Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bad Omen: Pitt Upsets Syracuse

SU Athletics got things started on the wrong foot

Happy New Year everyone. Here's hoping you had a safe holiday and didn't get tarantula hair stuck in your eye. As you are no doubt aware, the Syracuse Orange have fallen from the ranks of the unbeaten, suffering an ugly home beating at the hands of the Pitt Panthers. Clearly, this win wasn't in the cards from the beginning and the proof is above.

That screen capture is from the SU Athletics web site. It accompanies the story previewing the game. When the University decides to pair a preview story with a picture from the team's only loss of the season (even though it was an exhibition game) things are destined to go against you.

Let's get to the observations:

* Pittsburgh has won 4 straight at the Carrier Dome. Ugh.

* The Syracuse backcourt, which wasn't very good against Seton Hall, was even worse today. Andy Rautins continues to struggle shooting the ball. In his last 5 games he's just 7-26 from behind the arc, including 1-6 today. He needs to be better offensively to open things for the bigs down low.

* Likewise, both point guards struggled again today. Although he had one spectacular dunk, Brandon Triche forced too many threes and didn't do a good job getting others involved in the offense. Scoop Jardine had 15 points, but he took 13 shots to get them, many late after SU was down double digits. Brandon and Scoop combined for 22 shot attempts and only 4 assists.

* Given all the factors above, I wouldn't have minded seeing Mookie Jones earlier in the game. Syracuse ended the game 1-13 from three point range. If there's one thing we know about Mookie, he certainly can shoot. Jameson Fleming hit the nail on the head with this tweet regarding Mookie.

* Pitt did a nice job on Wes Johnson, who still scored 19. However, the whole game SU was out of rhythm offensively. They settled for too many quick shots, didn't work the ball enough. I think playing at Pitt's methodical pace disrupted an Orange team that was looking to speed the game up.

* Holy Hell, that was one of the worst officiated games I've ever seen. Urban Meyer's decision making is more consistent. If these refs were at Texas Tech, Mike Leach would have locked them in a storage closet. It wasn't the reason SU lost, but you could clearly tell the refs got into the heads of the SU players. The teams were whistled for 45 fouls combined.

* Jamie Dixon looks about 10 years older every time I see him. By 2012 he's going to look like John Wooden looks now.

* Ashton Gibbs just made another 3 pointer.

* I referenced it above, but you aren't going to win many games shooting 1-13 from 3. Likewise, the Orange gave up 55 points in the second half to a team averaging 66. Part of the reason was SU was in full blown scramble mode most of the second half, employing a full court press and half court trap to get back into the game. Part of the reason was 36 free throw attempts for Pitt. Part of it was just plain shitty defense.

* SU was out rebounded again today. Rick and AO have to do a better job controlling the paint. Combined they had 11 rebounds - and 10 fouls.

* The number of short shots SU missed today was astounding. On top of everything else, sometimes the ball just doesn't go down for you. Today was one of those days.

* Pitt is a successful program. Jamie Dixon is an excellent coach. That being said, I HATE their style of play. Their goal is to make every game a methodical, physical, slug fest. While it works more than it fails, it still doesn't make it enjoyable to watch. And it always comes back to bite them in the NCAA tournament.

* Overall no one expected this SU team to go undefeated. Now that this loss is out of the way, it will be interesting to see how this team rebounds. We will find out soon enough, as Memphis comes into the Carrier Dome on Wednesday.


Nick Loucks said...

I continue to disaree on the Mookie Jones idea.

He would have been so exposed on the defensive end in that game.

The Orange were makings ome real gains in the full-court press. Mookie would have been out of position a lot there.

In a physical game like that, Mookie would have been swallowed alive vs Pitt's smothering D.

Good defense is the best way to make easy offense.

Poncho Sinatra said...

I agree with using Mookie earlier. We needed a offensive spark, and we could have full court pressed the entire game, but we weren't making any shots.

For the last 10 years, Pitt has become the "New" Georgetown. My dislike for them grows daily.

Jamie Dixon is what Pat Riley will look like in 15 years.

Russianator said...

Here's the thing with Mookie - the perimeter defense was already bad yesterday - he wasn't going to make it worse. They couldn't find Gibbs in in the first half, in the second, they couldn't find anyone.

They wouldn't have lost anything on the defensive end, because there was nothing to lose, they could have gained some offense.

OrangeRay said...

Does anyone know why Rautins wasn't on the court for the last 4 minutes of the game? I know his shooting was off, but he was the only guy on the court who actually made a three point basket. And Rautins ball handling / passing would've given us some semblence of offense down the stretch.

My only thought is that Rautins isn't athletic enough to play the press. Just curious since I haven't seen anyone write about it anywhere.

Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch Pittsburgh Panthers, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.