|Who's uglier - Gheorge Muresan, the GEICO Caveman, or Georgetown fans?|
Georgetown obviously missed point guard Chris Wright who couldn't play due to a broken hand. However, Wright's absence shouldn't minimize Syracuse's win. They beat a good team, on their home court, on senior night in the first game without one of Georgetown's leaders. It's not easy to beat a team when they have that much emotion going. All you have to do is look back to what the Denver Nuggets did in their first game without Carmelo to see how missing player can galvanize a team. Hell, it's the whole premise of the Sports Guy's Ewing Theory. Over the long run when a team misses a key player it usually catches up with them -- however the FIRST game is almost always tough for opponents.
For Syracuse, the win was the 24th of the year, a number every SU fan would have deemed acceptable at the beginning of the year. To put 24 wins in perspective -- over the last 20 years SU has failed to reach 24 wins 10 times. So even with the four game losing streak and the truly bizarre rumors that have swirled from time to time, this team has already accomplished a lot and is in position accomplish even more.
While the team is dangerous, it certainly hasn't been a typical year for SU and the Georgetown game was a microcosm of that fact. We had James Southerland come out of nowhere and usurp C.J. Fair's minutes, Fab Melo on the floor at crunch time and Kris Joseph's two biggest plays were a rebound and a stellar defensive effort to deny Georgetown.
Rising above it all was Mr. Antonio 'Scoop' Jardine. Scoop played one his best games of the year, limiting his turnovers, putting his teammates on his back down the stretch, and making big shot after big shot. He simply willed the team to a victory. I've said all year that like it or not, at the end of the game Scoop is going to be the guy taking crunch time shots. That was true yesterday and he came through. So while we all continue on Mr. Scoop's Wild Ride keep this in mind -- while he's as unpredictable as they come, but he isn't afraid -- and guys who aren't afraid are dangerous.
A few observations:
- As Fab Melo goes, so goes Syracuse? Well not really, however Fab's game mirrored what happened with the rest of the team yesterday. In the first half he got some playing time, he was active and even had a dunk. Syracuse led by 10 at the half. When he was inserted in the second half, things didn't go as well.
- Kris Joseph was a ghost for 39 minutes but he showed when it counted, hauling in an important offensive rebound and blocking Jason Clark's three point attempt to preserve a win. While his defensive effort was better, he's really been struggling lately and SU needs him to play much better on offense to have any chance of doing some damage in March.
- C.J. Fair was been playing very well, so it was a little odd to see James Southerland get so much time. However, James got another shot at playing time and man did he deliver. His 9 points in the first half were needed, but what was more impressive was the defensive effort and activity on the boards.
- Georgetown did a nice job of denying Brandon Triche good looks. As much as SU needs productivity from Triche, this is also a good thing. With teams starting to key on him, it should open up opportunities for other guys.
- Talked about Scoop a lot of there earlier, but the bottom line is that he won this game for SU.
- Dear Bill Clinton: More rooting for Arkansas - less rooting for Georgetown -- and I don't care that you went there.
- Syracuse with a week off before getting DePaul next week at home. SU is looking at closing the Big East with a 12-6 record and 25-6 overall. Not too shabby.