Student Reporting Archive

The Buffalo Bills Experience

October 25, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Let’s go Buffalo! This simple yet effective catch phrase roars through Ralph Wilson Stadium as 74,000 fans cheer for their hometown Bills. While the Giants and Jets fill up the back pages of sports sections, they technically play in New Jersey. Thus, I find myself in New York’s lone professional football […]

Read Article »

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Let’s go Buffalo! This simple yet effective catch phrase roars through Ralph Wilson Stadium as 74,000 fans cheer for their hometown Bills. While the Giants and Jets fill up the back pages of sports sections, they technically play in New Jersey. Thus, I find myself in New York’s lone professional football Mecca and it felt like I landed on a different planet.

How did I get here to begin with? It started with a conversation among friends during Newhouse summer boot camp. We looked at the schedule and circled October 13th, 2013 versus the Cincinnati Bengals. A two-hour drive west on I-90 took us from Syracuse to Buffalo on Saturday night. Luckily, a fellow classmate lives here and was gracious enough to be our guide and host for the weekend.

What is the first thing you think of when hearing Buffalo? Wings naturally.

“You have to get authentic Buffalo wings as soon as we get there,” our friend proclaimed.

Everyone says to check out Duff’s, and by many accounts Anchor Bar is where Buffalo Wings were invented, but if you want an old school, country western vibe, locals say Sportsmen’s Tavern is the place to be. Located in Black Rock, this two-story pub and music venue is a staple of the community, where twenty-something-year-old hipsters and war veterans share bar stools and stories till 4 a.m.

I ordered a basket of ten spicy wings that were cooked to perfection, falling off the bone, and we drank Rusty Chain, an amber brewed by local favorites Flying Bison. The house band played Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, and Elvis Costello covers, with the addition of a great slide guitar player. Everyone welcomed us in like family. The bartender told me a story about rebuilding a 1967 Fastback Mustang Mach 1 over the summer, and a sauced up football fan chewed my ear off about this rookie quarterback starting the next day. Our group stayed up late playing pool and mingling with the locals, knowing we had a long day ahead of ourselves.

Sunday is a day of rest, but also a time for great football. Waking up early and heading to the stadium for a 1 p.m. kickoff sent chills down this sports junkie’s spine. This would be my first time seeing a live professional football game. Growing up in Southern California, the ‘hometown’ team is the San Diego Chargers. A modest 90-minute drive down the 5 South could take me there, but I’m not a Bolts fan and never made the trek.

The first thing you notice driving towards the stadium parking lot are nearby residents selling spaces on their driveways and front lawns for $10 to $20. An extra five dollars will get you a parking spot inside Tailgate USA, in Orchard Park, the Buffalo suburb where Ralph Wilson Stadium is located. The lot is a 360 degree concrete jungle surrounding the stadium, which has been home to the Bills and their fans since 1973.

Buffalo fans are notorious for their pre-game activities and our rowdy bunch was ready to join the party. Charcoal and propane grills lined the asphalt, with the smell of hot dogs, hamburgers and bratwursts sizzling behind every car, pickup truck and minivan. Coolers stocked with Bud Light, Coors Light and Natty Ice were popular choices along with camping chairs propped up by 9 a.m.  Families were playing backyard games such as corn hole and tossing around the pigskin. Tailgating is serious business around these parts.

Then you become aware of Zubas, everywhere. A fashion trend consisting of red, white, and blue oversized stripped pants, matching their team’s colors. A craze started in the 1980’s that quickly escaped most of America, except here. Men, women, and children of all ages wear these obscenely bright pants with pride, along with throwback Jim Kelly jerseys and sing the team fight song.

As for the game itself, the rookie quarterback, Thad Lewis, started for the Bills and gave them a brief lead early on. Not long after, a couple thousand Bengals fans, in the right end zone were noticeably vocal. Wearing matching striped tiger prints, they took over as their team stormed back to what seemed like a comfortable lead.

Suddenly some football magic happened. An offensive explosion broke out on this overcast afternoon. A deep pass with under a minute to play tied the game up and forced overtime to the delight of many. A few minutes later, however, the road team won on an anticlimactic field goal.

This was my first NFL experience and it took part in the least likely of places. Time slows down on Sunday afternoons, where friends and family come together and all that really matters is Bills football. Buffalo, New York, I salute you.

The Buffalo Bills Experience

October 25, 2013

Story and Photos by Michael Silver Let’s go Buffalo! This simple yet effective catch phrase roars through Ralph Wilson Stadium as 74,000 fans cheer for their hometown Bills. While the Giants and Jets fill up the back pages of sports sections, they technically play in New Jersey. Thus, I find myself in New York’s lone […]

Read Article »

Story and Photos by Michael Silver

Let’s go Buffalo! This simple yet effective catch phrase roars through Ralph Wilson Stadium as 74,000 fans cheer for their hometown Bills. While the Giants and Jets fill up the back pages of sports sections, they technically play in New Jersey. Thus, I find myself in New York’s lone professional football Mecca and it felt like I landed on a different planet.

How did I get here to begin with? It started with a conversation among friends during Newhouse summer boot camp. We looked at the schedule and circled October 13th, 2013 versus the Cincinnati Bengals. A two-hour drive west on I-90 took us from Syracuse to Buffalo on Saturday night. Luckily, a fellow classmate lives here and was gracious enough to be our guide and host for the weekend.

What is the first thing you think of when hearing Buffalo? Wings naturally.

“You have to get authentic Buffalo wings as soon as we get there,” our friend proclaimed.

Everyone says to check out Duff’s, and by many accounts Anchor Bar is where Buffalo Wings were invented, but if you want an old school, country western vibe, locals say Sportsmen’s Tavern is the place to be. Located in Black Rock, this two-story pub and music venue is a staple of the community, where twenty-something-year-old hipsters and war veterans share bar stools and stories till 4 a.m.

I ordered a basket of ten spicy wings that were cooked to perfection, falling off the bone, and we drank Rusty Chain, an amber brewed by local favorites Flying Bison. The house band played Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, and Elvis Costello covers, with the addition of a great slide guitar player. Everyone welcomed us in like family. The bartender told me a story about rebuilding a 1967 Fastback Mustang Mach 1 over the summer, and a sauced up football fan chewed my ear off about this rookie quarterback starting the next day. Our group stayed up late playing pool and mingling with the locals, knowing we had a long day ahead of ourselves.

Sunday is a day of rest, but also a time for great football. Waking up early and heading to the stadium for a 1 p.m. kickoff sent chills down this sports junkie’s spine. This would be my first time seeing a live professional football game. Growing up in Southern California, the ‘hometown’ team is the San Diego Chargers. A modest 90-minute drive down the 5 South could take me there, but I’m not a Bolts fan and never made the trek.

The first thing you notice driving towards the stadium parking lot are nearby residents selling spaces on their driveways and front lawns for $10 to $20. An extra five dollars will get you a parking spot inside Tailgate USA, in Orchard Park, the Buffalo suburb where Ralph Wilson Stadium is located. The lot is a 360 degree concrete jungle surrounding the stadium, which has been home to the Bills and their fans since 1973.

Buffalo fans are notorious for their pre-game activities and our rowdy bunch was ready to join the party. Charcoal and propane grills lined the asphalt, with the smell of hot dogs, hamburgers and bratwursts sizzling behind every car, pickup truck and minivan. Coolers stocked with Bud Light, Coors Light and Natty Ice were popular choices along with camping chairs propped up by 9 a.m.  Families were playing backyard games such as corn hole and tossing around the pigskin. Tailgating is serious business around these parts.

Then you become aware of Zubas, everywhere. A fashion trend consisting of red, white, and blue oversized stripped pants, matching their team’s colors. A craze started in the 1980’s that quickly escaped most of America, except here. Men, women, and children of all ages wear these obscenely bright pants with pride, along with throwback Jim Kelly jerseys and sing the team fight song.

As for the game itself, the rookie quarterback, Thad Lewis, started for the Bills and gave them a brief lead early on. Not long after, a couple thousand Bengals fans, in the right end zone were noticeably vocal. Wearing matching striped tiger prints, they took over as their team stormed back to what seemed like a comfortable lead.

Suddenly some football magic happened. An offensive explosion broke out on this overcast afternoon. A deep pass with under a minute to play tied the game up and forced overtime to the delight of many. A few minutes later, however, the road team won on an anticlimactic field goal.

This was my first NFL experience and it took part in the least likely of places. Time slows down on Sunday afternoons, where friends and family come together and all that really matters is Bills football. Buffalo, New York, I salute you.

Orange Lacrosse Aims for a Championship

October 23, 2013

Only four weeks into practice, each player on the Syracuse University Men’s Lacrosse team, has his mind fixated on winning the 2014 championship. “We don’t really care who’s starting as long as we get that championship,” Junior goalie Dominic Lamolinara said. That was the sentiment from most players and Coach Desko on Media Day. How […]

Read Article »

Only four weeks into practice, each player on the Syracuse University Men’s Lacrosse team, has his mind fixated on winning the 2014 championship.

“We don’t really care who’s starting as long as we get that championship,” Junior goalie Dominic Lamolinara said.

That was the sentiment from most players and Coach Desko on Media Day.

How is this year going to be different?

“I think the glaring one [issue last year] was face-offs,” Desko said, echoing what most anyone who watched the team in the 2013 NCAA title match. “I thought everything else went well, in all aspects of the game. I thought we were efficient. We came out on top are most of our [games]. We had ten one-goal games last year.”

Desko said the strategy this year is simple – work on face-offs. “[We’ve] done more face-offs this year already, then we’ve probably did all of last year.”

Old players out/ new ones in

With players including Brian Megill, JoJo Marasco, and Luke Cometti gone, the team has big gaps to fill. Lamolinara said Megill was like another coach on the field, and with Megill gone he will have to step up, “and pick up the slack.”
Coach Desko said he is tackling the challenge of bringing in a bunch of younger players.

“Younger players don’t know the system yet,” he said and most of fall practice will be an opportunity for them to get familiar with it, possibly solidifying a spot for them in the spring.

Orange Lacrosse Aims for a Championship

October 23, 2013

Players and coach talk about how they’re preparing to make it happen By Alicia Nieves (SYRACUSE, N.Y.) – Only four weeks into practice, each player on the Syracuse University Men’s Lacrosse team, has his mind fixated on winning the 2014 championship. “We don’t really care who’s starting as long as we get that championship,” Junior […]

Read Article »

Players and coach talk about how they’re preparing to make it happen

By Alicia Nieves (SYRACUSE, N.Y.) – Only four weeks into practice, each player on the Syracuse University Men’s Lacrosse team, has his mind fixated on winning the 2014 championship.
“We don’t really care who’s starting as long as we get that championship,” Junior goalie, Dominic Lamolinara, said. That was the sentiment from most players and Coach Desko on Media Day.

How is this year going to be different?

“I think the glaring one [issue last year] was face-offs,” Desko said, echoing what most anyone who watched the team in the 2013 NCAA title match. “I thought everything else went well, in all aspects of the game. I thought we were efficient. We came out on top are most of our [games]. We had ten one-goal games last year.”
Desko said the strategy this year is simple – work on face-offs. “[We’ve] done more face-offs this year already, then we’ve probably did all of last year.”

Old players out/ new ones in

With players including Brian Megill, JoJo Marasco, and Luke Cometti gone, the team has big gaps to fill. Lamolinara said Megill was like another coach on the field, and with Megill gone he will have to step up, “and pick up the slack.”
Coach Desko said he is tackling the challenge of bringing in a bunch of younger players. “Younger players don’t know the system yet,” he said and most of fall practice will be an opportunity for them to get familiar with it, possibly solidifying a spot for them in the spring.

Watch more of the story here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiJpjY3dcRg#t=18

SU Runner Nick Ryan: How High is Your Up?

October 21, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — That was the mantra. That was the question his high school coach always posed to Nick Ryan. Some might call it cliché, or coachspeak, because it’s one of those questions to which you never really know the answer. But the Syracuse University freshman cross country/track runner plans on doing his best […]

Read Article »

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  That was the mantra. That was the question his high school coach always posed to Nick Ryan. Some might call it cliché, or coachspeak, because it’s one of those questions to which you never really know the answer. But the Syracuse University freshman cross country/track runner plans on doing his best to discover. One of the most highly touted high school runners in the nation last year, Ryan’s combination of talent, athleticism and heart might make finding out the answer his longest, toughest hill to climb yet.
Ryan is a hometown kid, graduating from local running powerhouse Fayetteville-Manlius last year. His elite status on the national running scene made him a hot commodity in recruiting circles. He considered offers from Michigan, Virginia and Wisconsin. In the end he chose Syracuse.

“I looked at Syracuse because I knew they were really good, but at first I wanted to get out of state,” he said. “After going on all my other visits and meeting the different coaches, I realized this really was the best team that I could be a part of.”

He was not a running prodigy right out of the gate though.

“My sixth grade teacher suggested I should do it, basically because I had a lot of energy in class and I was kind of obnoxious,” Ryan said, laughing. He remembers showing up on the varsity team as a freshman and chasing after standout senior, Alex Hatz at the time. “He was kind of the older kid that was really, really good at running that I wanted to be as fast as someday.”

The prestigious running program at F-M is headed by legendary coach Bill Aris, perhaps best known for his success with the girls’ team in recent years, where he has led them to seven consecutive national championships. Up until his sophomore season, Ryan was a good, but not yet great runner. They were preparing for the Nike Cross Nationals meet in Portland, Ore. when his coach pulled him aside.

“I suggested to him this,” Aris said. “You’ll have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by just going out, and running like hell, and taking a shot at it, and dealing with the pain and finding out just how good you can be.”

The result of that race was F-M placing runner up in the nation when no one expected them to make it close to the podium that year. Ryan placed 28th overall in what is high school cross country’s equivalent of a national championship, and third on his team behind two seniors.

“After that, that created really a breakthrough for him where he saw the world in a whole different perspective,” Aris said. Ryan hasn’t looked back.

He was named Gatorade State Cross Country Runner of the Year for New York by the time he was a junior, an honor he would repeat his senior year. He ran a Section III record-breaking 4:05 1600 meter (mile) race his junior year to capture the state crown, along with a laundry list of other championships and record setting performances.

Even with so much success, Ryan finds it uncomfortable to talk about himself. Asked if his name deserves to be mentioned in the pantheon of F-M distance greats, he fidgets nervously.

“I mean, I think. I don’t…” Ryan starts to trail off. “Yeah I think so. I hold school records, I like to think I’m up there.”

He lets out a slightly nervous laugh.

Jack Reed, a retired teacher who coaches at nearby Skaneateles High School has coached for more than 30 years and won several championships. He holds a 15-year unbeaten dual meet streak (93 straight) and coached many athletes who have gone on to great success, such as Olympian Jonathon Riley (Athens).

“He’s a blue-chip for sure. Every time I’ve seen him compete he looks totally in control,” Reed said. “His mechanics are fluid he looks relaxed. I have to believe he can still go a lot deeper in the well.”

Standing slightly more than six feet and weighing a lean 165 pounds, Ryan’s body type is not that of the stereotypical, thin and wispy distance runner.

“He’s kind of a throwback to me,” Reed said. “His body is similar to the old milers like a Peter Snell; bigger, dense, thunderous thighs. He’s a kid that stands out on the [starting] line.”

Ryan got started early by enrolling in Syracuse’s Summer Start program. It gave him a chance to move into the dorms, take a couple of classes and grow somewhat acclimated to college life before the fall semester started. It also let him get a jump-start training with some teammates.

“I’m just trying to put in all the work I can possibly do to be as good as I can,” he said. “If I can make the top 10 or top 7 that would be really cool, but with all the really good guys on this team it’s tough to gauge.”

Coaches Aris and Reed both agree the sky is limit for Ryan if he stays healthy and dedicated to running. Winning national championships, getting sponsored after school and even the Olympics could all be possible for a runner of Ryan’s magnitude.

As a blue-chip prospect, there is a certain level of pressure on Syracuse head coach Chris Fox.

“Blue-chippers are a big responsibility to the coaching staff,” Reed said. “You got him in house, now how do you improve him. Word gets out. If you got a blue-chipper and he doesn’t, that might keep you from landing the next.”

Both coaches agree he is in good hands at Syracuse and expect to see big things out of Ryan in his junior and senior years and possibly beyond.
No one will predict just how high Nick Ryan’s up is. The consensus is the ceiling is too high to see right now, and that’s kind of the way Ryan likes it.

“Running is one of the most straightforward sports you can have,” he said. “You either do the work or don’t do the work and there’s not really a whole lot of messing around.”

SU Runner Nick Ryan: How High is Your Up?

October 21, 2013

Photo Credit: armorytrack.com By: Donato DiRenzo How high is your up? That was the mantra. That was the question his high school coach always posed to Nick Ryan. Some might call it cliché, or coachspeak, because it’s one of those questions to which you never really know the answer. But the Syracuse University freshman cross […]

Read Article »

Photo Credit: armorytrack.com

By: Donato DiRenzo

How high is your up?

That was the mantra. That was the question his high school coach always posed to Nick Ryan. Some might call it cliché, or coachspeak, because it’s one of those questions to which you never really know the answer. But the Syracuse University freshman cross country/track runner plans on doing his best to discover. One of the most highly touted high school runners in the nation last year, Ryan’s combination of talent, athleticism and heart might make finding out the answer his longest, toughest hill to climb yet.
Ryan is a hometown kid, graduating from local running powerhouse Fayetteville-Manlius last year. His elite status on the national running scene made him a hot commodity in recruiting circles. He considered offers from Michigan, Virginia and Wisconsin. In the end he chose Syracuse.

“I looked at Syracuse because I knew they were really good, but at first I wanted to get out of state,” he said. “After going on all my other visits and meeting the different coaches, I realized this really was the best team that I could be a part of.”

He was not a running prodigy right out of the gate though.

“My sixth grade teacher suggested I should do it, basically because I had a lot of energy in class and I was kind of obnoxious,” Ryan said, laughing. He remembers showing up on the varsity team as a freshman and chasing after standout senior, Alex Hatz at the time. “He was kind of the older kid that was really, really good at running that I wanted to be as fast as someday.”

The prestigious running program at F-M is headed by legendary coach Bill Aris, perhaps best known for his success with the girls’ team in recent years, where he has led them to seven consecutive national championships. Up until his sophomore season, Ryan was a good, but not yet great runner. They were preparing for the Nike Cross Nationals meet in Portland, Ore. when his coach pulled him aside.

“I suggested to him this,” Aris said. “You’ll have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by just going out, and running like hell, and taking a shot at it, and dealing with the pain and finding out just how good you can be.”

The result of that race was F-M placing runner up in the nation when no one expected them to make it close to the podium that year. Ryan placed 28th overall in what is high school cross country’s equivalent of a national championship, and third on his team behind two seniors.

“After that, that created really a breakthrough for him where he saw the world in a whole different perspective,” Aris said. Ryan hasn’t looked back.

He was named Gatorade State Cross Country Runner of the Year for New York by the time he was a junior, an honor he would repeat his senior year. He ran a Section III record-breaking 4:05 1600 meter (mile) race his junior year to capture the state crown, along with a laundry list of other championships and record setting performances.

Even with so much success, Ryan finds it uncomfortable to talk about himself. Asked if his name deserves to be mentioned in the pantheon of F-M distance greats, he fidgets nervously.

“I mean, I think. I don’t…” Ryan starts to trail off. “Yeah I think so. I hold school records, I like to think I’m up there.”

He lets out a slightly nervous laugh.

Jack Reed, a retired teacher who coaches at nearby Skaneateles High School has coached for more than 30 years and won several championships. He holds a 15-year unbeaten dual meet streak (93 straight) and coached many athletes who have gone on to great success, such as Olympian Jonathon Riley (Athens).

“He’s a blue-chip for sure. Every time I’ve seen him compete he looks totally in control,” Reed said. “His mechanics are fluid he looks relaxed. I have to believe he can still go a lot deeper in the well.”

Standing slightly more than six feet and weighing a lean 165 pounds, Ryan’s body type is not that of the stereotypical, thin and wispy distance runner.

“He’s kind of a throwback to me,” Reed said. “His body is similar to the old milers like a Peter Snell; bigger, dense, thunderous thighs. He’s a kid that stands out on the [starting] line.”

Ryan got started early by enrolling in Syracuse’s Summer Start program. It gave him a chance to move into the dorms, take a couple of classes and grow somewhat acclimated to college life before the fall semester started. It also let him get a jump-start training with some teammates.

“I’m just trying to put in all the work I can possibly do to be as good as I can,” he said. “If I can make the top 10 or top 7 that would be really cool, but with all the really good guys on this team it’s tough to gauge.”

Coaches Aris and Reed both agree the sky is limit for Ryan if he stays healthy and dedicated to running. Winning national championships, getting sponsored after school and even the Olympics could all be possible for a runner of Ryan’s magnitude.

As a blue-chip prospect, there is a certain level of pressure on Syracuse head coach Chris Fox.

“Blue-chippers are a big responsibility to the coaching staff,” Reed said. “You got him in house, now how do you improve him. Word gets out. If you got a blue-chipper and he doesn’t, that might keep you from landing the next.”

Both coaches agree he is in good hands at Syracuse and expect to see big things out of Ryan in his junior and senior years and possibly beyond.
No one will predict just how high Nick Ryan’s up is. The consensus is the ceiling is too high to see right now, and that’s kind of the way Ryan likes it.

“Running is one of the most straightforward sports you can have,” he said. “You either do the work or don’t do the work and there’s not really a whole lot of messing around or bsing.”

Syracuse Basketball Media Day

October 19, 2013

Story and Photo By Michael Silver SYRACUSE, NY — The 2013-14 Orange Men’s and Women’s basketball teams took part in media day on Friday at the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center. Men’s head coach Jim Boeheim addressed the media for 15 minutes and discussed his new roster; a balanced class that includes four seniors, two […]

Read Article »

Story and Photo By Michael Silver
SYRACUSE, NY — The 2013-14 Orange Men’s and Women’s basketball teams took part in media day on Friday at the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.

Men’s head coach Jim Boeheim addressed the media for 15 minutes and discussed his new roster; a balanced class that includes four seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and five freshmen.

Talk of the new ACC schedule was prevalent and Boeheim seemed well prepared.

“We’re going from a very tough conference to another very tough conference, so there’s no difference for us as far as league play is concerned,” Boeheim said.
When asked about the departure of Michael Carter-Williams to the NBA and new starting point guard Tyler Ennis, the Orange head coach was confident with his young ball handler.

“Tyler is a very steady player, he knows what he is doing all the time. He plays a lot like a veteran point guard, which is very impressive coming in as a freshman. He has an excellent skill set. He has the ability to be explosive and make plays, but he also can run the team efficiently and make good decisions in the half court. I think he’s as well prepared as any freshman point guard we’ve had here.”

Once the presser concluded the team broke out for individual interviews and the official team photograph.
Earlier in the day, the Orange women’s basketball team held its media session. Head coach Quentin Hillsman spoke to reporters and touched on the new season and challenges that lie ahead in the ACC.

“One thing about our roster is that we are very deep,” Hillsman said. “The last couple years, that has been out strong point, that we have been able to play nine, 10 players double figure minutes. This year, I think we’ll need 11 or 12 to really step up and play big for us.”
The men’s team begins exhibition play Friday, November 1, at 7 p.m. versus Holy Family at the Carrier Dome. The women’s first home game tips off Thursday, November 14, at 7 p.m. versus Dartmouth.

Syracuse Basketball Media Day

October 19, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — The 2013-14 Orange Men’s and Women’s basketball teams took part in media day on Friday at the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center. Men’s head coach Jim Boeheim addressed the media for 15 minutes and discussed his new roster; a balanced class that includes four seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and five […]

Read Article »

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  The 2013-14 Orange Men’s and Women’s basketball teams took part in media day on Friday at the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.

Men’s head coach Jim Boeheim addressed the media for 15 minutes and discussed his new roster; a balanced class that includes four seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and five freshmen.

Talk of the new ACC schedule was prevalent and Boeheim seemed well prepared.

“We’re going from a very tough conference to another very tough conference, so there’s no difference for us as far as league play is concerned,” Boeheim said.
When asked about the departure of Michael Carter-Williams to the NBA and new starting point guard Tyler Ennis, the Orange head coach was confident with his young ball handler.

“Tyler is a very steady player, he knows what he is doing all the time. He plays a lot like a veteran point guard, which is very impressive coming in as a freshman. He has an excellent skill set. He has the ability to be explosive and make plays, but he also can run the team efficiently and make good decisions in the half court. I think he’s as well prepared as any freshman point guard we’ve had here.”

Once the presser concluded the team broke out for individual interviews and the official team photograph.
Earlier in the day, the Orange women’s basketball team held its media session. Head coach Quentin Hillsman spoke to reporters and touched on the new season and challenges that lie ahead in the ACC.

“One thing about our roster is that we are very deep,” Hillsman said. “The last couple years, that has been out strong point, that we have been able to play nine, 10 players double figure minutes. This year, I think we’ll need 11 or 12 to really step up and play big for us.”

The men’s team begins exhibition play Friday, November 1, at 7 p.m. versus Holy Family at the Carrier Dome. The women’s first home game tips off Thursday, November 14, at 7 p.m. versus Dartmouth.

A Rough Patch of Ice for Orange’s Hockey Team

October 17, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — The Orange women’s hockey team is heading to Providence, RI this weekend, looking to end a three game losing streak and get back to a winning formula in the College Hockey America (CHA) conference. Last weekend Syracuse played a home-and-home series versus upstate New York rival Clarkson to begin conference play. […]

Read Article »

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  The Orange women’s hockey team is heading to Providence, RI this weekend, looking to end a three game losing streak and get back to a winning formula in the College Hockey America (CHA) conference.

Last weekend Syracuse played a home-and-home series versus upstate New York rival Clarkson to begin conference play. On the road at Cheel Arena, the women’s team were shut out 4-0. Being out shot 36 to 26, and gave up two back-breaking goals in the final period. The Golden Knights are now 5-0-0 and the Orange are 1-3-0.

One night earlier and 145 miles south on I-81, the teams faced off at Tennity Ice Pavilion for the Orange’s home opener. Led by senior goaltender Kallie Billadeau, the women’s squad played an inspiring, fast-paced game. The Golden Knights came in ranked as the No. 3 team in the country, and provided an overwhelming offensive attack from the opening face off.

A slap shot by Carly Mercer got Clarkson on the board early, with 1:40 remaining in the first period. Mercer would add another goal in the second period to give the Golden Knights a 2-0 lead with 20 minutes to play.

The score remained the same until midway through the third period. Having a 5-on-3-man advantage, Nicole Renault, a sophomore from Plymouth, Mass., scored a wrist shot for the Orange and cut the deficit to one.

Penalty killing played a big part into the Orange defense, holding the opposition’s power play to 0-for-5, while going 1-for-5 themselves.

Billadeau, the Minnetonka, Minn. native did her best between the pipes, saving 39 shots for the Orange. It was not enough, however, as Clarkson would hold on to win 2-1.

Total shots taken was the real story, as the Golden Knights fired off 41 to the Orange’s 18.

Clarkson improved to 4-0-0, while Syracuse fell to 1-2-0 on the early season.

The Orange now travel to play Providence College for back-to-back games this weekend. Friday the puck drops at 7 PM and Saturday at 3 PM.

They return home and face Boston College and Union College, respectively, the following weekend of October 25th and 26th. Home games are free to the public.

A Rough Patch of Ice for Orange’s Hockey Team

October 17, 2013

Story and Photos by Michael Silver SYRACUSE, NY — The Orange women’s hockey team is heading to Providence, RI this weekend, looking to end a three game losing streak and get back to a winning formula in the College Hockey America (CHA) conference. Last weekend Syracuse played a home-and-home series versus upstate New York rival […]

Read Article »

Story and Photos by Michael Silver

SYRACUSE, NY — The Orange women’s hockey team is heading to Providence, RI this weekend, looking to end a three game losing streak and get back to a winning formula in the College Hockey America (CHA) conference.

Last weekend Syracuse played a home-and-home series versus upstate New York rival Clarkson to begin conference play. On the road at Cheel Arena, the women’s team were shut out 4-0. Being out shot 36 to 26, and gave up two back-breaking goals in the final period. The Golden Knights are now 5-0-0 and the Orange are 1-3-0.

One night earlier and 145 miles south on I-81, the teams faced off at Tennity Ice Pavilion for the Orange’s home opener. Led by senior goaltender Kallie Billadeau, the women’s squad played an inspiring, fast-paced game. The Golden Knights came in ranked as the No. 3 team in the country, and provided an overwhelming offensive attack from the opening face off.

A slap shot by Carly Mercer got Clarkson on the board early, with 1:40 remaining in the first period. Mercer would add another goal in the second period to give the Golden Knights a 2-0 lead with 20 minutes to play.

The score remained the same until midway through the third period. Having a 5-on-3-man advantage, Nicole Renault, a sophomore from Plymouth, Mass., scored a wrist shot for the Orange and cut the deficit to one.

Penalty killing played a big part into the Orange defense, holding the opposition’s power play to 0-for-5, while going 1-for-5 themselves.

Billadeau, the Minnetonka, Minn. native did her best between the pipes, saving 39 shots for the Orange. It was not enough, however, as Clarkson would hold on to win 2-1.

Total shots taken was the real story, as the Golden Knights fired off 41 to the Orange’s 18.

Clarkson improved to 4-0-0, while Syracuse fell to 1-2-0 on the early season.

The Orange now travel to play Providence College for back-to-back games this weekend. Friday the puck drops at 7 PM and Saturday at 3 PM.

They return home and face Boston College and Union College, respectively, the following weekend of October 25th and 26th. Home games are free to the public.

Follow @NewhouseSports on Twitter and Like our Facebook page for updates on SU Athletics and alumni events.

Hunt Needs to Bring Back Faith to Orange Nation

October 17, 2013

By Ethan Joyce Coming into the season, Syracuse was expected to run the football and do it well. The Orange would ride its horses into the ACC to establish the program’s credibility. The team struggled at first, breaking the 200-yard rushing mark only once (against Wagner) in its first four games. Other than that, the […]

Read Article »

By Ethan Joyce

Coming into the season, Syracuse was expected to run the football and do it well. The Orange would ride its horses into the ACC to establish the program’s credibility.

The team struggled at first, breaking the 200-yard rushing mark only once (against Wagner) in its first four games. Other than that, the rushing attack seemed stunted.

Now, after two games against Clemson and N.C. State, we see the attack forming. In both instances, Syracuse took advantage of two average run defenses—N.C. State is ranked 52nd in the nation in run defense and Clemson is 64th.

This week’s opponent, Georgia Tech, serves as a very interesting one; one that is similar to Syracuse.

Both teams rely heavily on running attacks that rank in the top 25 of the nation (Georgia Tech is No. 6; Syracuse is No. 22), and both teams boast a rush defense that ranks in the top 30 (Syracuse is 22nd; Georgia Tech is 30th).

This game is likely to be run-heavy and something’s got to give.

Jerome Smith, Prince-Tyson Gulley and Terrel Hunt rank fourth, 11th and 18th in the ACC in rushing yards and Smith leads the league with eight rushing touchdowns.

But for the run to remain effective, Hunt must step up his passing performance.

QB Comparison

Look at a comparison between two quarterbacks in a two-game span:

 

Completion Percentage        Throwing Yards          TD’s            INT’s

Player A                         54.6                                   468                        1                   4

Player B                         41.6                                   126                        0                   5

Player A is Drew Allen during the first two games of the season, against Penn. St. and Northwestern. Player B is Terrel Hunt in the last two games, against Clemson and N.C. State.

Though it’s a small sample size, Hunt played poorly in his last two starts and you could argue Allen’s first starts came against two tougher defenses.

Allen was easy to criticize, being the new guy who stole the starting spot. His reputation grew off speculation and talent. His downfalls were lack of mobility behind shaky pass protection and his own inexperience.

Hunt earned the right to start and in his first two games, looked like he might be the answer at quarterback. Wins are always encouraging, but against the likes of Wagner and Tulane, they should be taken with a grain of salt. Hunt is dealing with the same inexperience bug that Allen caught, but he has a longer leash to work with because head coach Scott Shafer took a chance, endorsing him with the quarterback change. But that shouldn’t be taken for granted by Hunt or the fans.

This game is the game, and the rest of the schedule won’t be any easier: playing away against previously-ranked Maryland and No. 5 Florida State and at home against a Boston College team that led No. 3 Clemson last Saturday. Playing well against a respectable Georgia Tech pass-defense unit (ranked sixth in the ACC) would be a great accomplishment for Hunt.

He doesn’t need to throw five touchdowns. He doesn’t need to pass for 400 yards.  All the team needs for him to do is play in the system. Throw for 150 to 200 yards. Toss a touchdown or two. Try not to throw an interception and don’t take unnecessary risks. Ride your horses to this victory and just help hold the reins.

Terrel Hunt is a sophomore. He doesn’t need to be a star, much less a Heisman Trophy candidate. All he needs to do right now is show the capability to play effectively against better teams and grow in the system he plays in. Coach Shafer had the faith to put the ball in his hands. Now, Hunt needs to transfer that faith to the fans. He must prove that giving him the starting position wasn’t a mistake. And all that starts with this week’s game.

Hunt Needs to Bring Back Faith to Orange Nation

October 17, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Coming into the season, Syracuse was expected to run the football and do it well. The Orange would ride its horses into the ACC to establish the program’s credibility. The team struggled at first, breaking the 200-yard rushing mark only once (against Wagner) in its first four games. Other than that, […]

Read Article »

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  Coming into the season, Syracuse was expected to run the football and do it well. The Orange would ride its horses into the ACC to establish the program’s credibility.

The team struggled at first, breaking the 200-yard rushing mark only once (against Wagner) in its first four games. Other than that, the rushing attack seemed stunted.

Now, after two games against Clemson and N.C. State, we see the attack forming. In both instances, Syracuse took advantage of two average run defenses—N.C. State is ranked 52nd in the nation in run defense and Clemson is 64th.

This week’s opponent, Georgia Tech, serves as a very interesting one; one that is similar to Syracuse.

Both teams rely heavily on running attacks that rank in the top 25 of the nation (Georgia Tech is No. 6; Syracuse is No. 22), and both teams boast a rush defense that ranks in the top 30 (Syracuse is 22nd; Georgia Tech is 30th).

This game is likely to be run-heavy and something’s got to give.

Jerome Smith, Prince-Tyson Gulley and Terrel Hunt rank fourth, 11th and 18th in the ACC in rushing yards and Smith leads the league with eight rushing touchdowns.

But for the run to remain effective, Hunt must step up his passing performance.

QB Comparison

Look at a comparison between two quarterbacks in a two-game span:

Player A: 54.6 Completion percentage, 468 throwing yards, 1 TD, and 4 INT’s

Player B: 41.6 Completion percentage, 126 throwing yards, 0 TD, and 5 INT’s

Player A is Drew Allen during the first two games of the season, against Penn. St. and Northwestern. Player B is Terrel Hunt in the last two games, against Clemson and N.C. State.

Though it’s a small sample size, Hunt played poorly in his last two starts and you could argue Allen’s first starts came against two tougher defenses.

Allen was easy to criticize, being the new guy who stole the starting spot. His reputation grew off speculation and talent. His downfalls were lack of mobility behind shaky pass protection and his own inexperience.

Hunt earned the right to start and in his first two games, looked like he might be the answer at quarterback. Wins are always encouraging, but against the likes of Wagner and Tulane, they should be taken with a grain of salt. Hunt is dealing with the same inexperience bug that Allen caught, but he has a longer leash to work with because head coach Scott Shafer took a chance, endorsing him with the quarterback change. But that shouldn’t be taken for granted by Hunt or the fans.

This game is the game, and the rest of the schedule won’t be any easier: playing away against previously-ranked Maryland and No. 5 Florida State and at home against a Boston College team that led No. 3 Clemson last Saturday. Playing well against a respectable Georgia Tech pass-defense unit (ranked sixth in the ACC) would be a great accomplishment for Hunt.

He doesn’t need to throw five touchdowns. He doesn’t need to pass for 400 yards.  All the team needs for him to do is play in the system. Throw for 150 to 200 yards. Toss a touchdown or two. Try not to throw an interception and don’t take unnecessary risks. Ride your horses to this victory and just help hold the reins.

Terrel Hunt is a sophomore. He doesn’t need to be a star, much less a Heisman Trophy candidate. All he needs to do right now is show the capability to play effectively against better teams and grow in the system he plays in. Coach Shafer had the faith to put the ball in his hands. Now, Hunt needs to transfer that faith to the fans. He must prove that giving him the starting position wasn’t a mistake. And all that starts with this week’s game.

Twenty Years in One Night

October 9, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — “You probably don’t even remember Sid Bream, do you?” “I was a one year old when that happened… but I remember it clearly.” This was part of a conversation I had with a worker at a middle of nowhere New York state gas station at about 1 AM on Oct. […]

Read Article »

PITTSBURGH, PA (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  “You probably don’t even remember Sid Bream, do you?”

“I was a one year old when that happened… but I remember it clearly.”

This was part of a conversation I had with a worker at a middle of nowhere New York state gas station at about 1 AM on Oct. 7. It seems like when I am wearing Pittsburgh Pirates gear the first thought that jumps to most peoples’ minds is 1992. Atlanta Braves. Sid Bream. Game winning run. Last winning season.

That is usually the point where I have to leave the situation so I don’t throw up out of pure anger on the other person. But why, this time, did I just smile and pay for my Twix bar?

I got on the road from Syracuse, New York at 9:30 AM on Oct. 6. I knew I had a five hour drive ahead of me to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and another five hours back to Syracuse to be ready for class the next day. But what’s ten hours compared to a life of baseball disappointment?

My brother had called me to say he had a ticket for the Pirates game, and it was mine if I could make it down. It was his birthday. I think he wasn’t clear on the whole he gets the gifts idea. The Pirates were in a Game 3 of the National League Division Series game in October at home. The whole idea sounded weird to me, but I didn’t hesitate. “I’ll be there.”

The drive from Syracuse felt more like my drive from home.  PNC Park was hundreds of miles away, but it might as well have been a short cab ride.  I was pumped full of adrenaline, which wasn’t terribly safe looking back.  I probably drove for much of the trip like Vin Diesel.

I pulled into the parking lot across from the Clark Building around 3:30 PM.  The building used to be a place where Clark candy bars were made when my dad worked there years ago.  The third floor of the building now houses the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, where I had worked the past few summers.  I mostly did box scores for, among other things, the Pirates minor league affiliates.

I remember typing out Gerrit Cole’s stats when he was coming up through the minors, hoping he didn’t go the way of former first overall draft picks, like Bryan Bullington in 2002 and Kris Benson in 1996.  That’s not even mentioning one of my personal favorites, John Van Benschoten.  He was drafted eighth overall in 2001 after he led the NCAA in home runs.  But the Pirates converted him to pitcher.  Stranger than fiction.

Things have changed.  Neil Walker drafted in 2004, Andrew McCutchen in 2005, Pedro Alvarez in 2008 and Cole in 2011.  All huge contributors on this year’s playoff roster, with McCutchen possibly earning the National League MVP.  That would be the first Pirates MVP since some guy named Barry Bonds in 1992, the guy who couldn’t throw out Sid Freaking Bream.  It all comes back to that.

I walked past the front entrance of PNC Park and went around the outside toward the Clemente Bridge to meet my brother.  I saw my cousin at Dominic’s bar.  I saw an old friend on the street.  There was a sea of black shirts and more people walking around Federal Street off the Bridge than I have seen my entire life.

It was October.  The Buccos were in a playoff game.  Did I mention that?  It was a sellout.  It was 80 degrees.  Cats and dogs were living together.  I couldn’t stop thinking, “Is this really happening?”

The Buccos and the St. Louis Cardinals were all tied up one game apiece before this pivotal Game 3 in a best-of-five series.  Franciso Liriano, a legitimately good offseason pickup (which has been rare the past two decades), took the mound for the Pirates against Joe Kelly for the Cards.  “KEEEELLLLLYYYY” chants would rain down upon the pitcher throughout the game.

The energy in PNC Park was unbelievable.  The excitement was palpable.  You would have thought Liriano’s first strike won the game.  How could this be the same place I had gone to so many times before?  Winning changes things a bit.

I would compare the crowd to someone who had been bullied.  You take your shots, the insults, the shame.  You lift weights and take boxing classes for 20 years waiting for your payback.  Then, you finally come out in full force and insanity.  Except now there are nearly 50-thousand people with you who had the same experience.

The Pirates started it off with a bang.  McCutchen and Justin Morneau scored on a Marlon Byrd single in the bottom of the first.  They weren’t just happy to be here.  They were “fighting to win a World Series” as McCutchen would say after the game.

St. Louis responded with two runs of their own in the fifth.  A sacrifice fly by Russell Martin gave Pittsburgh a 3-2 edge, until Carlos Beltran came up clutch with a 409 foot solo shot in the eighth inning.

This is where all the sub .500 seasons had trained fans to get ready for it to fall apart.  But the crowd was different.  This team was different.  This season was different.  It wasn’t “oh, here we go again.”  It was “alright, let’s get another one.”

In fact, they got two more.  Alvarez and Martin both came up with big singles to give the Pirates a 5-3 lead.  If PNC Park had a roof, it would have been blown off.  There had to be some sort of world record broken for high fives.  Pittsburgh Pirates Pandemonium.

Here is what was going on after the Alvarez single (Yes, that’s my high pitched yell.  Let’s Go Bucs was said so many times I started to lose my voice).

And here is the blurry reaction from my brother’s phone to Martin’s single.

Grilled Cheese Time.  Pittsburgh closer and Baldwinsville, New York native Jason Grilli ran on to the field with Pearl Jam blasting behind him.  He gave up a leadoff single but quickly got the ball back and went to work.  Lineout, flyout, groundout, game over.

I had witnessed the Pittsburgh Pirates win a playoff game.  Raise the Jolly Roger.

There was a sense of pure joy, euphoria, even relief.  I honestly had thought many times that I would never see a winning baseball team in my life.  If nothing else, I can always say I was there.

I’m attempting to go into a profession where you do your best to stay unbiased.  That’s important, but I think it’s unrealistic to completely drop being a fan.  I recognize I have invested a lot of time, money, energy and frustration into the Pirates, along with many others.

The Steelers and Penguins have been through their ups and downs, but both teams have won championships and put together great seasons during my lifetime.  There was never a ton of risk involved in me, or anyone else, rooting for them.

The Pirates were never close to that.  People hate the Steelers and Penguins.  They pity the Pirates.  I continued cheering for them through epic failures and “Operation Shutdown” and the recent collapses the previous two seasons.  How many losses and “rebuilding years” can a fanbase take?

I thought of this season as the blackjack hand where the Buccos faithful went all in and finally won.  The dealer busted this time.  As Mike McDermott said in Rounders, “You can’t lose what you don’t put in the middle… but you can’t win much either.”  This was the big payoff, the playoffs.

On the drive home, I stopped at that middle of nowhere New York state gas station.  I walked inside the store to grab a drink and some candy to keep me going late at night.  I went to pay.

The woman at the register was wearing a Braves hat.  On this night, in this random location, I ran into a Braves fan.  Again, it all comes back.  She saw me in my Pirates hat, and we started a conversation until we got to the question I mentioned.

“You probably don’t even remember Sid Bream, do you?”

“I was a one year old when that happened… but I remember it clearly.”

She began laughing, which would normally have made me want to shove that Twix bar in my eye.  But I laughed with her.  It was alright.

The Pirates would lose Game 4 the next day and now face a win-or-go-home Game 5 tonight.  The Braves fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers in their series 3-1.  I guess we won’t see that Bream replay seven thousand times.

As I was heading back to my car, the cashier came outside to help another customer.  We made eye contact.  Right before I was about to shut the door, I heard her say, “Well, if we don’t win it, I sure hope you guys do.”

After all these years, all of the emotion, all of the losing, tonight’s victory, I could only think of three words: “Yeah, me too.”

Twenty Years in One Night

October 9, 2013

One Pirates’ fan’s journey from a life of losing to a playoff game in the Steel City PITTSBURGH, Pa. By Jordan Greer “You probably don’t even remember Sid Bream, do you?” “I was a one year old when that happened… but I remember it clearly.” This was part of a conversation I had with a […]

Read Article »

One Pirates’ fan’s journey from a life of losing to a playoff game in the Steel City

PITTSBURGH, Pa.

By Jordan Greer

“You probably don’t even remember Sid Bream, do you?”

“I was a one year old when that happened… but I remember it clearly.”

This was part of a conversation I had with a worker at a middle of nowhere New York state gas station at about 1 AM on Oct. 7. It seems like when I am wearing Pittsburgh Pirates gear the first thought that jumps to most peoples’ minds is 1992. Atlanta Braves. Sid Bream. Game winning run. Last winning season.

That is usually the point where I have to leave the situation so I don’t throw up out of pure anger on the other person. But why, this time, did I just smile and pay for my Twix bar?

I got on the road from Syracuse, New York at 9:30 AM on Oct. 6. I knew I had a five hour drive ahead of me to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and another five hours back to Syracuse to be ready for class the next day. But what’s ten hours compared to a life of baseball disappointment?

My brother had called me to say he had a ticket for the Pirates game, and it was mine if I could make it down. It was his birthday. I think he wasn’t clear on the whole he gets the gifts idea. The Pirates were in a Game 3 of the National League Division Series game in October at home. The whole idea sounded weird to me, but I didn’t hesitate. “I’ll be there.”

The drive from Syracuse felt more like my drive from home.  PNC Park was hundreds of miles away, but it might as well have been a short cab ride.  I was pumped full of adrenaline, which wasn’t terribly safe looking back.  I probably drove for much of the trip like Vin Diesel.

I pulled into the parking lot across from the Clark Building around 3:30 PM.  The building used to be a place where Clark candy bars were made when my dad worked there years ago.  The third floor of the building now houses the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, where I had worked the past few summers.  I mostly did box scores for, among other things, the Pirates minor league affiliates.

I remember typing out Gerrit Cole’s stats when he was coming up through the minors, hoping he didn’t go the way of former first overall draft picks, like Bryan Bullington in 2002 and Kris Benson in 1996.  That’s not even mentioning one of my personal favorites, John Van Benschoten.  He was drafted eighth overall in 2001 after he led the NCAA in home runs.  But the Pirates converted him to pitcher.  Stranger than fiction.

Things have changed.  Neil Walker drafted in 2004, Andrew McCutchen in 2005, Pedro Alvarez in 2008 and Cole in 2011.  All huge contributors on this year’s playoff roster, with McCutchen possibly earning the National League MVP.  That would be the first Pirates MVP since some guy named Barry Bonds in 1992, the guy who couldn’t throw out Sid Freaking Bream.  It all comes back to that.

I walked past the front entrance of PNC Park and went around the outside toward the Clemente Bridge to meet my brother.  I saw my cousin at Dominic’s bar.  I saw an old friend on the street.  There was a sea of black shirts and more people walking around Federal Street off the Bridge than I have seen my entire life. 

It was October.  The Buccos were in a playoff game.  Did I mention that?  It was a sellout.  It was 80 degrees.  Cats and dogs were living together.  I couldn’t stop thinking, “Is this really happening?”

The Buccos and the St. Louis Cardinals were all tied up one game apiece before this pivotal Game 3 in a best-of-five series.  Franciso Liriano, a legitimately good offseason pickup (which has been rare the past two decades), took the mound for the Pirates against Joe Kelly for the Cards.  “KEEEELLLLLYYYY” chants would rain down upon the pitcher throughout the game.

The energy in PNC Park was unbelievable.  The excitement was palpable.  You would have thought Liriano’s first strike won the game.  How could this be the same place I had gone to so many times before?  Winning changes things a bit.

I would compare the crowd to someone who had been bullied.  You take your shots, the insults, the shame.  You lift weights and take boxing classes for 20 years waiting for your payback.  Then, you finally come out in full force and insanity.  Except now there are nearly 50-thousand people with you who had the same experience. 

The Pirates started it off with a bang.  McCutchen and Justin Morneau scored on a Marlon Byrd single in the bottom of the first.  They weren’t just happy to be here.  They were “fighting to win a World Series” as McCutchen would say after the game.

St. Louis responded with two runs of their own in the fifth.  A sacrifice fly by Russell Martin gave Pittsburgh a 3-2 edge, until Carlos Beltran came up clutch with a 409 foot solo shot in the eighth inning.

This is where all the sub .500 seasons had trained fans to get ready for it to fall apart.  But the crowd was different.  This team was different.  This season was different.  It wasn’t “oh, here we go again.”  It was “alright, let’s get another one.”

In fact, they got two more.  Alvarez and Martin both came up with big singles to give the Pirates a 5-3 lead.  If PNC Park had a roof, it would have been blown off.  There had to be some sort of world record broken for high fives.  Pittsburgh Pirates Pandemonium. 

Here is what was going on after the Alvarez single (Yes, that’s my high pitched yell.  Let’s Go Bucs was said so many times I started to lose my voice)…

And here is the blurry reaction from my brother’s phone to Martin’s single…

Grilled Cheese Time.  Pittsburgh closer and Baldwinsville, New York native Jason Grilli ran on to the field with Pearl Jam blasting behind him.  He gave up a leadoff single but quickly got the ball back and went to work.  Lineout, flyout, groundout, game over. 

I had witnessed the Pittsburgh Pirates win a playoff game.  Raise the Jolly Roger.

There was a sense of pure joy, euphoria, even relief.  I honestly had thought many times that I would never see a winning baseball team in my life.  If nothing else, I can always say I was there. 

I’m attempting to go into a profession where you do your best to stay unbiased.  That’s important, but I think it’s unrealistic to completely drop being a fan.  I recognize I have invested a lot of time, money, energy and frustration into the Pirates, along with many others. 

The Steelers and Penguins have been through their ups and downs, but both teams have won championships and put together great seasons during my lifetime.  There was never a ton of risk involved in me, or anyone else, rooting for them. 

The Pirates were never close to that.  People hate the Steelers and Penguins.  They pity the Pirates.  I continued cheering for them through epic failures and “Operation Shutdown” and the recent collapses the previous two seasons.  How many losses and “rebuilding years” can a fanbase take?

I thought of this season as the blackjack hand where the Buccos faithful went all in and finally won.  The dealer busted this time.  As Mike McDermott said in Rounders, “You can’t lose what you don’t put in the middle… but you can’t win much either.”  This was the big payoff, the playoffs.

On the drive home, I stopped at that middle of nowhere New York state gas station.  I walked inside the store to grab a drink and some candy to keep me going late at night.  I went to pay.

The woman at the register was wearing a Braves hat.  On this night, in this random location, I ran into a Braves fan.  Again, it all comes back.  She saw me in my Pirates hat, and we started a conversation until we got to the question I mentioned. 

“You probably don’t even remember Sid Bream, do you?”

“I was a one year old when that happened… but I remember it clearly.”

She began laughing, which would normally have made me want to shove that Twix bar in my eye.  But I laughed with her.  It was alright.

The Pirates would lose Game 4 the next day and now face a win-or-go-home Game 5 tonight.  The Braves fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers in their series 3-1.  I guess we won’t see that Bream replay seven thousand times. 

As I was heading back to my car, the cashier came outside to help another customer.  We made eye contact.  Right before I was about to shut the door, I heard her say, “Well, if we don’t win it, I sure hope you guys do.”

After all these years, all of the emotion, all of the losing, tonight’s victory, I could only think of three words: “Yeah, me too.” 

No. 3 Clemson proves to be too much for the Orange to handle

October 5, 2013

Text, Photos and Videos by Ethan Joyce Syracuse coach Scott Shafer asked Orange Nation to fill the Carrier Dome when the third-ranked Clemson Tigers came to town on Saturday. Syracuse fans delivered, packing over 48,000 people in to the place. The team, however, failed to take advantage of crowd, falling to Clemson, 49-14. Clemson quarterback […]

Read Article »

Text, Photos and Videos by Ethan Joyce

Syracuse coach Scott Shafer asked Orange Nation to fill the Carrier Dome when the third-ranked Clemson Tigers came to town on Saturday.

Syracuse fans delivered, packing over 48,000 people in to the place. The team, however, failed to take advantage of crowd, falling to Clemson, 49-14.

Clemson quarterback and Heisman-hopeful Tajh Boyd threw for 455 yards and five touchdowns, one of which was a 91-yard pass to wide receiver Sammy Watkins with 40 seconds left in the third quarter. That was Boyd’s last play of the game, taking all the wind out of Syracuse’s sails.

Shafer said he was happy to see the fan’s enthusiasm throughout the game. But, he was upset his team could not reciprocate.

“To be honest with you: I think the fans did a better job out there than we did today,” Shafer said after the game. “And we owe them more, and we are going to give them more.

“And I just want to make sure that everyone understands that I am so happy and proud of this community.”

Syracuse team captains (from left: Jay Bromley, Marquis Spruill,
Jerome Smith and Macky MacPherson) get ready for the coin toss.

For a fan base that thought the Orange had a shot to win, the outcome seemed clear from the start. On the third play of the game, Boyd threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Adam Humphries. Humphries had two touchdowns and 118 yards in the game on only three receptions.

Syracuse cornerback Julian Whigham said the quick scores confirmed what he knew about Clemson: it could score quickly.

“When they score fast—like, whoa—they are as good as we thought they were,” Whigham said. “We just kept trying to play our game.

“That is on us. Come Sunday, [we will] improve when the film comes around.”

Syracuse’s defense forced Boyd to throw two interceptions, his first and second of the season. But, neither seemed to phase the Tiger quarterback as he continued his aerial assault.

“We got beat by a dog-gone good football team today,” Shafer said. “There is a reason they are top-three in the country, maybe higher.

Clemson cornerback Bashaud Breeland
celebrates after deflecting a pass.

“We just got to refocus and move forward to this North Carolina State game.”

Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt threw for only 52 yards and no touchdowns. Hunt had thrown for three and four touchdowns, respectively, in his first two starts of the season.

“We just got to execute a lot better,” Hunt said. “I didn’t do my part today, I messed up, and it showed on the field today.

“Just as a whole, as a team, we weren’t together.”

Syracuse halfback Jerome Smith rushed for 125 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He led a rushing attack that ran for a total of 323 yards and accounted for both Syracuse scores.

The fans at least witnessed the unveiling of former Syracuse quarterback Don McPherson’s jersey in the rafters of the Carrier Dome. McPherson, who won both the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien awards during his time at Syracuse, said this honor was not something he achieved alone.

Don McPherson (center, in tan sweater) poses for photos with
 former teammates, coaches and his mother.

“How many Syracuse University players does it take to get a jersey that high?” McPherson asked while surrounded on the field by his former teammates. “All of them. These are the guys; this is the reason.”

Syracuse’s next game will be against N.C. State in Raleigh, N.C. The Orange doesn’t play in The Dome again until Nov. 2 against Wake Forest.

No. 3 Clemson proves to be too much for the Orange to handle

October 5, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Syracuse coach Scott Shafer asked Orange Nation to fill the Carrier Dome when the third-ranked Clemson Tigers came to town on Saturday. Syracuse fans delivered, packing over 48,000 people in to the place. The team, however, failed to take advantage of crowd, falling to Clemson, 49-14. Clemson quarterback and Heisman-hopeful Tajh […]

Read Article »

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  Syracuse coach Scott Shafer asked Orange Nation to fill the Carrier Dome when the third-ranked Clemson Tigers came to town on Saturday.

Syracuse fans delivered, packing over 48,000 people in to the place. The team, however, failed to take advantage of crowd, falling to Clemson, 49-14.

Clemson quarterback and Heisman-hopeful Tajh Boyd threw for 455 yards and five touchdowns, one of which was a 91-yard pass to wide receiver Sammy Watkins with 40 seconds left in the third quarter. That was Boyd’s last play of the game, taking all the wind out of Syracuse’s sails. Shafer said he was happy to see the fan’s enthusiasm throughout the game. But, he was upset his team could not reciprocate.

“To be honest with you: I think the fans did a better job out there than we did today,” Shafer said after the game. “And we owe them more, and we are going to give them more.

“And I just want to make sure that everyone understands that I am so happy and proud of this community.”

For a fan base that thought the Orange had a shot to win, the outcome seemed clear from the start. On the third play of the game, Boyd threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Adam Humphries. Humphries had two touchdowns and 118 yards in the game on only three receptions.

Syracuse cornerback Julian Whigham said the quick scores confirmed what he knew about Clemson: it could score quickly.

“When they score fast—like, whoa—they are as good as we thought they were,” Whigham said. “We just kept trying to play our game.

“That is on us. Come Sunday, [we will] improve when the film comes around.”

Syracuse’s defense forced Boyd to throw two interceptions, his first and second of the season. But, neither seemed to phase the Tiger quarterback as he continued his aerial assault.

“We got beat by a dog-gone good football team today,” Shafer said. “There is a reason they are top-three in the country, maybe higher.

“We just got to refocus and move forward to this North Carolina State game.”

Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt threw for only 52 yards and no touchdowns. Hunt had thrown for three and four touchdowns, respectively, in his first two starts of the season.

“We just got to execute a lot better,” Hunt said. “I didn’t do my part today, I messed up, and it showed on the field today.

“Just as a whole, as a team, we weren’t together.”

Syracuse halfback Jerome Smith rushed for 125 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He led a rushing attack that ran for a total of 323 yards and accounted for both Syracuse scores.

The fans at least witnessed the unveiling of former Syracuse quarterback Don McPherson’s jersey in the rafters of the Carrier Dome. McPherson, who won both the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien awards during his time at Syracuse, said this honor was not something he achieved alone.

Don McPherson (center, in tan sweater) poses for photos with
former teammates, coaches and his mother.

 

“How many Syracuse University players does it take to get a jersey that high?” McPherson asked while surrounded on the field by his former teammates. “All of them. These are the guys; this is the reason.”

Syracuse’s next game will be against N.C. State in Raleigh, N.C. The Orange doesn’t play in The Dome again until Nov. 2 against Wake Forest.

Tigers Give Syracuse Plenty to Worry About

October 3, 2013

Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer is in his 23rd year of coaching. So when he said Clemson’s receiving corps are the best combination of wideouts he has seen in a long time, it carries some weight. Speaking in the weekly installment of the ACC’s coaches’ teleconference, Shafer praised the group […]

Read Article »

Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer

Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer is in his 23rd year of coaching. So when he said Clemson’s receiving corps are the best combination of wideouts he has seen in a long time, it carries some weight.

Speaking in the weekly installment of the ACC’s coaches’ teleconference, Shafer praised the group on Wednesday while talking about the upcoming game against the third-ranked Clemson Tigers.

Shafer said dealing with potential Heisman-winning quarterback Tajh Boyd is tough enough. But when you throw guys such as Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant and Germone Hopper, you have a potent offensive attack.

“He’s one of the best quarterbacks I’ve seen in a long time in college football,” Shafer said. “He can make all the throws, got a quick release, and they have a great offensive coordinator who understands their offense and taught kid really well how to play.”

Sammy Watkins is still the number-one option, with 355 yards on the season. But Bryant, Hopper and Watkins are tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions, with two apiece, for a Clemson team leading the nation in red-zone efficiency.

That is a lot of responsibility for a Syracuse secondary that most fans consider less than formidable.

Shafer is looking for senior cornerbacks Ri’Shard Anderson and Keon Lyn to lead the defensive effort.

“Keon’s been there, and Ri’Shard’s been there,” Shafer said. “They’ve gone against some of the best at times throughout their careers.

“Great challenge [for them]. We’ve just got to have a good
game plan to help them out a little bit here and there.”

The Syracuse defense currently ranks 48th in the nation in total defense, 15 spots above Clemson. That said, the Orange’s defensive stats have been padded by blowout victories against Wagner and Tulane.

Shafer was quick to point out that on the defensive side of the ball, Clemson is underrated. Shafer says Syracuse’s run-oriented style will have to prove its worth against them.

“You never know until you go in there and fight with people,” Shaffer said. “I like our running backs, and the offensive line continues to get better.

“I still believe, if we run the ball, we can play with
everybody.”

Jerome Smith, who six rushing touchdowns lead the ACC, will carry the bulk of the rushing offense for Syracuse.

Dabo Swinney, Clemson’s head coach, says Smith could create some problems for his defense.

“That running back, number 45(Smith), he’s a load,” Swinney said. “He is a big, strong, physical back that you’re just going to tackle for four quarters because he just keeps coming.”

Swinney is also impressed with the way quarterback Terrel Hunt has played in the pocket and stays cool under pressure.

“They’ve given up only four sacks,” Swinney said. “Part of that is a function of what they do in their passing game.”

“That ball is out quick. A lot of quick gain. A lot of throws in rhythm. They’re not a big drop back, stand there, sit-in-the-pocket type of deal.”

So far this season, Hunt has thrown for seven touchdowns and rushed for two more. Eight of those touchdowns have come during the last two games.

Shafer said his sophomore quarterback needs to remember to approach this game like he would any other.

“He needs to continue to throw the ball to the guys who are open,” Shaffer said. He cites the fact that Hunt threw to 11 different receivers in the Tulane game, and hopes he will continue to see the field.

“We don’t want him to press, and we don’t want him to turn into anything more than a quarterback trying to be productive in this offensive
system,” Shafer said. “As long as he does that, we’ll have a shot.”

The kickoff time for the game is 3:30 p.m. This is the homecoming game for Syracuse this season. In last year’s homecoming, the team beat then ninth-ranked Louisville Cardinals, its last Big East regular-season home game.

The game will be televised regionally on ABC and nationally on ESPN2. Newhouse alum Sean McDonough will be calling the game.

Tigers Give Syracuse Plenty to Worry About

October 3, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer is in his 23rd year of coaching. So when he said Clemson’s receiving corps are the best combination of wideouts he has seen in a long time, it carries some weight. Speaking in the weekly installment of the ACC’s coaches’ teleconference, Shafer praised the group on […]

Read Article »

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer is in his 23rd year of coaching. So when he said Clemson’s receiving corps are the best combination of wideouts he has seen in a long time, it carries some weight.

Speaking in the weekly installment of the ACC’s coaches’ teleconference, Shafer praised the group on Wednesday while talking about the upcoming game against the third-ranked Clemson Tigers.

Shafer said dealing with potential Heisman-winning quarterback Tajh Boyd is tough enough. But when you throw guys such as Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant and Germone Hopper, you have a potent offensive attack.

“He’s one of the best quarterbacks I’ve seen in a long time in college football,” Shafer said. “He can make all the throws, got a quick release, and they have a great offensive coordinator who understands their offense and taught kid really well how to play.”

Sammy Watkins is still the number-one option, with 355 yards on the season. But Bryant, Hopper and Watkins are tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions, with two apiece, for a Clemson team leading the nation in red-zone efficiency.

That is a lot of responsibility for a Syracuse secondary that most fans consider less than formidable.

Shafer is looking for senior cornerbacks Ri’Shard Anderson and Keon Lyn to lead the defensive effort.

“Keon’s been there, and Ri’Shard’s been there,” Shafer said. “They’ve gone against some of the best at times throughout their careers.

“Great challenge [for them]. We’ve just got to have a good
game plan to help them out a little bit here and there.”

The Syracuse defense currently ranks 48th in the nation in total defense, 15 spots above Clemson. That said, the Orange’s defensive stats have been padded by blowout victories against Wagner and Tulane.

Shafer was quick to point out that on the defensive side of the ball, Clemson is underrated. Shafer says Syracuse’s run-oriented style will have to prove its worth against them.

“You never know until you go in there and fight with people,” Shaffer said. “I like our running backs, and the offensive line continues to get better.

“I still believe, if we run the ball, we can play with
everybody.”

Jerome Smith, who six rushing touchdowns lead the ACC, will carry the bulk of the rushing offense for Syracuse.

Dabo Swinney, Clemson’s head coach, says Smith could create some problems for his defense.

“That running back, number 45(Smith), he’s a load,” Swinney said. “He is a big, strong, physical back that you’re just going to tackle for four quarters because he just keeps coming.”

Swinney is also impressed with the way quarterback Terrel Hunt has played in the pocket and stays cool under pressure.

“They’ve given up only four sacks,” Swinney said. “Part of that is a function of what they do in their passing game.”

“That ball is out quick. A lot of quick gain. A lot of throws in rhythm. They’re not a big drop back, stand there, sit-in-the-pocket type of deal.”

So far this season, Hunt has thrown for seven touchdowns and rushed for two more. Eight of those touchdowns have come during the last two games.

Shafer said his sophomore quarterback needs to remember to approach this game like he would any other.

“He needs to continue to throw the ball to the guys who are open,” Shaffer said. He cites the fact that Hunt threw to 11 different receivers in the Tulane game, and hopes he will continue to see the field.

“We don’t want him to press, and we don’t want him to turn into anything more than a quarterback trying to be productive in this offensive
system,” Shafer said. “As long as he does that, we’ll have a shot.”

The kickoff time for the game is 3:30 p.m. This is the homecoming game for Syracuse this season. In last year’s homecoming, the team beat then ninth-ranked Louisville Cardinals, its last Big East regular-season home game.

The game will be televised regionally on ABC and nationally on ESPN2. Newhouse alum Sean McDonough will be calling the game.

A Less Than Ordinary Post-Game

September 24, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Following a dominant Syracuse 52-17 home victory over Tulane, there was a press conference, just like after any old football game.  However, this particular press conference was anything but normal. On the surface, there were plenty of reasons to praise the team.  The Orange excelled on the football field in all […]

Read Article »

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  Following a dominant Syracuse 52-17 home victory over Tulane, there was a press conference, just like after any old football game.  However, this particular press conference was anything but normal.

On the surface, there were plenty of reasons to praise the team.  The Orange excelled on the football field in all three facets of the game.  The team scored touchdowns on its first three offensive possessions, jumping out to a commanding 21-3 lead.  The defense disrupted Tulane quarterback Nick Montana early and often, sacking him three times and intercepting him once.  On special teams, the Orange blocked two punts and a field goal.  It’s safe to say that the game was a confidence builder all around.

Another high point to mention was that Syracuse earned its 700th program win, a milestone that only about twenty other universities across the nation have achieved.  When asked about the accolade, Head Coach Scott Shafer joked that, “We’ve got a lot to do to catch Coach Boeheim.”  The atmosphere of the room was very laid back, very at ease.  We all laughed together.

But then, a question arose that changed the emotions of the entire press conference.

Someone asked about the Edson family.  Sue Edson is the assistant athletics director of communications at Syracuse, a job which she has held since 1997.  A week before Saturday’s game, Sue’s husband Rob died of an apparent heart attack at the age of 45.  Rob Edson was serving as the athletic director at Onondaga Community College.  Before that, he’d been employed at Syracuse as the athletic department’s chief financial officer and senior associate director of athletics.  They have two children, Thomas and Tracey.

Unfortunately, I have not had the privilege of knowing Sue or her family intimately, and for that reason I do not feel qualified to speak on their lives.  What I do know is the feeling of somber respect that went through the room as Coach Shafer spoke about the family.  “We said we’re getting number two for Sue,” said Shafer.  For a group of young men to go out and perform the way they did, to play with such purpose and inspiration, proves that sports can have so much more meaning than competition or entertainment.  For a brief moment, it was about more than just football.

To listen to the full post-game interviews, click on the links below:

Coach Shafer
Terrel Hunt
Chris Clark
Prince-Tyson Gulley
Eric Crume

A Less Than Ordinary Post-Game

September 24, 2013

       By Mason Walling – Following a dominant Syracuse 52-17 home victory over Tulane, there was a press conference, just like after any old football game.  However, this particular press conference was anything but normal.        On the surface, there were plenty of reasons to praise the team.  The Orange excelled […]

Read Article »


       By Mason Walling – Following a dominant Syracuse 52-17 home victory over Tulane, there was a press conference, just like after any old football game.  However, this particular press conference was anything but normal.

       On the surface, there were plenty of reasons to praise the team.  The Orange excelled on the football field in all three facets of the game.  The team scored touchdowns on its first three offensive possessions, jumping out to a commanding 21-3 lead.  The defense disrupted Tulane quarterback Nick Montana early and often, sacking him three times and intercepting him once.  On special teams, the Orange blocked two punts and a field goal.  It’s safe to say that the game was a confidence builder all around.

       Another high point to mention was that Syracuse earned its 700th program win, a milestone that only about twenty other universities across the nation have achieved.  When asked about the accolade, Head Coach Scott Shafer joked that, “We’ve got a lot to do to catch Coach Boeheim.”  The atmosphere of the room was very laid back, very at ease.  We all laughed together.

       But then, a question arose that changed the emotions of the entire press conference.

       Someone asked about the Edson family.  Sue Edson is the assistant athletics director of communications at Syracuse, a job which she has held since 1997.  A week before Saturday’s game, Sue’s husband Rob died of an apparent heart attack at the age of 45.  Rob Edson was serving as the athletic director at Onondaga Community College.  Before that, he’d been employed at Syracuse as the athletic department’s chief financial officer and senior associate director of athletics.  They have two children, Thomas and Tracey.

       Unfortunately, I have not had the privilege of knowing Sue or her family intimately, and for that reason I do not feel qualified to speak on their lives.  What I do know is the feeling of somber respect that went through the room as Coach Shafer spoke about the family.  “We said we’re getting number two for Sue,” said Shafer.  For a group of young men to go out and perform the way they did, to play with such purpose and inspiration, proves that sports can have so much more meaning than competition or entertainment.  For a brief moment, it was about more than just football.

To listen to the full post-game interviews, click on the links below:
  
Coach Shafer
Terrel Hunt
Chris Clark
Prince-Tyson Gulley
Eric Crume

Full Game Highlights