Student Reporting Archive

FSU Trounces SU Women; Howard Breaks ‘Noles Record

February 14, 2014

Story, photo and videos by Rilwan Ameen   Backdrop: At one point this season, both Syracuse (17-8 overall, 6-6 ACC) and Florida State (17-7, 5-6 ACC) were ranked among the nation’s top 25 teams. Since winning 14 of its first 15 games to begin the year, Florida State had lost six of eight. But Florida State’s […]

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Story, photo and videos by Rilwan Ameen

 

Backdrop:

At one point this season, both Syracuse (17-8 overall, 6-6 ACC) and Florida State (17-7, 5-6 ACC) were ranked among the nation’s top 25 teams.

Since winning 14 of its first 15 games to begin the year, Florida State had lost six of eight. But Florida State’s Head Coach Sue Semrau said the mid-season struggles provided valuable learning lessons.

“People have a hard time believing when a coach says losing is be a good thing,” Semrau said. “For us it opened the eyes of our younger players and going through the grind of the ACC, our focus since the Notre Dame game has been extremely sharp.”

While Syracuse began the season 11-1, the Orange women had lost three straight before reversing their fortunes to win six of their last nine.

Having five ranked teams in the top 17 in the country, the ACC has been the best conference in women’s college basketball this year. Syracuse stood just outside (6th in conference) of the top tier at 6-5 in the ACC and Florida State stood 9th at 4-6 in the league.

Despite the many ups and downs that are a part of a college basketball season both teams found themselves coming into the game looking to remain in the top half of the conference.

History made:

Two Shakeya Leary jumpers, one Brittney Sykes jumper and one Brianna Butler three-pointer in the first minute and 57 seconds of the game; was all it took for the Natasha Howard show to commence in the first ever meeting between Syracuse and Florida State in women’s basketball.

Syracuse Head Coach Quentin Hillsman said after the game, that there simply was not an answer for the Seminole star.

“Man, Natasha Howard was a beast tonight. She was tremendous,” Hillsman said. “She got the ball in the paint, scored the ball… did a very good job of playing at the rim. She’s an unbelievable player who’s a great career at Florida State and will continue to do so at the next level.”

Howard, scored the very first basket in the game just five seconds in and continued her offensive onslaught from there; pouring in a school-record 40 points en route to leading the Seminoles to an 83-59 victory.

Big games are something Semrau has become accustomed to from the senior.

“Natasha Howard is one of my favorite players that I’ve ever coached,” Semrau said. “For her to have an opportunity to reach this milestone isn’t because she was lucky, it’s because the type of work ethic that she has.”

“She’ll leave a mark on Florida State not because she scored more points than anybody in a single game, but because of what she means to us every day.”

Tone setter:

With 28 of Howard’s 40 points coming primarily inside the paint (14-19 FGM-A) and (12-15 FTM-A), Florida State found the opening in Syracuse’s defense by playing inside out; capitalizing on open looks knocking down 2/3’s of their three-point attempts (8/12 total).

“I was surprised at the way we shot the ball from the outside to open things up for on the inside and I think that was the difference in the game,” Semrau said. “And our ability to get her the ball was that.”

“Our kids played hard, they really tried to get after it and compete but our bodies, ” Hillsman said. “I mean we’re down two point guards and we had to end up playing Britt at the point some and it didn’t work out for us tonight.”

Coming off a 26 point, 11 rebound performance against Boston College, Howard said her thought process was to get her teammates involved first and then finding her spots.

“When they can get me the ball, I just score and do my own thing when I’m out there.”

The difference in the game besides the hot outside shooting of the Seminoles, was their ability to crash the boards; out-rebounding Syracuse 43-24 in the game (13-11 OFF. Reb) and (30-13 DEF. Reb).

Deja vu:

Shakeya Leary scored the first four points for the Orange and had four steals, contributing to Howard’s five total turnovers. However, Howard would win the battle, taking over the paint and Leary was held without a rebound in the game.

“Natasha was scoring, she was running the floor well… just finishing and being really effective getting to the line and just being real aggressive,” Leary said.

In an eerily similar fashion to their last home loss against Maryland, Syracuse got off to a fast start going 4-4 from the field to take an early 9-2 lead causing Florida State to regroup with a timeout.

But since that time in the huddle, the tempo slowed down and Syracuse would be outscored 81 to 50 the rest of the way.

“You’re in a new environment and none of them have ever played in a dome before,” Semrau said. “It was just refocusing, making sure that we knew where the shooters are and just plugging away and not panicking.”

Home woes:

The Orange struggled to adjust without starting point guard Rachel Coffey and backup point guard Cornelia Fondren — both of whom were declared unable to go right before tip-off due to sickness.

“When you take two players out of the lineup, who are getting major minutes, you’re going to struggle a little bit,” Hillsman said.

Held to a season-low six points, well below her season average of 17.6 per game, Brittney Sykes was in unfamiliar territory.

“It was real frustrating, but I had to put aside the frustration and help my team on the bench,” she said. “I had to just find something else to do if I wasn’t playing well, I just have to be there for my team more than just scoring.”

“Second half they did a very good job of getting some early leak-outs, getting some easy looks at the basket,” Hillsman said. “When you start getting those looks in a game that’s a 17, 16 point game you’re going to struggle to make up that balance.”

Semrau was thrilled her team did not let up against a Syracuse team sporting a different starting lineup for the first time all season.

“I was really proud of how my team, stayed focused… and didn’t let up knowing that a great point guard wasn’t on the floor.” 

Unusual trend:

Starting two Freshman Alexis Peterson and Isabella Slim, along with mainstays Brittney Sykes, Brianna Butler, and Shakeya Leary the Orange could not find the same rhythm that comes with maintaining continuity out on the floor.

“Have to give Alexis a lot of credit, she played 34 minutes, nine assists and two turnovers; that’s a tremendous ratio,” Hillsman said.

After the game, Semrau said that the addition of Syracuse to the ACC has really been a benefit to the league. She also added that the Orange were not the same team without the full arsenal of players.

“I don’t think that was characteristic of Syracuse… tonight. They have great shooters on their team, we were really worried about Butler and I know that they missed Coffey not being in the lineup.”

 

First timer:

In her first career start with Coffey out, Peterson was held scoreless but contributed those nine assists.

“I learned last night that I’d be starting, ” she said. “I thought I played fairly decent, I think I could done something more to help the team out by not turning the ball over.”

“My first goal is to always get my teammates involved. Being the point guard is to run the team and control the tempo… my missed shots didn’t really affect me, I just took them when I was open.”

Despite the injuries to Coffey and Fondren, a bright spot for the Orange was the night of La’Shay Taft, who stepped up to score a game-high 18 for Syracuse in just 20 minutes of action. 15 of her total came beyond the arc with five 3-pointers.

Bounce back:

With the loss, Syracuse slips back to .500 in the tough ACC. But Sykes and the Orange are not letting the setback deter them from their season-ending goals.

“The good thing about it is this conference,” Hillsman said. Thursday, Sunday is great because Sunday will be here in a short minute.”

“In basketball the greatest thing you can have is short-term memory,” Sykes added. “To come back from Notre Dame, play Florida State at home and have a loss like we did it’s on to the next game.”

“You go into film the next day… you learn from your mistakes and try not to make them again. We have to win the rest of these games on the road and at home.”

Reaction:

After the game when it was announced that Howard set the school record, she turned to Coach Semrau incredulously asking,” really?!” Semrau responded with a beaming smile and nod.

When asked where does her performance rank all-time for her career Howard put her career night in context.

“I really don’t know, I just go out and just play no matter what. Whether or not I score 40 points, I just want to win and help my team win,” she said. As for re-writing the Florida State record books.

“It feels good, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and the coaches.”

“She’s a freak you guys,” Semrau joked. “She might be Tyler Ennis.”


Game notes
:

  • Syracuse donned pink jerseys and sneakers at tonight’s game to support the Play4Kay Initiative and its fund for Breast Cancer awareness research. The foundation honors the memory of former North Carolina State Head Coach, Kay Yow, who passed away in 2009
  • Natasha Howard’s record-setting 40-point night, breaks the mark previously set in 2005 by Roneeka Hodges, who scored 39 against Maryland
  • Senior, Cheetah Delgado who set a school record assist total in FSU’s previous game against Boston College, added 12 more against SU
  • Howard was also named to the Wade trophy candidate watch list, an annual honor given to the nation’s top Division I women’s college basketball player
  • Natasha Howard’s uncle LaSean, played basketball at SU for two seasons (1996-1998)
  • Syracuse shot 36 percent in tonight’s game after shooting just 32 percent in the previous game against Notre Dame
  • With the loss Syracuse now drops to 7th in the ACC at (6-6) while Florida State remains 9th at (5-6)
  • Tonight’s game was also Syracuse’s Brianna Butler’s 20th Birthday
  • Both Rachel Coffey’s and Cornelia Fondren’s game-status against Boston College is unknown per SU Athletics and Head Coach Quentin Hillsman
  • Syracuse will head on the road to play Boston College this Sunday (2/16/14) at 1:00 PM (ET)

Videos:

Coach Hillsman postgame:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdsYdG1ma98

SU players postgame:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcUwBc9qwkM

FSU postgame:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWn19Rc3aHk

 

 

Orange Lacrosse Men Pound Siena in Opener

February 11, 2014

Donahue gets eight goals for SU Story and video by Mike McCann Photo by Norman Seawright III Superstars don’t grow on trees, and one game is certainly not enough to classify a player as a superstar. But Syracuse redshirt sophomore Dylan Donahue put forth a superstar effort on his way to eight goals (one assist) […]

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Donahue gets eight goals for SU

Story and video by Mike McCann

Photo by Norman Seawright III

Superstars don’t grow on trees, and one game is certainly not enough to classify a player as a superstar. But Syracuse redshirt sophomore Dylan Donahue put forth a superstar effort on his way to eight goals (one assist) in No. 1 Syracuse’s 19-7 opening night win over Siena, in front of 2,015 people at the Carrier Dome Monday night.

“Dylan picked up where he left off last year,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said.”He, in particular did a great job tonight.”

The last time a Syracuse player scored more than seven goals in a game was 1999 when Matt Cutia achieved the feat against Rutgers. At the time, Donahue was four years old.

“I don’t think [it feels any different],” Donahue said of achieving the mark. “It was a pretty good team effort today, we’ve been working  well all week together and it’s been fun to play with everyone.”

Donahue is capable of scoring in bunches. He had eight goals in last year’s NCAA tournament. The only difference was it took him four games to get those eight goals. These eight he got in three quarters. 

 Help

But Donahue was only one piece of the offense. Junior Attack Kevin Rice had eight assists in the game. You have to go back even farther for the last time an Orange player had that many “helpers” in a contest; the oldest of the Powell brothers Casey had eight assists against Loyola in May of 1997.

“It’s nice for us to get the points, but most of the work was done by our middies,” Rice said. “They were beating their guys, and forcing rotations…and that’s what opens up Dylan and (me).”

Everyone on Syracuse pitched in to the team win. While Donahue scored his eight goals, no other Orange player had more than one. And while Rice had eight assists, only Randy Staats had more than one, with two. 

Syracuse spread the wealth around all night. 13 different players had at least a point, and it’s that balance that could help Syracuse succeed all year. Still it was Rice and Powell who seemed the most in sync.

“We were playing or working out together four or five times a week this summer,” Rice said. “I think that definitely helps with our communication and just knowing each other’s tendencies.”

Situation in net?

Desko’s decision as to who starts in goal for the Orange could be something to watch in the future. After playing the entire first, Dominic Lamolinara was lifted in the second half in favor of Bobby Wardwell. Redshirt freshman Evan Molloy finished the game in net.

After the game, Desko was quick to point out that Wardwell had been playing in the second half of the team’s scrimmages, downplaying the notion that there is a “situation” in goal for the Orange. Lamolinara, who was in net for the National Championship run, did not see much of a problem, either.

“As long as we keep winning, that’s all I care about,” Lamolinara said. “Bob’s really happy for me when I’m doing well, and same for him.”

Back to basics

The game was the first one that counted since Syracuse lost to Duke in last year’s National Championship.

“It was great to be back in the Carrier Dome,” Desko said. “I thought guys were ready to play right from the beginning.”

The next opponent that the Orange will see is the same that topped Syracuse in last year’s season opener: the Albany Great Danes.

“When you think of Albany, you think of that tremendous attack right off the bat,” Desko said. “Possesions will be very important for us…we know they’re special and they can really make things happen at their offensive end of the field.”

Albany and Syracuse face off in the Dome next Sunday, with the game slated to start at 4:00 P.M.

Video Report: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WiYOgKPYxM

John Desko News Conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdhmaOp53nA

Donahue, Rice, and Lamolinara News Conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCR-52dK5s0

More photos:http://sce2014.blogspot.com/2014/02/syracuse-v-siena-photos.html

Orange Beats Clemson; Goes to 23-0

February 10, 2014

Story, photo and videos by: Mike McCann    The number 23 has stood for basketball royalty since Michael Jordan donned the number at North Carolina. For Syracuse it’s not the jersey number; it’s the number of wins so far that puts the team among the elite. But if greatness can truly recognize greatness, then Jordan […]

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Story, photo and videos by: Mike McCann

 

 The number 23 has stood for basketball royalty since Michael Jordan donned the number at North Carolina. For Syracuse it’s not the jersey number; it’s the number of wins so far that puts the team among the elite. But if greatness can truly recognize greatness, then Jordan presumably would be impressed by #1 Syracuse’s (23-0; 10-0 ACC) effort against a stingy Clemson (15-7; 6-4 ACC) team Sunday night, on the way to a 57-44 win, its 23rd of the season.

 That’s where this team seems headed right now: greatness. Syracuse is unbeaten, winning games just about any way imaginable. The Orange has done it with defense, it has done it with offense. It has done it with pure grit. On this night it did it with patience.

 Here Syracuse is, 23-0, on top of the college basketball rankings for at least another week.

 “We feel good,” said Rakeem Christmas, in the locker room after the game. “We don’t look as the record as much, we don’t talk about it, we just go out and have fun.”

 Well the team might not be looking at the record, but the nation certainly is.

 

Taking down Clemson

 A week after receiving all the first place votes in both polls, the Orange displayed a performance against Notre Dame that left something to be desired.

 And after a sluggish start to this game against Clemson, Syracuse picked it up towards the end of the first half.

 “I thought our defense was good, our patience was good, but we didn’t rebound a couple times we needed to,” Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said. “We did a good job on both ends of the court.”

 The Orange turned the ball over only five times for the game, while forcing 13 Clemson turnovers. But Clemson plays at an extremely slow pace, and forces its opponents into a half court setting.

 It makes it difficult to pull away, something the Orange didn’t do until late in the game.

 “You don’t want to be behind in any game, but you really don’t want to be behind in a slow game,” Boeheim said. “A six or eight point lead can be a pretty substantial lead in a game like this.”

 Syracuse led by nine at the break, finishing the first half on a 9-0 run after the game was tied at 22. In the second half, CJ Fair and Jerami Grant combined for six of the first eight points the Orange scored, and pushed the lead to 12.

 

 “[Fair’s] a great player,” Grant said. “We have a kind of chemistry, we talk a lot, just figuring out the open spots to get to and stuff like that.”

 Fair certainly found the open spots all night. He led the Orange with 19 points in a very important bounce back game for him; he scored only six points on 2-13 shooting against Notre Dame.

 “He’s played great, this was I thought his most efficient game of the year,” Boeheim said of Fair. “He hit a couple of big shots…this was one of his best games this year.”

 But Fair had help. After Clemson cut the lead to five with just over ten minutes left in the game, Tyler Ennis took the game in his own hands, finishing two layups and assisting on a Trevor Cooney three to put the game away.

 “There’s certain times I’m more aggressive and attacking,” Ennis said. “It’s just pretty much feeling the game out.”

 

Win with a cost

It seems all peachy that the Orange ran through Clemson, but the win could end up hurting Syracuse for one reason: Baye Moussa Keita’s injury.

 The Senior Center went down in the first half with a sprained knee and did not return, and according to Boeheim, his status remains up in the air.

 While Keita isn’t known for lighting up the score sheet, he provides valuable depth at a position where the Orange is now paper thin.

 If Keita can’t go, that now means both he and Dajuan Coleman (lost for the year) could not help out Rakeem Christmas if Christmas were to get in foul trouble. And it limits an already depleted group of front line bench guys for Boeheim.

 The scenario played out tonight, when Rakeem Christmas picked up his fourth foul with 13:16 left in the game.

 “I just have to make better decisions,” Christmas said. “I can’t be less aggressive, it just has to be better decisions.”

 Without Christmas in, Jerami Grant moved to the center position, and filled in nicely.

 

A familiar foe

Syracuse now starts the final stretch that includes playing three teams it has already seen once this year; Pitt, BC and Duke. It starts with a trip to Pittsburgh to meet a Panther team that will be very hungry for revenge for SU’s 59-54 win at the Carrier Dome Jan. 18.

 “We just have to continue to make plays in the half court,” Ennis said. “We have to pretty much get our guys open and make shots.”

 Since Syracuse beat Pittsburgh, the Panthers are 4-2, with both losses coming at the Peterson Events Center, a place known for its hostility.

 “I’m looking forward to it,” Ennis said. “Hopefully we’ll come out with a W, and it’ll be a great experience.”

 The Orange puts its 23-0 record on the line Wednesday night against Pitt. The game tips at 7:00 and can be seen on ESPN.

 

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

Jim Boeheim Postgame: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goYg3LSL9NE

CJ Fair Postgame: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0twvy0TqxQ

Trevor Cooney Postgame: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9V6f8YDsxlE

Rakeem Christmas Postgame: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUYgQz2lw3A

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

Jerami Grant Postgame: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d66EBUsq7UA

 

 

Orange Sports in Pictures – Volleyball

February 7, 2014

Newhouse Sports Media Center’s Michael Silver has been shooting still photos of SU competition all this school year for Citrus TV Sports. Now he has put together slide shows of the competitions. The first is from SU’s Volleyball win over Rutgers.   http://sce2014.blogspot.com/2014/02/syracuse-volleyball-vs-rutgers-photos.html        

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Newhouse Sports Media Center’s Michael Silver has been shooting still photos of SU competition all this school year for Citrus TV Sports. Now he has put together slide shows of the competitions.

The first is from SU’s Volleyball win over Rutgers.

 

http://sce2014.blogspot.com/2014/02/syracuse-volleyball-vs-rutgers-photos.html

 

 

 

 

SU’s Hard-nosed Coach on his New Recruits

February 7, 2014

  By Pete Sweeney SYRACUSE, NY (Newhouse Sports Media Center)—  Syracuse Head Football Coach Scott Shafer held a news conference on Wednesday to announce and discuss the National Letter of Intent Class for 2014. Judging by his opening remarks on a day SU shut down classes early because of a snowstorm, Shafer is hoping his players […]

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By Pete Sweeney SYRACUSE, NY (Newhouse Sports Media Center)—  Syracuse Head Football Coach Scott Shafer held a news conference on Wednesday to announce and discuss the National Letter of Intent Class for 2014. Judging by his opening remarks on a day SU shut down classes early because of a snowstorm, Shafer is hoping his players are at least as tough as the reporters covering the team.

Event Video

The Class

  • QB: Alin Edouard (Miami, FL)
  • WR: Jamal Custis (Philadelphia, PA), Adly Enoicy (Delray Beach, FL), Steve Ishmael (Miami, FL) and KJ Williams (Bethlehem, PA)
  • RB: Ervin Philips (West Haven, CT)
  • OL: Aaron Roberts (Chicago, IL) and Denzel Ward (Chicago, IL)
  • DL: Jalen Harvey (Birmingham, AL), Kayton Samuels (Ellenwood, GA) and Chris Slayton (University Park, IL)
  • LB: Parris Bennett (Detroit, MI), Zaire Franklin (Philadelphia, PA), Colton Moskal (Lake Zurich, IL) and Jonathan Thomas (Lawrenceville, GA)
  • DB: Antwan Cordy (Homestead, FL), Lamar Dawson (Chicago, IL), Juwan Dowels (Sunrise, FL), Naesean Howard (Syracuse, NY), Cordell Hudson (Largo, FL), Treevon Prater (East St. Louis, IL) and Rodney Williams (Cherry Hill, NJ)

January enrollees

  • QB: AJ Long (Lebanon, TN)
  • WR: Corey Cooper (Raleigh, NC)
  • DT: Wayne Williams (Brooklyn, NY)

 

At the news conference, Shafer said that when he and his team of coaches recruited players for this season, their focus was to find young men of character and creating balance at positions across the board. After his initial statement, the press conference opened for questions about personnel decisions, but the common theme was “we’ll have to wait and see” until these players finally get to the football field.

Shafer also said that we will truly know this the class of 2014’s impact in three years.

Orange Women Wallop Hokies, Get 100th Dome Win

February 7, 2014

Story, photo and videos by Max Berkowitz It was a special night at the Carrier Dome. The Orange women donned pink uniforms with white lettering and pink sneakers for the “play4kay” foundation  which honors the former Stanford coach Kay Yow who was lost to breast cancer. It was also the first time the Syracuse women’s basketball […]

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Story, photo and videos by Max Berkowitz

It was a special night at the Carrier Dome. The Orange women donned pink uniforms with white lettering and pink sneakers for the “play4kay” foundation  which honors the former Stanford coach Kay Yow who was lost to breast cancer.

It was also the first time the Syracuse women’s basketball team faced off against the Virginia Tech Hokies since 2004, when they were Big East foes. 

Syracuse (16-6, 5-4 ACC) came into this game after a beating by #8 Maryland 89-64 at home on Sunday, and Virginia Tech ( 11-10, 1-7 ACC) had just snapped an eight game losing streak by getting past Boston College in overtime.

The Orange made it look easy on this night, taking the Hokies 73-48. It was largely due to brilliant play by Brittney Sykes who scored a career high 31 points.

 

First Half:  Hokies get psyched by Sykes

Both teams started the game off with some sloppy play. But, the Orange soon ran away with the game literally and figuratively.

“We wanted to … get out in transition, up and down the floor, and get easy baskets,” SU Coach Quentin Hillsman said after the game.

Point Guard Rachel Coffey kept feeding the ball to Sykes. When Sykes had the ball on the run, she could not be stopped. She began the game with 12 points in the first seven minutes of play.

The Orange led at the half 43-22.

Sykes’ 21 points in the first half were the most in a half by an SU player since Nicole Michaels scored 26 in 2009 against Binghamton. 

While Hillsman was impressed with Sykes play on the offensive end he didn’t love her entire game.

“I told her at halftime that she blew two (defensive) assignments, and after a timeout I told her I had to get her out of the game,” he said.

Sykes said she didn’t even know she had 21 points at the half.

“The only thing I was worried about was carrying that energy into the second half,” she said.

 

Second half: Orange keeps rolling

Syracuse started exactly where it left off in the first half – dominating. Briana Day used her 6’4″ frame to her advantage. Anyone who dared to go inside the paint would be stopped by Day. She finished with 12 rebounds and a career-best six blocks.

Sykes didn’t score her first point of the second half until the 14 minute mark. Hillsman took  her out of the game with five minutes to go after she scored her 31st point.

“She is phenomenal, she is very, very good obviously,” Hillsman said. “Attacking the rim, getting in the paint, she was really hard tonight.”

With the win, the Syracuse Women’s basketball team surpassed a milestone, winning for the 100th time in the Carrier Dome.

 

Next Matchup

The Orange plays at #2 Notre Dame on Sunday, Feb. 9th 2014 at 7pm.

 

Coach Hillsman news conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkNrMiZlcrw&feature=youtu.be

Players’ news conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZL74tB3umI&feature=youtu.be

Cooney Leads Orange Over Fighting Irish

February 4, 2014

No. 1 SU stays unbeaten at 22-0 Story and photos by Ethan Joyce  Four minutes into Syracuse’s game against Notre Dame, Trevor Cooney rose for a jumper. Orange fans slung three fingers to the sky, holding their breath as the ball flew through the air. But when his first shot clanged off the rim, 25,000 […]

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No. 1 SU stays unbeaten at 22-0

Story and photos by Ethan Joyce 

Four minutes into Syracuse’s game against Notre Dame, Trevor Cooney rose for a jumper. Orange fans slung three fingers to the sky, holding their breath as the ball flew through the air. But when his first shot clanged off the rim, 25,000 pairs of hands dropped in disappointment.

Cooney didn’t disappoint fans for long though. He hit his next one. And the one after, spearheading a 13-0 run for the Orange with five minutes to go in the half. Cooney went on to score a personal best 33 points in 61-55 win for the Orange.

 The output was a personal best that came from a career-high nine 3-pointers, which tied the school record for 3’s in a game.

Cooney said Coach Jim Boeheim had only one message for his hot shooter: Do it again.

“He just said keep going,” Cooney said after the game. “He just saw how they were playing me, and he said to keep shooting.”

In its debut as the No. 1 team in the nation, the Orange needed it. Other than Cooney, no other Syracuse basketball player scored over ten points, which irked Boeheim.

“Fortunately, Trevor must have gotten the message early that they [his teammates] were not going to play well,” Boeheim said. “I thought that the players did a good job getting him open, and I thought he made some good moves . . . with the dribble.”

Boeheim noted that both Notre Dame and Syracuse had trouble scoring. Even with Cooney’s hot hand, the Orange shot only 44 percent from the field in the first half. Luckily for SU, Notre Dame performed worse, scoring just eight points in the first, while shooting only 30 percent.

Boeheim said that even though Notre Dame is not a strong defensive team, his team couldn’t take advantage and failed to ever find an offensive rhythm.

“It was just one of those games where we were not sharp at all,” Boeheim said. “It is a completely different game [than the one against Duke]. We could drive against Duke, but you can’t drive against this team.”

Notre Dame outrebounded the Orange, 33-29, with Garrick Sherman and Pat Connaughton grabbing eight rebounds apiece. They also clogged the lane on defense, pestering Cuse’s starting frontline (Grant, Fair and Christmas) to shoot 26 percent from the field.

C.J. Fair struggled the most, scoring six points on a 2-for-13 shooting effort. After scoring 28 points against Duke on Saturday, Fair said  Cooney’s effort is the only thing that saved Syracuse from a loss. That said, Fair knows that he must play better for the team to continue to succeed.

“It was tough to get going, because I wanted to make the jump shots I am normally making,” Fair said. “They (Notre Dame) were daring me to shoot it and they wouldn’t let me drive. Once you aren’t making jumpers, it is hard to do anything else but pass it back off.”

Now with almost a week off, Boeheim is glad that his team can get some rest after playing four games in ten days. However, a win like that has helped prove his team’s mettle, and kept its 22-game win streak alive.

“You have got to find a way to win these games,” Boeheim said. “It is always tough playing four games in ten days, but we got through it. We will be able to get a couple days of rest in, and I think that will be good for us.”

Syracuse’s next game will be at home on Sunday, Feb. 9, at 6 p.m. against Clemson.

Video:

Coach Boeheim News Conference:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fhr1JrYxStQ

 

Box Score, quotes, more from suathletics.com:

http://cuse.com/news/2014/2/3/MBB_UND020314.aspx#.UvDg3ct3u70

 

 

Terps Stop SU Women’s Streak

February 2, 2014

Story by Jennifer Ready Photo and videos by Rilwan Ameen Coming off a big ACC road win against the #6 North Carolina Tar Heels last week, the Syracuse Women’s Basketball team returned to the Carrier Dome looking to keep it going against #8 Maryland (17-4, 5-3 ACC) Sunday afternoon. Instead, the Terrapins snapped the Orange’s […]

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Story by Jennifer Ready

Photo and videos by Rilwan Ameen

Coming off a big ACC road win against the #6 North Carolina Tar Heels last week, the Syracuse Women’s Basketball team returned to the Carrier Dome looking to keep it going against #8 Maryland (17-4, 5-3 ACC) Sunday afternoon. Instead, the Terrapins snapped the Orange’s four-game winning streak in an 89-64 romp.

The win gave Maryland a sweep of the home-and-home series with SU, having won the first game 77-62 just over two weeks ago in College Park.

Early lead for the Orange

Syracuse (16-6, 5-4 ACC) took an 8-4 lead over the Terrapins early in the game, giving the Orange fans among the crowd of 1,312 hope they were going to see the Orange defeat another top ranked team.

But after three straight losses, Maryland Freshmen Lexie Brown and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough dashed that hope quickly, leading the Terrapins to outscore the Orange 42-21 in the rest of the half for a 46-29 advantage.

“You’re not going to beat a team when they shoot 69 percent from the field and you shoot in the thirties,” SU Coach Quentin Hillsman said after the game.”You have to come out ready to play a team whose a very good team. They’re in a losing streak so they knew how important it was to get this game to stay in contention in the ACC.”

Brown led the Terrapins with 31 points against the Orange, hitting seven of her eight shots from the outside including four in the second half.

Shatori Walker-Kimborough and Alyssa Thomas also had contributing roles in the Terrapin win, Walker-Kimborough put up 17 points and seven rebounds while Thomas added a double-double with 11 points and 11 boards.

Time to Adjust

Wiith a 17-point deficit at halftime, the Orange changed defensive strategy early in the second half, implementing a full-court press on the Terrapins. The press led to two steals by Taylor Ford and Brittney Sykes, who scored six points in the Orange 8-0 run early in the second half.

Sophomore guard Brittany Sykes, scoring 22 points against Maryland today, banked 15 of those 22 points in the second half trying to help her team get back in the game.

“After I realized that they weren’t really getting back in transition, that was leading me to the basket,” Sykes said.” Getting passes from Brianna Butler and Cornelia Fondren and them giving up the ball…led to easy layups to get back in the game and transition so I knew that was going to be a big part of the game.”

Brianna Butler who scored her career high 22 points, against the Tar Heels last week was unable to duplicate the effort, only putting up nine points, shooting 4-20 from the field.

“They were definitely playing a lot more aggressive and more outside the 3-point line so it created a lot more of an opportunity to drive, but I just wasn’t about to connect today,” said Butler after the game, explaining her ability to get to the hoop.

ACC Play

Despite the loss, the Orange is still in the top half of the ACC standings which feature six teams in the top twenty-five (#2 Notre Dame, #3 Duke, #6 Maryland, #9 North Carolina, #18 Florida State, #21 NC State) and four teams in the top ten (#2 Notre Dame, #3 Duke, #6 Maryland, and #9 North Carolina).

The experience and opportunity to face these teams has been a benefit for the Orange in their inaugural season in the ACC, Butler said.

“Playing these teams, it preps you and it makes you realize that your playing against great competition and you’ll probably see them in the NCAA tournament so you won’t be blindsided by the competition. You know there is greater competition out there but to play against some of the best teams in the ACC really does prepare you.”

 

Next Up

The Orange will host Virginia Tech on Thursday, February 6 at 7p.m at the Carrier Dome.

Video Report: http://youtu.be/8WkcTi7nLrc

Maryland Post-game Interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFWfbf07NBU&feature=youtu.be

Syracuse Head Coach Quentin Hillsman News Conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snNH2bUvGxM&feature=youtu.be

Syracuse Players News Conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNBBNUQCVhM&feature=youtu.be

 

 

 

 

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.”