definitely tune in or set the DVR. It should be appointment viewing for all college basketball or Syracuse fans.

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6OTs remembered 5 years later

Maybe the best part of this picture is Donna & Mike's faces

It started March 12, 2009. It ended March 13, 2009. It spawned Marathon Men t-shirts, a website, and brought the rivalry of Syracuse and Connecticut to a new level. The 2009 Big East Tournament quarterfinal between Syracuse and UConn was a six overtime epic battle that will forever be etched into the memories of all who experienced it: whether in person, on TV, or on twitter.

March 2009 was around the time twitter was taking off. I finally bowed to the pressure on March 11, 2009, of course not knowing that my decision to register @jbren would so greatly enhance my 6OT experience. My first tweet was so i just joined twitter. i wonder if i'll actually use this thing. I can't remember how many people I started following, or who, or even who was following me. But I had my twitter all ready to use the next night.

March 12, a coworker was turning 50, so we went out that night for drinks. I was in Simon's in Horseheads, where there are no TVs. Luckily, the 7pm game ran late, so the SU-UConn game wouldn't start till approx 9:45pm. I ducked out of the celebration to head across the street to Hanover's Grille -- I knew they had TVs. I got a prime seat at the bar, ordered a drink, and got through the first half. UConn had a 37-34 lead at the half, and I decided I wanted to watch the rest of the game back at my apartment, so I left. In retrospect, great call.

Once home, I poured myself a drink. I'm sure it was either Jameson or Vanilla Vodka. For whatever reason, I didn't tweet at all during regulation. I think I was still trying to get the hang of it. I didn't have an app for my phone (a Blackberry Storm at the time) so I was literally using the mobile twitter website. The score was tied with mere seconds left in regulation, and Syracuse was to inbound the ball.

holy shit eric
That was my first tweet of the game. We all thought he had hit a three at the buzzer. He jumped on the media table and punched his chest as if to say he was king of the world. And then, that amazing midcourt floor camera from ESPN had caught the shot -- with the basket and clock -- from the perfect angle to show that the ball was still sitting on Eric's fingertips when time reached 0.0. So onto overtime we go.

this is what BET is all about!
I must've tweeted that at the end of the first overtime. I had gotten at least one more drink in since the first. I was thoroughly enjoying the game at this point.

do i have enough alcohol for this?
A tweet probably around the end of the second overtime. Things were happening fast and furious, and I was worried that I'd run dry before the game ended.

great guts shown if that means anything
That may have been a comment I picked up on from Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas, or Bill Raftery. Or it may have been some nonsense gibberish fueled by booze. Or maybe both.

this may be the best game ive ever seen
Easy to say this around the end of three overtimes. Plus some booze. You can tell I didn't much appreciate punctuation at that point.

5 overtimes? i want money or something
Well, the good news is this tweet actually mentions an event, so I can place this at the end of four OTs. If my memory serves me correctly, I think I had made a bet with myself that this game would go five overtimes. I won that bet, but I don't know if I ever paid myself.

6 is my lucky number. don't even know what to say at this point.
Obviously at this point, the game was tied at the end of five overtimes, and so onto the sixth we go. It is true that six is and always has been my lucky number, so I guess I felt pretty good about Syracuse's chances at this point.

And that would actually be my final tweet of the game, and of the night. By the time Syracuse had outlasted Connecticut 127-117, I think I was so exhausted that I didn't want to deal with that weird "SurePress" touchscreen on my Storm. I do remember at some point during one of the overtime periods, I decided to stand up. Right there. In my apartment living room. By myself. I think it was early -- may have even been at the end of regulation when Eric almost got that shot off in time.

Going to bed after that game was interesting. On the one hand, it's late, and I had been drinking, so you'd think falling asleep would be easy. But on the other hand, that was like 3+ hours of adrenaline pumping through my veins. Suffice to say, I didn't get much sleep that night.

But I still had to get up and go to work in the morning. Luckily when I had found out Syracuse would have the late Thursday game, I had blocked off my Friday morning as "KEEP OPEN FOR DESK TIME," because I didn't already have any court appearances scheduled. And it's a good thing I didn't have anything going on that morning. I was worthless. I was tired, and quite frankly, I was still shaking from the night before -- the adrenaline I think was still pumping through me.

Syracuse won the next night in the semifinals. A found a few tweets from that one:
anyone else having a hard time getting excited over this game?
OT? we've played this game before.
shut up jay bilas

But at any rate, 6OT is something I'll never forget. It was one of those experiences that, as a Syracuse fan, you remember exactly where you were and how things went down. You can close your eyes and immediately bring yourself back. You can maybe even smell the same smells. As we are now about to watch our beloved team embark on a new conference tournament, the ACC Tournament, we can only hope that someday that will provide us with another great memory.

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I have to shill for this thing now.
It's conference tournament time again. Where the one team from the league your favorite team is in grants automatic admission to the greatest postseason in all of sports. When your team is in one of the top conferences and is a lock for at least an at large bid, the excitement is still there, but the results are less compelling. Either way, you want your team to win. And while it has been a fun first season in the ACC for Syracuse, I find myself almost like a king without a country. I will miss the Big East Tournament as it was. Syracuse in MSG. It just made sense and I saw three first hand and courtside. Two of which (2005, 2006) Syracuse won. But now I've resigned to the fact that things are different. And I still like Syracuse and college basketball and conference tournaments. So #goacc! Syracuse has earned the #2 seed and will chill until Friday evening. But games will go on starting today. Both John and I filled out an ACC Bracket. Both are posted below for your perusal. I've picked Duke to win the Tournament, while John has picked UNC. I'll be back tomorrow with a review of Requiem for the Big East, which premiers this Sunday at 9:00pm. Also we'll preview whatever matchup Syracuse will face Friday then. It's the week before the most wonderful sports time of the year. So enjoy it kids!


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Syracuse - Florida State Preview

Syracuse students agree: Winning the season finale would be nice.
Syracuse faces their last test in the 2013-2014 Regular Season. They take on Florida State down in Tallahassee. Can Syracuse dig deep and find some offense to ward off another let down on the road?
First, apparently Jeremi Grant will suit up and play in this game. I have a feeling he won't play much and he won't add much on the offensive end, where we need his post play. But hey, if he contributes that will only help Syracuse, a team in desperate need of scoring. Right now it's coming from surefire First Team All-ACC CJ Fair.  He tied his career high the other night in his Dome farewell. And Ennis also added some points. After that, there was not much scoring done by the team. Cooney has been dreadful in his last three games from long range (6-28, 21.4%), and was only 1-8 against GTech in the last game. That's not good, my friends. We all know Keita isn't setting nets on fire. It is still a little surprising that Christmas doesn't contribute more on offense, but he can have his moments. He's just not consistent enough to rely on points when needed. So that leaves CJ and Grant as the offensive stalwarts of this team right now. That probably isn't enough to overtake the stellar front line of Florida State. They are tall and can do enough to hurt Syracuse inside. The advantage for Syracuse is in running the 2-3 Zone, and being able to force those post players away from the basket and near the foul line to make plays. However, that also opens up Syracuse to allow three point opportunities for FSU. That is something they can take advantage of, being the best shooting team in the conference. Granted, they are not as good at shooting the 3 (37.5%), but this is still a team that can make jump shots. If Syracuse can find a way to get points on the board, and somehow get second chance points against the bigger FSU players, they have a shot in this game. Otherwise FSU will give Syracuse a good run. I have lost my faith in Syracuse scoring, and until I see Grant is back and contributing I'm not convinced he'll play a part in this game either. And frankly, I get the feeling the team has packed it in for the ACC Tournament already as well. Cooney is a ghost, and no one else seems to step up when needed. While FSU isn't the best team in the league, they just have a good matchup going this afternoon against a smaller, battered Syracuse squad. I'm taking FSU over the Orange by 12.
This game is available regionally at 2:00pm. You can check your local listings here. If you aren't blacked out, you can watch on Watch ESPN of course, or you can view it on the ACC Website (with a probably more reliable and contemporary time connection). I'll be in the true home office for one last game. I could use the pick up, so if Syracuse wants to go ahead and surprise me with a win I'll take it.

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Well, it WAS a successful senior class...

"If Chicken Little tells you that the sky is fallin', even if it was would you still come crawlin' back again? I bet you would, my friend. Again, and again, and again, and again."
This has been a rough couple of weeks to be a Syracuse basketball fan. We haven't been used to the team losing. That's what 25 straight wins does. Three losses in four games brings cause for concern, but then a fourth loss in that fifth game -- again, to a conference bottom-feeder -- might bring many in the fan base to think the sky is falling. And for good reason: the team has no forward momentum; no spark on offense; conceivably, no realistic chance to pull out of this slump. Maybe all of that is true. Maybe Syracuse has won 26 games, that's the end of the road for the season, and we'll just see a loss at Florida State, a loss in the ACC Tournament quarterfinal, and a loss in the NCAA Tournament round of 64. But you'll come crawling back to this team; you'll watch them on TV, you'll buy tickets to home games, maybe even away games; many of you will even buy season tickets -- for the first time, or for the seventh or eighth straight season like me. You'll keep crawling back to this team. So, why give up now? Why not support the team and hope that those horrible, sky-falling things don't happen; that Jerami Grant's back feels better, that Trevor Cooney finds his shot, that this team has a tournament turnaround like it did last season? You won't be investing something in this team you weren't already going to invest.
So that's my rant. I start this recap of the Georgia Tech game, because I needed some perspective. Because, this is not a fun recap to write. Syracuse dug itself into a deep hole, with a pathetic offensive effort. Despite an almost-impressive comeback attempt late ion the game, Syracuse fell short and lost to the Yellow Jackets, 67-62.
  • On Senior Night, it was fitting that CJ Fair would have a career game. His 28 points matched his career high set just over four weeks ago against Duke. Playing all 40 minutes in his final game in the Carrier Dome, CJ shot 12-25 from the field and grabbed eight rebounds. CJ showed why he's been one of the most important players on the team these last four years, why he was the ACC preseason player of the year, and why he made the right choice to stay for his senior year. But CJ is human, and he couldn't save this team from itself in this game.
  • Tyler Ennis is the only other Orange player you can even remotely say anything good about from this game. His 18 points on 7-17 shooting was a decent effort. He also had seven assists and a couple steals. Tyler was on the floor for 37 minutes, and for those times when Trevor or Michael Gbinije ran the point, the team couldn't get much going on offense.
  • Tyler Roberson "earned" his first career start. It was essentially a default decision, with Jerami Grant unable to play, and Jim Boeheim preferring to use Gbinije off the bench to provide a spark. Roberson's stats: 1-4 for two points, three rebounds, and a turnover in 23 minutes. Boeheim was very dismissive of Roberson's contributions, leaning really hard on the idea that Grant needs to be back as soon as possible, because Roberson just isn't ready for this kind of action.
  • The center position has been, to say the least, an Achilles heel this season, with or without DaJuan Coleman. At least with him, there was a potential for a three-man rotation there, in the event one or two were having an off night. With the current rotation of two (and both typically having off nights), it's just dead weight in the lineup. Boeheim was sure to mention this in his presser.
  • 39.1% to 47.1%. That's Syracuse shooting vs. GTech scoring. Yuck.
  • Shockingly, somewhat, Syracuse only lost the rebounding battle 39-38. So there's that.
  • One more stat, which ends up looking important when your team is down by 12 or 13, narrows that gap to three, but can't quite catch the lead and loses by five: free throws. GTech was 15-21 for 71.4%, while Syracuse was only 7-16 for 43.8%. What if...
So despite the gloom and doom of the last five games, Syracuse still has a shot at a 2-seed in the ACC Tournament; still has a shot at a 1- or 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Still could very realistically see Buffalo in the first round, and Madison Square Garden if they advance to the Sweet 16. Remember, Chicken Little was a bit of a drama queen, and depending on which version of the story you go with, things didn't always end well for Chicken Little... but the rest of world continued on.

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Georgia Tech - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: It was a rough weekend.
The Orange play their final home game tonight. I guess that's good...? Syracuse has struggled as of late, but considering they could finish #2 in the league and only have 3 losses heading into the ACC Tournament, we should be so lucky. They take on Georgia Tech tonight.
Tech is an easy game to scout. They play well in the paint and generally play the low post game well. They aren't known for hitting big time outside shots and they need to rebound. When Tech hasn't had more rebounds than their opponent they have lost the game. When they have managed to get more, they've usually won. Second chance points and stopping second chance points for their opponents are really what makes Georgia Tech tick. Syracuse's offense has struggled as of late, but they continue to distribute the ball well and make good plays. The ball just doesn't find the bottom of the hoop. A big problem when you need to score more points than the other team to win. But really, this one is simple. If Christmas, and too a lesser extent Fair and Keita stay out of foul trouble and are able to continue to pull rebounds down or earn second chance bunnies, Syracuse will win. If they don't, Syracuse will again struggle and probably not score enough points. The last few games have been miserable to watch as teams take the air out of the ball and force Syracuse to play 30 seconds of defense. That wears down on you slightly, but really all it does is lower the possession count and makes missed baskets hurt that much more. I don't know what player will step up and make some baskets tonight. I know it needs to be Fair, and then either Christmas or Ennis. Roberson will probably see some floor time tonight with Grant injured, and Gbinije will also have to step up and play some minutes. He's done well so far so I don't think that will be a problem but I do worry about Roberson. At least he is quick and good for some fouls. This is the last home game for Fair and Keita. I will certainly remember one more than the other. CJ and Keita stayed and I certainly appreciate that. We will miss Fair's consistant mid-range game, almost a lost art these days and something I always love watching. With Keita, well I won't miss his oven mitt hands, I know that. I think the Orange will be fine though. They win by 13.
This game is available regionally on ACC Network regional coverage at 7:00pm. See if your local provider has the game here. If you aren't blacked out, you can watch on Watch ESPN. John will be in the Dome. I'm in the true home office this week. It was a tough weekend for many reasons so thanks for sticking with us, this team, and enjoy your evening.

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Syracuse - Virginia Postgame Reactions OR Orange Out

Baye, you need to wear an orange shirt that matches your jersey!

By all accounts, Syracuse had a tough task on Saturday: go into John Paul Jones Arena and beat the #1 team in the ACC, to keep alive hopes of winning the regular season ACC title. Winning also would have shown that the ship has been righted, carrying over some momentum from Monday's win at Maryland. But a tall task that all would be: Virginia plays tough defense, and Syracuse is having offensive troubles. Recipe for a perfect disaster. And yet, Syracuse started the game shooting at a decent clip, even holding onto a 28-27 halftime lead. But soon thereafter, the wheels came off. The Orange (as opposed to the orange) had a hard time getting any semblance of an offense going in the second half, marked by a 10+ minute period between field goals. Timely rebounding and transition points allowed Virginia to build a lead it couldn't and wouldn't give up. The Cavaliers beat Syracuse 75-56.

  • CJ Fair and Tyler Ennis led the way for Syracuse offensively, each scoring 13 points. Trevor Cooney was close behind with 12. Rakeem Christmas scored eight, and Michael Gbinije & Tyler Roberson each had five. That's it.
  • Syracuse shot a dismal 35.7% from the field in this game.
  • Syracuse was out-rebounded 39-29.
  • Virginia led in almost every statistical category: shooting (50% to 35.7%); assists (19-8); threes (50% to 22.7%); points in the paint (34-24); points off turnovers (9-7); second chance points (21-10); fast break points (4-0); bench points (20-10)
  • Some of the justification for Syracuse's poor effort can be attributed to Jerami Grant, who only played 13 minutes in the first half, and did not see action in the second. He was limited to 0-3 from the field, and really only just a defensive rebound to show for his minutes.
  • Jerami's poor play and lack of minutes goes back to his back injury. While he was able to rest it this week, get some treatment, and was optimistic enough to play -- even start this game -- it is clear that this soreness is a lot more serious than we've been led to believe. At this point, I don't know what to think... will he ever be able to return to 100%, even with some rest in between these next few games? Then, once ACC Tourney time starts, we're talking about games on consecutive days; NCAA, 2 games in three days at a time.
  • We've all had back soreness at some point. It sucks. Even for us regular folks, who probably don't do such physical things as basketball on the regular. So this is going to be a big deal for Jerami -- either finding a way to play through it, or going on the shelf until he's actually 100%.
  • In the meantime, we get to see more Michael Gbinije, which is nice. He's a good shooter, can cover some ground on defense, and can even get some rebounds. That said, he's still pretty green, and though we see flashes of greatness from him, he's going through some growing pains and is too inconsistent to be a regular, constant threat.
  • That also means some more Tyler Roberson minutes. This Tyler is a freshman without all the talent of our starting point guard. He actually plays like a freshman. Great potential, yes, but there's a reason he's not getting serious minutes from Jim Boeheim; if he could regularly contribute, coach would play him more.
  • Since we're talking about Tylers, I'll take this opportunity to mention that Tyler Ennis fouled out of this game. He had a couple charges called against him, as well as some stupid fouls in transition. He sort of played like a freshman today.
Over the past ten days, we've seen Syracuse lose three times. That kicks us in the face. Sure, we were spoiled to get 25 straight wins, and grew to just expect this team to win, night in and night out. Welcome back to reality. It sucks sometimes. Still, this team is 26-3, 13-3 in the ACC, and still in a great position to enter the postseason. Syracuse has clinched, at worse, a 3-seed in the ACC Tournament. With wins against Georgia Tech on Tuesday and at Florida State next Sunday, our Orange gets a 2-seed. And that, with a good showing in the ACC Tourney, should probably position Syracuse for a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Book your tickets for Buffalo and New York City. The sky's not falling just yet. But, man, this offense needs to find its swagger again.

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Syracuse - Virginia Preview

Syracuse students agree: This game actually means the most.
It basically comes down to this. Syracuse has put themselves in a position to be able to win the ACC Regular Season title with a win at Virginia, the only time the top 2 teams will play this season. And the Cavs have proved themselves more than capable. Can Syracuse outlast another team in a close game on the road?
This game will be a defensive battle for both teams. Virginia has the best scoring defense in the nation. Syracuse is 4th in the ACC. Syracuse will have a slight advantage as they run 2-3 Zone, which will force Virginia to prepare offensive sets to run against that zone. If Syracuse can build a lead in the first half, they might be able to outlast Virginia. Syracuse needs to have shooting show up to beat Virginia. The Cavs don't let teams score in the paint well. Syracuse will have trouble driving the ball, and as we know you can't expect referees to actually call fouls. Syracuse will probably have a tough go at offense. However, if Syracuse is able to shoot and score from the perimeter, Syracuse will put itself in a position to win the game. The shooting has been too inconsistent to expect that to happen though. All hail our new ACC Overloards, the Virginia Cavilers. I'm picking them over the Orange by 5.
This game is available nationally on ESPN / Watch ESPN at 4:00pm. If Virginia wins the game they clinch the ACC Regular Season title. If Syracuse wins, they put themselves in the position to win it. Either way it should be a frustrating, defense heavy game. I'm not sure if I'll be on the Twitter today but I'll be watching and so will John. Virginia stupidly is having an Orange-Out while playing the Syracuse Orange so if we lose this it's a home loss right?

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It's OK, Coach. Syracuse won!

It's been a streaky season for Syracuse. 25 straight wins. Followed by two straight losses. So the big question was whether Big Monday's game pitting Syracuse against Maryland would continue this losing streak, or potentially start another winning streak. Orange head coach Jim Boeheim openly lamented how in "this league" Syracuse would be forced to play -- on the road at Duke no less -- on Saturday and then turn around to play on the road at Maryland, when Maryland didn't also play on Saturday. In fact, Maryland hadn't played since THE PRIOR TUESDAY. But hey, the schedule is what it is, and Syracuse had to overcome its poor shooting of late to be able to beat Maryland. That wasn't exactly the case, as it happened, but the Terrapins did everything they could to lose this game. So, yeah, whatever works for Syracuse. The Orange survived this one 57-55.

  • Tyler Ennis got his swag back, a little at least. It was a nice 20-point effort on 9-18 shooting (2-3 from three), playing all 40 minutes. Ennis had three turnovers, but he also had three assists, six rebounds, and two steals.
  • The only other double-digit scorer for Syracuse was the venerable CJ Fair. 17 points on 8-17 shooting with nine rebounds.
  • Trevor Cooney attempted ten long-range shots, but only hit two of them. It was a pedestrian nine-point effort for him. I guess it's too much to ask for Trevor to be consistent. I'm not talking about nine made threes per game. I just want him to play well. He's a shooter, so when he's not shooting well (and the team's offense as a whole is struggling) it's frustrating to see Cooney play poorly.
  • Jerami Grant only played 13 minutes -- all in the first half -- still nursing a sore back aggravated at Duke on Saturday. Therefore, his numbers suffered: four points on two of three from the field. For whatever reason, the box score doesn't include the stat "number of times Jerami Grant fell to the floor." I'll try to keep a tally for the next game, but that would sure make for a good drinking game! I'm no doctor (well, I'm a juris doctor...) but maybe Jerami's back is sore because he fells to the floor so much?
  • In Jerami's absence, Tyler Roberson was able to get some playing time. No, not 20 minutes in the second half. Five. So there's that.
  • Actually, Michael Gbinije was the recipient of more playing time: 27 minutes to contribute four points. He got some great looks -- especially from three -- but only hit one.
  • Boeheim played a lineup featuring both Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita for several minutes in this game. I guess that's the "big lineup."
  • Why did Syracuse win? This stat: 18 Maryland turnovers. Which leads to this stat: 26 Syracuse points off turnovers.
  • There was a considerable foul discrepancy in this game: 19 calls against Syracuse, to 13 against Maryland. But it was really when those calls were made that was the discrepancy. Maryland made it to the line for 27 shots, while Syracuse only shot six. SIX!
  • Boeheim wouldn't take the bait postgame to complain about the officiating -- saying he had done enough of that Saturday night -- and while the free throw deficit doesn't give these officials the look of evenness, consider the type of game Syracuse played: jump shots. I mean, really, how many times did the Orange drive the ball inside? Syracuse only managed 14 points in the paint.
  • While the final score shows this as a two point game, it wasn't really that close for much of the game. Really only at the end. As late in the game as 11:46 left to play, Syracuse had its largest lead of 12 points. But Maryland started playing harder, getting to the line, and shutting down Syracuse to drastically cut into that lead.
This wasn't a game any of us walked away feeling good about, except for the fact that it got Syracuse back on its winning ways -- as ugly as it may have been. Let's face it: Syracuse had no pretty wins in February (you could call the February 1 game against Duke a pretty win, but people could disagree). But consider the dive-bomb Syracuse had last February, and this one ends up being nice in comparison. At any rate, Syracuse moves on to March for a few more regular season games before its inaugural ACC Tournament. We'll have the Virginia preview here shortly -- stay tuned!

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  • Air Your Grievances

  • This About Sums It Up

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