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Roberson was good around the rim, sometimes

Tuesday night was Syracuse's last opportunity to tune up before starting conference play this Sunday. Who better to battle than your long-time, annual local foe Cornell, from an hour away down I-81 and Route 13? It was another slow start for the Orange, but around the under-12 timeout in the first half, Syracuse finally took the lead and began to pull away. A 42-25 SU lead at halftime ultimately became an 80-56 final score bringing Syracuse to an 8-5 record heading into ACC play.

  • Tyler Lydon led the way in scoring for the Orange with 20 points on 6-12 shooting, including 4-6 from three. He was pretty confident in his stroke. Tyler also added ten rebounds in a team-high 36 minutes for another double-double. Nice game.
  • Other scorers in double digits were Taurean Thompson (18), Tyus Battle (16), and Andrew White (12). Overall, Syracuse shot the ball OK, at 45.3%, and 39.1% from three. It was great to see Taurean & Tyus have good games, to hopefully give them more confidence as the season rolls on. Boeheim had a lot of good things to say about Taurean's offensive game, but admitted his defense still needs a lot of work.
  • Defensively, I thought Syracuse looked pretty good moving around in the zone. The zone created 15 turnovers, leading to 19 Syracuse points.
  • Syracuse was also active on the boards, with 41 total rebounds and 12 offensive rebounds leading to 18 second chance points.
  • Tyler Roberson had seven of those rebounds, including one offensive rebound for a highlight-generating put-back slam. When he's on his game (see also, 2016 at Duke), Tyler is a force to be reckoned with. When he's not, it's like the second half of last night and he sees his minutes limited.
  • Speaking of limited minutes, where was DaJuan Coleman last night? I assume he started the game? OK, yes, he did (full disclosure, a slow dinner led to me missing the tip). By the time I sat down, he was already pulled from the game, and didn't appear again until part-way through the second half. I wondered whether he was hurt. I guess he just wasn't playing well. Nine minutes, two points, one rebound, and three turnovers. Definitely not the kind of effort that will keep you in the game, especially coming off whatever it is that happened in the St. John's game.
  • Cornell had flashes of great ball movement leading to great offensive possessions, but couldn't really sustain anything. They only managed two players in double digit points, and turnovers really hurt them. They reverted to several 3-point attempts, only to have a quarter of them fall in. It was a good game plan, but they just couldn't execute.
  • Cornell was assessed a technical foul in the second half, when a player not on the official scorecard tried to check in. Off enough to see from any school, but you'd think Cornell would have its act together a little better than that. Attention to detail must not be important.
So that's it. An 8-5 non-conference record. Even if Syracuse goes 9-9 in ACC play -- which might be a daunting task -- it falls three wins short of the magic number of 20 wins. Let's face it: Syracuse needs to win the ACC games it should, and steal a few it shouldn't; it needs to run off a decent to dominating ACC Tournament. Absent those things happening, Syracuse will find itself on the NIT side of the bubble. Let's hope this team continues to improve, put something good together, and change the narrative.

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Cornell - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: They HAVE to beat Cornell, right? RIGHT?!?
After the worst home loss in the Jim Boeheim era (not the worst loss as some not as informed actual, "professional" media have said), Syracuse has had a little while off, enjoyed Christmas, and have had some time to reflect and practice. And much like coming back and taking on Eastern Michigan, Syracuse will enjoy what should be an easy victory against Cornell out of the Ivy League. Taking the mere 60 minute jaunt north, the Big Red come in a red hot 3-8 on the season. This shouldn't be a game. Syracuse might make it one, but I think it will end up like E. Michigan was. Long over before the final buzzer. Which will be a refreshing change of pace to see. Matt Morgan is Cornell's best player, averaging just under 20 points a game. If Syracuse can guard him, and not let him go off, Syracuse should have this game well in hand by the break. Even if Syracuse doesn't keep this close, they should still be the victor. But I like a moderate blowout in this one. I'll take the Orange by 26. This game is available regionally at 7:00pm. Check your local listings here. The usual blackout map here. If it isn't on, it's online at WatchESPN. John is in the Dome. I'm in the home office. Giddy up.

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St. John's - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Syracuse can't lose to St. John's 3 years in a row.
The Red Storm make their way back to Syracuse to take on the Orange in a classic match. Not as sexy as Georgetown or UConn, this one can get lost in the shuffle. But this one is still important to long time fans. And not only that, but it really it for New York supremacy. St. John's is a young team, but full of shooters, with the team hitting around 40%. If Syracuse can effectively play defense, and stop St. John's from going off behind the line, they should be able to body the team and get good looks inside. If not, Syracuse is going to lose again. And I'm not sure I can take a season where they lose to Georgetown, UConn, AND St. John's. I do think they hold on at home though, capitalizing on the confidence they earned from Eastern Michigan. I'll the the Orange by 9. This game is available regionally at 7:00pm. Check your local listings here. For those not blacked out, you can watch on WatchESPN. John is in the Dome. I'm at home. Go Orange!

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Despite the loss, it was an excellent tribute to Pearl.
Syracuse just couldn't do it. Despite hanging with or staying just ahead of Georgetown for most of the game, Syracuse slowly faded in the final ten minutes of the game. Syracuse didn't play well enough to win. Georgetown beat Syracuse on Pearl Washington Day, 78 to 71.
  • Hero of the Day was clearly Tyler Lydon. He had his best game of the year with 29 points on 12-13 shooting. He was a perfect 3-3 from 3. He also has 9 rebounds. He was brilliant on the day.
  • Despite finishing with 13 points, John Gillon was the biggest disappointment on the day for me. Most likely because he went 4-14. Four or five of those misses had to have been missed layups in transition, or that were blocked by a taller Georgetown player. Or just the fact Gillon can't seem to hit a reverse layup. It's fine that he can't. But know when to stay in your lane. Get the steal and if the layup isn't obvious or uncontested, maybe pull it out and have a chance at getting two points instead of an automatic turnover.
  • Frank Howard was also disappointing. He was 2-6, 0-2 shooting for four points. He also had six turnovers to four assists. Howard needs to facilitate more for Syracuse to be successful.
  • White was only 2-8 from 3. That also didn't help things.
  • Georgetown was 22-25 from the free throw line. I mentioned in my preview that Syracuse had to be smart about fouls because that is where Georgetown lives. They weren't. Syracuse, conversely, was 14-25.
  • The tribute to Pearl with his teammates and family was perfect and well done by the school. A vast contract from the ol' "Bowie" incident. New AD having a positive effect perhaps?
Enough about that. This was a miserable ending. Each basket was like pulling teeth. And in the end, Georgetown made baskets. Syracuse didn't. Now Syracuse will have to do some real work in the ACC to warrant Tournament consideration. Because they have really not done anything in the non-conference.

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Eastern Michigan - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We're definitely not on campus for this one.
After another bad effort down the stretch against Georgetown on Saturday, there's a quick turnaround to this one as we see old friend Rob Murphy, leading the Eastern Michigan team into the Dome. It should be 40 minutes of wall to wall 2-3 Zone. So you know what that means, a lot of passing around for Syracuse around the perimeter and then a rushed shot that will not be fully open. I'm only slightly kidding. Syracuse will have a size and power advantage in the low post in this game. Tyler Lydon is coming off his best game of the year. If he can continue to create miss-matches and exploit them, he will go a long way in this game. Syracuse needs to rely on passes into the short corner to him, and then Lydon will either have to make a move or kick to an open shooter. Syracuse should cruise in this game. But it will probably be pretty close until the final eight minutes. I'm still taking the Orange in this one though. Syracuse over E. Michigan by 13. This game is available nationally on ESPN U / WatchESPN at 7:00pm. Both John and I are in the home office. We'll see you out there.

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Georgetown - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Most of us probably aren't at this game. Which is sad.
It's finally here. The most important non-conference game on the schedule has arrived. Arguably one of the top 5 rivalries in college football, Syracuse will again face Georgetown. While it isn't a conference game anymore, and the teams don't play each other twice a year and maybe a 3rd in MSG, this is still an important game for Syracuse and Georgetown fans, as well as college basketball. People born before 1990 might not appreciate it as much, but for long time fans, alumni of any age, and fans of college basketball (especially with an East Coast bias), this game means everything. And it is set to be rekindled in the Carrier Dome. Oddly enough, despite playing last year in DC, Jim Boeheim wasn't at the game due to his NCAA suspension. So this will be Jim Boeheim's first Georgetown game back playing in a non-conference game. And I can only imagine how badly he wants to win this game. And Syracuse can do it. Despite looking like hot garbage against UConn for a good part of the 2nd half, when Syracuse is making shots, they look pretty close to unbeatable. And Syracuse will have to make shots against Georgetown. One thing is for sure. Despite the records, Despite the schedule, and despite the players, these teams play each other tough. Syracuse will have to stop Georgetown's very own grad transfer Rodney Pryor. He is averaging around 20 points a game. If Syracuse wishes to win, they will have to find Pryor and contain him. Additionally, Georgetown is one of the more physical teams in college basketball. They drive to the basket and get to the free throw line. It's their bread and butter. Syracuse will need to be smart about defense and force Georgetown into bad shots and to pull up without driving to try and limit the amount of free baskets the Hoyas attempt. Frank Howard will need to dish the ball smartly in this one. Syracuse is successful when Howard is earning assists. If he is smart with the ball, it will put Syracuse in a good opportunity to score the basket. And sometimes Syracuse needs all the help it can get. But really, the key to this game is how well both DaJuan Coleman and Tyler Lydon play. If Syracuse is able to pound the low post, get Georgetown in some foul trouble of their own, and force Georgetown's defense to pack it in a bit to get shooters more open, Syracuse will have some solid success on the offensive end in this game. Lydon finding his shooting stroke will help, but White and Gillon have that covered for now. Syracuse needs solid low post play from Coleman, but Lydon would also add to the mix of people Georgetown must cover inside, which will create other opportunities, specifically kicking to open shooters. Syracuse really blew it last year in DC, but that was an anomaly. Syracuse was without Boeheim, it's first big non-conference test. It just wasn't in the cards. This year, Syracuse will have Boeheim, they will be honoring the Syracuse Legend Pearl Washington during the game, and Syracuse is coming off some of their best offense of the season against BU (yes I know it was BU, but they started actually playing like a cohesive offense). If Syracuse can stick to the game plan, make some shots, and adjust at the half to anything that isn't working, Syracuse should have a solid day and not ruin any of our weekends. I'll take the Orange at home over the Hoyas by 8. This game is available nationally on ESPN / WatchESPN at 12:00pm. Both John and I will be in the Dome for this one. How could we not be? Say hi and GO ORANGE! YOUR MOTHER'S A HOYA! RIP Pearl Washington.

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Boston University - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Boston University has a better rep than Boston College.
Syracuse played one of the worst games in recent history against UConn on Monday. So the cure for bad offense? Playing a team that isn't very talented. Hello BU! Syracuse should be able to handle Patriot League's Terriers. The rub is this. BU lost to UConn by 2. So did Syracuse. Does this mean anything? Probably not. If Syracuse is finally able to drive and kick, Syracuse should have a good day. Syracuse is bigger, and should rebound the ball. However, as we saw, if BU shoots well, and Syracuse has another horrible shooting night, this could be a close one. But I can't think that Syracuse will have that bad of a shooting night against a shorter, less talented team. I'll take the Orange over BU by 15. This game is available regionally and on the ACC Digital Network at 12:00pm. Check your local listings here. John is in the Dome. I'm in the Home Office. It's actually on TV for me. Hurrah and Huzzah!

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Coleman was the lone bright spot on Monday night.
In what may have set college basketball back a decade, Syracuse and UConn took to the historic floor in Madison Square Garden. It wasn't good. Neither team was good. Syracuse was better for a while, but then UConn was. They ended up on top by 2, in one of the worst games I've ever watched, 52 to 50.
  • Andrew White was the leading scorer with 14 points on 4-15, 3-11 shooting. Not a great night, but he finished with the most.
  • The real bright spot was DeJuan Coleman who had 10 points on 4-6 shooting from the floor. He made some excellent moves in the post, and his jump shot continues to impress. Easily the best performance of the night for the Orange. He finished with a double-double.
  • Tyler Lydon... where were you? For the last few games he has been an absolute not factor. He did have nine rebounds though.
  • Tyler Roberson was the best off the bench with 6 points. However, it was only on 2-5 shooting. He also only pulled down 2 rebounds in 13 minutes of action.
  • Syracuse shot 25.9% from the floor. Dreadful. UConn shot 31.4%.
  • 3 point shooting was pretty much a wash. Both teams were terrible.
  • Syracuse didn't score from 9:10 to 2:35 in the second half. That's what did Syracuse in. That being said, when was the last time you saw a foul called with less than 3 seconds left in the game?
Syracuse and UConn played a terrible game. UConn was just less terrible. Not much can be learned from this game, except for the fact that Syracuse can't seem to consistently make easy buckets. There might have been more missed bunnies in this game than the 6 OT game. I'm only slightly kidding. Syracuse had a dreadful shooting night, and they couldn't seem to consistently score. That is troubling, but it isn't that surprising. Syracuse is lead by a couple of transfer players. They aren't quite playing like a team yet. There is still time to figure it out, but meanwhile we have to swallow the pill of having watched this game.

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Orange::44 2016 College Bowl Pick 'em

Such a weird logo. Looks like a stitched up... uh, football, sure.
Brian and I watch a lot of college football. Brian and I think we know a lot about college football. Now that the 2016 bowl field has been selected, it's time to put all that supposed football knowledge to the test. Realistically, this is all a big crapshoot, because as we all know, crazy stuff happens in bowl games. But anyway, we've created a Bowl Pick 'em on Yahoo. You can reach it by clicking here, or entering in Group ID 7160. The password is babers. Don't try hacking into my email, facebook, or bank accounts with that password, that's totally not the password I use.

Anyway, this is just a simple straight up pick the winners. Most correct games picked wins. We'll have an Orange::44 winner (between Brian and me) and an overall winner. For tiebreaking purposes, post in the comments who will be the Orange::44 winner. The overall winner wins the undying love of this blog. For whatever it's worth.

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Connecticut - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Few things finer than beating UConn in MSG.
Few games create the excitement on the schedule than seeing Connecticut. You know the history. You know the rivalry. Now it's time to play again. After Syracuse's surprising run in the Battle 4 Atlantis last season, where Syracuse beat UConn on Thanksgiving, we turn to this year. The game is in the Garden. I'll wait here while you look up Youtube clips from 2009. Anyway, Syracuse had a bit of a tune up against North Florida. Now comes a Blue Blood. UConn is led by sophomore Jalen Adams, who is their leading scorer. If Syracuse can find a way to shut him down, that will go a long way in beating the Huskies. They do start a veteran 7' center in Amida Brimah. So this should be a fun battle, watching DaJuan Coleman battle it out down low. If Syracuse can rebound and earn transition baskets by turning over UConn, specifically freshman Christian Vital, it should be a fun night. If UConn gets hot and Syracuse doesn't rotate in the Zone though, we'll be miserable at work. And I'll have a UConn fan at my desk tomorrow giving me the business. That is unacceptable. However, while Syracuse does have 2 losses, they are against quality opponents. UConn has lost to Wagner and Northeastern. Uhhhh... what? I just think despite Syracuse's flaws, the talent should win the day. And I think Syracuse is a little more talented right now. I'll take the Orange over the Connecticut UConn Huskies by 9. This game is available nationally on ESPN 2 / WatchESPN at 7:00pm. Both John and I are in the home office. Should be a fun one. UConn... U SUCK!

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North Florida - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: A nice cupcake to rebound is a great thing.
Syracuse heads back to the Dome after taking two losses on the road, one on neutral court Brooklyn, and the other in Madison. Syracuse showed the need for better point guard play, better rebounding, and overall a better defense and knowing where you need to be in the Zone. Syracuse should get a nice practice in today, North Florida is not South Carolina or Wisconsin. And really, Syracuse only has to stop Dallas Moore, the best player on North Florida. He is averaging around 20 points per game, and he is a sharpshooter from behind the line. Syracuse will need to again, as they have been, play the guards above the line and really bother the shooters, to try and force mistakes by other players inside against the Zone. And, you know, even getting your hands up would help. I never thought I'd say this, but Syracuse is really missing Trevor Cooney, specifically on defense. Syracuse's new transfers, and freshman, must commit to the Zone and play defense if Syracuse wants to be successful this year. But that being said, I think Syracuse will be able to force some turnovers in this game, and have a much easier time inside the paint on offense. I'm taking the Orange in this one by 14. This game is available on WatchESPN / TWCS Channel locally in Syracuse at 4:00pm. John is in the Dome. I'll be watching 2 minutes in the past in the home office. Go Orange!

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This guy scored an awful lot of TDs this year.
Syracuse put up their best offensive performance of the season. Certainly the best offensive performance I can remember. And yet, it wasn't enough. The last quarter was basically a track meet. And Pittsburgh made it to 70 first. Pittsburgh ended Syracuse's season, by a final of 76 to 61.
Offense
A
668 total yards of offense, 61 points, 36 first downs. Insane numbers. I'm not going to give them anything less than A. And everyone contributed and made plays. Just the best offensive performance Syracuse has seen in a long, long time.
Defense
D
The defense allowed 644 yards, 76 points. Had the defense been able to make any number of stops so that Pitt didn't keep scoring, the outcome may have been different.
Special Teams
B
Kick and punt returns were fine, and kick and punt coverage was passable. There were several kicks out of bounds however, and Cole Murphy missed a couple XPs. A better than average day, but nothing special.
Coaching
B
The offense was on fire. And really, not sure the coaches could have called a better defensive game. The players just needed to execute and make stops. Oh yeah, and tackle. They didn't do that sometimes.
GPA
B- (2.75)
This game gives you a hint of what kind of team Syracuse has the potential to be. The future is bright. But the present, with a banged up defense, couldn't stop Pitt. And that's the way the season ended.
Syracuse finished 4-8 on the year. Not bad, but as you can tell, this team will be fun to watch in the future. I look forward to next season and another year of recruits from Babers and his staff. And now, it's all basketball.

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Syracuse - Wisconsin Postgame Reactions OR Not Curdy

Obviously Lydon can dance; but can he ball?

If you're looking for the worse puns in blog headlines, you've come to the right place! But seriously, the best cheese curds I've had were in Madison, which is a nice college town. Home of the Kohl Center, it played host to Syracuse at Wisconsin Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.. A rematch of last year's Challenge matchup, which the Badgers won in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse looked to get back in the win column after a neutral-site loss (at Barclay's) to South Carolina. Unfortunately, from the get-go, it seemed like the Orange were outmatched, on both offense and defense. Building a 14-point lead by the 10:00 minute mark in the first half, Wisconsin looked like it was destined to blow out Syracuse. However, some stronger defense and a better offensive effort lead the Orange to erase much of that deficit, trailing 43-39 at halftime. Unfortunately, that momentum couldn't carry over to the second half, and Syracuse basically sleepwalked through the rest of the game, losing 77-60. A win for B1G.
  • For what it's worth, Andrew White III was the leading scorer for Syracuse: 14 points on 5-15 shooting (4-9 from three), five rebounds, and a team high 38 minutes. He had a stretch where he was shooting great, but he could neither keep it going, nor make it contagious to other teammates.
  • DaJuan Coleman was the 2nd leading scorer for the Orange with a dozen points. This may have been one of the best offensive efforts in his career. He was active and strong down low, and really asserted himself for position. Coach Boeheim rewarded that effort with 30 minutes for Coleman. If there's one positive we can take from this game, it's Coleman's performance, which Syracuse will need if it's going to compete in the ACC. The Orange has depth at center like it hasn't in a while, but it needs Coleman to lead the way, continue to assert position around the basket so that even if he's substituted out, Chukwu or Lydon can reap the benefit of the opposing defense's adjustments.
  • Another bright spot was the free throw shooting: 92.3% for the game; a perfect 10 for 10 in the first half, but only 2 of 3 in the second half. Wisconsin just wasn't fouling. But, given the history we're all too much familiar with, it was promising to see the shots fall.
  • No one doubts the amount of talent up an down this Syracuse roster -- obviously at various levels of experience -- but the one disadvantage is that the team has only had a couple months together. They're still feeling each other out, and more specifically, the new players are still learning the 2-3 zone. Tuesday's game showed us why all that matters: lots of missed rotations and assignments on defense. The Badgers exploited it, at times perfecting the inside cuts, while at others kicking the ball out for open threes.
  • Speaking of threes, Wisconsin shot 11-23 (47.8%) from three. A team shooting at that clip is gonna be hard to beat, even if your own offense is playing well. And here, Syracuse wasn't. Thus, the end result.
  • As if that wasn't bad enough, the Badgers shot 49.2% overall.
  • I don't want to say any more about this game.
There was some crazy stat floating around twitter the other night about the last time Syracuse beat a ranked non-conference foe on the road. I don't remember what it was, but it was a long time ago. And it'll have to wait longer. But that's OK. Because up next is a Saturday tilt against the University of North Florida (honestly, I didn't know that was a thing) in the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon. Just what the doctor ordered. And then UConn on Monday down in Carrier Dome South, more commonly known as Madison Square Garden. Obviously we're all looking ahead to that, and reminiscing about 6OT (which some assholes at the NCAA home office want us to believe never happened), but it's not like this game against the Ospreys in a trap game... RIGHT?!?

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