Student Reporting Archive

Orange Wins a Classic Over Duke

February 2, 2014

  Story and Photo by Norman Seawright III The aging Carrier Dome hosted two firsts on the first of February: the Duke Blue Devils visited to play against Syracuse for the first time, and it was the first time Syracuse and Duke met as ACC rivals. The first win went to the Orange, 91-89 in overtime. You could […]

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Story and Photo by Norman Seawright III

The aging Carrier Dome hosted two firsts on the first of February: the Duke Blue Devils visited to play against Syracuse for the first time, and it was the first time Syracuse and Duke met as ACC rivals.

The first win went to the Orange, 91-89 in overtime.

You could pick any aspect of this game to talk about.

There’s ESPN’s game day crew keeping the Dome roaring starting at nine in the morning.

There’s Tyler Ennis and Jabari Parker, the freshman phenoms, whose presence and absence (when Parker fouled out) helped define the game for their teams.

You have Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski, the two coaches with the most wins in college basketball, who happen to have a strong friendship and mutual respect.

There are the students who camped out in “Boeheimburg,” just outside the dome, braving sub-zero temperatures until the university got them to agree to take a couple of overnight breaks. They got the best seats in the student section.

There’s the NCAA on-campus record 35,446 people who attended the game and the national anthem performance by Syracuse alum Vanessa Williams.

All of those are interesting stories, but it’s important to remember that two excellent ACC teams played two halves and an extra period of excellent basketball, leading to Syracuse’s best start ever.

Syracuse shook the Dome’s foundation–maybe
The Orange got onto the scoreboard early after Tyler Thornton fouled Ennis who converted both free throws in the first minute of the game, and after a layup from Rakeem Christmas, Cuse held the lead until Andre Dawkins hit a three-point shot with 11:45 to go to put Duke up 13-10.

While not the top scorer for Syracuse, Ennis showed tremendous leadership. The point guard led the team with nine assists while scoring 14 himself.

In the second half and into overtime, with Parker and Jefferson fouled out, Duke switched to a four-guard offensive; Boeheim credited Jerami Grant for his play.

“He was able to get post down low and get some buckets on the overtime,” Boeheim said.

Grant scored 24 points, and led the overtime scoring with eight points, including three dunks over a smaller defender.

Rakeem Christmas scored just seven points, but his presence on the court was felt–literally. After a thundering block against Parker in the second half, the Dome erupted into cheering that seemed to shake its foundation.

Trevor Cooney took just two three-pointers but made them both and the crowd went wild each time. Cooney had 14 points overall.

But it was Orange senior and pre-season ACC player of the year C.J. Fair who was the leader. He was all over the court all night.

“He broke out of a good solid player into a great player,” Boeheim said. “He was a great player tonight.”
Fair led scoring for Syracuse with 28 points, including one of two free throws near the end of overtime to give Syracuse a two point lead.

“It’s big,” Fair said. “Coming in this game, knowing it’s going to be one of the biggest games in history; for me to have a career night is unbelievable.”

Duke fought to the end 
An emotional Krzyzewski agreed about the game being huge.

Although he was hoping for a foul when Rodney Hood missed a dunk in overtime, Coach K refused to dwell on it.

“This game is too good to talk about one play,” he said. “I’m not going there at all. You’re going there. I’m not going there.”

Standout Jabari Parker scored 15 points and five offensive rebounds (nine total), but had to watch the last two minutes and the overtime from the bench.

After Parker fouled out late in the second, the weight of the plays in the paint fell squarely onto Amile Jefferson, who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds (six offensive) before himself fouling out with 31 seconds left in regulation.

The game seemed to be over when Ennis made two free throws for a 78-75 lead with five seconds left in the second half. But Rasheed Sulaimon rushed down the court, fired from the hip beyond the arc and nailed the three at the buzzer. The Dome fell silent before the crowd again swelled in anticipation of some extra minutes of play.  Sulaimon recorded 16 points, leading the Blue Devils.

Rodney Hood and Andre Dawkins both added 14 points, taking numerous outside shots each to keep the Blue Devils in the game. Hood was 3-7 and Dawkins 4-9 from long range. But it was Tyler Thornton’s three straight bombs that pulled the Blue Devils back from a seven-point deficit late in regulation. Duke had 15 threes in 36 tries for the game.

What’s next for both teams
Syracuse will try to extend its best start ever (21-0, 8-0 in the ACC) hosting Notre Dame on Monday night. The Orange will be ranked No.1 after Arizona’s two-point loss to Cal Saturday night.

Duke will host Wake Forest on Tuesday.

Video:

Recap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRiBAZMIYW8

Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpAL7-6umSY

 Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHLrNdaJdJI

 Tyler Ennis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6qLSm7esOE

 Jerami Grant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqpXlsEgzHQ

 Trevor Cooney: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBaZ-pki_Lw

 C.J. Fair: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBaZ-pki_Lw

 

SU Women Stop Virginia

January 26, 2014

Sykes hits career high Story and photo by Chelsea Brobst                 The last game between Virginia and Syracuse was decided with less than a second left. On Nov. 24, 2012, Elashier Hall made a pair of free throws to give Syracuse a 74-73 win in the San Juan Shootout. This time the game wasn’t quite […]

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Sykes hits career high

Story and photo by Chelsea Brobst

                The last game between Virginia and Syracuse was decided with less than a second left. On Nov. 24, 2012, Elashier Hall made a pair of free throws to give Syracuse a 74-73 win in the San Juan Shootout. This time the game wasn’t quite as dramatic. With a few minutes left in the game, Syracuse managed to pull away and win 84-75.

             After a first half that saw Syracuse (15-5, 4-3 ACC) commit 16 turnovers, Sophomore Brittney Sykes scored 18 points in the second half to help lead her team to victory. With a total of 27 points, Sykes now has a new career high.

             Head coach Quentin Hillsman was pleased with Sykes performance and her ability to battle the whole game. “Today was about Brittney Sykes’ willingness to win,” Hillsman said. “Once she gets going and she gets out in transition she’s tough. She becomes more aggressive when the game gets on the line. I tell her every day. You don’t score, we lose.”

                Hillsman was also pleased with the play of Senior Rachel Coffey. “Today Rachel Coffey was tremendous. She made shots, she didn’t turn the ball over and every time we needed a big shot and she was open, she knocked it down,” Hillsman said.

                Virginia (10-10, 3-4 ACC) head coach Joanne Boyle agreed that Coffey was a difference maker in the game. “Good players show up when they’re needed.” Coffey was one of three Syracuse players to reach double digits. She finished with 17 points and was 5-8 from behind the arc.

                One of Coffey’s better shots came as the first half was ending. She hit a big 3 pointer at the buzzer to give her team a 37-33 cushion heading into the break. She admitted after the game that she didn’t expect it to go in and it was more luck than anything else. 

             Sophomore Brianna Butler had 12 assists and 16 points for her first double-double and was the third Syracuse player to reach double digits. She also had seven defensive rebounds to aid the comeback.

             Hillsman said that he has told Butler and Sykes that they need to score in order for the team to have success. “If we don’t score it’s because you two aren’t scoring.”

        Sykes agreed that she has to step up for her team especially in the second half. “I have to be there for my team when needed. It’s just the second half is when you figure out what you did wrong in the first half and you critique it and you fix it.”

Sykes started the second half with two steals that led to two quick baskets and helped to build an eleven point lead and spark her team. “That’s how we build off our momentum and go on our runs. Playing aggressive defense, making shots, making plays,” Sykes said.

            Syracuse’s cutting down on turnovers in the second half caused the Virginia offense to stall. In the first half the Cavaliers were able to capitalize on the Syracuse turnovers. In the second half Virginia only managed five points off turnovers.

             Sarah Imovbioh and Kelsey Wolfe did their best to keep the Cavaliers in the game, combining for a total of 39 points. But in the end, Syracuse proved to be too much for them.

             Syracuse has a tough road ahead as the Orange women will be taking on two top-10 teams this week. The Orange will head to North Carolina to take on the Tar Heels Thursday night. That game is followed by a home matchup with the University of Maryland next Sunday.

 

Coach and player interviews, box score, more from suathletics.com here:

http://www.suathletics.com/news/2014/1/26/WBB_0126144944.aspx

 

Orange Takes Two Scrimmages

January 26, 2014

  Faceoffs remain a problem for Syracuse Story by: Thomas Scott Photo by: Michael Silver Lacrosse fans got three teams and three scrimmages for the price of admission at the Carrier Dome Saturday. What they saw from the No.2 ranked Syracuse Orange men was strong performance everywhere but at the face-off circle (the X). Syracuse […]

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Faceoffs remain a problem for Syracuse

Story by: Thomas Scott

Photo by: Michael Silver

Lacrosse fans got three teams and three scrimmages for the price of admission at the Carrier Dome Saturday. What they saw from the No.2 ranked Syracuse Orange men was strong performance everywhere but at the face-off circle (the X).

Syracuse hosted the Hofstra University Pride and the LeMoyne College Dolphins   Hofstra and LeMoyne played the first game. Then the Orange took a turn at both teams.

 

Dolphins lose to Hofstra in back-and-forth game

  The defending Division II NCAA champion Dolphins lost 10-8 in the first game of the day.  Every period the momentum shifted to the opposite team.  In the first period, the Pride scored three goals to the Dolphins‘ one goal.

But the Dolphins netted four goals in the second period and didn’t allow the Pride to score during that period.  Sophomore goalkeeper, Tim Birchler, had four saves in the second period alone.  Going into halftime the Dolphins led 5-3.

 The Dolphins‘ hot streak didn’t last through half-time and the Pride scored six goals in the third period for insurance.  The Pride scored four times before senior attackman Chris Button interrupted the run with his second goal of the game.

 The Dolphins couldn’t overtake the Pride in the 4th period despite their two goals in the final period.

 

SU takes the Pride

The Orange took the field 30 minutes later against Hofstra for the next scrimmage.  Just three minutes into the game freshman attackman Jordan Evans scored the first goal unassisted.  Evans was the nation’s number one recruit coming out of Jamesville- DeWitt High School.

“I think he’s doing a great job so far this year,” senior attack man Derek Maltz said. “He’s very smart with and without the ball; and I think he’s fitting in well to our offense.”

Slightly over a minute later, the Pride answered back with two goals of its own; one from senior attackman Lance Yapor and the other from sophomore attackman Sam Linares.

Dominic Lamolinara, senior goalkeeper for the Orange, started the first half of the  game.  In two periods he made six saves and allowed four goals.  Lamolinara played well in the first half, but the team is also looking at junior goalkeeper Bobby Wardwell as an option in front of the net.

Wardwell started the second half for the Orange and the transition was seamless.  He too allowed four goals, but he also made eight saves, two more than Lamolinara.

The two of them are still competing for the starting job. “ We just try and push each other in practice every single day,” Wardwell said. “Just keep working hard and battling it out.”

The Orange had eight different players score a goal.  Red-shirt junior Hakeem Lecky made two goals and red-shirt sophomore Dylan Donahue scored four against the Pride.

“We were moving pretty well, our offense was working together very well in the beginning and towards the end too,” Donahue said.

 

Faceoffs still a problem

The Orange won the scrimmage 12-8 despite the less than satisfying faceoff stats.  Faceoffs were a major issue last year and one of the biggest factors in last year’s national championship loss to Duke and the Orange ost 73 percent of the faceoffs against the Pride.

Kris Clarke, freshman faceoff specialist for the Pride, won 14 out of his 19 faceoffs against Syracuse’s Chris Daddio (3-8) and Mike Iacono (2-11).

 Head coach John Desko wasn’t satisfied with the faceoffs, but he wasn’t panicking over it either.  He said the team has been working hard on improving that facet of the game.

 “We’ve got seven guys in the stable so to speak that have been working on it every day,” Desko said.  “We’ve spent more time on faceoffs since fall and spring than we ever before.”

 The Orange compensated for their poor faceoffs by creating turnovers and good ball control on offense.  Clean passes on the offensive end created a lot of scoring opportunities.

 

No trouble with Dolphins

The final scrimmage of the day was a matchup between the Orange and the Dolphins.  The Orange started the scoring a minute and a half into the game and kept the pressure on for the rest of the game, winning 15-4.

 The team nearly shut the Dolphins out in the 1st period 5-0 until their junior attackman, Kevin Kelly, scored with seven seconds left.  The second period was much of the same.  A barrage of scoring from the Orange and very little response from the Dolphins.  Donahue had three consecutive goals in the second period; two within two minutes of each other.

 The Dolphins struggled on offense.  Wardwell, who started the second scrimmage for the Orange, made seven saves and allowed just three goals. Lamolinara made a brief appearance in the 3rd period and made a save before being subbed out for the next goalkeeper.  Red-shirt freshmen Evan Molloy and Tyler Avallone finished the third and fourth periods respectively.

 The Orange did win the faceoff battle versus the Dolphins taking 13 of 23.

 “Last year what really separated us from other teams was we got better continuously throughout the season, so that’s one thing we need to do this year again,” Wardwell said.

 Syracuse’s next scrimmage will be Saturday Feb. 1, against Towson and Bucknell in Towson, MD. The season opener against Siena College is scheduled for Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. in the Carrier Dome. 

SU Women Even ACC Record

January 24, 2014

Orange Beats Hot-Shooting Clemson Story and photo by Michael Silver SYRACUSE — After a hot start to the season with an 11-1 record, the Orange women’s basketball team hit a rough patch during its first taste of Atlantic Coast Conference play, losing three of its first five league games to ranked opponents (No. 3) Duke, (No. 6) Maryland […]

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Orange Beats Hot-Shooting Clemson

Story and photo by Michael Silver

SYRACUSE — After a hot start to the season with an 11-1 record, the Orange women’s basketball team hit a rough patch during its first taste of Atlantic Coast Conference play, losing three of its first five league games to ranked opponents (No. 3) Duke, (No. 6) Maryland and North Carolina State.

The Orange looked to even its ACC record against Clemson Thursday night. The Tigers came into the Carrier Dome with a 9-10 record, having lost seven of their last ten.

In a back and forth contest, the Orange looked sluggish out of the gate. Head coach Quentin Hillsman was not pleased early on. He called a timeout down 8-4 and subbed out starter Brittney Sykes.

The Tigers hit three 3-pointers early on and shot 67 percent from the floor in the first half, but redshirt senior center Shakeya Leary was a force in the paint for the Orange. She recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, including seven off the offensive glass.

At the break it was 45-42 Clemson, yet coach Q showed no signs of distress.

“At halftime there were no adjustments made,” he said. “It’s not about basketball, it’s about your heart and your guts.”

 

Press Leads to 18-0 SU Run

The Orange women forced 22 turnovers; most from the full court press and went on an impressive 18-0 run to take control on their home court during the second half.

Syracuse (14-5, 3-3 ACC) outscored Clemson (9-11, 1-5 ACC) 40-32 in the second half and held on 84-75, for a second straight conference win.

Forward Brianna Butler going into the game led the ACC in 3-point FG percentage (38.4) and the NCAA in 3-point shots made (3.4 per game), but struggled early and often. She finished five for 20, including four for 14 from beyond the arc, for 16 points and seven rebounds.

Sykes was a contributing factor in the second half, finishing with 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists in 36 minutes played.

“My team got on me about scoring low in the first half…I have to learn that he [Coach Q] wants the best from me and he wants to win as much as we do,” Sykes said.

Hillsman was direct with his message for the star guard at intermission.  “I told her at half, we cannot win with you scoring three points.”  Asked why he is harder on Sykes during timeouts, Coach Q was transparent. “She’s a very good player, if you don’t push your best players to be great then you’re not doing your job as a coach” he explained.

Taylor Ford, the sophomore guard from the Bronx, came off the bench for the Orange and boosted the team with 19 points and a team high eight offensive rebounds in 30 minutes played.

Sharpshooter Nikki Dixon kept Clemson in the game, shooting eight for 14, including 3-6 from downtown for 21 points, along with eight assists, but also had eight turnovers.

SU’s freshman shooting guard Isabella Slim from Amsterdam was plagued by foul trouble and only contributed two rebounds and an assist with one field goal attempted. Coach Q assessed her progress so far this season.

“She’s a great player, but sometimes you look at her and she’s laboring up the court. You have to remember she’s been playing year round basketball [in Europe] since she’s nine. So she has the body of a 40-year old.”

The Orange next faces Virginia (10-9, 3-3 ACC) on Sunday, January 26 at 2 p.m. at the Carrier Dome. Admission is free for students.

Here’s a link to statistics, video and more from suathletics.com:

http://www.suathletics.com/news/2014/1/23/WBB_0123145258.aspx

 

 

Ennis Keys SU Win over Pitt

January 19, 2014

Story, photo and video by Jillian Thaw No one had forgotten the recent history between the two former Big East heavyweights: Pittsburgh had won six of the last eight matchups, but Syracuse snapped the Panthers’ five-game winning streak in 2012 and had won two of the last three. Both were unbeaten in the ACC so the winner […]

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Story, photo and video by Jillian Thaw

No one had forgotten the recent history between the two former Big East heavyweights: Pittsburgh had won six of the last eight matchups, but Syracuse snapped the Panthers’ five-game winning streak in 2012 and had won two of the last three. Both were unbeaten in the ACC so the winner would get the lead in their new league rivalry and in the league standings.  

The players on the court were as intense as were the 30,046 fans in the Carrier Dome stands. Freshman Tyler Ennis was cool.

Ennis Emerges

Syracuse (18-0, 5-0) would emerge victorious over the Pittsburgh Panthers (16-2, 4-1), riding Ennis’ late-game heroics. “[Ennis] made some of the best plays I’ve seen in a long time,” Coach Jim Boeheim said after the game. “He won the game down the stretch for us.”

Ennis’s teammates were equally congratulatory. C.J. Fair, who finished with 13 points and six rebounds, said his trust in Ennis was strong: “We gave him the keys to this team and he leads.”

“We like to give him the opportunity,” Boeheim said. “They were playing Trevor (Cooney) and C.J. hard. We were trying to give him an opportunity to get to the basket and he just has a knack for doing it that’s as good as just about anybody that I’ve seen.”

Ennis finished with 16 points, three assists and two rebounds, but his poise and command in the last two minutes of the game are what cemented the win for Syracuse. He had six points during that stretch, and his two free throws with 4.8 seconds remaining secured the lead—and sent Orange fans in the Carrier Dome into a celebration that shook the stands. The play prompted Boeheim to compare Ennis’s maturity to Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara.

“I mean, that feels great,” Ennis said with a smile in the locker room. “Especially because Coach Boeheim, well…” He chuckled, his laughter speaking for itself. 

Polishing Up

Syracuse struggled with rebounding, especially in the second half. The Panthers out-rebounded the Orange 35-24 in the game and SU had only four offensive rebounds to Pitt’s 16. Lamar Patterson made four three-point baskets, including three in a row after SU led by ten, to help Pittsburgh briefly climb to a narrow second-half lead. Patterson, the Orange’s biggest headache, finished with 18 points, three rebounds and two assists in 38 minutes of play, his strong showing earning him praise from Coach Boeheim and reminding the nation why he was last week’s ACC Player of the Week. 

Jerami Grant had yet another solid night starting in place of DaJuan Coleman, who is still recovering from a knee injury. Grant was perfect in his free-throw shooting and finished the game with 12 points and four rebounds. He was the first player to reach double-digit points.

Rakeem Christmas quietly had a strong game with 10 points, four rebounds and four blocks and, following a literal last-second foul by Pittsburgh center Talib Zanna (12 points, 11 rebounds, one assist), made both free throws, the final two points of the game. Boeheim applauded Christmas’ offensive efforts against Pittsburgh, but noted that the Orange could do a better job of getting to him more frequently.

Fan favorite Trevor Cooney was mostly inhibited during the game, as the guard faced a lot of pressure on the outside from Pittsburgh. 

“You look for other ways to win,” Cooney said. 

Cooney was 2-for-8 from three-point range (and those he made solicited the usual piercingly loud roar from the crowd) while Baye Moussa Keita, coming off of the bench, had two first-half blocks in the paint that completely shut down Talib Zanna, much to the joy of Orange fans.

Up Next

The Orange travels to Coral Gables, Fla. for a rematch against the University of Miami Saturday, January 25. When Syracuse met Miami in the Carrier Dome on January 4, the Orange had a closer-than-expected 49-44 win over the Hurricanes.

“They’re a good team,” Fair said. “That’s where the focus is now.” 

The Orange will continue its series against the Panthers February 12 in Pittsburgh in what will surely be another tense match.

Syracuse is 18-0 for the third time in four years.

 

Boeheim postgame here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57UosLTt8uw

 

SU Defense Gets It Done

January 11, 2014

Orange takes Carolina, goes to 16-0 Story, photo and videos by Mike McCann The hype was all there. It was billed as the real welcome party to the ACC for Syracuse. Sure, the Orange had already beaten Miami and Virginia Tech in conference games. But this one had a different feel to it. This was […]

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Orange takes Carolina, goes to 16-0

Story, photo and videos by Mike McCann

The hype was all there. It was billed as the real welcome party to the ACC for Syracuse. Sure, the Orange had already beaten Miami and Virginia Tech in conference games. But this one had a different feel to it. This was North Carolina.

Any questions about whether Syracuse is for real, whether the Orange deserve that #2 ranking should be answered. Any doubts about this team should be erased.

In a dominant defensive effort in front of the largest crowd (32,121) to see a college basketball game this season, #2 Syracuse (16-0; 3-0 ACC) battled, clawed, and blocked its way to a 57-45 win over the Tar Heels (10-6; 0-3 ACC), holding UNC to its lowest point total under Head Coach Roy Williams.

It wasn’t always pretty, but it certainly was effective.

“This was a defensive effort game; we got loose balls, we got on the floor,” said Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim in front of a standing room only media press conference. “We made a lot of really good hustle plays…that was really the difference.”

And the Orange defense had to be good, because its shooting was not. Syracuse shot only 35 percent from the floor, only 21percent from beyond the arc, with its star sharpshooting sophomore guard Trevor Cooney finishing only 4-17 from the floor, and 2-12 from beyond the arc.

But 14 North Carolina turnovers to go along with a season high nine blocked shots for the Orange did the trick.

Big players stepping up

The cliche goes that big players make big plays in big time games. That held true for the Orange, as it got sterling performances from senior forward C.J. Fair and sophomore forward Jeremi Grant. Fair scored a game high 20 points, and Grant added 12 points and a career high 12 rebounds to pace Syracuse.

“I think it was a great game for us as a whole,” said Grant in the locker room. “Everybody played well and definitely it helps to get a win.”

Not only did the Orange get a win, but it dropped North Carolina into a place it hasn’t been since Dean Smith was still the coach. The Tar Heels are now 0-3 and in the ACC for the first time since the 1996-1997 season.

Despite the bad start for the Tar Heels, Boeheim offered his team’s opponent nothing but praise.

“[North Carolina’s] beat the three teams that were rated one, two, and three preseason; those will be the three best wins anybody has this year,” Boeheim said.

Looking ahead


Next up for the Orange is a trip to Boston College. After playing in front of 32,000 plus, the confines of Conte Forum will provide a different feel for Syracuse. Boston College’s home arena seats only 8,606.

“I think [playing at BC] will be a little adjustment,” Grant said. “But we usually make adjustments quickly so I think we’ll be fine.”

The Golden Eagles are only 5-11 on the season, but coming off a win against Virginia Tech, the Orange cannot afford to look past its next opponent.

“Boston College has lost a lot of games, but they’ve lost ’em all by one or two points,” Boeheim said. “If you’re not ready, you’re not playing your game, then you’re going to have a hard night.”

Syracuse will have to be ready quickly, with the game tipping at 9:00 on Monday night.

 

Video report: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u26QOtEYzRE

Jim Boeheim news conference clip:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sADxCUbtwTo

C.J. Fair postgame: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkdKpJXaZW8

Tyler Ennis postgame: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKOv-TYa41Q

Jerami Grant postgame: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNgrVb_oTZs

Trevor Cooney postgame: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aa8rGDhVPDM

 

 

Orange vs. Carolina Blue: Preview

January 10, 2014

(Syracuse) The place will be packed on Saturday when #2 Syracuse hosts North Carolina at the Carrier Dome. It’s a marquee matchup even though the Tarheels have been up and down this season. They seems to play their best against the best opponents. The Newhouse Sports Media Center’s Mike McCann is covering the game and […]

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(Syracuse) The place will be packed on Saturday when #2 Syracuse hosts North Carolina at the Carrier Dome. It’s a marquee matchup even though the Tarheels have been up and down this season. They seems to play their best against the best opponents. The Newhouse Sports Media Center’s Mike McCann is covering the game and put together this preview.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8EPzao7dag

It’ll be the biggest crowd until Duke shows up Feb. 1. That one is sold out at 35,000.

Here’s suathletics.com’s story on why it’s a good idea to arrive early for UNC:

http://www.suathletics.com/news/2014/1/10/MBB_0110145500.aspx

And here’s the game day preview from suathletics.com:

http://www.suathletics.com/news/2014/1/10/MBB_0110142820.aspx

Mike will be Tweeting before, during and after the game @MikeMcCannSYR and we’ll have the game story and interviews afterwards right here.

 

Dome crowd photo courtesy suathletics.com

 

 

 

Duke too Strong for SU Women

January 10, 2014

Story. photo and videos by Mike McCann (Syracuse) – A game that started with such promise for the Syracuse Women’s Basketball team ended in a rout Thursday night, as the visiting #3 Duke Blue Devils beat the Orange 86-53. The loss drops Syracuse to 11-4 overall and 0-2 on the early ACC season. “[Duke plays] […]

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Story. photo and videos by Mike McCann

(Syracuse) – A game that started with such promise for the Syracuse Women’s Basketball team ended in a rout Thursday night, as the visiting #3 Duke Blue Devils beat the Orange 86-53. The loss drops Syracuse to 11-4 overall and 0-2 on the early ACC season.

“[Duke plays] really well,” said Syracuse Coach Quentin Hillsman in a post game press conference. “They did a phenomenal job tonight of being who they are, an elite program, and the number three team in the country.”

The Orange started out scorching from beyond the arc, connecting on five of its first seven from three point range, and raced out to a 19-12 lead with 14:22 left in the first half.

“Duke was playing a zone defense, so it left a lot of opportunities for us to shoot threes,” said Sophomore guard Brianna Butler. Butler led the Orange with 14 points for the game.

But Duke is a good team, and good teams find ways to get back in the game. That’s exactly what the Blue Devils did, using a heavy dose of Senior guard Tricia Liston. Liston had 14 points in the first half.

“Once we started working the ball around…we had assist after assist, and easy shots and easy baskets,” Liston said.

Even with Liston’s success, Syracuse stayed in striking distance throughout the first half, trading baskets with the Blue Devils as time went on. The Orange was right in the game at halftime, trailing only 43-34.

“[In the second half] I thought we corrected the problem…that was taking the threes away from (Liston),” Hillsman said. “After that…they started to get things right down the middle of the floor, and that’s about transition defense.”

That transition defense really cost the Orange. A nine point lead quickly grew and before you even realized it, Duke was up by 20. The reason? Elizabeth Williams. The Duke Junior finished the game with a stat line of 14 points and 11 rebounds. She also had four assists, and four blocked shots, bringing her streak to 85 consecutive games with a blocked shot.

“Against any team, I think we try to get the ball inside out,” Williams said. “Working the ball around getting it in the paint is important to us.”

Williams was a force on the glass all night. Syracuse came into the game with a +6.6 rebounding margin, but lost the battle on the boards, which led to losing the game.

Turning the page

Syracuse doesn’t have a lot of time to dwell on this one. The Orange hosts Georgia Tech on Sunday afternoon, still looking for its first ACC win.

“We’re going to find out Sunday…right where we are,” Hillsman said. “We’re either going to know that we’re tough, or we’re gonna know we’re not. That’s the beauty of this thing right now.”

Sunday’s contest tips off at 1:00 P.M. at the Carrier Dome.

 

Video report: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCdIii3jdmg#t=28

Coach Hillsman postgame: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31RkDyIykrc

Leary, Sykes, Butler postgame: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pC-truOPmhQ

Duke coach, players postgame: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUSIwnWVtj0

 

 

‘Cuse Survives ACC Debut

January 5, 2014

Syracuse 49, Miami 44 Story and video by Pete Sweeney  Photo courtesy suathletics.com (Syracuse) –  #2 Syracuse (14-0) opened its highly anticipated play in the Atlantic Coast Conference Saturday against the Miami Hurricanes (8-6) in a game that turned out to be very different from what’s generally expected in the league. What did turn out as expected was the […]

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Syracuse 49, Miami 44

Story and video by Pete Sweeney 

Photo courtesy suathletics.com

(Syracuse) –  #2 Syracuse (14-0) opened its highly anticipated play in the Atlantic Coast Conference Saturday against the Miami Hurricanes (8-6) in a game that turned out to be very different from what’s generally expected in the league. What did turn out as expected was the winning team, barely.

From the opening tip, every part of the Miami game strategy was well-calculated by Hurricanes Head Coach Jim Larrañga. On offense, Miami held the ball until the waning seconds of the shot clock, minimizing overall game possessions—the idea being that if Syracuse shooters didn’t have the ball, they couldn’t score.

On defense, Larrañga used a matchup zone that troubled and confused the Orange.

“Their matchup defense is very good and matchup defense is hard to play against, especially when you have all equal-sized guys,” said Coach Jim Boeheim at the post-game press conference. “It makes it very difficult to play against because you’re trying to get to the basket and they’ve got big guys around the basket and they’ve got big guards.”

Of all Syracuse shooters, Trevor Cooney seemed to struggle the most. Coming into the game as the team’s second-leading scorer, Cooney had shot 50 percent (43-of-86) from behind the arc. On Saturday against the matchup zone, he was just two of 12 from three-point range.

“I got up quick shots today, shots I normally make, [ones] that I have made,” he said. “And they just didn’t fall.”

But it wasn’t just Cooney. Shots weren’t falling for anyone on the Orange. The team was only 36.2 percent from the field.

“Nobody listens until you get into a game like this or you lose a game, but we’ve got to get better offensively,” Boeheim reiterated after the game.

Syracuse offensive woes combined with the Hurricanes’ ability to sink three pointers (7-of-19) gave Miami the lead for the majority of the second half.

With just over six minutes left, the Hurricanes held a 40-35 lead.

That was when the game changed. A hook shot by Rakeem Christmas and a jumper by Jerami Grant pulled the Orange to within one and Miami was forced to call a timeout.

Out of the break, CJ Fair drew a charge that raised the 21,839 people at the Carrier Dome to their feet.

“It’s all about getting the ball back and stopping them,” Fair said of the defensive play. “It starts on the defensive end. If I’m aggressive enough and playing solid defense and make one of those plays, I think it’s huge for our team.”

On the ensuing Orange possession, Fair made another big play. Off a dart-pass from freshman point guard Tyler Ennis, Fair sank an eight-foot jumper off a nice spin-move that put the Orange up for good. He led the team with 15 points and six rebounds. On the Miami side, Garrius Adams led in scoring with nine points and had five rebounds.

ACC games are typically known for high-offensive play with many possessions. In fact, as of Saturday, 12 of the 15 ACC teams averaged more than 70 points per game. With its first Atlantic Coast Conference game in the books, Syracuse has many of those types of games to look forward to in the near future and for years to come.

But looking back at the first of many, this one will always be remembered as just the opposite: a gritty, defensive affair that nearly gave the Orange its first loss of the season.

Next Game

Syracuse hits the road as the team squares off against Virginia Tech this Tuesday, January 7. Game time is 9:00 p.m.

Video

Game Notes

  • DaJuan Coleman (knee soreness) didn’t play for the second straight game. Boeheim on Coleman’s status: “He was feeling better. I really didn’t want to [play him]. We’re going to give him another day [and] see how he feels. It’s better, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
  • With the win, Syracuse improves to 7-2 at home and 15-5 all-time vs. Miami.
  • It took eight minutes and 44 seconds for Syracuse to make its first field goal in the second half.
  • 17 field goals made and 49 points scored is the lowest amount of field goals and points for the Orange in any game all season.
  • Syracuse tied its season-low in turnovers with 7; The Orange also had only 7 turnovers vs. Baylor at the Maui Invitational.
  • The Miami bench accounted for 13 points for the Hurricanes. The Orange bench did not score.
  • Syracuse scored 13 points off of Miami’s 15 turnovers. 
  • Syracuse and Miami came into the game averaging a combined 141.2 points per game. The total points for this game was 83. 

SU Tops Eagles, Goes to 13-0

December 31, 2013

Story and photo by: Donato DiRenzo II  Jerami Grant said he wasn’t especially excited for his first start of the season but ha made the most of it. After DaJuan Coleman was ruled out with a leg injury prior to Syracuse’s game with Eastern Michigan University, Grant got the call and came out on fire […]

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Story and photo by: Donato DiRenzo II

 Jerami Grant said he wasn’t especially excited for his first start of the season but ha made the most of it. After DaJuan Coleman was ruled out with a leg injury prior to Syracuse’s game with Eastern Michigan University, Grant got the call and came out on fire hitting his first five shots and scoring 12 first half points in a 70-48 win.

 “It was whatever,” Grant said with a grin about getting the start. “I honestly wasn’t extremely excited like you probably think but, it was good for us.”

 #2 Syracuse (13-0) closed out the non-conference portion of the schedule and the 2013 year with a 22 point blow-out at home against the Eastern Michigan Eagles (7-5) Tuesday afternoon.

 Rakeem Christmas had his best offensive performance wearing orange with a career high 15 points (three rebounds, two blocks), Trevor Cooney scored ten ( 2-5 on threes, two steals) and CJ Fair had 13 (eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks).

 The Eagles, coached by former SU assistant Rob Murphy, struggled to get anything going against Syracuse’s long, active zone throughout the game. They combined to shoot 17-54 from the field (3percent) and 7-28 from three (25percent. Glenn Bryant was the games leading scorer with 19 points on 8-11 shooting (eight rebounds). Ray Lee added 12 (4-5 on threes) as the only Eastern Michigan players to score in double figures.

 “They have a lot of size, great athleticism,” Murphy said. “Their playing at a high level right now. To me Tyler Ennis has been key, unbelievable at getting guys involved, understanding when to score, how to score.”

 To Murphy’s point, Ennis didn’t do anything in the scoring column (zero points, 0-4) but, didn’t need to, setting the table early and often for the Orange. He had six first half assists including a beautiful behind the back pass to hit a streaking Grant on a fast-break. He finished the game with nine assists, five rebounds and three steals.

 “You can not score and be a very productive, good player,” Boeheim said. “I’m not concerned about his scoring, he doesn’t score a lot against zones. He gets in the lane and makes plays.”

Starting the season 12-0 the lone area one could nit-pick the Orange on would be their slow starts, perfectly embodied by the 18 point deficit Syracuse found itself in early Saturday against Villanova. Grant wasn’t going to wait in game 13; he got the New Year’s Eve party started early for Syracuse. After playing the sixth man role in the first 12 games, Grant injected instant energy to the starting lineup scoring nine points in the first five minutes, most by way of a tough inside game, fighting for position and rebounds. He finished the game with 15 points (5-7 from field) and eight boards.

  “Jerami Grant won the game in the first five minutes of the game,” Boeheim said. “He got into the lane and made some really good ball movement.”

 Most of the second half the Orange did what a top ranked and favored team should do: played solid defense, ran the offense to get good looks and routinely used size and athleticism to overpower the opponent, represented by the 40-18 beating SU gave the Eagles on points in the paint.

 “We just wanted to come out and be aggressive,” Grant said. “We’re feeling good, we played a lot of tough opponents already. Going into the ACC we know its going to be tough but I feel like we’re ready for it.”

 Next up: #2 Syracuse (13-0) welcomes the University of Miami (8-5) to the Dome Saturday 4th at 2:00pm for its first game of ACC play

Game Notes:

 

 – The win extended Syracuse’s home non-conference winning streak to 51 games.

 – Syracuse is one of seven unbeaten teams in Division I

–  Syracuse had 10 steals, essentially tying its ACC leading average (10.1) a complete two steals over second place Florida State (8.1) on that list

– DaJuan Coleman is going through “treatments” (per Jim Boeheim) and will be assessed day-to-day

Video:

Boeheim Presser
Ennis Interview
Grant Interview
Christmas Interview

Orange Comeback Whips Wildcats

December 29, 2013

By Donato DiRenzo II Photo courtesy suathletics.com Most basketball aficionados and analysts will tell you, the best way to beat a good zone defense is to make threes. And lots of them. Villanova did just that out of the gate hitting five in just over eight minutes on route to an early 18 point lead […]

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By Donato DiRenzo II

Photo courtesy suathletics.com

Most basketball aficionados and analysts will tell you, the best way to beat a good zone defense is to make threes. And lots of them. Villanova did just that out of the gate hitting five in just over eight minutes on route to an early 18 point lead over Syracuse on Saturday in the Carrier Dome. Unfortunately for head coach Jay Wright and his team, they would make only five more the remaining 32 minutes of play as No. 2 Syracuse (12-0) rallied back to a resounding 78-62 win over long-time Big East rival and previously unbeaten No. 8 Villanova (11-1).

    Trevor Cooney lead a quartet of Orange players who scored in double figures with a team high 21 points (5-8 on threes, 6-6 on free throws) along with three steals, three rebounds and two assists. Tyler Ennis scored 20 points (8-11 on free throws), C.J. Fair had 17 points (5-6 on free throws, six rebounds) and Jerami Grant contributed 11 points (7-8 on free throws, six rebounds) for a Syracuse team that combined to shoot a glowing 82. percent (29-35) on its free throws; a noteworthy day for a team that’s historically struggled from the charity stripe.

    “You gotta come out ready to play,” Cooney said. “You can’t come out flat like that but we were lucky enough to get big stops and get back into the game.”

    Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim credited the Wildcats for being a great team but did take a couple not-so-subtle shots at what he seemed to think was more luck than skill.

    “They got off to a great start, part of it was they made four really hard threes,” Boeheim said. “They really didn’t get a lot to look at the last ten minutes of the first half, they shoulda had 31 at the break, which is six points in the last ten minutes. It’s one thing to bank it but, when you bank a one-hander off an out of bounds, that’s really to believe.”

    To which Wright jokingly fired back that Boeheim is just a “jerk” for complaining about a couple lucky shots in the wake of a 16 point victory.

    The final score doesn’t truly reflect the intensity and level of competition that was on display for a game that felt more like a Big East conference battle than a non-conference game in December. After Villanova’s hot start Syracuse took the lead with 4:52 left in the first half on an Ennis layup to complete a 15-0 run of its own. The teams then traded baskets but, the Orange wouldn’t trail again.

    The Wildcats cut the lead to three (56-53) after James Bell (25 points, five rebounds) hit his fifth three pointer of the afternoon and Daniel Ochefu (three points, five rebounds) sank one of two free throws with 7:02 remaining. It was the closest Villanova would get as Syracuse finished on a 22-9 run (with the benefit of late game fouls/free throws) ending what was a dramatic game in somewhat anti-climactic fashion.

    Fair admitted the thought of getting blown out at home crossed their minds but, a couple of easy baskets and defensive stops got the team going.

    “I think were coming around,” Fair said. “We’re not where we want to be but we’ve won some tough games, we’ve shown were a fighting team.”

    Syracuse will look to close out the non-conference portion of its schedule on the 31st at 3pm when it welcomes former SU assistant Rob Murphy and his Eastern Michigan team to the Dome.

 Game Notes:

 •Syracuse leads all-time series 39-32

 •Syracuse is now one of eight unbeaten Division I teams left

 •The announced attendance of 28,135 was the largest on campus crowd this year

 •Syracuse dominated points in the paint 27-10

 •Sibling rivalry was on display as Tyler Ennis’s brother Dylan plays for the Wildcats

 

Video:

 Boeheim Presser
Cooney Interview

 

Hunt Shines in Bowl Victory

December 28, 2013

Video Report By Pete Sweeney (Newhouse Sports Media Center) – On August 29, two days before Syracuse’s season opener against Penn State, who would be starting at quarterback for the Orange was still in question. Fast-forward almost four months later and the thought of that is almost laughable. Over the course of the Orange’s roller coaster […]

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Video Report

By Pete Sweeney (Newhouse Sports Media Center) – On August 29, two days before Syracuse’s season opener against Penn State, who would be starting at quarterback for the Orange was still in question. Fast-forward almost four months later and the thought of that is almost laughable.

Over the course of the Orange’s roller coaster season, Terrel Hunt transformed himself. Out of camp, he was a nervous underclassman whose shaky preseason play earned him a role as the backup quarterback.

Tonight, as he sat at the podium after the Texas Bowl win with quiet confidence, it was clear to see he had developed into Syracuse’s team leader.

“[Terrel] is really representative of what we are as a program,” Head Coach Scott Shafer said proudly after the game. “[He’s a] young man from New York [who] stayed in New York to come and play at Syracuse.”

Syracuse found itself calling on Hunt’s leadership a game ago just to become bowl-eligible. With time ticking down in its final regular-season game, Hunt constructed a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an eight-yard touchdown pass to beat Boston College. Hunt called that game the best he had ever played. After recording 262 total yards and two rushing touchdowns in tonight’s MVP effort, Hunt’s “best game ever” may have some competition.

But even with Hunt’s outstanding play, this was by no means an easy game for the Orange.

“(It) would have been nice if we could have just knocked them out and won by 17 or something,” Shafer said at the post-game press conference.

Not the case. As Syracuse built an 11-point lead by midway through the third quarter, its secondary, which had been solid throughout the game, began to look sluggish and fatigued.

Gophers quarterback and redshirt freshman Mitch Leidner took advantage. In the first play of the fourth quarter, he found wide receiver Maxx Williams with a beautiful touch pass in the end zone for a touchdown. Two minutes and 21 seconds later, Leidner connected with freshman wideout Drew Wolitarsky on a play-action fake for another. Following the two quick scores, the Golden Gophers held a 17-14 lead with 12 minutes and 34 seconds left in the game.

“We started getting in a pretty good groove,” Leidner said after the game. “We started feeling confident. We were making plays.”

As Minnesota was making plays, Syracuse was missing critical opportunities. When Ryan Norton’s 45-yard field goal attempt sailed right of the goal post with 3:36 to play, chances for an Orange win seemed bleak.

Be that as it may, the Syracuse defense would not relent. A third down sack by Orange defensive end Robert Welsh forced Minnesota to punt with just over two minutes remaining.

Syracuse freshman Brisly Estime lined up to return for the Orange for just the fourth time this year.

Estime returned the ball for 70 yards to the Minnesota 14-yard line.

“To have one guy, a freshman, take that ball when he hasn’t done punt returns all year, and take it right up the middle,” senior captain Macky MacPherson said after the game, “what a way, huh?”

Three plays later, Syracuse turned to its leader, Terrel Hunt, as he scored his second touchdown of the night to give the Orange a 21-17 lead for good.

Jerome Smith, who rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown of his own in the Texas Bowl win, said he’s known Hunt’s been this team’s leader for a while now. During a post-game interview, he shared a story about how at one practice earlier this year, Hunt wanted the team to stay for more conditioning than usual.

“Basically, he made us hold our water, [and] the O-line didn’t like it. [Terrel] looked around and said ‘You’re going to do what I say,” Smith said. “When you got a leader like that, who’s willing to step up to 6-foot-5, three-hundred pound guys, you got a good leader.”

 

Box Score

Video

Game Notes

  • Minnesota and Syracuse combined for 21 points in the final quarter, which tied the Texas Bowl record for most combined points in the final period. 21 points was reached in the final quarter two other times in Texas Bowl history.
  • Minnesota’s FB Mike Henry scored just the second two-point conversion in Texas Bowl history in the 4th quarter.
  • Brisly Estime’s 70-yard punt return was the second longest punt return in Texas Bowl history. Only Yamon Figurs from Kansas State in ’06 has a longer return.
  • Estime’s 82 yards on two punt returns is a new Texas Bowl record; Estime doubled his punt returns for the year on the night.
  • Total Paid Attendance: 32,327
  • Minnesota Head Coach Jerry Kill, who suffers from epilepsy, came down to the sidelines for the second half of the Texas Bowl. He typically coaches from the booth upstairs for safety reasons. After the game, he said “Those seniors bust their tail end for me and the team has busted their tail end for me all year, so I tried to do anything I could to get a win. I felt I needed to do that to help. I don’t know if that helped or not. Evidently it didn’t because we didn’t win the game, but I talk about giving great effort and fighting through things. I owed it to those seniors and our football team, so I did it.”

Wheddon Can Hardly Wait

December 22, 2013

By Pete Sweeney  The Florida State Women’s Soccer team arrived in Syracuse on October 10th ranked as third best team in the country. The Seminoles boasted a record of eleven wins, no losses and three ties. The ACC Tournament was already marked in their game calendar. The Orange was in a very different position. At […]

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By Pete Sweeney 

The Florida State Women’s Soccer team arrived in Syracuse on October 10th ranked as third best team in the country. The Seminoles boasted a record of eleven wins, no losses and three ties. The ACC Tournament was already marked in their game calendar.

The Orange was in a very different position. At 5-7-1 with just six games to play, the team needed to win just about every game it had left.

 For 94 minutes, Florida State and Syracuse played scoreless soccer. But in the 95th minute, Florida State midfielder Dagny Brynjarsdottir headed the game-winning goal past Orange goalie Brittany Anghel. There would be no more scoring the rest of the game.

 For Florida State, it was just another win on an impressive season’s resume. But for Syracuse, this game was a microcosm of its season.

 Three other times during the year, Syracuse played teams ranked 10th or better and lost by a score of 1-0. The team could play with the best, but it could not beat the best. Syracuse wasn’t winning in the ACC, but it was proving that it belonged in the ACC. There’s no one in the conference who can deny that.

 “After going through a season, I did talk to some other coaches in the ACC [and] asked for their impressions of the team,” Head Coach Phil Wheddon said. “And the underlying factor from every coach is they knew it was going to be a very, very difficult game.”

 While Syracuse finished the year 7-11-1 and missed the playoffs, the campaign was important in building the Orange’s identity moving forward into next season. This year, opposing teams saw the Orange as a tough game on the schedule. But the women who are returning want more. That’s why it’s December and you can find players in the gym every day, preparing for a first whistle that won’t come for another eight months.

“We will be faster, more athletic, more skillful,” Wheddon said. “The group that’s here training right now wants this so badly. We have soccer junkies that want to play. They want to take care of all their schoolwork so they can play. We’re definitely in the ACC Tournament [next year] for sure.”

To follow up on his bold statement, Wheddon and his staff will need to find an ample replacement for his five departing seniors, including four-year starting goaltender and team leader Brittany Anghel. This could make for a tall task in the ACC.

“The goalkeepers that we have coming in are going to have to catch up to speed very very quickly,” said Wheddon. “We’re going to have some issues in the goal for sure. You are going to have some growing pains. Brittany had those during her first season. The only problem is, in the ACC those growing pains can really cost you.”

Still, with all of the challenges that lie ahead, Wheddon couldn’t be more enthusiastic for what next year will bring.  He and his staff have worked diligently to bring in a highly-talented recruiting class and he believes that this team will be unlike any other before it.

“We will have, without a doubt, the best team that Syracuse has ever had.”

Does someone have a pen? Wheddon thinks it’s time to mark the ACC tournament in his team’s game calendar.

Video

10 Questions With Coach Wheddon – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm5KCHY6NpU

 

SU Turns Close Game to Rout

December 21, 2013

By: Donato DiRenzo II Tyler Ennis Photo courtesy: suathletics.com      The final score rarely tells the whole story, and Friday night’s 75-54 final at the Carrier Dome left a lot untold. The Syracuse Orange (11-0) beat High Point University (3-7) by 21 but, did trail for a moment in the second half. There was no mystery in Syracuse […]

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By: Donato DiRenzo II

Tyler Ennis Photo courtesy: suathletics.com

     The final score rarely tells the whole story, and Friday night’s 75-54 final at the Carrier Dome left a lot untold. The Syracuse Orange (11-0) beat High Point University (3-7) by 21 but, did trail for a moment in the second half. There was no mystery in Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim’s mind as to what made the difference. 

     “We didn’t play defense, aggressively,” Boeheim said. “Our offense was really good in the first half, but were up three [at the half] because our defense wasn’t there.” 

     Coming off arguably his worst performance of his career (zero points missing all three of the shots he took against St. John’s) Trevor Cooney regained his touch scoring a game high 17 points (5-6 on threes).  

     “I wasn’t determined to put up a lot of shots, just be a better mover off the ball,” Cooney said. “Against St. John’s I didn’t do a good job of running or running in transition or coming off of screens and today I did a lot better job of that.” 

     C.J. Fair scored 15 (five rebounds, two steals) to help lead a Syracuse offense that was rolling for most of the night, shooting over 53 percent from both the field and three point land. 

     For all the success the Orange offense had, SU struggled early on the defensive end allowing HPU to shoot 50 percent from both the field and on threes. Credit the Panthers for forcing the Syracuse zone to work hard, patiently moving the ball from side to side prodding the zone.

     High Point seemed intent on draining as much of the shot clock as possible on offense, at times not even beginning to run a play until 10 seconds were left and did get bailed out by a couple of desperation shots that went in at the buzzer. The Panthers trailed by three at the half, 37-34.  

     The Orange was down 40-39 after a Devante Wallace (10 points, two rebounds) jumper with 16:39 left in the second half. It was the last the Panthers would see of the lead as Baye Moussa Keita quickly answered with an offensive rebound put-back. It was the next sequence of plays that seemed to shift the momentum back to the home team for good.

     With just under 16 minutes to play freshman Tyler Ennis (10 points, nine assists, five steals, four rebounds) converted a layup in transition, quickly stole the ensuing inbound pass and after a miss, collected his offensive rebound and scored another easy layup. It was the beginning of a 28-3 run by Syracuse over the next 10+ minutes of play that ended any thought of a High Point upset.

     The Orange locked down defensively holding the Panthers to 20 points in the second half on 35 percent shooting (25 percent on threes) and forcing them into 15 turnovers (19 for the game). The Orange finished the game with 12 steals, six blocks and +9 in the turnover margin leading to 27 points off turnovers for the Orange to only four for the Panthers . The 12 steals are almost two more than Syracuse’s ACC leading average (10.2).

`     “It was our defense our defense, it was ok at the beginning of the game then we kinda slacked off a little bit,” Cooney said. “Once we picked our defense up we were able to go on a nice little run.” 

     Jerami Grant and Keita both continued their solid play off the bench. Grant scored 10 points in 17 minutes (three rebounds, one block) while Keita added seven points, four rebounds, two steals and a block in 19 minutes. Grant went out with an apparent sprained ankle after he slipped in the lane in the second half but returned to the bench and said later he was OK. 

     Wallace was the only High Point player to score in double figures. The Panthers leading scorer, John Brown, was held to just six points on 3-11 shooting but chipped in six rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Also contributing was Cliff Cornish (six points, four rebounds), Dejuan McGaughy (seven points, 15 minutes) and Lorenzo Cugini (seven points, two assists).

     “It’s been a long two and a half, three months already,” Boeheim said. “I think we need the break now, I think it’ll be good for us. There’s a lot of things we can still work on when we get back up here.”

Next Up:

#2 Syracuse plays its next game against old Big East foe, Villanova next Saturday the 28th at 2:00 p.m. in the Carrier Dome.

Game Notes:

  • This was the first game High Point University has played in the state of New York
  • Syracuse is one of 12 unbeaten Division I teams left
  • Syracuse’s non-conference home winning streak improved to 48
  • The Orange dominated the points in paint 38-18

Video:

Boeheim Presser
Ennis Interview
Grant Interview
Cooney Interview

Proud to be Orange

December 19, 2013

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpNt6bMi588 By Pete Sweeney SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) – After about twenty minutes ticked by in Syracuse Head Coach Scott Shafer’s Texas Bowl press conference last Friday, a reporter in one of the first few rows finally had the floor. “Does it feel strange at all, still talking about—“ And with that, he was cut […]

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Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpNt6bMi588

By Pete Sweeney SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) – After about twenty minutes ticked by in Syracuse Head Coach Scott Shafer’s Texas Bowl press conference last Friday, a reporter in one of the first few rows finally had the floor.

“Does it feel strange at all, still talking about—“

And with that, he was cut off.

“This is my guy right here.” Coach Shafer said. “You’re a Syracuse guy, right?”

The reporter confirmed and Coach Shafer proudly pumped his fist in the air.

“Go Orange baby!”

It’s been five years since Scott Shafer arrived on the Syracuse campus. Then, it was 2009 and the challenge he faced was daunting—a defense that ranked 101 in the nation—one that he was expected to turn around. But as intimidating a task as that seemed, Shafer never balked. He rose up to the challenge with positivity, enthusiasm, energy, and a deep sense of pride.

Today, as Syracuse’s head coach, all of those same qualities he brought to the table originally have not waned. If anything, they seem to have only amplified.

As there are no major league professional teams in the area, members of the Syracuse community collectively share a strong connection with the university’s athletic programs, especially basketball and football.

 On the basketball end of things, there’s Jim Boeheim, someone that strong connection has made famous in this city and across the sports world. For more than 50 years, starting as a player and for the last 37 years as head coach, Boeheim has bled Syracuse Orange, a quality you can already tell Shafer shares in year one at the helm.

 “[The job has] been everything I expected and everything I signed up for,” Shafer said at the press conference.  “I love the job. I really do. I can’t believe I have had the opportunity to coach at Syracuse. Such a great institution.”

Boeheim provides someone for Coach Shafer to look up to. The basketball legacy of more than 900 wins, four Final Four appearances, and a national championship paints a clear picture of what Shafer strives for.

 “We’ve got a great blueprint watching Jim Boeheim build that program,” Shafer said. “I’m so lucky to have somebody like that to just watch, look, read about, ask questions about what it’s going to take to try to get our football program to some sort of level just close to what he’s done. Scratch the surface, I’d be happy.”

As far as beginnings go, Shafer started off in a similar fashion to Boeheim. Both men began as assistants who helped to turn their programs around by the time it was their turn to be a head coach.

Chart New

In Boeheim’s first season as head coach, he took Syracuse to the NCAA tournament and lost to Charlotte in the Sweet Sixteen.

In Shafer’s first season, he has done something a lot of fans and media did not think was possible before the season began—he has reached a bowl game.

On December 27, Shafer’s team will face off against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Reliant Stadium in Houston for the Texas Bowl Championship. Beating Minnesota would clinch a winning season for the Orange, something Shafer hopes to make a precedent for years to come.

By having a chance to bring a trophy back to Syracuse, Shafer has earned the opportunity to take that first step of many that it will take to reach the likes of Jim Boeheim. 

But if you’re going to climb the mountain, you’ve got to start somewhere. 

Ian McIntyre: Coach, Counselor

December 17, 2013

By Jonathan Gault Photo courtesy suathletics.com  In the back of Syracuse men’s soccer coach Ian McIntyre’s office sit two soccer balls perched atop two silver trophies. They’re easy to miss for a visitor in an office that contains signed jerseys of the U.S. national team, the New York Red Bulls and, McIntyre’s favorite club, Liverpool. […]

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By Jonathan Gault

Photo courtesy suathletics.com

 In the back of Syracuse men’s soccer coach Ian McIntyre’s office sit two soccer balls perched atop two silver trophies. They’re easy to miss for a visitor in an office that contains signed jerseys of the U.S. national team, the New York Red Bulls and, McIntyre’s favorite club, Liverpool. But every time he looks up, the 39-year-old McIntyre can see those balls.

 “We’re trying to get a few more,” McIntyre says in his English accent.

 Those balls are from Syracuse’s two NCAA tournament wins in 2012 – the first two NCAA wins in the program’s 84-year history. But more important than the balls is what’s written on them – the signatures of every Orange player on the 2012 team.

 “It’s not always just wins and losses,” McIntyre says. “Our soccer family gets stretched every year and I’ve been very fortunate to work with some outstanding young men. We’re in the business of 18- to 22-year-olds. There are wonderful times and there’s some other times that aren’t so wonderful. But that’s the beauty of being a college coach.”

 McIntyre, a native of Basildon, England, has accomplished a lot in his four years in Syracuse. Prior to his arrival in 2010, the team hadn’t won more than eight games in a season since 1999. SU won 14 games in 2012 and followed that up with 10 wins in 2013, even as the team moved to the ACC, the nation’s most competitive soccer conference.  Though SU only finished 10th in the ACC last season, every player returns in 2014, giving the Orange a good chance to continue its success.

 On this dank November afternoon, just two weeks after Syracuse’s last game, a 4-1 loss to Wake Forest, McIntyre is already focused on recruiting for next year’s team and beyond. Yet he’s constantly reminded by the relationships he’s formed during his 15 years as a head coach,  first at Oneonta State and then at Hartwick and Syracuse.

 There’s the Facebook message he received from a former captain telling McIntyre about his newborn son. Or the call from another former player inviting McIntyre to celebrate earning his Ph. D from Columbia.

 Then there’s the case of Louis Clark. Like McIntyre, who came to the U.S. for college from England, Clark arrived at SU from Brighton, England, after two years at Ashland (Ohio) University. When Clark’s pro career stalled after his final season of eligibility last fall, McIntyre offered him a spot as an assistant coach while Clark finished up his degree.

 Me and Mac have always got along well and I’m sure we will be mates after I leave SU,” Clark said. “Mac has helped me with many ups and downs throughout my time at ‘Cuse and I always tried to repay him with my effort on the field.”

 McIntyre’s desire to provide guidance to young men sometimes begins before they even commit to SU. When current Orange goalkeeper Alex Bono met McIntyre in his office for the first time, McIntyre began by asking him whether he thought he could play at Syracuse. It was Bono’s first meeting with a head coach, and the seemingly simple nature of the question threw him for a loop.

 “I thought to myself, ‘If I didn’t, would I be here?’” Bono said. “’If you didn’t, would you bring me here?’ I didn’t know what to say, I stumbled on my words.”

 “The answer to that question is always ‘Yes,’” McIntyre said.

 “The coaches asked me the same question at every other school,” said Bono, who, thanks to McIntyre’s advice, was able to respond without missing a beat.

 McIntyre sells recruits on Syracuse the same way the school sold him in 2010. He viewed Syracuse as a chance to compete against the best programs in college soccer, and he tells his recruits the same thing.

 “Syracuse presented a really great challenge,” McIntyre said. “You want to test yourself against the best and play in bigger conferences. Playing in the Big East and now the ACC, that’s one of the attractions of a school like Syracuse. Players, coaches want to have a chance to compete against the best.”

 Now, after four seasons in charge, McIntyre’s current squad is beginning to reflect his coaching philosophy. When he started at SU, McIntyre customized his team’s style of play to fit his personnel. Ideally, McIntyre would have had his team play strong technical soccer, focused around a core of players who could build attacks through passes on the ground and retain possession under pressure in the attacking third of the field.

 But to do that, McIntyre needed quick, skilled players. It took two losing seasons, but by 2012, McIntyre had a team capable of contending in the Big East, relying heavily on transfers and younger players. The Orange finished second in the Big East Red Division and came within a penalty shootout loss to Georgetown of advancing to the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight. 10 of the 11 SU starters in that game were recruited by McIntyre.

 That included players like Clark, who scored 10 goals in his two seasons with Syracuse after transferring from Ashland University in 2011.

 “He’s a very respected coach in college soccer, so when you know he’s interested in bringing you in to play, you can’t really turn it down,” Clark said. “When he got here, it was clearly not his team and his players. He has done a great job of making the squad his own and has taught the team to play the game in the style he likes football to be played.” 

 McIntyre’s skill as a recruiter is not just in his reputation as a coach or as an All-American player at Hartwick and later for the Connecticut Wolves of the A-League. It’s his personality that has endeared him to recruits.

 As he prepares to meet with a visitor in his office, McIntyre jokes to athletics communications intern Alex Brooks that he can’t understand why anyone would be interested in interviewing him. But the twinkle in his eye and the look on his face as his lips curl into a sly smile give him away. And though McIntyre’s lighter side is well-known to his fellow coaches and athletes, no one in the program has a greater desire to succeed.

 “Simply by the way he expresses himself you can tell that he has more passion for the game than a lot of the payers,” SU captain Skylar Thomas said. “It’s hard to find a coach who is so serious but can still interact with his players in a fun and sarcastic way.”

 It’s impossible to tell how long McIntyre will stay in Syracuse. College sports are, as he likes to say, a results-oriented business. SU returns its entire squad next year, but the ACC will be loaded again – three of the conference’s teams made the Final Four of this year’s NCAA tournament. McIntyre knows the pressure is on to succeed.

 The victories will one day fade, the pre-game speeches lost to history. But there’s more than one way to measure success as a collegiate head coach, and when it comes to creating personal relationships with athletes, McIntyre seems to have that figured out.

 

 

 

 

SU Holds On, Tops Red Storm

December 15, 2013

By Pete Sweeney NEW YORK (Newhouse Sports Media Center) – Michael Gbinije sat on the court with the ball in his grasp as he and Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim desperately yelled to the referees for a timeout. The timeout was not granted and Red Storm players swarmed Gbinije. When the whistle finally blew, the […]

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By Pete Sweeney NEW YORK (Newhouse Sports Media Center) – Michael Gbinije sat on the court with the ball in his grasp as he and Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim desperately yelled to the referees for a timeout. The timeout was not granted and Red Storm players swarmed Gbinije.

When the whistle finally blew, the call was jump ball, possession: St. John’s. The Madison Square Garden roof was about to fly off.

The Red Storm, up 60-58 on the Orange, held a two-point lead with just five minutes and 27 seconds to play. But as St. John’s fans were in a frenzy and the Orange back-pedaled to get back on defense, senior Baye Keita turned to all four of his teammates, opened his hands palm down, and gestured for his players to relax. He still felt like his team was in control.

Two defensive stops and four Tyler Ennis points later and the Orange was up for good.

“He’s a very, very smart player,” Boeheim said of Ennis after the game. “As a freshman point guard, he’s playing better than anybody that I’ve ever had.”

Ennis, due in main part to a tremendous first half in which he scored a team-high 15 points, finished with a share of the game-high, 21. CJ Fair, who scored four critical points down the final five-minute stretch after the Orange took back the lead, also finished with 21.

“It’s all about getting in the right position [and] taking your time; you don’t want to rush things,” Fair said. “Tyler [Ennis] was able to get me the ball in good positions and I was able to operate from there.”

St. John’s came into game with a 6-2 record and even in the loss, proved that it is capable of competing with the Orange. Jim Boeheim credited the Red Storm for a strong effort at his post-game press conference.

“I think St. John’s is a much improved team from what I’ve seen,” he said. “They’re more mature, there are more veterans. I think they’ve got really good players and I think they’re going to have a good year.”

Up until the start of the second half, an Orange victory seemed like a foregone conclusion. Syracuse owned a 39-27 lead heading into the locker room for the break.

“It almost seemed like it was deer in the headlights in the first half,” Red Storm Head Coach Steve Lavin said after the game.

St. John’s leading scorer D’Angelo Harrison had a lot to do with his team’s second half resurgence. Following just a three-point performance in the first half, Harrison scored the first seven points in the second half as part of an 11-5 run to get the Red Storm back in the game. He finished with 21.

“We didn’t play in the first half and then came out and played with a different attitude,” Harrison said. “We outscored [Syracuse] in the second half.”

Harrison was just as good on the defensive side of the ball. He locked down Trevor Cooney, who came into the game averaging 15.3 points per game for the Orange. Cooney only shot three times, all three-point attempts, and missed them all.

Fortunately for the Orange, Jerami Grant was able to pick up Cooney’s slack. He finished the game with 14 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and a block that sealed the game for the Orange with 33 seconds remaining.

“That was some play,” Boeheim said of the block. “He had a couple of highlight plays today.”

Syracuse 68, St. John’s 63 – Box Score

Next Game

#2 Syracuse plays its next game against High Point this Friday, back home at the Carrier Dome. Game time is 7:00 p.m.

Video

Jim Boeheim post-game press conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd1eNceOUiY

CJ Fair post-game interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COANPm6w53Q

Jerami Grant post-game interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KGqaNjO6LQ

Steve Lavin post-game press conference: http://youtu.be/nTwrU2s9IMQ

Game Notes

•Syracuse improves its record to 10-0. Coming into the game, Syracuse was one of just 14 teams that remain undefeated in NCAA Division I basketball.

•This was the 88th matchup between St. John’s and Syracuse. With the win, Syracuse now leads the series, 51-37.

•Syracuse’s largest lead was 14 points with six seconds to go in the first half.

•CJ Fair had two steals in tonight’s game. He has recorded at least one steal in all but one game this season (Minnesota).

•Trevor Cooney was held to zero points for the the first time in his college career when playing 20 minutes or more.

•Syracuse only attempted eight three-point shots tonight, making just one. The only game this season where the Orange attempted fewer threes was St. Francis (six).

•The teams matched in bench scoring. Each team’s bench finished with 14 points.

•The score was tied seven times during the game and the lead changed four times.

•Jim Boeheim likes playing at MSG and would like to see Syracuse continue to play in New York in the future. He said “We have a lot of Syracuse fans down here that live in this area. I think we’re in a tournament next year here…We like coming here. We played a lot of games at Madison Square Garden. It’s a great place for college basketball…I thought both groups of fans were into it. I just thought it was a great game at the Garden and that’s why we signed up to play in it. I knew it would be.”

View from the Baseline

December 8, 2013

Story and photos by Matt Dowell The squeaking of sneakers, the loud “C’MON, GUYS! LET’S GO!” bark from Trevor Cooney, the sarcastic, catty banter between the referees and the coaches.  These are all things you can’t truly grasp from way up in the stands. I’m a Broadcast and Digital Journalism graduate student at Newhouse, but tonight […]

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Story and photos by Matt Dowell

The squeaking of sneakers, the loud “C’MON, GUYS! LET’S GO!” bark from Trevor Cooney, the sarcastic, catty banter between the referees and the coaches.  These are all things you can’t truly grasp from way up in the stands.

I’m a Broadcast and Digital Journalism graduate student at Newhouse, but tonight I took on a new opportunity of being a photographer for the first time for the Syracuse-Binghamton men’s basketball game in the Carrier Dome.

Sitting right on the baseline, I didn’t feel like I was a spectator like I do when I go watch these games casually with my friends. I felt like I was in the world of these two basketball teams. I got to see the sweat, the anger, the tenacity, right up close. The passion of Trevor Cooney, the incredible form of a CJ Fair jump shot, and the Hulk-like physicality of DaJuan Coleman.

And I got to capture it all in still photographs, something I’m also not used to.

Being a broadcast student, I’m used to telling stories with video, my voice and by being in front of the camera. But still photography created a new challenge. I had to tell a story with pictures that have no movement, no voice-overs, and no stand-ups.They are just there and I wanted the pictures I captured to create a feeling of the overall atmosphere of the game which ended up being complete domination by the Orange.

Another challenge of dealing with a still-camera instead of one that records video is that I only get one shot to capture a moment. If I miss a dunk or a foul or an injury, that moment is gone. I didn’t have video that I could work with and edit afterwards, something that is essential in the broadcasting world.

It was a one and done kind of situation.  Miss an epic moment of the game, too bad. It’s gone. Nothing you can do about it.

You have to be on your game and ready to snap every moment for 2 hours to get those great shots people love to see and remember.

It was an eye-opening experience. I had never thought of how hard it is to capture these moments; to have the perfect timing, perfect framing, and perfect focus.

In this day in age of technology, pictures are everywhere. We see them 24/7 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name it.

I can speak for myself when I say that I’d become numb to the fact that photography is still an art form because we are around it so much in our everyday lives. But tonight showed me just how much technique and skill is required to do something like this.

Going into tonight’s game, I didn’t think it would be that hard. I told myself, “I’m just gonna sit on the baseline and snap some pictures and it’ll be easy.”

Boy, was I wrong. It’s an art. It’s a talent. And the whole experience was exhilarating.
To photographers everywhere, I have a new found respect for you and the craft that you love, especially the ones I got to share the baseline with. Thanks for teaching me about something I thought I already knew, but clearly had no idea what I was talking about.

Last minute advice for first time photographers: Bring a mini chair to the game. My back is killing me.

Check out all of my pictures from tonight’s game and press conference here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/110885937@N03/11262528993/in/photostream/

Orange Over Bearcats 93-65

December 8, 2013

Photo by Matt Dowell Story By Pete Sweeney SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) – Binghamton (2-7) arrived at the Carrier Dome Saturday night as tremendous underdogs, never expected to have a chance to beat No. 4 ranked Syracuse (9-0). But the Bearcats built an 11-3 advantage early and four minutes and 34 seconds into the game, the […]

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Photo by Matt Dowell

Story By Pete Sweeney

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) – Binghamton (2-7) arrived at the Carrier Dome Saturday night as tremendous underdogs, never expected to have a chance to beat No. 4 ranked Syracuse (9-0). But the Bearcats built an 11-3 advantage early and four minutes and 34 seconds into the game, the time of the first TV timeout, they still led the Orange, 11-6.

It became apparent that Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim had seen enough. The Orange came out from the break in a full-court press that would lead to six Binghamton turnovers as part of an 18-0 run for Syracuse.

“We did a good job in the full court press for a few minutes there and got the game going in the right direction,” Boeheim said at the post-game press conference.

The press immediately resulted in two steals and five quick points for Trevor Cooney, who finished with 17, including five three-balls in nine attempts from behind the arc.

“I was just able to find open spots,” Cooney said. “They were in a 2-3 zone, I was able to find open spots and guys were just able to give me the ball.”

It took C.J. Fair a while to get going, but he wound leading the team with 19 points of his own.

“I came out and shot two airballs,” Fair said. “But once I saw some shots go in, I got in a rhythm.”

A game that was competitive for the first five minutes quickly became highly noncompetitive (Syracuse once led by as many as 37 points), but Boeheim didn’t mind as this gave him an opportunity to give his younger players a chance to see some in-game action. The future of the Orange—freshmen B.J. Johnson, Tyler Roberson, and Ron Patterson all saw at least 14 minutes each.

“We need to play these freshmen even if it’s in a late game situation,” Boeheim said. “Show them some tape of what they do. It’s good to get them that kind of experience.”

Sophomore Jordan Reed was the only player who seemed to get anything going for Binghamton. He led both teams in scoring, finishing with 26 points and seven rebounds.

DaJuan Coleman put up another solid effort for the Orange, recording a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds).

Syracuse won’t play its next game until next Sunday, December 15. The Orange squares off against St. John’s in Madison Square Garden at 12 p.m.

 Ranking

Syracuse, right now ranked fourth in the country, will in all likelihood move up to #2 in the national rankings. Syracuse stayed perfect (9-0) while #1 Michigan State lost to the North Carolina on Wednesday and #3 Kentucky lost to Baylor on Friday. #2 Arizona, who also stayed perfect (10-0), should be the new top-ranked team.

 

Game Notes

 

  • This was the fifth meeting of Syracuse and Binghamton, the last of which before Saturday night was in 2004. Syracuse now leads the series, 5-0.

 

  • Lazarus Sims, who played at Syracuse from 1991 to 1996, returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach for the Bearcats. “He’s one of the great players we’ve had here, one of the best point guards, certainly the smartest point guard that we’ve ever had here, and he loves the game,” Boeheim said. “He knows the game, and I just think he’ll be a great coach, I really do.”

 

  • Binghamton’s starting lineup contains four freshmen and one sophomore (the game’s leading scorer, Jordan Reed).

 

  • The full-court press Syracuse used throughout the game caused 18 Binghamton turnovers (12 steals and 6 blocks).

 

  • Ten players scored for the Orange and its bench finished with 38 points.

 

  • Syracuse took 36 shots from behind the three-point line, more than any other game this year. Syracuse finished the game 13/36 (36.1%).

 

Video

 

Jim Boeheim post-game press conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGSz_Sh6nVA

 

CJ Fair post-game interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=814aVBpaZV0

 

Tyler Ennis post-game interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Az7eUHTTDY

 

Trevor Cooney post-game interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIeQlzXRiCY 

 

Box Scorehttp://www.suathletics.com/boxscore.aspx?path=mbasket&id=6219

 

Orange Whips Hoosiers

December 3, 2013

Story and Photo by Chris Landers Jim Boeheim came into his team’s showdown with the Indiana Hoosiers Tuesday night questioning its defense so far this year. He referred to Syracuse’s win at the Maui Invitational as “an offensive trip,” laced with about as much derision as a coach can summon for a winning team. But […]

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Story and Photo by Chris Landers

Jim Boeheim came into his team’s showdown with the Indiana Hoosiers Tuesday night questioning its defense so far this year. He referred to Syracuse’s win at the Maui Invitational as “an offensive trip,” laced with about as much derision as a coach can summon for a winning team. But by the end of the Orange’s suffocating 69-52 victory, he was left with the faintest hint of a smile.

Just as in last year’s NCAA Tournament game, the Hoosiers (6-2) couldn’t crack the 2-3 zone for large stretches of the night. They struggled to penetrate against the perimeter length of the Orange (8-0) and when they finally broke through, quick hands — Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis had four steals each, harassing Indiana’s bigs when they brought the ball down — and long arms made life difficult. Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman and Jerami Grant combined for seven blocks, controlling the paint all night in a welcome change from their poor rotations earlier in the year.

“Our centers played a lot better tonight,” Boeheim said. “Sometimes they got a little too physical, but our traps were good and they protected the rim. We’ve been looking for that all season.”

Despite an ugly first half, though, Indiana managed to hang in through a mix of execution and sheer will. The Hoosiers got the ball to the high post a bit more as the half wound down, collapsing the zone with an extra pass. It was rarely pretty — Syracuse’s defense tends to make just about everything seem precarious — but it was effective. IU kept chipping away, trip to the line after trip to the line, and after two big Yogi Ferrell threes late in the half, it had tied the game for the first time since the opening tip. What seemed to be in control for the Orange had turned into just a four-point halftime lead.

“We were getting the ball to the high post, attacking, getting to the foul line,” said Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh, who shot 13-16 from the foul line en route to a team-high 17 points. “That was our game plan, and I think we stuck to it pretty well in the first half.”

Coming out of the locker room, though, the wheels started to come off. The Hoosiers were out of sorts on their first few possessions, and that was all Syracuse needed. The Orange went on a 25-5 run, sparked by a flagrant two foul and ejection of Austin Etherington who shoved Cooney as he went in for a breakaway dunk. Syracuse turned lazy passes and dribbles into points the other way; Indiana committed 16 turnovers in all, ten in the second half, leading to 19 Syracuse points.

“I just think we got away from what was working,” Vonleh said. “I don’t really know what happened, I just know we started settling for threes, and that’s not what our plan was.”

This is an Indiana team still struggling for an identity after the departure of four starters from 2012’s Sweet 16 run. Once guard Will Sheehey, the only reliable shotmaker, left early in the second with foul trouble, everything bogged down — after putting up 28 field goal attempts in the first half, the Hoosiers managed just 13 in the second.

The Orange defense can mask a lot of offensive deficiencies, but there was some improvement Tuesday night. CJ Fair was effective and efficient in his isolation sets on the wing, pouring in 15 points on 50 percent shooting, and Grant and Christmas showed some surprising smoothness in the post.

But the story continues to be the improvement of Ennis and Cooney in the backcourt. The latter’s shooting has come to be almost automatic — he shot 5-9 from deep and sits at over 47 percent for the year, remarkable for a guy buried on the depth chart for the first two years of his career.

“I don’t know anybody who shot well from the bench,” Boeheim said. “He was behind a guy [Sixers guard Michael Carter-Williams] averaging 20 points in the NBA and another senior [Brandon Triche] who was really, really good. Now he has his time.”

And the Canadian freshman just keeps getting better, much more in control just eight games into his career. He controlled the tempo, pushing at the right times, and Indiana couldn’t keep him out of the lane — he used screens well, knowing when to get his own shot and when to find teammates for easy looks. The two guards are beginning to provide the sort of shot creating and making that can take Syracuse to the next level.

“Tyler and I got to spend some time working out together in the summer, and we clicked,” Cooney said. “We have a great relationship on and off the court, and he’s as good as any other freshman out there right now.”

The Orange have a matchup with 14th-ranked Villanova in a few weeks, and then the ACC gauntlet begins. The non-conference road has been a little bumpy, but finally, Boeheim is beginning to see a complete team take shape, and maybe that smile will grow a little wider.

 

For video of Coach Boeheim’s postgame press conference, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaoipNBa85U

For interviews with players, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68bGriupQ5I