Friday, March 23, 2012

The Orange Roll Into the Elite 8

A view of the SU-Wisconsin game from the rafters of the TD Garden
Well that was exciting. The Syracuse Orange survived the hottest shooting team to ever lose and game and beat Wisconsin 64-63. Thanks to a brilliant stroke of luck, the kindness of a good friend, and an understanding wife, I was able to shirk parental responsibilities for the night head to the TD Garden for the game.  As you'll notice from the photo above, I wasn't in the front row, rather we were up way high, but it was great nonetheless.

I'm not sure how it looked on TV, but the crowd was obviously very pro-Syracuse and it made for a terrific atmosphere - even if it was 80 degrees outside and almost as hot in. I can guarantee you that the crowd Saturday night is going to be 90 percent Orange fans. Judging by my facebook page and twitter feed, Orange fans are already streaming towards Boston to turn the Garden into the Carrier Dome East. I am now trying to figure out how to get back to Beantown without my wife having Saul Goodman serve me with divorce papers.

As far as the game itself, C.J. Fair and Dion Waiters were obviously outstanding and delivered clutch play after clutch play to counter all the Badger threes. Those two performances really carried the team, but for my money the undervalued story was the play of Baye Keita in the middle.

The sophomore big man has really, really struggled this year - to the point where he wasn't even getting off the bench in some games, however he came in, played 28 minutes and really solidified the interior defense. He gave the team energy and large intimidating presence in the middle that kept Wisconsin from even attempting to work the ball into the middle. Granted, they didn't need to with the way they were shooting, but part of the reason why the ball wasn't coming into the paint was Baye's length. He also has decent feet and really covers a lot of ground in the zone, whereas Rakeem Christmas can get caught flat footed and out of position at times.

The box score said Baye had 4 points and 5 rebounds, but let me reassure you, he contributed far more than that.

Some other observations:

- As you'll see below, I was obviously sitting what the hell up in the balcony. I'm not complaining mind you, I was happy just to be there. However, when you are up that high, you can tell almost immediately based on the trajectory of a shot whether it was going to go in. That will happen when you are looking down at the basket. So let me tell you it was an awful sight seeing shot after shot leave a Wisconsin shooter's hand and knowing it was going to splash through even before it did.

- No one has to be happier than Kris Joseph that SU won that game. It would have been a terrible way to go out, missing a key free throw that could have led to your team's defeat.

- With the sudden rash of warm weather people went into their closets and started pulling out all sorts of summer gear. They did this without regard for whether or not these bad shorts and sandals even fit. It was not a pretty sight at times yesterday. More people need to look in the mirror, because I saw some motley outfits yesterday.

- Based on an unscientific observation, I'd say after Syracuse, Wisconsin had the most fans there. People from Wisconsin travel well. I also have to say as a fan base, these are good people. They cheer hard for their team, they are polite and generally affable. These fans are the opposite of obnoxious - unobnoxious if you will.

- The NCAA really needs to sell beer at these games. It was hand to hand combat to get a drink at the bars near the arena before the game.

- I did make it back to my house in time to feed the baby at 3 am.

- Syracuse is now 3-0 in the Boston Garden in NCAA tournament games I've attended. It's an official stat, you can look it up in the Syracuse record books. Now someone tell my wife I'm needed there on Saturday, maybe if you all explain it, she'll understand.

And now, for your viewing pleasure - some long range, crappy cell phone photos from the game. Yes, we are the only blog on the internet dumb enough to post stuff this bad. Enjoy.

The Syracuse zone, setting up in the first half, most likely before another made three
C.J. Fair, about to make a first half free throw
Jim Boeheim in the huddle, yelling at guys to get out on shooters

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

let him go watch 'cuse tomorrow... he can represent all of us (the less fortunate out of towners)
Go Cuse