Sunday, February 28, 2010
Syracuse Shuts Down Nova
Well, that was fun. The Syracuse Orange made a huge statement in front of a huge crowd and a national TV audience, dominating the Villanova Wildcats and cruising to a 95-77 victory. As you can imagine, the win made a little news. The front page of ESPN this morning featured Andy Rautins.
Meanwhile, over at CBS Sports, Scoop Jardine made the front page:
The front page of the Syracuse Post Standard demonstrates just how big the game was locally - although with the game ending after 11 pm, I wonder what the back up plan would have been if the Orange had lost.
The game was such a big occasion that the Dome Ranger came out of retirement, even though ESPN's Dana O'Neil had no idea who he is.
Image courtesy of Syracuse media, check out the entire photo gallery.
With number one Kansas and number two Kentucky both losing on Saturday, is Syracuse the best team in the nation? ESPN's gameday crew discusses the issue and Jay Bilas seems to think so:
However, Gary Parrish of CBS Sports still thinks Kansas is the best team since Syracuse has lost 2 home games. The last time I checked you don't play NCAA tournament games at home, and that is what determines a national champion, so that line of reasoning seems dubious to me.
Here are a few game thoughts:
With a week of crazy hype, an insane sold out crowd and a 9 pm tip time, I think the Orange came out a little "too pumped up." Some early turnovers and hot shooting by Villanova lead to an early Wildcat lead, but SU didn't let the game get away from them.
This goes without saying, but the crowd was spectacular. It is 180 degrees from the apathetic football crowds, but provides a very important lesson -- win and the support will be there.
When Louisville beat SU two weeks ago, both Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine struggled in the same game. It hasn't happened often this year and it certainly didn't happen last night. Scoop was HUGE coming off the bench to ignite the team with 16 points.
And before anyone asks, Triche should continue to start. Scoop has the perfect attitude coming off the bench and he knows he's going to get his chances. There's no reason to screw up a perfectly good thing.
I was also very interested to see if SU would be able to take advantage of their size advantage down low - and the answer was a resounding yes. Both Arinze and Rick dominated the smaller wildcats in the paint. Rick Jackson needs to get more recognition nationally for the player he has become. I also loved how aggressive Arinze was last night. There are very few teams that can match up with both of those guys - and the guards did a great job of getting them involved.
Kris Joseph hit a big three - and was also very aggressive out there. You have to love the fact that his jumper is rounding into form at the perfect time of the year.
Wes Johnson shot the ball poorly, but managed to get to the line 10 times. That's what good players do - they adjust their games when one part isn't going well. In Wes' case, he got to the rim and got to line.
In his post game interview Jim Boeheim said "we have seven starters" and he's absolutely right. The team has seven players and on any given night any of them can step up and carry the team. When six of the seven step up like they against Villanova, SU beats down very good teams.
Syracuse had one of their best rebouding performances of the year. Villanova was content to launch misguided three after misguided three and SU cleared the glass and limited second chance opportunities.
Andy Rautins was brilliant against Providence, scoring 28 points. Against Villanova he was equally brilliant - while he only had 12 points, he racked up 8 assists and 3 steals. He's the heart and soul of the team.
And I'll conclude by keeping this classy - to the Nova fan who left a comment in this post saying Nova would win by a "stress free" 8 points and SU would be eliminated in the second round of the NCAA tourney I say - suck it.