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Syracuse - Pittsburgh Preview

Syracuse students agree: It's still very satisfying to beat Pittsburgh.
It's that time again. Syracuse takes on long time foe Pittsburgh. Syracuse travels to the Pete to start their ACC slate. Fun times. But really, the gameplan for this is simple. It starts with stopping Michael Young. He's Pitt's best offensive player right now. Young averaged 13.5 against SU last year, but more importantly he's hitting 17.4p on average this year. And he's consistent, hitting around 60% on field goals. Stopping him, is the key to slowing down Pitt's offense. The problem with Pittsburgh, as always, is that they are a tough physical rebounding team. They will probably own the boards and prevent many 2nd chance opportunities for SU, while earning a bunch of their own. I'm not convinced Coleman is tough enough to bang with the big boys of Pitt, and Lydon, while admirably filling in at the 5 spot, is more of a 4. Syracuse needs to keep the rebounding numbers close if they want to stay in this game. Dixon and Pitt know how to beat the 2-3, so part of winning is sheer luck unfortunately. If Pitt is scoring at will, not much SU can do as we know they are unable to come from behind really. So here is hoping the shooters show up. And Malachi Richardson only takes good shots. Same goes for Cooney. When Richardson isn't scoring much, it might as well be a turnover. Speaking of turnovers, SU needs to force some. A tough task against Pitt. However, if Syracuse can, and either get extra possessions, or some transition baskets, they will keep this close. However, being in the Pitt, and SU isn't an elite team this year, I'll say Pitt wins at home by 11. This game is available nationally on ESPN 2 / WatchESPN at 9:00pm. And hey, even when they lose you can just watch this for a while and feel alright. SORRY PITT!

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Mike had everything going in the 2nd Half.
Syracuse struggled to get things going in the first half against Montana State. But Syracuse seemed to get things rolling fairly early in this one, and keep it going in the 2nd half. Another game where almost everyone looked good on the floor. A nice change from some of the slogs SU has had in the non-conference. This was the last gimmie, so let's see how SU wrapped up their latest non-conference slate. SU wins at home over Texas Southern 80 to 67.
  • Michael Gbinije led the Orange in scoring with 15. Cooney and Coleman each added 14. Gbinije was 6-14 from the floor and 2-8 from behind the arc. He played all 40 minutes. He also led assists and turnovers for the team, with 4 and 3 respectively.
  • Cooney went 5-10, 4-8 from the floor. He also had 3 steals in 36 minutes on the floor. While he finished 50% from behind the arc, he is still missing the wide open shots, which is incredibly troubling.
  • Coleman and Tyler Lydon continue to impress as a solid 1-2 punch in the low post. Lydon can also hit jumpers from distance.
  • Syracuse had a season low 5 turnovers in this game. And I believe that is a longtime low. Like, under 10 is a victory, 5 is incredible.
  • Syracuse shot 46.8% (29-62) from the floor, but a poor 30.8% (8-26) from three.
  • While Malachi Richardson wasn't great offensively (finished with 10, 4-10 and 1-5 from the floor), he finished 2nd best for the team in rebounding with six. Gbinije from the guard spot lead with 7.
  • Syracuse had 30 of its 80 points in the paint. That is encouraging that this team is finding ways to score inside. Now, they need to keep doing that against ACC teams.
Syracuse now turns to the ACC Conference, with a trip to Pittsburgh coming up first. Joy! A solid opening test for the Orange. They aren't the best in the conference, but they certainly are a pretty good team. Either way, SU now has a little momentum going and Coleman has some confidence.

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Texas Southern - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Gotta win the last non-conference game.
Syracuse faces their last non-conference foe in Texas Southern. A team that hasn't played a game at home in Houston all year. Not a major offensive power, Syracuse should see a similar game to what happened on Tuesday against Montana State. Texas Southern is hitting threes at 32.3% on the year. That number should let you know that you shouldn't worry too much about this game. As a matter of fact, I see Coleman and even Chinonso Obokoh building on their offensive successes last game, and continuing with much needed inside practice. Again, I'm not yet convinced that Coleman won't buckle at the sight of the first competent ACC post player. But for right now, he's chewing up the kids he is supposed to, and that's fine with me. Look for Gbinije to drive as well, and maybe Cooney will also get the hint and drive inside and facilitate more instead of taking mostly bad threes. If Malachi Richardson can find a big of offense, Syracuse should run away with it. I like SU by 24. This game is available on ESPN U / WatchESPN at 2:00pm.

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DaJuan got to show off some skills, finally!

Coming off a pretty good showing Saturday against Cornell, Syracuse really needed to perform well Tuesday against the Montana State Bobcats, if for no other reason than to really build up some good momentum in the last few non-conference games before ACC play. The Orange did that. This game was never in doubt. A 31-17 halftime lead turned into an offensive explosion (for both teams) in the second half, ending with a Syracuse victory 82-60.

  • His 13 points didn't make him the team's leading scorer (2nd, actually) but DaJuan Coleman did some work out there. From the opening tip, he took over the game. He only played 12 minutes, but was 5-5 from the field, 3-3 from the line, and had four rebounds and a block. Of note, three of the rebounds were offensive, giving Syracuse those second chance opportunities that have been few and far between this season. Thanks, DaJuan!
  • As per usual, the leading Orange scorer was Michael Gbinije, this time with 17 points on 7-17 shooting including 3-8 from three. Five rebounds, five assists, and two steals made him a pretty big presence no matter where he was on the floor.
  • Also in double digit scoring were Trevor Cooney, Tyler Lydon, and... Chino Obokoh! Chino had, as the espn3 crew kept reminding us, a career game with 11 points on 5-7 shooting in his 12 minutes on the floor. He was also active on the boards, pulling down six rebounds. Obviously this was not a tough opponent with hard-nosed players, but it's still nice to see Obokoh play up to the potential we all hoped he had. He's not gonna see a ton of time in ACC play, but he needs to have confidence when he comes off the bench to eat up some minutes and put them to good use, so at the very least, Tuesday's performance was encouraging.
  • Tyler Lydon kept on Tyler Lydoning. We almost don't even have to talk about him in recaps and can just assume he's scoring 10-15 points, getting eight or nine rebounds, and a smattering of blocked shots. I think maybe from now on, we just don't mention him unless he does something bad.
  • Coach Hopkins mentioned after the Cornell game that he wanted something to make sure Tyler Roberson is always plugged in so he's playing at the top of his game. Well, Tuesday the cord must've come out of the wall because Tyler only managed five points (only taking three shots) and eight rebounds. I agree with Hop -- if we can't see consistent production out of Tyler, it's gonna put a bigger burden on the rest of the team, which probably can't handle it.
  • I'm not gonna lie -- this game was hard to watch. I was only half paying attention most of the time, probably because I was seeing what was happening in the game on my twitter timeline, only to see it on espn3 two minutes later.
Syracuse takes a short break for Christmas before closing out the non-conference slate Sunday against Texas Southern. Yes, Texas is southern. Did we need a school to tell us that? Have a very Merry Christmas, y'all!

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Montana State - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Still not at this game.
Syracuse played an interesting game against Cornell on Saturday. They looked flat and cold and couldn't hit anything in the first half. Then the 2nd half opened up, Cornell couldn't score, and Syracuse finally could. Syracuse should have finished off Cornell earlier, but walkons were in by the end, so it's a moot point. However, Syracuse should find it a little easier tonight. Montana State has a couple of pretty solid players thought. The leading scorer is Marcus Colbert, and freshman Tyler Hall is 2nd. Both are guards. Syracuse should have no trouble stopping them, like they did with Cornell. However, scoring has been the issue. If Syracuse can get transition buckets early, this game will be over quick. I look for Roberson and Coleman to again get offensive rebounds, and keep SU ahead in this game. Gbinije should then take over and keep this game out of reach. I don't think this game holds any traps or surprises for Syracuse. Hell, maybe even Cooney will hit an open shot. Either way, SU rolls. Orange by 18. This game is internet only for all at WatchESPN / ESPN 3 at 7:00pm. Enjoy! Well, enjoy about 40 seconds behind anyone you know actually at the game who will surely spoil things going on by Tweeting.

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Cornell - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We're all at home.
Syracuse has had almost a week off since the dick punch that was SU v. St. John's in MSG. Nobody could buy a bucket the last six minutes, and no one could stop any 3's by St. John's. Watching the game, it was one of the most helpless I've seen Syracuse be in the last few years. You just knew St. John's wasn't going to miss, so to stay in the game SU had to create turnovers and get buckets. They got the turnovers, but couldn't make point blank shots, including layups. Cooney missed a three when he was SO open. It was horrible. And don't get me started on free throws (By the way, we're skipping the St. John's Postgame. We know it sucked. You know it sucked. Moving on). Syracuse needs to do two things quick. Play better defense and PUT THE BALL IN THE BUCKET. We all got fooled that this team was going to steamroll some of these games after Atlantis. Then reality hit and we have the team most of us thought we would. Malachi Richardson is basically the test for if SU will win or lose. If he's getting some points and contributing to the offense (and to a lesser extent Roberson or Howard) then SU has a shot to win, if not, well Gbinije can't do it all himself. Despite being doubled a lot by St. John's, he still hit big shots and got a boatload of points. Cooney will make some and miss a chunk. It is what it is at this point. I've never seen a "shooter" at Syracuse underwhelm like this, especially later in his career. But either way, I like how Lydon has done, and Coleman gave me some hope in New York. Either way, Cornell comes in with a very hot player in Robert Hatter. Basically if SU manages to shut him down, and not allow another nobody to have a career day, SU will be in good shape. Playing at home is good for SU. Now respond after the horrible showing in NYC. I'm sure they all want to do that. It's a rare occasion that SU has two bad games back to back. While they may not fix everything, they should still play far better at home against Cornell than they did last weekend, despite MSG being 75% SU fans. I'll take the Orange at home by 12. This game is available regionally on RSN at 12:00pm. Check local listings here. For the rest, WatchESPN. I'll be in the home office. We'll celebrate or bitch together. I promise I'm only going to one more game this year, and it isn't on the road.

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Syracuse - St. John's Preview

Syracuse students agree: We'll have more fans in NYC.
It isn't last year. St. John's is in a critical time of transition. Their seniors are gone. Their playmakers are gone. The returning scholarship players averaged four points last season. Chris Mullin is a neophyte head coach. St. John's only win in the Maui Invitational was against host DII Chaminade. They've lost to Fordham and their wins are against St. Francis NY, Wagner, a four point win over Niagra, etc. The Red Storm are not a great basketball team. If Syracuse plays a halfway decent game, they should cruise in front of a majority orange crowd in MSG. St. John's is riding high off their win in Syracuse last year. But even the blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. That was last season for St. John's who went to the Tournament, had 20 wins, and still fired their coach. St. John's is the annoying little brother of Syracuse. They hang around, SU dominates them, once in a while they get a small victory, but overall we love them. Remember the old days of the Big East? Yeah they were great. But SU has continued to dominate St. John's since the Mike Jarvis era. SU should win big on Sunday. Look for Michael Gbinije to take over the game, as the only bonafide star on the floor. SU's shooting should also continue. I also look for Coleman to step up and get some confidence around the rim, playing against mostly freshman and underclassmen. Either way, it should be worth John and I making the trip to NYC to see even more of our friends in orange. The St. John's Twitter world should be pretty quite this Sunday, unlike last year. Orange over St. John's by 16. This game is available on Fox Sports 1 / Fox Sports Go (with proper login) at 12:00pm Sunday. Get ready NYC. New York's College Team is in the building.

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A nice end to the career of a great person.
The season mercifully concluded against Boston College after Thanksgiving. It was underwhelming to say the least. With a lame duck coach, Syracuse managed to beat Boston College as time expired. Sending Shafer into the sunset a winner one last time. BC lost to the Orange 20 to 17.
Offense
B-
Zach Mahoney (11/25, 86yds, 1 TD, 0 INT) did enough. SU did enough. However, they mostly got their yards on the ground. Syracuse did just enough, and the final drive for SU continued enough to get the Orange in field goal range. And really, a few of SU's best drives were helped by penalties. 
Defense
C
Keeping BC's QB limited to 1 completion was excellent. However, allowing 230 yards on the ground was bad. Really, if BC's QB was any good in this game, SU probably would have lost. Not good.
Special Teams
B
Riley Dixon shanked one early, but made up for it later in the game. However, that might have hurt his Heisman chances. Either way, the hero was Cole Murphy who hit a 49 yarder, but also the game winner.
Coaching
A
Scott Shafer played the clock and play management perfectly on the final drive. No complaints.
GPA
B- (2.93)
A fitting end to Shafer's era. The team wasn't that impressive, but did enough to end up on top. And Shafer was carried off the field on the shoulder's of his players. Into the sunset.
We'll have more coverage of the new football coach and the state o the program, but really we're all focused on basketball. Plenty of that coming soon.

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It's OK Hop, you've got the loss out of the way, now just win the rest of them. Forever.

Rivalry renewed. The game that made the Big East, now a non-conference tilt. Thompson Jr. vs. Boeheim. Except, this time, it was Big John's son, JTIII, and Boeheim's metaphorical son, Hopkins. Syracuse was rocked when the NCAA on Thursday ruled on Jim Boeheim's appeal of punishment for infractions, ruling that the nine-game suspension for conference games was unduly harsh, unprecedented, and not called for by the evidence... so the remedy is for coach to begin the suspension immediately so as to not effect nine conference games. OK, all well and good, except we get this two days before the Georgetown game! Mike Hopkins knew he'd be taking over temporarily for Boeheim this month, just wasn't expecting it to be this soon. So, he had to get ready. And the team had to get ready. And, well, you watched the game. You know that Syracuse shot poorly, that Georgetown played hard from the opening tip, and that the Orange comeback at the end fell short. Hoyas, you get this one at home 79-72.

  • Look, the Hoyas shot 48.1% from the field, 38.1% from three, and 72.4% from the line. Those are good numbers. Unless the opponent can match that sort of efficiency, those numbers are gonna translate to a win.
  • Georgetown's opponent, Syracuse, could not match that efficiency: 38.1% from the field, 25.9% from three, and 81% from the line. While that overall shooting percentage isn't awful, and the foul shooting was acceptable, that 25.9% from three kills a team, especially when it's based on 27 shots. That's 20 missed threes. 20 empty possessions. 20 more opportunities for Georgetown to score, which it more often than not did.
  • Playing all 40 minutes, Michael Gbinije had a good game with 23 points, 3-8 from three, 6-7 from the line, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. He was able to get more good looks when both Dajuan Coleman and Tyler Lydon were on the floor, either attracting attention or setting screens.
  • Hopkins was more comfortable going with a bigger lineup for more minutes, allowing Lydon into a more natural forward position, Coleman at center, and even Frank Howard seeing 13 minutes. Hop also had a more active rotation of players in and out, as compared to Boeheim.
  • The added minutes didn't necessarily equate to a lot more production from Coleman (10 points, 5 rebounds in 21 minutes), but you have to call that an improvement over his previous games. As the main coach for the big guys, I would expect to see this be central to Hopkins' coaching philosophy, particularly considering how important it is to get Coleman going.
  • Also of note, Kaleb Joseph's box score line is 3 minutes played, and zeros everywhere else.
This is one of those rare times when you just have to tip your hat to Georgetown for getting the job done, playing well, and exploiting the weaknesses in Syracuse's game. That effort made it hard for Syracuse to come back, and ultimately led to that comeback effort falling short. I really wish this game had been more like the UConn game on Thanksgiving -- close, both teams having big leads at points, hard fought, and eventually won by Syracuse. But, alas, not this time. Things won't be so easy for the Hoyas in the Dome next year, though!

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Colgate - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Colgate will probably never beat Syracuse ever again.
Syracuse and Colgate have played a lot over the years. And Colgate has won very few of them. As a matter of fact, the last time they won was the 1961-1962 season. Colgate just doesn't get the talent that Syracuse does. Nor are they as tall. The leading scorer for Colgate is six feet tall. Tyler Lydon and DeJuan Coleman should finally be able to eat up some rebounds. Colgate isn't a tough shooting team either. However, Malachi Richardson is 1-12 in his last two games from long range. HELLO FREE POSSESSIONS FOR OPPONENTS! Most were fine shots that didn't go in, but we know the ones a freshman takes that he shouldn't. So does Mike Hopkins. I'm sure these were addressed in a film session. Syracuse hasn't shot well as a team the last two games either. Whether it is due to the fact they are playing tougher teams that play better defense or that they were just cold probably can't be determined 100%, but either way, that shouldn't be a problem tonight. There should be a transition game working tonight against the outgunned Colgate Raiders, and similarly, shots should fall both far away and in the paint for the Orange. I'm clearly picking Syracuse in a game that will boost confidence, despite it being mostly false. As long as Syracuse plays a solid game, not even looking ahead to St. John's on Sunday should derail SU tonight. Orange over Colgate by 28. This game will be available nationally on ESPN U / WatchESPN at 7:00pm.

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Syracuse - Georgetown Preview

Syracuse students agree: We want to beat no other team more than Georgetown.
It's here. It's back. Students and Alumni alike rejoice. Dust off that box of hate, because you need it again. Syracuse and Georgetown are back playing each other. And while Georgetown is still in the Big East, Syracuse has moved on to the ACC. But not even time or conference affiliation can change the history of these two programs and the respectful hate we have for each other. But let's talk X's and O's. Which is simple, If Syracuse wants to win, they have to sink their shots. Georgetown has a seven footer that will be outrebounding Syracuse. Bonus if SU can keep the rebounding numbers close, but I'm not betting on it. Either way, if Syracuse keeps scoring, and playing solid defense, they should prevail by a slim margin. If Georgetown is rebounding well, Syracuse will have an uphill battle. But really, as long as Georgetown doesn't get easy put backs on their offensive end, they can afford to miss some rebounds off SU misses. Some transition offense would be nice however. If Syracuse drives and gets the seven footer Bradley Hayes in foul trouble, things will also go well. Syracuse also suffered due to the poor shot selection of Richardson and Cooney against Wisconsin. If they make economical choices in shooting, they can take the G'town crowd out of it. Oh and make your free throws. I think this game will be close. Unlike last time Syracuse traveled to the Verizon Center. I'll take the Orange in this one by four. But it should be fun for all. And I need this one you guys. I need this one. This game is available nationally on Fox (and maybe Fox Sports Go if you have a login) at 1:00pm. GO ORANGE! See you at Clyde's.

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You see that court, Dajuan? You're not gonna be on it.

Just a quick recap of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup of Wisconsin at Syracuse before I hit the road for Washington. We knew this team would live & die by the three, and if it wasn't falling, they'd have to find other ways to score. But they didn't; sufficiently, at least. All in all, Syracuse shot well enough from three and well enough from two to win. This game really was lost at the foul line. And the glass. Wisconsin forced overtime and beat Syracuse there, 66-58.

  • Syracuse shot just 35.7% from the field and only 29.2% from three. Bad, but not the sole source of a loss, particularly when your opponent's numbers were 41.7% and 27.8%, respectively.
  • The difference at the line? Well, interestingly enough, Wisconsin didn't even get to the line in the first half. But they were 4-5 in the second half and 7-7 in overtime. Comparatively, Syracuse shot 4-5 in the first, 5-11 in the second, and 2-4 in overtime. That's a real solid 55%. Of the 9-16 shots in regulation, just think if whether that number was 10-16 instead. This would be a different recap.
  • The other huge factor contributing to the Syracuse loss was the rebounding disparity. Wisconsin had 51 boards, compared to 25 for Syracuse. Ouch. That also gave Wisconsin 18 second chance points.
  • Michael Gbinije had another decent game, with 19 points, 5 assists, and 5 steals. Malachi Richardson & Trevor Cooney also had decent games as well. However, Tyler Lydon came back to Earth and played like a freshman. Put that all together, it was the perfect storm.
  • Even given that perfect storm, Syracuse only trailed 27-24 at the half, and had a 2nd half lead until Wisconsin forced overtime. In other words, though a loss is a loss, this could have been a lot worse. 
  • Dajuan Coleman played only five minutes in the first half, none for the remainder of the game, and just wasn't the presence inside he needed to be. Boeheim instead simply stuck with Tyler Lydon, and Wisconsin figured out how to exploit him in the zone. Through his size and positioning, Syracuse lost a lot of rebounding opportunities.
It sucks to lose, but I'd rather lose this game than against Georgetown. The Orange::44 team will be in attendance, so look for us there or on the tweets.

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Wisconsin - Syracuse ACC/Big Ten Challenge Preview

Syracuse students agree: Gotta beat 'Sconsin.
The Orange have jumped into the polls after a great Thanksgiving run in Atlantis. Not Syracuse invites Wisconsin into the Dome. However Wisconsin has been struggling this season so far, after making it to the Final 4 the last couple years. But this team isn't the team of last year. This team can't shoot. They're only hitting 30% from long range. And in their last game they only shot 23% total. TOTAL. Good gawd. Nigel Hayes is the glue guy for this team. He can get in the lane and score. If the Syracuse Zone holds him off, Syracuse should have a fairly easy go of it. Wisconsin doesn't have a dominant low post presence. They can't score at will against the baseline of the Zone. Their only hope is to get our players in foul trouble by driving. They may accomplish that, but probably not before Syracuse is up enough for foul trouble to not matter. I think Syracuse will get several transition buckets off of Wisconsin misses. I like the Orange in this one at home over Wisconsin by 16. This game will be available nationally on ESPN 2/ WatchESPN at the odd start time of 7:15pm.

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