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Kansas - Syracuse Postgame Reactions OR No Hot Hand

I traveled to Miami for this game, because I live in a place nothing like Miami.

As you can tell from the picture from my seat, this game wasn't very well attended. Syracuse and Kansas played on Saturday at the Hoophall Miami Invitational at AmericanAirlines Arena (home of the Heat) in just the second rematch of the 2003 National Championship. Geno Thorpe left the program prior to this game, and Kansas entered as the #2 team in the country, so the deck was already stacked against Syracuse. But I figured, hell, maybe some magic will happen. My sister, brother-in-law, and I went to Fado for the Syracuse Alumni Association pregame party (which was very well attended -- maybe too much so) then made our way to the game. Lots of Syracuse fans, lots of Kansas fans, and yet still lots of empty seats. Right off the bat, the officials called a super tight game. Annoyingly tight. But at least it was both ways. Unfortunately that left Syracuse in early foul trouble, particularly with Frank Howard picking up a few early fouls. With Thorpe gone, this gave Howard Washington some minutes. Despite Syracuse finding itself down significant amounts several times in the game, the Orange also showed some grit and determination in battling back. None of these efforts got them close enough, though, with Syracuse ultimately losing 76-60.

  • Tyus Battle lead the way for Syracuse offensively, with 22 points on 7-20 shooting (2-11 from three) playing all 40 minutes. Think those shooting numbers are abysmal? Well, the team wasn't any better: 18-56 for 32.1%.
  • The shooting numbers would have been worse had Syracuse not had a few awesome runs in the second half; first half shooting was 5-23, while second half improved to 13-33. Making those numbers worse was the inability for any shooter to get a three to fall: 6-27 for 22.2% on the game. Look, at some point, you just need to recognize that the three isn't working, and take a different shot. This, as much as anything, prevented Syracuse from truly being competitive in this game.
  • Oshae Brissett also played all 40 minutes and scored 15 points. He was also great on the defensive glass, grabbing eight rebounds there for a total of nine. I feel like he gets better every game with more experience, and he'll be such a force as the season goes on.
  • Despite being somewhat limited in minutes due to foul trouble, Frank Howard still played well, with 15 points and seven assists. It's great to see how he's matured as a player and a team leader since last year, and the fouls that got him in trouble early are not something he should be frustrated over considering the officials were calling things so tight. That was still great production from Frank in 32 minutes.
  • Matthew Moyer continues his struggles. In 17 minutes, he failed to score -- or even attempt a shot -- while missing several assignments on defense. I really just don't know what to say about Moyer. I had such high hopes for him, that his redshirt year last year would allow him to practice with the talent we had, learn the program, and hit the floor running this year. So far, not so much.
  • Paschal Chukwu might not be the liability at the line we thought he was. He somehow hit his first foul shots of the season (of his career?) by going 5-10 from the line. He only hit one shot from the field, but it should have been another, had he been able to throw down the hammer on a dunk. Instead, he totally bricked, "hung" on the rim, and was called for a bullshit technical. Such was this game.
  • Kansas, as several teams tend to do against Syracuse, shot the lights out of the ball. 49.1% for the game, and 35.5% from three. Devonte Graham was the big shooting nemesis, going 7-13 from three for a total of 35 points. As you hear a million times, the 2-3 zone leaves the defense susceptible to the 3-point shot, and Graham just picked his spots and put them up. With the zone, you live with that, as long as the rest of the zone works the way it should. On Saturday, Syracuse couldn't defend the backdoor cuts, the baseline runs, and the lobs. A more experienced front court might be able to do that; it certainly wasn't lack of size.
  • I have a disdain for a lot of opposing fan bases, and antics they pull during the game, but one of the things I've really learned to hate over the years was "Rock Chalk Jayhawk." And sitting at AmericanAirlines Arena on Saturday night, knowing that chant was inevitable, was excruciating. And hearing it, even worse.
  • That said, I had the stereotypical bad Syracuse fan sitting 2 seats away from me (with an empty seat between us). He was razzing a Kansas fan near us the entire game. His biggest argument was "You're the best Big-12 team, playing the #9 ACC team. You should be beating us by a lot more." First, not true. Second, if that's the best you've got, keep your fucking mouth shut. This Kansas fan, to his credit, wasn't giving back shit, wasn't starting shit, and quite frankly I felt bad for him. Also, Syracuse fan was wearing an orange bucket hat. So he had that going for him.
I stayed for the 2nd game of the night, Miami vs. Princeton. There were maybe 500 people in the arena at tipoff (because Princeton doesn't travel, and Miami fans were a little preoccupied at 8pm on Saturday night but in retrospect probably would have preferred to see a blowout basketball game). We left at halftime of that game, which was quite a snoozer. At any rate, I'm glad I made the trip to Miami. I got to see some friends, went to a South Beach nightclub, visited some local breweries, and Sunday night went back to the arena for Heat vs. Warriors. Sure, I didn't see Syracuse win. But that's not what the weekend was about. If it was, I wouldn't have gone. Despite the fact that there is no JBren Curse on away games, the fact of the matter is I haven't attended a non-Dome Syracuse win in several years. Off the top of my head, I can't even think of the last non-Dome win I attended. I'll have to consult the archives at some point. But don't worry, I won't be at MSG for the UConn game, and I probably won't go to DC for the Georgetown game.

Anyway, Miami is fun. Weather's nice. Go there sometime if you've never been.

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