Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Friars Tucked - Orange Roll to Victory
How about that for a terrible headline? I guess I'm not getting a gig writing headlines for the NY Post any time soon. Anyway, the only thing worse than my writing was the Providence interior defense, as the Friars had no answers for Arinze Onuaku and Kris Joseph, falling to the Syracuse Orange 85-68 in the Carrier Dome.
Watching from the comfort of my couch, the game had an odd feel to it -- after a quick start by the Orange, Wes Johnson took a horrific tumble and the crowd got quiet. After that play got sloppy and Providence made a game of it. Syracuse came out with an early spurt to start the second half and cruised to the team's 22nd victory in 23 outings this year.
Here are some quick observations on the game, typed while I try and wrap my head around the premier of Lost. If I operate in parallel universe, please forgive me.
* Any discussion of this game has to start with the play of Arinze Onuaku -- the big fella has had a very uneven senior year, but he was huge tonight. Every good thing about AO's game showed up - soft hands, the ability to finish around the rim, and a strong defensive presence that resulted in 4 blocks to go along with 20 points and 7 boards. He even airballed a free throw for good measure - that's always fun.
* Sometimes I swear Andy Rautins passes the ball as if he gets extra credit for the degree of difficulty. I appreciate the effort, but sometimes there's beauty -- and effectiveness -- in simplicity.
* I really love Providence's commitment to not playing defense. These guys don't have much of a desire to guard anyone - hell, I think the 1990 Loyola Marymount team was more effective on that end of the floor.
* Unlike the last two games, Syracuse came out ready to play from the opening tip. The Orange started the game 8-9 from the field and more importantly they made EVERY hustle play, which lead to some easy hoops. Just a wild guess here, but I'm thinking Boeheim just mmmmmmmmight have put some added emphasis on starting the game quickly.
* After Wes Johnson took a hard fall, the team became a little unsettled. The last five minutes of the first half were sloppy -- I'm talking 3 am sorority house sloppy.
* Champ sent me a great text during the game that read, "Keno Davis is a great name for a game show host." We can see it now, tune in next week to the new Match Game with your host Keno Davis!
* Providence, despite a lack of size, out-rebounded the Orange by one.
* John Sanders and Doug Gottlieb worked the game, and while Gottlieb is usually the one taking heat from SU fans, Sanders really, really needs to retire. The guy called Andy Rautins "Leo" at least 5 times, he rambles about his childhood and his diet is most likely limited to soft, bland foods. The man is a step away from needing a homing chip implanted in his neck like Walter Bishop.
* It was a rough night for the Friars and things aren't going to get any easier for them. The rest of their schedule is absolutely brutal.
* I was on Matt Mc's Sports Fix not too long ago (wow that sounds pretentious, I'm terrible) and Matt asked me an interesting question - which player could SU least afford to lose? I said Andy Rautins because of the multitude of different things he does on the floor. While Wes Johnson is the team's best player, Kris Joseph is playing so well he can make up for the loss of Wes more than any other player on the roster could make up for the loss of Andy -- and Kris proved that with another stellar game tonight.
* That being said, here's hoping Wes is 100 percent for Sunday's game.
* Jamine Peterson is the most explosive man named Jamine to ever play the game. In all seriousness though, this kid is an athletic freak. I was impressed with his play tonight.
* Syracuse is 22-1, so let me be very clear here when I say I'm not complaining but it would be nice if JB could work Mookie in for a few minutes in each game. I know his defense isn't great, but when he was seeing floor time, I really thought he was progressing and as the Wes Johnson fall proved tonight, Syracuse is only one play away from needing him.
* Syracuse was a better team tonight and they took care of business. The special season continues and I couldn't be happier. Here's the box score for you stat heads out there.