Monday, January 31, 2005

 

Midseason Awards

Well everyone that covers the Big East gives out midseason conference awards so I'm going to also, but mine will be a little different. First I'll go through each team with some observations and team MVP.

Boston College 7-0, 18-0
Maybe the most surprising start of any team in the country. Not many people should be surprised that BC is good, but surprised they are undefeated. I still believe they are a little bit of a paper tiger, but we wont know that until BE tournament time because of the way the schedule worked out. MVP-Jared Dudley

Syracuse 7-1, 20-2
The favorite to win the Big East is in the position of playing the toughest stretch I can ever remember an SU squad playing. They are small in the frountcourt and this stretch of games will show how good this can can be and truly is. MVP- Hakim Warrick

Pittsburgh 5-2, 15-3
Rough star,t but the Panthers are starting to hit their stride in the Big East. Huge wins over UCONN and SU will help this team. Has a a bruising frontcourt and a very good point guard. Has the combo to maybe jump up and catch BC. We'll see if Pitt has turned the corner or if they will be Jekyl and Hyde this year. MVP- Chevon Troutman

Notre Dame 5-3, 13-5
I dont know what to say about these guys. Very perimeter oriented but need to get some more contrbutions from the big guys. Thomas is too hot and cold to be trusted in a big game. Notre Dame is the prototypical "live by the 3, die by the 3" team. MVP-Colin Falls

Georgetown 5-3, 13-6
The most improved team in the country. No one expected this from Georgetown. They still have a couple years to go to become the powerhouse Georgetown again, but JT3 has them on their way. The youngest team in the BE with only one senior. We'll see if Gtown can sustain this or if the young guys wear down in league play. MVP- Brandon Bowman

Villanova 4-3, 12-4
Here come the Wildacts. This is the team in the second tier that will make a run at the BE title. Frasier is back and Sumpmter has gotten back in rhythm. Allan Ray is a very good shooter. The team no on wants to play. The Kansas game was no fluke. This team can play. MVP-Allan Ray

UCONN 4-3, 12-5
Vying with Providence for most disappointing first half team. The front court disappears from game to game and the backcourt is really hurting the Huskies. Rashad Anderson in particular. Villaneuva has been very disappointing. UCONN's schedule gets no easier down the stretch. This might be the year everyone gets their licks in on UCONN. MVP-Josh Boone

Seton Hall 2-4, 10-7
Opened the BE schedule with ND, UCONN, SU, and Pitt. Murderous start. Was competitive against all except SU and should have beat Pitt and ND. Could make a push in the second half. Need to get better guard play. MVP-Kelly Whitney

West Virginia 2-5, 12-6
Most disappointing team after their start. Started 10-0 with wins against NC state and GW when they were ranked. Fallen flat on their face. So dependent on the 3 that they get no production anywhere else. Lost to Marshall. Not going to get better in the second half.- MVP-Mike Gansey

Rutgers 1-6, 7-10
Was a 20 win team last year and lost their entire frontcourt. Employ a 3 guard lineup but atrocious at rebounding. Should have beat Pitt and Syracuse. Has a great homecourt advantage , but the team has lost all confidence. Still has to play BC twice. MVP- Ricky Shields

St.John's 1-6, 7-10
Give Norm Roberts credit, he has these guys playing hard. Not very talented outide of Daryll Hill but they come to play. Dont expect a lot of wins in the second half, but they'll play hard. MVP-Daryll Hill

Providence 0-7, 9-11
This team started the year by playing Wake tough and beating Michigan and have fallen in the tank since. They expect to lose every night. No one to help Gomes. Maybe the most disappointing team not only in the BE, but the country. MVP- Ryan Gomes

And time for my midseason awards, but I'm not doing the traditional awards because those are boring. Here goes

Most obnoxious player

Carl Krauser, Pitt and Jared Dudley, BC (tie)

I couldnt decide so they both get it. Krauser with his chest thumping after every play and Dudley with his screaming and antics. Cant stand them.

Most overhyped player

Chris Thomas, ND

Close competition between Thomas, Villaneuva and Chris Taft. But the nod goes to Thomas because of people picking him for player of the year. I'm just saying that my player of the year candidate doesnt shoot under 35 percent from the floor for the season and go 1-14 on national TV.

The "Why do they play there?" award


Seton Hall

Close between Seton Hall and St John's, but Seton Hall playing at the Meadowlands is like me running for President, sure my friends and family care, but thats about it. Seton Hall needs to play all their games at Walsh Gym. At least give your home games some atmosphere.

The "There's a two point shot?" award

Gerry McNamara, SU

There are some proficient three point takers in the BE but none hold a candle to GMac. There are 7 players that have 100 3 point attempts in the BE. McNamara has 215!!. The next closest is Rashad Anderson at 123. GMac almost doubles him. Unreal.

The "I'm a star get me out of here!!" award

Ryan Gomes, Providence

Gomes is 3rd in the league in scoring and second in rebounding and his team is 0-7 in the BE. Only so much one player can do.

Best Ending to a game

Georgetown- ND

Nothing better (or worse) than Colin Falls making a 3 for ND and the ND bench holding each other back getting ready for the celebration and seeing a dunk by Roy Hibbert of Gtown with no time left. What heartache..


Worst ending to a game

BC-Providence round 1

Providence led this game 52-44 with 13 minutes left and proceeded to score 8 points the rest of the game. A putrid performance down the stretch.

Team No One Wants to Play

Villanova

With Jason Frasier back, Nova has their inside outside threat going again. Villanova has absolutely destroyed some teams this year, when they get hot they are almost unbeatable. Keep an eye out for 'Nova moving up the Big East standings.

Team Everyone Wants to Play

West Virginia

Could go alot of different ways with this one, but WVU is struggling and they dont look like they're coming out of it anytime soon. Providence still has Gomes, so you have to figure at some point they'll play a good game and Rutgers still has the 3 guards that can score, West Virginia has none of that. It's going to be a long end to the year for the Mountaineers.











 

SU in the news

As we start this monday for only the second time all year we start the week coming off an SU loss here is what the national media and Big East media say about the Orange.

National Media
-SU falls to number 8 in the AP Poll.
-Pat Forde of ESPN.com breaks down the BE in his Forde minutes and ridiculously gives BE player of the year to Jared Dudley..Man I hate him.
-Gregg Doyel mentions Syracuse in his Week in Review.
-SU stays at a 2 seed in Joe Lunardi's Bracketology.

Big East Media
-Tom Luicci hands out his Big East midseason hardware.

Since Syracuse is off until Saturday,we'll dissect the Big East at the midpoint and see where SU stands right now..coming tomorrow

Sunday, January 30, 2005

 

The Recaps

Here are the Recaps, first from The Post Standard and then from the PPG.

My Take
Well its obvious why SU lost this game. They get outrebounded, in one of the most impressive stats I've seen, 18 offensive rebounds for Pitt and only 16 defensive rebounds for the Orange. Since SU went up 17, Pitt outscored Syracuse 74-47. Thats complete domination. And like I've been saying the past month, the small lineup with Josh Pace in the back of the zone is going to hurt SU and it did last night. Boeheim did try mixing it up with Roberts on the wing, but you can tell Roberts looks completely lost out there. He didnt know whether to challenge shooters or stay home. Not much Roberts fault as he hasnt played there much. Reason number 2 of this loss is not one other player stepped up to alleviate the scoring. Demetris Nichols comes in and hoists three 3 point bricks. Forth looked lost and overmatched. Josh Pace may have played his worst game ever at SU. Edelin had one good drive ,but nothing else. Pitt switched to a zone and took away McNamara and Warrick and not one other person could make a shot. When your two stars score 51 combined, you should be able to win the game. Very dissapointing to see SU totally outmuscled in the second half even without Chris Taft in the game for Pitt. One thing I will say about this team is that GMac never lets them give in. He plays hard until the final buzzer. I said after they lost to Alabama last year ,that I was most proud of that Orange team for the way they fought until the end against Alabama and were pretty much beating teams 2 on 5. That all goes back to McNamara, he might be the guttiest player in college basketball. Well you're going to have nights like last night and we'll see how SU bounces back. They have a week to prepare and get ready for Notre Dame at the Dome. The schedule gets no easier, this stretch will show just how good this team can be.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

 

SU has the Pitts

Syracuse loses to Pittsburgh tonight at the PETE 76-69 in a game where SU had a 17 point first half lead. The intial reaction is disappointment at the way they played in the second half. McNamara had 26, Warrick had 25, the rest of the team had 18. Boeheim has been saying it all along, SU needs to get contributions from other players. It didnt happen tonight. Coming tomorrow, recaps from both sides and a look at how Pitt slowly took control of this game.

Friday, January 28, 2005

 

Into the Pitt

Syracuse (20-1, 7-0) at Pittsburgh tonight at 7 on ESPN and it seems that everyone has an opinion. The Syracuse Post Standard, The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Seth Davis of CNNSI , and Gregg Doyel of CBS Sportsline all have previews.

My Preview
SU comes in as the 4th ranked team in the country and any time a team goes on the road ranked in the top ten, the games become that much harder. The Pitt Crowd will be fired up more than usual. Not only is SU the highest ranked team to come in this year, but the Pitt fans want some revenge for SU ending their home winning streak last year. If the fans have forgotten, don't worry the media won't let them. All week the Panthers have talked about revenge for last year. Chris Taft even mentioned it in ESPN the magazine saying he had "extra hate" for Syracuse for ending the streak. Pitt has won 5 of the last 7 meetings against Syracuse. So all the talking comes to an end tonight.

Pitt Overview
Two things have to worry SU about this game. One is the size SU will face inside with Chevon Troutman and Taft. Troutman showed in the UConn game, he is a premier player in the Big East. Which Chris Taft will show up? The one who looks disinterested at times or the one that can dominate a game? The second thing that has to worry SU is that Pitt had a whole week to prepare for this game. Some may say they'll come out rusty, but I'm of the belief a team comes out more fired up. The first 5 minutes will be key for the Orange to keep up with the Pitt intensity. Carl Krauser and Antonio Graves will be in the back court. Krauser can flat out score the basketball, but he becomes turnover prone when he goes full speed. Graves is a slasher but doesnt score a lot. Look for him to be guarding Gerry McNamara. The Panthers have some size coming off the bench in Levon Kendall, he is Pitt's version of Terrence Roberts. He brings energy and intensity off the bench. Dont forget about Ronald Ramon. The Bronx native brings 3 point shooting off the bench and hit a game winning 3 at Rutgers early in the year. They lost Jaron Brown and Julius Page so their defense has taken a hit and its showed. They looked overconfident against Bucknell and Georgetown, but that wont be the case tonight.

SU Overview
SU has a major advantage in the backcourt in this game. Gerry McNamara, Billy Edelin and Louis McCroskey are better than Krauser, Graves, and Ramon. The focal point of this game is in the paint. Hakim Warrick has shown this season that when players play physical with him in the post he becomes very reliant on the fadeway turnaround jumpshot. Rutgers bodied Warrick a little on Monday and it threw him off in the 1st half. Warrick gets to show how tough he is tonight. Troutman is one of the best post defenders in the Big East and he wont be letting Warrick post him up. That being said Warrick is quicker than anyone Pitt has so thats his advantage. Should be an intriguing matchup. The one SU disadvantage tonight is Taft in the middle. He is big and talented around the basket. The zone will take away his touches down low, but if he is into the game he will crash the offensive glass. The best way to take Taft out of the game? Get a lead early and push the ball up the court. He tends to get lazy on defense. Not saying Craig Forth will take advantage of that but they could get some easy baskets in transition. Last year these two teams played one of the ugliest games I've ever seen 49-46 in OVERTIME! Thats 95 total points. By comparison SU had 86 last monday by themselves. Dont look for a high scoring game this year either. The zone will cause problems for Pitt with Krauser's propensity to try to do too many things and Pitt's inability to score at times.
 

West Coast love

First of all I'd like to thank everyone for checking out this blog. I'm in the process of putting up links for everyone that has a website and has checked out my site.

Since there are no major games usually played on Friday, every Friday I'll try to look at an issue around the country.

This week lets look at left coast for some basketball knowledge. "California knows how to party", but can they win come tournament time? The PAC 10 is the conference that gets all the attention as the major West Coast conference and a lot of people think that the PAC 10 is perennially weak. The last couple of years the PAC 10 has struggled in the tournament, but as recent as 2001, 3 PAC 10 teams were in the Elite 8. So just like any conference the PAC 10 goes through cycles, but while the PAC 10 is a major player, the smaller conferences have provided their share of good teams. Last year's cinderella, Nevada, was from the WAC. Cinderella no more, Gonzaga, is from the West Coast Conference. This year's team that can make some noise? Look no further than Pacific. No not the Ocean, the school that beat Providence in the 1st round last year. They played Kansas tough early in the year and bring back two key players in Christian Maraker and Guillaume Yango. Yango can jump out of the gym and Maraker does everything for them. The Tigers have won 11 in a row and are undefeated in the Big West. Come tourney time they could make some noise. But who are the contending teams in the West? Lets take a look.

1.Arizona- Every year the PAC 10 is talked about in the tournament, they talk about two teams, Stanford and Arizona. Since Stanford is struggling, Arizona is the pick. After struggling at the beginning of the season the Wildcats have picked it up, especially Salim Stoudamire. Stoudamire has been the best shooter in the country this season, shooting a mind boggling 56 percent from 3-point range. They are still a young team with only two seniors, but the talent is undeniable. Channing Frye, Hassan Adams and Mustafa Shakur are all good basketball players. The only question is whether they can put together 6 quality games. They go through periods of falling asleep at the wheel. But I've been very impressed with Arizona the last month of the season. Will be picked by a lot of people for the Final Four.

2. Washington - They play basketball at Washington? Yes they do and they play it very well. One of the teams in the country going with a 3 guard attack and they have a very good one with Brandon Roy, Tre Simmons and Nate Robinson. Roy is just getting back to speed after an injury and Robinson is the real deal. Washington can score with anyone in the country, but the main concern for them is that they are small. And I mean small. Nobody on the roster is over 6'9 and come tourney time they are going to face teams that will tower over them. Arizona went inside to beat them and the Huskies become 3 dependent. They shot over 30 threes against Arizona. We know how those teams do in the tournament. Washington has beaten Oklahoma, Alabama and NC State so we know the Huskies are for real. An outside shot at the Final Four.

3. Gonzaga - Last year affirmed Gonzaga will not be waiting for midnight to strike anymore. Gonzaga has one of the most balanced teams in all the country with Ronny Turiaf and JP Batista inside and Adam Morrison and Derek Ravio on the outside. Morrison is drawing comparisons to Larry Bird, but I think we need to slow that down a little bit. Morrison is their do everything guy. He can drive and he can pull up. Gonzaga, in true Zag fashion, have 3 huge wins against Georgia Tech, Washington and Oklahoma State. The rap on Gonzaga is whether they can play enough defense to win games in the tourney. Turiaf goes throught stretches where he looks horrible on the offensive end and in the tournament its hard to overcome a truly bad night by a star player. The Zags have gone through that before with Blake Stepp. The Zags seem to play better when underdogs, but no one's taking them lightly anymore. Sweet 16 bound, maybe Elite 8.

4. Utah - No, Rick Majerus isnt there. No, Keith Van Horn didnt come back. And no laughing please. The Utes are playing some of the nation's best basketball. 2 of their 3 losses are to Washington and Arizona. They've won 12 in a row by an average of 19.7 points. They are running through the Mountain West and the Mountain West would have had a huge upset in last year's tourney with BYU, if Gerry Macnamara hadnt saved SU. The Utes also have the best big man in the country with Andrew Bogut. Who's Andrew Bogut? He only averages 20 points and 12 rebounds including two games where he had at least 24 points and 15 rebounds and shoots at least 65 percent from the floor. Utah could be looking at a 5 or 6 seed in the tourney if not a little higher and if they get that they will be dangerous. Tough out in the second round.

4 teams from the West all with a chance for deep tourney runs, I wouldnt be surprised to see Washington, Arizona, and Gonzaga in the Elite 8. West Coast Basketball- alive and well.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

 

Boeheim on TV

College Gamenight on ESPN interviewed Jim Boeheim. One of the longer tv interviews I've seen with Boeheim. I decided to transcribe it. KArl Ravech (KR) and former St John's coach Mike Jarvis (MJ)did the interview.

KR- The head coach of the Syracuse Orangemen, Jim Boeheim, joins us. His team has only lost once 20-1. Coach you've been there for what seems like almost forever. You look at this conference, where would it rank relative to years past top to bottom?
JB-Well I think I've been here longer than youve been around, havent I Karl? (Laughs)
KR- Its close.
JB- I think the top teams, we ve got very good teams at the top maybe not as good as some years, but pretty solid. At the bottom and middle of the league is by far the best weve ever been. Anybody.
KR- Rutgers a good example of what you just went through?
JB- Not Just Rutgers, but you look at Providence, a team that was playing well, beat some good teams nonconference, they're struggling and they havent won a game in our league yet. And its crazy. Who thought BC would be where they are, but you probably should of. They lost by one to Georgia Tech last year in the tournament and Georgia Tech, of course, went to the final four and they have all of those guys back plus an outstanding freshman. I dont think you should be that surprised, but our league is as balanced as I've ever seen it.
MJ- As far as this team goes what would you say is probably the one thing or two things that make this team really special?
JB- Its the veteran guys. Hakim Warrick, Gerry MAcnamara, Billy Edelin, Josh Pace all were significant players, starters, on our National Championship team and they got another year under their belt in the Big East. They're the key for us down the stretch. But the key for us to be really good at the end is our younger players have to get better.
KR- Syracuse always been known as a team that runs, Warrick's great on offense, Macnamara, but how about the concept of defense? This team buy that?
JB-We've been very good in our zone. The last two games we've had to play man to man and we played the best man to man we've played in a long time. And i think thats a good thing for the future of this team. Cause you have to mix it up a little bit. Zone is good a lot of the time, but theres some nights you need to play some man. Our centers are key Craig Forth, another veteran guy. You know, If he can keep playing the way he's been playing we've got a chance down the stretch.
KR- Halftime Rutgers, Jimmy. Is there something that you see yourself continually preaching to these guys? And that may have been a unique situation, but is there some sort of recurring theme that you have to seem to emphasize to these guys?
JB- You know, thats our first really bad stretch all year long. We've been either ahead at halftime or right there at halftime of every game. It was our first really bad 6 minutes of basketball. When I got in the lockerroom the players were already yelling at each other. I said thats ok weve done it, lets go correct it. They came out charged up. Really I wish i said something that I could remember, that i could use again. It comes down to the players in that situation. They dug a hole for themselves, they knew they did, they decided to get themselves out of it. And we were very fortunate. Rutgers is a very tough to place to play and particularly for us, we've struggled down there.
MJ- You spoke about the future and obviously they are going to be some huge changes next year. What are your thoughts as a coach about the future, the new Big East and going to 16 teams?
JB- 16 is too many. Theres no question about it. You end up beating yourselves up. We're going to have six teams or seven capable of being in the NCAA tournament this year in our league and we're bringing in 4 teams that are probably going to be in the NCAA tournament. So you're talking 10 or 11 teams in a 16 team league next year that were in the NCAA tournament this year. Something's got to give. You're gonna end up beating each other up. It's going to be a challenge, a challenge for everybody, but that's what it is, we're going to have get ready and see who's going to survive.
KR-You may not remember what you said at the halftime at Rutgers, but what are you going to say The Gameday crew, is coming to Syracuse later. You hear Vitale all the time, "cupcake" easy schedule, syracuse 20-1, hows that exchange go?
JB- Dick's been better now. He kind of got off that. He realized we did play some good games early even though they were in New York state. He reminded me he got an "A" in geography which I definitely do not believe. It couldn't possibly happen Unless he was sitting next to his wife, then its possible.
KR- She could help him
JB- We're going to talk to the Gameday people and we're gonna have a great game, Notre Dame coming in. We'll have fun.
KR-What's this team capable of. You've played 21 games you've won 20 of them you've won a National Title, what is this team really capable of doing?
JB- Any team in the top 20, I believe can go to the final four whether you can win the NC, maybe, maybe. But I think any team in the top 20 or 25 in the country. You have to remember we won it from outside the top 25 at christmas time. Any team this year, the balance in college basketball, you see some great teams out there, but there's really nobody like last year with Connecticut that you're gonna look at and say we cant beat that team. Everyone's beatable, but you're still going to have to play 6 really good basketball games. The team that wins the National Championship will probably be a team that almost gets beat in the second game or third game of the tournament.
KR- We'll keep an eye on that and certainly keep watching you Saturday night against Pitt at 7 on ESPN. Coach, Thank You
JB- Thank You

Obviously a national interview. It shows that Ravech hadnt done much homework on the Orange with his questions. I think Jarvis had the best question about the New Big East. Boeheim obviously disagrees with the additions and from a pure basketball standpoint I agree with Boeheim. Obviously the reason the BE added is because of football..But imagine a schedule that looks like this nex year. UConn, Providence,at Villanova, At Georgetown, Cincinnati, at Depaul, at Marquette, Pitt, Louisville, at Uconn, Georgetown, Notre Dame, at Rutgers, at South Florida, Villanova, at Notre Dame..ouch..imagine getting that schedule..
 

In the Zone

The Zone defense. When I grew up playing basketball this is what I would hear from Rec League coaches. "We cant play man, let's just play zone". I remember coaching a youth league team and trying to install a zone defense. Little did I know that kids play a zone about as well as William Hung sings "She Bangs". Everyone tries to break down the SU zone so I'm going to give it my shot. So why does the SU zone work and what are the myths that the SU zone has broken down about the zone?

The Myths
1. The zone is for lazy defenders. This might be the case when you're youth league team stinks and dont want to run, but in the world of college basketball the zone is for the athletic. Im sure before Temple's John Chaney made the zone somewhat repopular (is that a word?) some coaches thought that you could use the zone to give your team a rest, but not today's zone defense. The zone must be active. An inactive zone defense has holes in every area of the floor. Example- Providence played a zone defense against SU this year and SU got every shot they wanted and GMac threw two alley-oops to Forth. It forced Providence to play man.
2. Teams that cant play man to man play zone. This is a popular one. Lots of fans think that because you play zone you just arent good enough to play man. Well if thats the case I'm sure every NBA team would play exclusive man. But the rules have changed to let teams play zone and lots of teams do it. The zone defense at its absolute best can actually be better than a man defense. Example- Texas, which plays exclusive man, played zone against Oklahoma State and beat them because of it.
3. The center is the most pivotal player in the zone. For a long time people thought this was the case and even today I'm sure some people think that this is true. The theory goes a center in the middle will deter shots in the lane and grab rebounds. Unfortunately they are wrong. The most important players in the zone are the two guards. They must cover wing to center of the court and dive down for any entry pass into the middle. If you dont have quick guards, you dont have an effective zone. A center is important, but not as important as the guard play. Example- SU's zone. From 1996 on, the centers are Otis Hill, Etan Thomas, Elvir Ovcina, Craig Forth, Jeremy Mcneil. Hill was undersized and Ovcina and Forth were just smart players that took up space. You could make an argument Mcneil was a premier shot blocker but for every block he got a foul. Thomas is the only one of the group to be a dominant shot blocker and force in the middle. You dont need the big player in the middle to have an effective zone.

Why does SU's zone work?
1. "Being long"- Thats the one word everyone uses to describe SU's zone. The players are "long". What does that mean? It means the players they have can use their armspan to cover more than their height should allow them to. Hakim Warrick is long, Kueth Duany is long, Carmelo Anthony is long. They cover more court with their arms and can trap players in corners and contest jumpshots even if they are a step or two away from the shooter. When it looks like there is an open look in the zone, one step and jump can make that open shot much difficult
2. Discipline- Every player in the SU zone has assigned responsibilties. Once one person decides to do his own thing the whole zone breaks down. Just look at if a player goes for a steal. In the man to man if that happens you just keep switching until the player gets back in the play. In a zone, there is a a huge gap that cant be overcome. The epitome of zone discipline is Craig Forth. He gets hammered by fans sometimes, but you'll never see Forth out of position in the zone pre-shot. When's the last time someone threw an alley-oop on the Orange? Thats because of Forth. He takes away the rim and snuffs out backscreens. The easiest play to get on an undisciplined zone is the alley-oop. Lets not forget the other players. The forwards must challenge shooters on the wings and the guards cant run out as far because if there is an offensive rebound they dont get back in defensive position. SU has unbelievable discipline in the zone.
3. Anticipation- This is the one many people overlook. Not only do the guards have to anticipate, but the forwards do too. Josh Pace and Gerry Macnamara are great anticipators. The know where the ball is going and get there before the pass is completed. The forwards need to see that the ball is being reversed and get ready for the extra pass. Also the forwards and guards must be on the same page to trap in corners and in the wing spot and then the opposite guard and forward must drop. This is all basketball sense and SU has impressive instinct.

How do you beat it?

1.Time-Well there are many schools of thought. But first and foremost you need time to prepare. The Big East Teams have time during the season because they usually have time to prepare. To go into a zone and play it without seeing it all season is very difficult Ask John Lucas. Ask the Kansas guards. It not easy.
2- Big Men- Crash the glass and crash the glass hard. The zone doesnt have specific box out assignments If your guards rebound well they can outnumber the rebounders underneath- Example- Kansas in the 2001 tourney. They totally dominated SU on the glass and won in a rout.
3- All purpose man- If you have a guy that score in the mid range game and pass the ball well you already have the zone halfway beat. If you put that guy at the foul line he can make the 15 ft jump shot, pass it out for an open jumpshot, or force the SU center to step up and dump the pass down low before the forwards collapse. Example- Richard Hamilton used to be proficient at this and breaking down the SU zone from the inside .
4- Shoot, Shoot, and shoot- This seems to be the theory of most teams and mostly it doesnt work. The one way it does work is if you make enough shots to force SU out of the zone. Two teams that were proficient at hitting the 3 and hurting SU was Kentucky in 96 and Alabama last year.

The Syracuse Zone may be the greatest equalizer in college. Teams have never seen it and have trouble against it. Will the zone ever take off across the country? I doubt it. It takes a discipline that many young players dont have and a willingness to put your ego on the shelf. More teams use zone now, but none of them play it like SU.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

 

Fun with Numbers

Statistics are fun to look at and if you're Ken Pomeroy or Jeff Sagarin they help explain everything. So today I decided to look at the top 10 teams in the country and compare their stats at guard. People say guard play is vital to an NCAA tournament run, but how much do teams depend on their guards to create points? How balanced are teams in relation to guards and forwards scoring the basketball? Some teams start 3 guards so I noted those next to the team. The third column is Points created per game. Since an assist is worth 2, you double that column, add it to points per game and divide by games played, its the amount of points directly created by the guards. The last column is the percentage of the team's points directly attributed to guard play. Sorry about the format, I couldnt figure out a way to make a chart come out on this blog.

Guard Play
Team Pts Ast TO PC/G %
Illinois (3) 45 16.4 8 77 95
Washington (3) 46.5 12.6 6.6 71.7 81
Kansas (3) 32.3 10.7 5.5 53.7 75
Duke 38.3 6.6 4.2 51.5 63
Kentucky 29.3 7.6 3.4 44.5 59
Wake 32.5 8.8 5.4 50.1 59
UNC 27.7 9.9 6.0 47.5 52
Ok State 23.8 8.1 2.9 40 51
SU 21.4 6.5 4.2 34.4 45
BC 16.9 6.3 3.6 29.5 39

A few interesting notes
- Both Big East teams are at the bottom as far as percentage and BC is the only top ten team under 45 percent and for that matter they're under 40 percent. Guard play is of course key in the country but it seems like it is less important in the Big East because both teams are undefeated in conference play.
- Duke leads all the two guard offenses in points scored, but is near the bottom in assists. There is so much pressure on JJ Reddick and Daniel Ewing to contribute and score big every night that at some point Duke is going to struggle. To ask those two guys to play like that for 6 games in the tourney is asking a lot especially when they play better guards.
- I know Illinois plays 3 guards but 95 percent of the points they score are attributed to 3 guys. That was the number that jumped out at me. It is an insane amount of points that are directly created by Deron Williams, Luther Head and Dee Brown. That goes to show how much they play and why Illinois is so successful. No one else in the Illini offense is responsible for ball handling duties.
-North Carolina is the highest scoring team at points per game but only rely a little above 50 percent on their starting guards. That means that the guys like Sean Mays and Jawad Williams are scoring without much help from their guards. Just seems to me by a quick glance that UNC is the most balanced offense.
-John Lucas' Ast/TO ratio is off the charts. He gets his guys in good position to score and doesnt turn the ball over. For that matter neither does Daniel Bobik. Just crunching numbers you can see Oklahoma State and UNC relying on their big guys if the perimeter game isnt working.
-Not a lot of people know about Washington, but their 3 guard lineup actually scores more than Illinois. With Brandon Roy back expect their numbers to climb a little bit. They have an explosive offense and apparently there are other people that help Washington. Sometime in the next couple of days we'll look at the State of West Coast Basketball.

What do these numbers mean for SU?
-Not much. I was surprised SU was that close to 50 percent but it goes to show how much more of an all round player Macnamara has become. The second guard for SU is McCroskey and he's not a contributor in the mold of some of these other teams. If I had used Josh Pace's numbers I'm sure the percentage would have been higher. If and when Edelin gets back to his normal self expect to see SU hover around 50 percent.








Tuesday, January 25, 2005

 

SU in the news

Couple of tid bits on SU

-Seth Davis has Gmac and Warrick as 2 of his 3 Big East Conference Players of the Year.
-John Walters has a line about SU in his weekly college column.
-The AP does a story on SU, you can view it here. It was posted on SUfans.com. Thanks guys.
 

The Recaps

Two different sides and two very different takes to what this game means and proves to both teams. The Post Standard talks about how the seniors stepped up. The Newark Star Ledger says Rutgers let one slip away.

Seeing how huge the comeback was I'm doing a little something different I'm going to grade out all the performances last night. Not that these grades mean anything but seeing how every one who played a major role in the comeback contributed. Positives and Negatives included

Hakim Warrick- what can you say about SU's national player of the year candidate? Warrick fueled the comeback with his play early in the 2nd half and his long arms in the press. Picked up two really dumb fouls that put him on the bench when SU finally nudged in front. Needs to stop talking to the officials. Grade B

Gerry Macnamara- How do you spell Gmac? C-L-U-T-C-H. This guy has ice in his veins. Hit two huge 3s in the second half, one to put SU up 6. Impressed with his penetration of the Rutgers guards in the 1st half and was good in the man to man defense. Saw a lot from the Scranton wonderkid last night. We knew he had guts, but he showed off that he is much more of a complete basketball player than people give him credit for. He did go the whole game without shooting a free throw which is alarming considering both teams were in the bonus 7 minutes into the 2nd half. Grade A-

Josh Pace- No more words left for this guy. 14 pts, 7 rebs and 7 assists. You know what you're getting every night from Pace. He doesnt do too much and knows his limits. Found Gmac for the 3 to put SU up 6. Couple of huge rebounds when he was left by himself to outrebound two Rutgers players. He does it all and he hit 2 of 3 FTS. Did miss two shots he normally makes but that is definetely nitpicking. Grade A

Billy Edelin- Welcome Back Welcome Back Welcome Back. Two good games in a row for Edelin. 14 points and the confidence we saw from Edelin in 2003 reared its head. Asking for one on one and waving teammates away. Getting clutch put backs and he hit a clutch baseline shot. He did miss a short junmper that would have given SU a 3 point lead, but only mistake of the night. Was vocal in the locker room at half time. Made 7-8 from the line including two clutch ones. Grade A

Craig Forth- Disappointed in Forth last night. He did grab one huge rebound and had a big tip in but overall not much of a factor. Was on the Bench when SU pressed and got back in the game. Not much from Forth. Grade C-

Louie McCroskey- Best game Louie has played for the Orange. Confident with the drive, finished at the basket a couple of times in the 1st half. You can really see how much skill this kid had. Played very well in the pressure defense to start the 2nd half with two steals. Needs to be able to make the outside shot consistently to keep the D honest. Very impressed with Mccroskey. Grade B+

Terrence Roberts- Ok, Im starting become increasingly frustrated with Roberts. He picks up cheap fouls and he constantly is chatty with the officials. He needs to cut it out. Also this comment wont help. He continually gets himself out of position on defense by going for blocks he cant get. He brings the most energy to the floor of any SU player, but he needs to refine his skills. Very raw. Took two bad shots in the second half. He did win the game for the Orange with the tip in, but needs to get a lot better. He has the talent, now he needs to know how to use it. Grade C+

Daryl Watkins- "Mookie" played very well for having a cast on his hand. Missed 3 FT's but you would too if you had a cast on. Was the last line of defense when SU pressed and didnt allow any easy baskets. For What he could do Watkins was good. Grade B

Jim Boeheim- Win 696 wasnt easy but it may be JB's greatest comeback. Didnt say anything to the team at half and it worked. He knows his players. When SU got the lead down to 4 he backed off the press to save their legs. Took Gmac out of the game to give him a break. Great coaching in the 2nd half. Would have liked to see SU get out of the zone earlier in the 1st half, but to be fair when SU did go man in the 1st half RU just went right to the basket and scored anyway. Grade A-

Overall 1st Half grade - D
Overall 2nd Half Grade- A
Overall Grade- B+

Monday, January 24, 2005

 

BIG RAC COMEBACK!!! SU 86- RU84

In one of the most memorable comebacks Ive ever witnessed by a Syracuse team, I realized why this team does is ranked in the top 5. They showed guts, courage, determination, and a will to win tonight after being down by 18 at the half. Who fueled the comeback? The entire team. 45 seconds into the 2nd half the lead was down to 11 and 4 minutes in the lead was 4 for RU. It was Warrick early in the 2nd half, GMac in the middle and Pace and Edelin the end. And to top it off it was Terrence Roberts that won the game with a tip in and free throw. This is the proudest Ive ever been of an SU squad. Should they have been down 20 to Rutgers? Of course not. But there was no quit in this group. Everyone contributed even Daryl Watkins with a cast on his hand. SU followed their worst half of the season with their best. Thats the mark of a good team. They could have said "this isnt our night, Rutgers is shooting the lights out,lets get Pitt on Saturday", but they didnt. Hakim Warrick played like a National Player of the Year candidate, Gerry Macnamara played like the clutch shooter he is and Josh Pace played like..well Josh Pace. They did this at a place where they struggled before. And until Saturday at Pitt these guys have every right to be proud of what they did tonight at the RAC.

Coming tomorrow- Recaps from Syracuse and Rutgers and more analysis on a great comebacl by the Orange
 

Monday Musings

Here's what the national media and Big East Media re asying about SU this monday. SU moves up to #4 in the AP poll.

National Media
-Joe Lunardi has SU as a 2 seed in the Chicago region.
-Luke Winn of CNNSI does an interesting article on the trouble private schools may have competing in the future and you can check out his power rankings also.
-Stewart Mandel names SU-Pitt as one of his games of the week.

Big East Media
-Hakim Warrick is namedCo-player of the Big East this week.

 

Little RAC of horrors

SU goes to the Swampland tonight to play in their personal arena of horrors..the Louis Brown Athletic Center (also known as the Rutgers Athletic Center AKA RAC). SU has lost 3 of the last 4 played at Rutgers and the one win was by one point. Rutgers may have the best homecourt advantage in the Northeast. From witnessing games there first hand and being on the court the noise just funnels to the court. It is extremely loud and the configuration of the RAC makes it difficult for road teams. The Orange go for their 13th win in a row and 7 consecutive BE victory tonight at 7. The Post Standard previews the game as does the Newark Star Ledger out of New Jersey.

Later today we'll have the polls and go around the country and see what everyone is saying about SU.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

 

Billy's Back

Billy Edelin had a huge game for SU yesterday. Read the Syracuse angle on the game and then read how West Virginia reacted.

My Take
Another close game for the number 7 team in the land. Dont know if this is starting to be a good thing or a cause for concern. Dont get me wrong I'll take the wins but its the play that matters to me. West Virginia did make quality shots in the second half but SU never put them away to where those shots would have been the difference between cutting the lead from 20 to 10 instead of 12 down to 6. Look at Kansas they played a bunch of close games and then got absolutely blasted at Nova. Kansas looked horrible. Is SU set up for one of those type performances? We'll see in the coming weeks when they go to Pitt,Uconn and BC.

The Positives

- The play of Billy Edelin. He was fantastic in the 1st half. Neither Pace or GMac scored in the 1st half and SU was still up 12 going into the break. Now we have to see how Billy follows this game up. The last time he played well was against ND and then he was nonexistent against PC and Gtown. So we'll see if he can build on it.
-Warrick continues his play as a Player of the year candidate. If you know you're going to get 23 and 10 from Warrick every night the Cuse is in good shape. He hasnt just been good in these games, he's been SU's best player in the last 3 games.
-The Cuse played a lot of man to man in the 1st half and played it very well. Thats going to help the Cuse later in the year in games when they have to abandon the zone. You know there will be one game where the other team shoots SU out of the zone. Now the tem has some confidence that they can play man.
- The Ft's - SU goes 16-18 from the line. So like I said last week either you're a good FT shooting team or your not. SU might be one of those teams that shoots well at home and not on the road. Something to keep an eye on.

The Negatives
-Terrence Roberts is getting more and more frustrating to watch or listen to. He constantly picks up dumb fouls and isnt on the floor when Forth gets in foul trouble because he gets in foul trouble also. Roberts may be the most talented player out of the sophomore group but is very incosistent. When Daryl Watkins comes back (which could be Monday) this will help alleviate some problems, but Roberts needs to be a little better
-The Rebounding is still a little issue. Its nitpicking, but Warrick seems to be the only one grabbing a clutch rebound. The other guys need to step up and help him out.
-The Schedule- look at SU's upcoming schedule. This is where we find out about this team. Pitt twice, Uconn twice, ND, at BC,at Nova. The 5 best teams in the league all in the next 7 after RU on monday. Should be good.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

 

SU Wins!!

Syracuse beat West Virginia today 72-64 at the Dome where 29,000 plus witnessed, a season campus record. Recaps and Analysis coming tomorrow.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

 

Around the Country

5 observations on whats going on in different parts of the country.

1.Punching Zags. Gonzaga has beaten Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech on neutral courts (even though the Ok St game was in Oklahoma City) and has lost at Missouri, and tonight at San Francisco. No, Bill Rusell did not play for the Dons tonight. Gonzaga never loses at home, but they have played some tough road games. This leads to the question of whether the Zags are as good as advertised or maybe the West Coast Conference is catching up. It probably a little of both. No doubt Gonzaga has the talent with Turiaf and Batista in the middle and Morrison and Ravio on the outside, but this could be a 3 bid conference out west. StMary's is for real and dont forget Santa Clara beat UNC the first game. That being said Gonzaga has to win these games. They now have two conference losses. They have four in the last 4 years combined. If you can beat Ok St. on what was a home court for the Cowboys then you should beat USF on the road. If the Zags want to be considered true final four contenders they need to show more than what they have shown early in conference play.

2. The top ten this week? #1 Illinois wins in OT against Iowa,#2 Kansas wins by 2 against NEB at home, #3 Wake loses to FSU, #5 OK St. loses to Texas, #7 SU beats Georgetown in OT at home, #8 Kentucky beats Ole Miss by 3 after being down 16, #9 BC beats Nova by one at home. The point? On any given day anyone can lose in conference play in college Basketball. To say that some team is unworthy of their ranking is not knowing the game.

3. Class? I dont need no stinkin' class. Well if you're PJ Tucker of Texas or Sean Banks of Memphis maybe you should have attended at least some classes. Now both players are done for the year because of academic issues and have cost their teams chances at deep tournament runs or maybe even making the tournament. Banks was a terrific freshman last year and Tucker is the glue that helped hold Texas together. And to make matters worse in Tucker's case is that you only need to pass 6 credit hours in the first semester to be eligible for the next semester. Thats two classes. PJ Tucker couldnt pass two classes. As for Sean Banks, he was already thinking about declaring for the NBA draft last year and you could see he was disinterested in school and at some points disinterested in passing the basketball. Its a shame that these players cant see that they are getting a chance at something that many Americans would die for. A free college education.

4. SEC basketball its fannn-umm...ok its horrible. The SEC is looking at getting only 4 teams in the Tournament and thats being generous. The only teams right now that will get in are Kentucky and Alabama. Mississippi State was looking like they might be a shoe in for the tourney, but then they lost a heartbreaker to Alabama by THIRTY-NINE. It wasnt even that close. It is very concievable that the SEC might only get 3 teams. Florida may get in, but they are very bubblicious. I'm saying MSU or UF will get in but dont be shocked if the SEC only sends two teams to the Dance. What an embarrassment that would be for the SEC. They've gotten at least 5 teams in for the last 5 years. Two teams this year? Ouch babe.

5. Coming up soon is BracketBuster Weekend. A concotion made up by ESPN so Mid Majors play each other to get one more good non-conference game on their schedule and an opportunity for a quality win against a team with theoretically the same talent. I have things I would like to see changed. First of all, no offense to the fans of these teams, but I have no interest in Oral Roberts against Witchita St. I don't and unless you are a diehard ,and I mean diehard college hoops fan, most people dont have any interest either. I would much rather watch Oral Roberts have a chance to upset Kansas at home or play Arizona on the road than play another mid-major. I know this wont happen because the major conference schools are afraid to play mid majors on the road and dont want to play mid majors period because it brings down their RPI, but I would hope it would. And one more thing I would want to see is more regionalization of these games. I am intrigued by Vermont, but I dont need to see them play Hawaii. How about Vermont/Niagara or Vermont/George Mason?..that way by tourney time I will be somewhat familiar with the teams from my region that could make some noise. Not to say I dont like the idea but I think it could be tweaked.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

 

Satisfaction? Not Guaranteed

And neither is a final four berth. All the "experts" seem to think that two ACC teams will get into the final four along with a combo of OK state,Illinois and Kansas. Those are the majority of picks. Of course some people stick SU in some prognastications or maybe even a sleeper!! like Duke(ugh). There was a great article done by John Feinstein, who authored a book on an entire ACC season entitled A March to Madness.(sidenote-that book is a great read. I dont like the ACC but it gives you in depth on the hated rivalries in the ACC and how intense each game is. It was also written in Dean Smith's last year at Carolina. Its 9 years old now, but i think its definetely worth it). Here's the article about how nothing in the NCAA tournament is guaranteed and this from an ACC guy. So I decided to look at the last 10 years of the NCAA tournament and see how many years a Final Four has featured 4 teams ranked in the top eight going into the tournament. The answer? None. Not one time has a final four featured a combo of just one seeds and 2 seeds. That is remarkable. So all these people that think its going to be only teams ranked in the top 5 in the Final Four are wrong. The numbers dont lie. Expect at least one 3 seed or lower in the Final Four. In 2000 two number EIGHTS were in the Final Four. So if you think the top teams in the country will all be playing for the title in April well just think again and dont be afraid to add in a sleeper. My sleeper pick for the Final Four(team ranked out of the top ten) is Louisville. Just a hunch.
 

Is the Rivalry back?

Here are two recaps from the SU win last night.One from SU's point of view and one from a Georgetown angle.

As for my analysis of the game here it is. First of all Georgetown is better than anyone in the country thought they would be. They have a couple quick guards and they are big inside with Jeff Green, Brandon Bowman,and Roy Hilbern. Bowman and Green can both shoot from the outside as evidence by Bowman's huge game last night. The encouranging signs from an SU standpoint is that the bottom line is they won the game. When it came down to overtime Warrick and Macnamara took over scoring 9 of the 11 points in overtime. These guys flat out know how to win. Forth played another huge game last night with a double double and Pace was Pace. 18-1, there needs to be no complaning. SU has set themselves up for a huge Big East year by starting 5-0. As for things that need to be changed. Lets leave FT shooting out of it because either you are a good FT shooting team or you're not. There's no switch that gets turned on and the team says "Oh now we can start hitting FTs". The two major issues that have arisen out of the last two games are defensive rebounding late in the game and pressure defenses. PC and GT both crashed the boards late in the game and both got 2, 3 and sometimes 4 chances at a bucket. As an example SU was leading GTown at half rebounding by about 6 and then finished 2 behind the Hoyas at the end of the game. Having Pace on the backline hurts at the end because big frontlines just jump over him. Will Boeheim go big when Daryl Watkins comes back? We'll have to wait and see. The second thing about press defense is hurting the Orange. G Mac had 6 turnovers last night and its because the press d makes him go faster and speeds the game up for him forcing him to make decisions faster. Pace was horrible handling the press against PC. The solution. Billy Edelin. Does Edelin get out of Boeheim's doghouse? Lets hope soon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

 

Syracuse Wins!!

SU beat Georgetown tonight 78-73 in overtime at the Dome. Coming tomorrow: Game Recaps from both sides and some analysis from yours truly. Also a look at how nothing in college baskeball is guaranteed. Wake Forest I'm looking in your direction.
 

John Thompson is Back!!!

For the first time since 1999 John Thompson will coach Georgetown at the Dome against Syracuse. Ok its John Thompson III or as his friends call him JT3. If thats not the coolest nickname for a coach I dont know what is. "So who's you're coach?" "JT3". Awesome. But I digress. I dont think this John Thompson will officially try to close the Dome tonight like his father did to Manley. Georgetown comes to the Dome tonight and its no where to be found on television outside the syracuse area. The premier rivalry in Big East history not on tv. Could you imagine Duke-UNC not on tv? Georgetown is hot and playing well. For all the pregame notes check out the preview of the game on syracuse.com. If you want a different angle and why G-Town is playing well check this out. (free reg. req).

Monday, January 17, 2005

 

Monday Musings

Every Monday Ill try to post what the National Media and Opposing Big East Media is saying about SU. As always I will post the local stories first, but this morning there are no local stories. Also I'll have the rankings as soon as they become available. SU is ranked #7 in both polls that came out today.

National Media
-Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com has SU as a 2 Seed in his weekly Bracketology.
-Andy Katz of ESPN.com has SU as his team of the week in his Weekly Watch.
-Grant Wahl of CNNSI.com has SU as one of his Magic 8 teams that will win the National Championship.

Rival BE Media
-The Washington Post seeds SU as a 2 seed in the Alberquerque Region.(free reg. req.)
-Notes from Providence Journal about SU's 75-71 win over PC.(free reg.req.)

 

Message Board Frenzy

I like to check out the message boards about SU basketball at syracuse.com and sufans.com, but sometimes its too unbearable to read the stuff on syracuse.com. Its just a place for rampant rumor sepculation or blatant name calling. Last time I checked Message boards are for opinions and as I was taught in lovely New Jersey Public schools an opinion cant be wrong. Even though this one kid in high school named thought that fact was just popular opinion. For instance the reason we call Syracuse's primary color "orange"is because thats what everyone calls it and everyone called it "green"we would call the color orange "green". Its very confusing and I think I just gave myself a headache,but back to the original point. Sufans.com is very good for intelligent conversation about SU hoops but if you want to just hide behind a screen name and call people names then head over to syracuse.com. Im not saying syracuse.com doesnt have intelligent conversation but its hard to find it through all the drivel.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

 

Welcome

Well everyone has a blog so here's mine. Its all about Syracuse University Hoops if you couldnt tell. Its been a passion of mine since I was about 12 years old living in New Jersey.My first memory of SU is winning the 1992 Big East tournament but being on probation so they couldnt go to the NCAA tournament. Thats when I fell for SU hoops. Ive watched almost every game thats been on television or seen games in person. I remember Conrad Mcrae's tournanround jumpshot to beat Villanova at the Spectrum. I remember Lawrence Moten's high socks. I remember taping the SU-Kansas Elite 8 game in 1996 and watching it later with no one telling me the outcome and the subsequent dance done by Al McGuire while the entire SU team was singing "When the 'Cuse is in the house Oh My god". And then I attended SU from 1998-2002 and had some of my best memories. Seeing Ryan Blackwell make a shot at the buzzer to beat St Johns at the Garden. Starting 19-0 in 1999-2000 and rushing the court against UConn. But there have been plenty of bad memories. Moten calling a timeout they didnt have against Arkansas. The pathetic NIT game against FSU. Losing to Georgetown in the quarterfinals of the BE tournament. Blowing a huge 1st half lead to eventual champion Michigan State. But all of that ended in 2003. Of course the 1st year after I graduate becomes the best year in SU history, but I'll take it anyway. The purpose of this blog will be to update everything being said about Syracuse good and bad. So enjoy because I will.

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