Friday, March 11, 2005

 

Sweet Redemption

IF I had told you that Syracuse would shoot 35 percent from the field, Gerry McNamara would shoot 4 of 15 from the field (again), and Hakim Warrick would sit for seven minutes in the second half with 4 fouls, you would have said, "How much did SU lose by?" But tonight was about effort and tonight Syracuse got their revenge. After being embarrassed one week ago against UConn, Syracuse came out tonight and outworked, outhustled and outplayed the Huskies and hung on for a 67-63 victory. This was one of the guttiest performances I have seen by an SU team. Until the last two minutes of the game SU was out rebounding the Huskies by 10 rebounds and totally dominating on the offensive glass. There is so much to talk about that I'll break down each half.

1st Half
The Orange came out with an intensity I've never seen in the first 3 minutes. They went after every ball on the glass and on the first two offenive possessions, they corralled 4 offfensive rebounds. At that point right there was a sign that this game was going to be a little different than the one at Gampel. The scoring was slow, but you could see that Gerry McNamara was going to take the ball to the basket and not settle for the 3. GMAc didnt have a great shooting game but he did just enough. There were two turning points in the half. One of the turning points of the half was when Daryl Watkins entered the game. Watkins got after every loose ball on the glass and joined by Terrence Roberts helped SU get two and three looks at the basket every offensive possesion. The second was Hakim Warrick expanding his game. Warrick was being doubled on the block every time he posted up so he took his game to the outside and nailed two huge 3s. But this half was all about the effort on the defensive end by the Orange. They held UConn to 19 first half points and made every Husky shot a difficult one. UConn scored 6 points the last 11 minutes of the half and SU finished the half on a 17-6 run.

2nd Half
After the debacle last week in Gampel, SU was determined not to let that happen. The Orange scored 10 of the first 13 points out of the lockerroom to balloon their lead to 20 and everything was going right for SU. GMac hit a runner and a 3. A Warrick dunk made it a 21 point lead with 11 minutes to go, but then Warrick picked up his 4th foul and went to the bench. This is the point Syracuse tried to milk the clock using almost the whole shot clock on every possession. It was something they had to do. There was no other option. During the seven minutes Warrick was on the bench the Orange scored 4 points all by Roberts. The Huskies cut the lead to 12 but as soon as Warrrick stepped back on the floor he hit a hug turnaround to stem the tide a little to get the lead to 14. The Orange would only make two field goals in the last 9 minutes but it ws enough as UConn just ran out of time. The Huskies made a valiant run but never got the lead to 6 until 2 minutes left and by then it was too late. SU hit their FTs down the stretch to adavance to tomorrow's title game.

End Game notes
-Hakim Warrick's last 5 games- 29 points, 9 rebounds, 53% from the field and 77% from the line..I think he put any debate for Big East Player of the Year to rest.

-The Huskies only made 7 of 18 FTs with the biggest culprit being Charlie Villaneuva who went 2 of 8 from the line

- UConn's 19 points were the least in a half all season for the Huskies

-West Virginia is trying to make history by winning tonight. If they win they'll become the first Big East team to win 4 games in 4 days for the title, but they've already etched their name into Big East lore. West Virginia lost to BC by a total of 30 points in two regular seaon games and lost to Villanova by 30 in one game and avenged all 3 losses. WVU is the only team in Big East history to avenge a 30 point regular season loss. they are also the only 8 seed to ever rech the final of the tournament.

-Daryl Watkins played 31 minutes and grabbed 9 rebounds. His two highest totals since he played 33 minutes against Drexel and grabbed 13 boards on December 18th.

- Syracuse fell two rebounds short of becoming only the 3rd team all season to outrebound the Huskies. The other two? Pittsburgh and St Johns.
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