Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ebay Items of the Week: Orange in the NBA


Alright kids...we're celebrating the end of the NBA lockout by looking at some fine game worn NBA jerseys of your beloved Syracuse alumni.  Let's get to it:

Sherman Douglas' journeyman career included stops in New Jersey and Cleveland.  Good god those old Cavs unis were heinous.

The General's teammate Rony Seikaly is represented with his Nets and Magic duds.

Len Elmore's favorite Orangeman, Hakim "Warwick" makes an appearance here with his Bulls jersey.

Check out the Magic and Timberwolves jerseys of Danny Schayes.

Jason Hart loves LA.

And finally, here's a really old school Louis Orr Indiana Pacers jersey.

Sherman Douglas mix?  Ok!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fab Melo Rejects Seton Hall as Syracuse Rolls in Big East Opener

Fab Melo morphed into Dikembe Mutombo against Seton Hall
The Syracuse Orange assured themselves the number one ranking in the country heading into 2012 by dominating the Seton Hall Pirates 75-49 in the team's Big East conference opener.

The story of the game was the dominance of sophomore center Feb Melo who set a Syracuse record with 10 blocks in the game. Fab also added 12 points and 7 rebounds to the effort.

While we shouldn't confuse Seton Hall with Kentucky or North Carolina, the performance was a dominating one, especially considering the fact that the Orange didn't even play particularly well on the offensive end of the floor. Leading scorer Kris Joseph put up a goose egg and this game was STILL over 5 minutes into the second half. It was one of the most stifling defensive performances I've seen Syracuse put together in quite some time.

Unlike last year's team, this version has the defensive intensity, height and length to simply shut teams down -- even when the offense isn't there. It has the added bonus of being so deep and athletic that opponents WANT to slow down the tempo. The result is that even when shots aren't falling, teams are not going to run away from SU because they aren't playing at a quick pace and struggle to score points quickly against the zone.

This team will lose this year, but I don't think there's a team in the country that can run away from them. This was one hell of a start to Big East play.


* Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard wins the Rob Murphy award for the shiniest head on the sideline of the Carrier Dome this season -- and Murphy brought his team in there. Well done Willard.

* Dion Waiters gives this team an element they didn't have last year -- a guy that doesn't need any help at all to get his own shot, and get a decent one.

* People watching at home wear audibly assaulted by color commentator LuBara Dixon Simpkins. Commonly known as Dickey he is one of the worst announcers working today. He's the anti-Raftery. Consider these nuggets the Dickmeiser dropped on the audience:
  • "A dunk special with a side of facial" -- uttered after an uncontested Dion Waiters dunk.
  • He stated someone was "Handing out movie tickets" -- he must have recently seen the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie and had that on his mind.
  • He uttered the totally overused "block party" line -- which is not to be confused with Ronnie Mund Block Party.
  • And he capped it off with this gem, "It must still be Christmas because Melo is getting presents from the guards" -- not for Dickey, not for us.
* Scoop had a slow game, he forced the action a bit and after five years I've finally figured out Scoop Jardine's downfalll - unbridled enthusiasm. Scoop is the Billy Mumphrey of Syracuse -- and after this year its safe to say his career will be one filled with internation intrigue as well.

* To elaborate on that point just a bit - Scoop loves the game, loves to play and is always giving 100 percent effort -- however that enthusiasm sometimes gets him in trouble -- forcing shots and plays there aren't always there. This year when it happens, he'll sit and Dion and Brandon will play.

* In CJ Fair, James Southerland and Dion Waiters, this team has three guys who seem to actually enjoy taking mid-range jumpers. It's a lost art.

* While SU was much bigger than the Hall, I was impressed with the overall effort on the boards tonight. You can tell the coaches have been emphasizing it.

* The last 5 minutes of the first half and the first 5 minutes of the second half it was all Melo all the time. He was the Great Wall of Melo, and it was awesome.

* Let's turn to the Connecticut Post's Sean Patrick Bowley to describe the stretch accurately - via Twitter:

At Center: Fab Melo. Forward: Fab Melo. Swingman: Fab Melo: Guards: Fab Melo. Fab Melo. Head Coach: Fab Melo
* Can we get an official height for Michael Carter Williams? I've heard announcers state he stands anywhere from 6'5" to 6'7".

* I really like the fact that Kris Joseph wasn't forcing things on the offensive end even though he didn't have it going tonight. He hustled, played defense, passed the ball and was still a leader.

* Mookie Jones got some run and every time he touched the ball fans went nuts wanting him to shoot. He did not. I am convinced this isn't a coincidence. Mookie's a smart guy, he's not going to turn himself into a circus act. Good for him. I don't care that he doesn't play much - I love that guy.
One Big East game down - a whole bunch to go - here's hoping they are all like that.

Syracuse Looks to Send it in Against Seton Hall

The number one ranked Syracuse Orange get their Big East season started against the Seton Hall Pirates tonight. For those who want intelligent analysis of the season so far and what we can expect heading into tonight's game, head over to 900 Irving and get geared up.

For those of you looking for dumb stuff, you're in the right place. Seton Hall is having a very nice start to its season, as the Pirates have raced to an 11-1 start.  They are led by Herb Pope -- who is a walking double-double who also moolights as one of the most accomplished testicle assassins in all of college basketball:

And since perception is reality, I fully expect the Pirates to give the Orange all they can handle, since it seems like they always give SU fits. It wouldn't surprise me if somehow Darius Lane found a 12th year of eligibilty and came off the bench to knock down six 35 footers while Boeheim screams at Scoop to get his hands up.

So while we expect a tough game tonight, we should also pay our respects to Seton Hall's greatest contribution to game of college basketball -- launching Bill Raftery's broadcasting career.

We make no bones about the fact that we love Raft and always will. However, we wouldn't get to enjoy Bill Rafterty the broadcaster if Bill Raftery the coach hadn't washed out at Seton Hall after 11 seasons.

Raft was the head coach at Seton Hall from 1970 - 1981 and judging by his record, we was exceptionally mediocre -- never winning more than 18 games and never losing more 16 over the course of a decade.  To be that consistently average makes us love the guy even more, because let's face it, on its best days this blog could charitably be described as OK.

However, after going 11-16 in 1981, Bill left Seton Hall and P.J. Carlesimo came in. P.J reached great heights, taking the Hall all the way to the 1989 National Championship game before he decided to move on to the pros serve as Latrell Sprewell's personal stress relief ball.

However, his coaching exit launched broadcasting career that quickly made Raftery one of the most entertaining guys working in college basketball. So thank you Seton Hall for bringing us Bill, a man who has brought us classics such as onions, a little lingerie on the deck, man to mansecret playbooks, and of course Jerome sending it in:

So while you're watching the game tonight and getting frustrated by the fact that Jordan Theodore has suddenly morphed into Stephen Curry, sit back, relax and thank the Hall for Raft.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Festivus

Make sure your Festivus pole is ready for use
Happy Festivus friends and readers. We hope by now you've retrieved the aluminum pole from your crawl space and started limbering up for the feats of strength, because today, December 23rd is our nation's greatest holiday. Even if you're not in one of the 10 best cities to celebrate Festivus, it doesn't mean you can't air your grievances.

So after you make a donation to the Human Fund , take your Festivus Quiz and make sure you greet everyone today with two simple words -- Happy Festivus.

Syracuse - Tulane Observations

The non-conference portion of the Syracuse basketball schedule came to a merciful end tonight in the Carrier Dome with the Orange beating Tulane 80-61. I'm not going to lie, I half watched the game as my 4 and 2 year old nephews ran around my house like maniacs and used me as a human jungle gym. It was far more entertaining than the broadcast -- which wasn't in high-def here in Albany. I DVRed it and was planning to watch it in its entirety when they left, but I didn't have it me.


* Syracuse is a good team.

* Tulane isn't a good team.

* If the name of your team is the "Green Wave" wear green jerseys. Life isn't that complicated people. Don't make it harder than it needs to be.

Photo: Dennis Nett/Post Standard

* Matty T is the greatest three point shooter in the world.

* The foreign dude who wears number 14 for the Green Wave looks like a chick.

* Boeheim's ready for Christmas - via Jared E. Smith:

* I would imagine after the stress of the Bernie Fine scandal,  the Hall of Fame Coach is ready for any kind of Christmas break -- even the hap, hap, happiest Christmas ever.

Seton Hall  is next. That Pirates are 10-1. Thank God Big East play is finally upon us.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rakeem Has Bison for Christmas

Jim Boeheim's Syracuse team won a snoozer against Bucknell

The Syracuse Orange and the Bucknell Bison sleep-walked through a pre-Christmas game in the Carrier Dome Tuesday night with the Orange ultimately prevailing 80-61. After a fun, emotional win over NC State this past Saturday, this game was the opposite. The students were gone and from the looks of it most of CNY was out Christmas shopping. Senior centers at nap time had more energy than this game.

However, the game was played and SU won and at the end of the year that's all anyone is going to remember about this snooze-fest. Rakeem Christmas received  more playing time than he's had in a while and the freshman big man delivered with a 10 point, 5 rebound performance. He's a very talented player and on a team with less depth I he'd definitely be showing his potential more -- but this is a good problem to have.


- Bucknell coach coach Dave Paulsen looks like a slimmer version of guy who lives in a van down by the river:

- It was nice to see Rakeem Christmas emerge a little tonight. While I don't think he'll play much in the Big East, he gives SU what the team lacks when C.J. Fair or James Southerland is in -- a true 4 that can operate down low, rebound and block some shots. I would have liked to have seen JB put him back in later in the first half, but he got a lot of PT in the second half and acquitted himself well.

- Dion Waiters had his left thumb taped up and didn't play much/at all in the second half. I'm not sure if there was an issue with the hand or not, but its something to keep an eye on. In the first half he did have a runner that positively Sherman Douglas-esque...and since I can't find a video of Sherm hitting a runner (the all time master of that shot) we'll have to settle for G-Mac instead:

- Kris Joseph was 2-3 from behind the arc and is shooting 40% from three point range this year. He's having a quietly outstanding year.

- I think the cavernous dome caused a problem for Bucknell in the first half, they adjusted in the second and made a ton of threes.

- Boeheim played some man to man and pressed earlier in the year but he seems settled back into the standard 40 minutes of zone as we get close to Big East play. As Bucknell bombed threes in the second half I wouldn't have minded a little man, but it's pointless to complain.

- Fab Melo and Scoop executed a beautiful give and go in the second half. The big fella is a pretty slick passer.

- I wasn't impressed with Baye again tonight - I'm hoping the light goes on soon. SU is going to need more out of him - especially as it pertains to rebounding shot blocking. If he's not doing that, he's just taking up space -- most of it vertical.

Michael Carter Williams played a ton in the second half, taking almost all of Brandon Triche's minutes. I don't think he played particularly well, but it made sense to get him some run now. It might not happen much in conference play.

- Team Jardine had his second straight really good game. When he's on he's very, very good. Don't take it from me, take it from his official fan page twitter feed:

- The game took an hour and forty three minutes......that seemed more like five hours.

One more non-conference game left - against Tulane after Christmas and then we get Big East play. It can't get here soon enough.

Scoop Jardine is the Hardest Working Man in Social Media

Scoop Jardine with yet another social media venture

Scoop Jardine is a lot of fun. He's highly entertaining doing the Scoop and Kris Show with Donna Ditota. On the floor we all know he can be both brilliant and/or maddening -- sometimes all at once. Scoop aslo has a strong social media presence, with his own twitter feed with over 11,000 followers, a facebook page with almost 5,000 friends, a Scoop Jardine Show facebook site that I'm assuming serves as some sort of public fan page and this facebook group with a really, reallly, really old pic of Mr. Jardine called SCOOOOOOP.

But you can't slow Scoop down. Tonight while I was on Twitter I noticed yet another social media outlet for the starting point guard for the nation's number one team - welcome to Team Jardine, the twitter feed for the official fan page of Scoop Jardine. So apparently a fan page is now tweeting.  I know I'm an old dude, but when a fan page starts tweeting, I begin to feel like Kramer standing at the corner of first and first.

So there you have it folks -- make sure you follow Team Jardine so you're not left behind, because if you don't, you'll end up at the nexus of the universe before you know it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Syracuse Defeats N.C. State in its First TRUE Road Game

This headline says it all - via JohnCuse1
The nation's top ranked men's basketball team the Syracuse Orange went on the road Saturday to took care of business, defeating Mark Gottfried's N.C. State team 88-72.  Luckily for Gottfried, it may be a few years before SU gets in the ACC and makes this an annual affair.

Syracuse started slow and then used a devastating 23-0 run in the first half to assume control. NC State made a nice run in the second half, but ultimately did not have enough firepower to overtake the Orange. As Kris Joseph said, the Orange are number one in the country for a reason.

I've been slightly healthier than Kim Jong Il all weekend, so here are some scattered thoughts on the game, I can't promise they make any sense.

- Kris Joseph is healthier than last year, that is obvious, but the confidence he has in his game, and his jumper in particular, is what is making a real difference. NC State came out with a quick early burst and had the crowd into the game, but the key to getting that under control was a contested three from Joseph. I don't think he makes that shot last year.

- The athletic ability of all four of SU's guards is what makes this such a dangerous defensive team. Scoop is in great shape, Brandon Triche is a tank, Michael Carter Williams has arms like plastic man and Dion Waiters has jaw-dropping athleticism. So when these guys are active, they create turnovers at the top of the zone and more importantly they convert them into points. I don't remember a Syracuse team with guards that are as good as these guys are at finishing at the rim. This team makes opponents pay in the open court -- which increases the team's overall offensive efficiency.

- Speaking of Dion - he doesn't even start, but it's time to start figuring out where he ranks on the list of the best guards in the country. If he was on one of those Jonny Flynn teams where every available body played 38 minutes a game, he'd probably be averaging about 25 ppg. We'll know if he happens to stumble across this site because he'll retweet the link.

- One of the fun elements to every game is seeing who will emerge to get Rakeem Christmas' minutes - CJ Fair or James Southerland. Boeheim will play them both in the first half and ride whichever guy is hot. Against NC State, James played lights out in the first half and CJ came on strong in the second. If this team is going to make the Final Four, both need to work hard on the defensive backboards, because both of them are smaller than a traditional 4 and rebounding is an area of weakness.

- NC State made a bunch of shots early and while some of that was due to defensive lapses, some of it was just guys making shots. I've always felt its easier to shoot well against a zone because even if you have a hand in your face, you haven't had to fight through your man to get to a certain spot on the floor. It's easier to make shots -- even contested ones -- if your feet are squarely under you.

- Fab Melo took another charge and had another active game. He was a strong inside presence and it was needed because his back up, Baye Moussa Keita had an uncharacteristically bad game. I love Baye, but he was really bad in the second half. He was far too low in the zone, allowing NC State too much room to operate below the foul line and to top if off, he wasn't rebounding the ball or blocking shots. I expect him to bounce back, but let's forget this one and move on.

- In the first half Dion made a great pass to Southerland for a wide open three at the end of SU's big run and Waiters had his hand in the air celebrating the make before James had even released the ball. That's a team playing with confidence my friends.

- Syracuse's half court offense bogged down early in the second half and exposed the Orange's biggest offensive flaw - the team doesn't have anyone that can play with a back to the basket. Without a true post presence everything has to be a dribble drive or a jumper - and sometimes jumpers aren't going to fall. Melo is showing signs in that regard, hopefully he continues to develop.

- An interesting fact pointed out by OldSaltCityAce on twitter -- Syracuse outscored NC State by 16 after ESPN gave their second half Bernie Fine update.

- Speaking of that - while no one is questioning the seriousness of Fine issue or the charges against him - breaking into the game action in the first half and filing a separate report in the second half on Fine was completely unnecessary -- especially since there hasn't been anything "new" on the investigation in days.

The Schedule

Lastly, a few words on the SU's first "true road win." ESPN and others in the media have made a big deal about Syracuse's schedule and the lack of games in home gym of the opponent. Sean has pointed out the inherent laziness of this "analysis." The fact of the matter is that Syracuse does NOT play a murderous non-conference schedule. Almost no teams do - with the big exception usually being Michigan State.

Realistically Jim Boeheim shouldn't play an insanely hard non-conference schedule because SU already plays in the toughest damn conference in the country. At the end of season, the Orange's strength of schedule will be one of the hardest in the country. According to current rankings, SU has or will play 8 teams in the top 25 this year. By comparison, Duke has or will play five top 25 teams.

The Boeheim scheduling model is consistent - play in an early season tournament that guarantees one or two match ups against good opponents. Play New York State teams in the Dome to help those programs in terms of both visibility and money, and mix in a few tougher, under the radar mid-majors to test the team and keep the strength of schedule up. This year Marshall fits into that category. It's a model that works and makes sense, because the last time I checked the whole point of the season is to prepare for March and I haven't seen any team play a "true road game" in the NCAA tournament since it was outlawed years ago.

At the end of the day, Syracuse is the number one team in the county and all the cackling from talking heads is just that - cackling. So let's ignore the white noise and enjoy the ride.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Winnipeg Wants to be More Like Syracuse

The Carrier Dome, home to an army of stainless steel pee troughs

Any male that has ever had the privilege of taking in a sport event or concert at the Carrier Dome knows one of the building's fairly unique charms is located in the men's room. Instead of your standard, stand alone porcelain urinals, the outside walls of each lavatory are lined with gleaming stainless steel trough-style urinals.

The pee trough as it is known has advantages and disadvantages.....for those who are shy or suffer from "stage fright" the set up is nightmare. With no individual area or dividers, it's just elbow to elbow of men with their members out doing nature's business.

No pictures of the actual troughs at the dome exist online (that's not a place where you should be using a camera) but they look a little like this 
I for one, do not suffer from this problem and frankly find the pee trough advantageous. With no defined urinals you can maneuver quickly to open spaces and get your business done as soon as possible - whereas with standard urinals you always run the risk of landing in a line behind someone who does have stage fright or even worse -- you end up behind the 70 year old man with a prostate the size of a watermelon. That guy takes forever.

Plus I've usually got enough crappy dome foam in me that I'd take a leak in front of mother Theresa and wouldn't think twice about it. When you've got to go, you've got to go.

The trough is something you don't see much in major sporting venues any more -- which makes what a few fans are doing in Winnipeg interesting - if you study the urinal arts like I do. From Larry Brown Sports we learn that there's an on-line petition to bring back the urinal troughs. The troughs were used at the old Winnipeg Arena and apparently the lines at the MTS Center are brutal.  Fans in Winnipeg are longing for the days of  using this:

Photo of an actual trough from Winnipeg stadium

So Syracuse fans, the next time you trudge into the men's room at the Dome to do your business, look at the bright side - there are people in Winnipeg who are jealous of you......unless you are crazy enough to use the trough as a slip and slide - then you're just a dumbass.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ebay Item of the Week: A Handful of Matt Gorman's Junk

I'd pay a heckuva lot more than the asking price of $25.00 for this autographed picture featuring some guy from Davidson getting dangerously close to the junk of former Orangeman, and pride of the North Country, Matt Gorman.

Apparently Matt learned a thing or two about flopping from the English footballers during his time playing pro ball across the pond.  Here he shows the best way to stop a fast break is to fake a devastating leg injury:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gloria Allred Enters the Bizarre World of the Bernie Fine Scandal

Once you've been lampooned on South Park, you've made it

Just when you thought the Bernie Fine scandal couldn't get any weirder, media-loving attorney//press conference holder Gloria Allred has entered the picture. Gloria has helped Bobby Davis and Mike Lang file a civil lawsuit against Jim Boeheim and Syracuse University.

For more on exactly what the civil suit means - check out this excellent post explaining the whole situation from a legal perspective at Orange 44.

To get you up to speed with Gloria, she's been holding press conferences where she demonstrates simulated anal sex -- in front of two nine-year olds. It's actually more pleasant with some classical music played over it.

Gloria's also been working to defend a dominatrix/assistant attorney general, protect a porn star from Anthony Weiner's twitter feed,  and most recently she was working to take down Herman Cain. Watch out Santa, you're next - you misogynistic bastard.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mick Cronin is the Man

Cincinnati and Xavier got into an ugly brawl at the end of their traditional cross-town rivalry game yesterday. It culminated with Yancy Gates hitting Kenny Frease in the head.

I wouldn't expect to see Mr. Gates on the floor again any time soon. However, if you want to see how a grown man takes responsibilty for such an incident, watch this video of Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin address the situation. Some key points:
  • Cronin states that he doesn't even know who will be on his team going forward
  • You can see the anger, hurt and embarrassment bubbling under the surface
  • He recognizes importance of the institution and how poorly this reflects on Cincinnati
The fight yesterday was ugly -- but Mick Cronin's post-game press conference was impressive. It will be interesting to see what happens going forward, but I know this, Mick Cronin can coach my team any day of the week. Video via the Big Lead.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Jay Cutler Has Never Felt So Loved

Remember last year when Jay Cutler got hurt in the playoffs and the whole world thought he was a wuss? Then it turned out he really was hurt and people still didn't seem to care?  That seems like forever ago....Then this year started and it turned out Jay is pretty good when Mike Martz isn't trying to get him killed and things were going along swimmingly.  Then BOOM Jay gets hurts and the artist known as Caleb Hanie takes over.

Naturally these are desperate times for Bears fans. So desperate they have turned to song.  Luckily for the rest of the world, it's an awesome song. So, via With Leather, we present to Bears fans a truly amazing song parody -- Cutty Come Back. Jay Cutler has never felt so loved - and that probably includes time he spends with his on again, off again fiance.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Syracuse Student's Reaction to the Bernie Fine Scandal

Image via Blah Bethany
The Bernie Fine scandal is certainly serious and has cast a dark shadow over the Syracuse program. District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick said yesterday that due to the statute of limitations he cannot charge Fine. Now we wait for the federal government to see what exactly Fine's fate will be.

While we are bombarded with Fine related news on a daily basis you have to wonder how the students are reacting to the whole mess.  Well our friends at Rush the Court have a very nice piece on their site from SU student and RTC correspondent Danny Conners about the SU student perspective. It's well done and worth checking out.  Connors explains the students realized the magnitude of the situation and didn't react in a way that would allow the media to pour any more fuel on the fire:
Once we returned to campus after break, we were welcomed by a media blitz. There were television trucks on Marshall Street and reporters roaming University Avenue looking for interviews, but there was oddly no buzz on campus. If you didn’t know there was an ongoing investigation, you would have no idea if you only saw the fortitude exhibited on campus. “I don’t think the reaction to the scandal has been what the national media was looking for,” Ben Glidden, a sophomore from Maine, said. “There weren’t any riots. There were no students crying in the streets. There were just students who understood the magnitude of the situation and were happy with how the university handled it.”
After talking for bit about how students have dealt with the scrutiny, Conners concludes that the scandal has brought the campus closer together:

As a matter of fact, the investigation has actually brought the campus together, according to Wilner, who said, “it’s helped us grow even closer as a university community.” Through the taped phone calls, media blitz, and released statements, it is of utmost importance to realize that this scandal doesn’t reflect on our student body or campus. “You can’t let one man define a university,” Glidden said.
You can read the entire piece here - it's worth a few minutes of your time - Reaction To Bernie Fine From Inside Syracuse.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ebay Item of the Week: The Motown Masher is the Only Currency I Need


Our loyal readers (all three of them) know that DC holds a special place in our hearts.  I won't go anywhere without my Derrick Coleman commemorative silver coin in my pocket.

Speaking of...why do the Dome vendors always hand out half dollars in change?  

Take it away DC:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Syracuse Wins, Ensures We Are Glad We Aren't Marshall

Jim Boeheim was so happy the game the game was over almost made out with a Marshall player
The Syracuse Orange did something the Cincinnati Bearcats could not do - they beat the Marshall Thundering Herd by the score of 62-56 Tuesday night in the Carrier Dome. The game was more sloppy than a kindergarten arts and crafts class and brought up the age old question - did we witness two great defenses or two teams playing brutal offense?  The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle, but there's no sugarcoating it - this was one ugly game.

During one stretch of the second half we had an air balled free throw, a shot that hit the SIDE of a backboard and a put back attempt from two feet away that clanged off the backboard and ended up 4 feet away. Simply put, it was one of those days. Syracuse was a little flat after beating Florida on Friday, but the important thing is that  got the win - so let's roll through some quick observations and get busy never talking about this game again.


* The Orange played the 2-3 zone almost exclusively throughout. It was effective, holding Marshall to 34% shooting and 5-24 from behind the arc. All five of those makes came in the last 5 minutes.

* Conversely while the zone was effective, SU also got killed on boards (40-32) and gave up 17 offensive rebounds. It is harder to rebound out of a zone - but we need to cut SU some slack since Marshall was shooting it so poorly they were essentially throwing the ball off the backboard and chasing it. Basically they were dumping and chasing it hockey-style.

* Fab Melo could have helped more on the boards, but was limited by foul trouble.

* Scoop had a better second half, but both he and Brandon Triche had really slow starts offensively. All four guards were active in the zone defensively and did a really nice job getting steals and run outs at the top of the 2-3. If it wasn't for that, I don't think any of them would have scored in the first half. Triche didn't see much playing time in second half, as Boeheim went with Michael Carter-Williams who got some minutes and gave the team a nice spark.

* Marshall wins the award for ugliest uniforms worn by an SU opponent to date.

* Syracuse had 10 steals in the first half - they finished the game with 12. I thought the press was effective in the first half and then SU never deployed it again.

* Brandon Triche had an amazing killer crossover in the first half and then didn't finish. To me he looks quicker than last year. Most likely it's just increased confidence, but either way I'll take it.

* Syracuse still does a TERRIBLE job of feeding the post. Both Melo and Baye are good passers and they need to make more of an effort to get the ball down low. It will alleviate some of the pressure the perimeter guys feel and let the team play inside out. Both of those guys are capable of either finishing or kicking it cross-court for an open jumper. The team needs to make a better effort of getting it down there.

* Rakeem Christmas is this year's Craig Forth. He always starts, usually comes out quickly and rarely gets back in. He'll be very good down the line, but right now he's like senior citizens at a your local family restaurant -there at the begining of the night but certainly not sticking around for the ling haul.

* CJ Fair had the rare off game. In the second half Boeheim went to Southerland before CJ. James provides more outside shooting - but Fair is clearly the better rebounder. James was more active defensively, but rebounding is Colt 43's kryptonite. I think the minutes with these two guys will be split according to match ups.

* Fab Melo and Baye Keita have drawn more charges already this year than SU centers have in the past five years combined.

The best thing about the game is that it's over. While noting how ugly it was, Rod D Twitter noted that we were all a little dumber for having watched that game. These games happen from time to time, but that doesn't mean Rod was wrong - so for my final take on this game - let's hand it off to the teacher from Billy Madison:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Syracuse Beats Florida in the Shadow of Scandal

The Syracuse Orange passed an early test Friday night beating the ninth ranked Florida Gators 72-68. The Orange passed an important early test in an otherwise soft non-conference schedule. Marshall will offer a decent test on Tuesday, but getting past the Gators means the Orange have a very good shot at being undefeated when Big East play begins against Seton Hall at the end of the month.

It seems a little silly to be doing an observations post two days after the game, but a couple of things stood out:

- Beating a top 10 team while shooting 17% from three point range is a good sign.

- Jameson Fleming said it on twitter during the game - so the credit for this is all his - but C.J. Fair is the team's best rebounder in the zone.

- Coincidentally, Syracuse used the same tape measure that said Josh Pace was 6'5" when measuring Fair.

- Up until the Florida game I thought Dion Waiters had been the team's best player to date. He went 1-8 and they still won.  Another good sign.

- There aren't words to describe it, but Kris Joseph just looks so much more comfortable on the floor this year. It's like he's finally at peace with being the team's go to guy.

- Scoop has been quiet all year - losing minutes  to Triche and Waiters and he hasn't pouted or hung his head.  That attitude is infectious and so it was great to see him play an oustanding game and lead HIS team to a victory Friday. His maturity is visible right now.

- Jay Bilas said during the broadcast he thought Brandon Triche could be the teams' best player. By the end of the year he could be right.

- People in Florida are whacked.

As I'm sure you've seen and heard about a 100 times already, Jim Boeheim apologized after the game for earlier statements in regards to the Bernie Fine scandal. The video is above. While his press conference on Tuesday was cringe-worthy at times, the press conference on Friday night was perfect. The coach showed his human side -- something he works very hard at shielding. He expressed empathy for victims of sexual abuse and pledged to do more to raise awareness about  a very serious issue.

In my real life I work as a public relations consultant and and have been doing communications for most of my career.  Throughout the scandal, I've been saying Boeheim shouldn't have attacked the accusers and needed to show some empathy for them and others like them. About a million other people said the same thing, so I'm not going to claim its some great revelation. However I was very pleased to see the Hall of Fame coach do what he did Friday night. Good public relations isn't about "spin" and twisting facts. It's about doing the right thing and communicating what you are doing in an open, honest and transparent manner. Jim Boeheim did that Friday night.

The silver lining in this dark, ugly cloud is that now an issue that needs more awareness will get it. Jim and Juli Boeheim do a tremendous amount of good in the Syracuse community. Because of this, they are going to do even more.

For another great read on a situation, check out Brent Axe's piece. It's spot on.

Marshall is next Tuesday night.

Syracuse Football Season Ends on a Five Game Skid

Doug Marrone is searching for answers after Syracuse's latest loss

The ugly 2011 Syracuse football season is mercifully over. It ended with a brutal 33-20 loss to a bad Pitt Panther football team.  The Orange ended the season on a five game skid and as a result will not going to a bowl for a second consecutive season.

A year ago if you would have asked me if I had any doubts at all about Doug Marrone's ability to lead this program back to the top of Big East, I would have told you I had none. Now, I'm not so sure and the impending move to the ACC only adds my trepidation. The five game skid to end the year magnified glaring weaknesses that were masked by wins earlier in the year. Hell, we didn't even write about the Cincinnati game last week -- with all the Bernie Fine craziness going on and the fact that the team laid another egg, there wasn't much to say.

However, the Pitt game provided one last chance at redemption. One last chance to secure a 6th win and with it, the 15 extra practices that a bowl berth provides. It obviously didn't happen.  The fact of the matter is that this team played one complete game all season long. One. It finished in last place in the worst BCS conference in the country. It played with a glaring lack of discipline that seemed to get worse, not better, as the season went along.  Three years into the Doug Marrone era, here's where we are:

  • Syracuse is 6-15 in the Big East over the past 3 years. Two of his three years the team has one conference win.
  • In three years Syracuse hasn't put together a consistent offense and insists on running some sort of pro-style, uber-conservative "multiple" offense that doesn't stretch the field and doesn't threaten opposing defenses.
  • Marrone has won 9 games in three years against teams from BCS conferences.  That's three a year. This year he only won two games against those team.
Turning around this program is a huge undertaking - no one is naive to that fact. Greg Robinson was 10 games in four years and left it shambles. Marrone has made strides, but this year was clearly a step back. Doug's going to have to sink or swim with his guys now -- if we get the same results next year I think it's pretty clear that he's not the right man for the job. As far as the game on Saturday:

Syracuse - Pitt Observations

* Out of all the problems this team had this year, the most disturbing is the number of penalties the team took -- especially personal fouls. That continued against Pitt. 9 penalties for 95 yards. It's been a constant refrain all season long and in my opinion, part of the reason that went on all season long was a lack of repercussions for doing something stupid. Guys like Michael Hay took an astounding number of personal foul penalties and were continually trotted back out onto the field. I understand that there's no depth, but  I also understand every player has a back up. If a guy repeatedly takes bad penalties and repeatedly puts the team in a hole, how is that helping the team?

* Pitt started the game with a pooch kick off that Syracuse failed to cover. The Panthers did it again later in the game and Syracuse almost turned it over again. The fact that the team couldn't adjust to this is a damning indictment against John Anselmo and the coaching staff.

* Jarrod West, long trumpeted by Syracuse Post Standard writer Dave Rahme as a potential game breaker at wide receiver, was anything but. He's dropped passes all season long and the 4th quarter fumble was the capper in a disappointing season. He's only played one year and there's potential there - I hope he can realize it.

* Big Chandler Jones had an athletic interception and played another really good game. Hopefully he's back and healthy for 12 games next year.

* For all the good things Scott Shafer has done in his first two years at Syracuse, this year he wasn't very good. I know the defense was young and I can live with getting beat physically, but against Pitt the secondary was STILL blowing assignments, as evidenced by the Panthers first TD 10 seconds into the game.

* On the long 4th quarter TD drive, Orange44's John Brennan said it best - "The lack of urgency on this drive is stunning."

* I'm not sure what to make of Ryan Nassib anymore. His stats are solid, the the results aren't there. Part of the reason is the scheme of the offense. Part of the reason is a below average offensive line. Part of the reason is drops by wide receivers. Part of the reason is he can't throw a catchable deep ball and at times he lacks touch on intermediate balls.

* Tino Sunseri was booed lustily by Pitt fans and I can understand why. He makes some inexplicable plays.

* In a way I'm glad the season is over because I don't know how many more rollout/TE drags routes I can watch. I have no faith that Nathanial Hackett knows what he's doing.

* Antwon Bailey, while he fumbled a little too much, capped off a career with another hard effort. He ran hard every time he touched the ball and handled himself with class. Likewise Nick Provo capped off a very nice career with another solid effort. Those two will be missed next year.

* Alec Lemon continued a strong second half of the year with a number of substantial gains over the middle. He had a nice season that would have been better except for a some crucial drops in the end zone. There weren't any of those against Pitt, but they can't be overlooked. UPDATE: A reader points out Lemon has very few drops this year, including only one in the end zone  - so maybe I'm wrong here. See the comments for more of the discussion. It's a shame the team can't find a couple of burners for the edges because Alec could destroy teams in the slot.

* Jerome Smith ran hard and showed a lot of promise for the future.

* Six turnovers to cap off an ultimately disappointing year. From 5-2 to 5-7 against competition no one would confuse with the SEC. The Orange end the season with more questions than answers. It's a common them.

I like Doug Marrone. I like the way he carries himself. I love the way he takes responsibility for the team's shortcomings. I love the way he talks about the fans and what success means to us. You don't see that often. However, you can take all the responsibility in the world, if you don't win game it doesn't matter. He built up a ton of goodwill last season. That goodwill is already gone. A five game losing streak, a sloppy undisciplined team, and three years of a punchless offense will do that.

2012 for Doug Marrone is more important than ever.  SU fans have watched a decade of almost exclusively bad football and Doug's got one more season to fix that. He's taken responsibility for it - but those are just words and words are hollow. Winning football games is what matters. That hasn't happened often enough.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ebay Item of the Week: Mullet Memories

The Big East-SEC Challenge rolls into the Carrier Dome this Friday night when the Orangemen take on the Florida Gators.  For Orange fans, the history between Syracuse and Florida includes an incredible high: the 1991 thrashing of Steve Spurrier in the Dome, and a really low "low":  Donovan McNabb's farewell nightmare in the Orange Bowl.

When I think of the Orange's history with the Gators on the hardwood, I go back to their Final Four run in 1987 when a young, loud-mouthed, mullet sportin', Gator center named Dwayne Schintzius promised to take down Rony Seikaly and the good guys from CNY in the Sweet 16.  Well, things didn't exactly work out for Dwayne.
We're honoring the mullet with this week's Ebay Item of the Week.  I can't wait for Little Champ to take the court in his Dwayne Schintzius LA Clippers replica jersey.

I present to you perhaps the greatest highlight mix clip ever from Youtube: 

Dwayne + R. Kelly = pure gold.

The Westboro Baptist Hate Mongers Come to Syracuse

The Bernie Fine sexual abuse scandal has reached "theater of the absurd" proportions over the last couple of days. Deadspin is looking for players who have slept with Laurie Fine and the sub-human organization that calls itself the Westboro Baptish Church has said they will be protesting in Syracuse on Friday.

These "people" are severely disturbed and mainly publicity hounds. If you haven't heard of them, this is all you need to know, even the KKK is offended by them -- and they're white. The only good news is that there are adults running the actual investigation into Fine and they will get to the truth. However, that is going to take time. So while we wait for that, let's enjoy a couple of videos where people with functioning medulla oblongatas make these Westboro hate mongers look dumber than they make themselves look (not an easy thing to do).

Fair warning - the language is a little rough, but that's life.

I love the Foo Fighters and love them more after watching this: