The Syracuse Orange moved to a school record 24-1 with a slugly (sloppy + ugly = slugly) 72-67 win over the hated UConn Huskies in the Carrier Dome. The ending of the game was marred by a controversial call when official John Cahill granted Syracuse a time out with 30 seconds remaining after it appeared Scoop Jardine had already shot the ball. Boeheim did signal for a timeout before Jardine shot it, but the whistle blew after the ball was out of his hands.
On the court there wasn't much controversy. I'm not even sure if George Blaney was awake when it happened. That came after, and now blowhards like Skip Bayless can rant and rave to their hearts delight.
Let's be frank about the situation. The officiating in the Big East, and college basketball in general, has been horrendous all year. Just ask a Louisville fan. They have been screwed out of two wins already this year.
Did Syracuse get the benefit of the doubt on this call? They sure as hell did. Did the call decide the game? No, it didn't. UConn still had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead and they couldn't capitalize. So while it was a bad break for them, they still didn't make a play when they had to.
Here's the thing - as a fan, you believe your team ALWAYS gets screwed by the officials. I've never met some one who says I love [X] team, but man, we really do get all the calls. Even Duke fans are in denial over this. Yes, I know Duke fans (feel sorry for me) who believe they don't get their fair share of calls. So, as a Syracuse fan I can tell you with a straight face there were many other calls during the course of the game that could have went SU's way but didn't. Did the Orange have one go their way at the end? They sure did. I am going to lose sleep or apologize over it? Not for one bleeping second. The shoe has been on the other foot many times before.
However, the officiating is a situation that needs to be addressed. When the integrity of the game is affected, there needs to be action and while I don't have all the solutions, here's a place to start. Many the refs working today are too damn old.
When you get older you don't move as well as you used to. I know, I'm in my mid 30s and I still play basketball once a week. Guys in a wheel chairs move better than I do now. And the last time I checked, basketball is a game played by wildly athletic young men. In order to be in the proper position to officiate a game played by these men, a referee needs to be able to move around -- and move well. This is hard to do for someone saw is old enough to have bought a new Edsel. So in this idiot's opinion, that's one place start. For what it's worth, it is up to the Big East, not the NCAA, to look into the controversial call.
OK, now that we've covered that, let's take a deep breath and watch some highlights of the game.
And here are a few quick fire observations:
* After years of having giants like Emeka Okafor, Hilton Armstrong, and Hasheem Thabeet roaming the lane and swatting away SU shot after SU shot, it felt good to watch the Orange big men return the favor. The Syracuse had 12 blocks in the game to Connecticut's 3.Arinze Onuaku lead the way with 6 himself. Way to that sh*t outta there big fella.
* That being said, UConn was aggressive on the backboards, tallying 16 offensive boards and outrebounding the Orange by 3. While I wouldn't trade this year's 2-3 zone for anything (except maybe an Edsel) consistently rebounding out of it, or any zone, will never be easy.
* It has been a while since SU hit on all cylinders offensively, and this was another one of those nights. Andy Rautins was 1-6 from deep and the Orange failed to convert on quite a few chances around the rim. This team is due for an offensive break out, here's hoping its Sunday against Louisville.
* While Andy didn't make many shots, we all saw how valuable he is to this team. He picked up his 4th foul and the 16 point lead the Orange built evaporated.
* Stanley Robinson may be the best dunker in college basketball. If he's not the best, he's top 5 for sure.
* Short of going 6 OTs again I don't think we'll see a third guy off the bench until next year. Check that, the Orange still have St. John's on the schedule, there's the chance for Mookie to get some PT yet.
* You don't need me to tell you the free throws at the end of the game were huge - but I'll tell you anyway - they were huge. Like Rex Ryan after an all you can eat buffet huge. I never thought I'd see this team hit 82 percent of their free throws in one game.
* Rick Jackson's game is so old school I sometimes expect him to just randomly show up in a Richard Roundtree movie on late night cable.
* My reaction to the new uniforms - they look like the old uniforms. However, they are a little better in that there's more orange the duct tape on the back is gone, which is an improvement.
* While UConn feels terrible right now, I'm guessing they don't feel as bad as Roy Williams right now. He feels "Haiti catastrophe" bad.
* Bring on Louisville.