Thursday, March 22, 2007

This is getting too familiar...

Syracuse, NY ~Mid February

A Syracuse team that has had trouble gelling finally gets it and makes a run. Finishing out their last 10 games impressively, including big wins over the stretch. The toppling of Georgetown is among these victories. The biggest snub in NCAA history occurs, and this 22-10 team who finished 5th in the Big East (A power conference) somehow gets the boot from the selection committee. Upstate NY is thrown for a loop.

Fast Forward to Mid-March.
Same team is on the floor in a post-season tournament (not the one they wanted, but let's stick it to Walters). Run through the first two rounds of the tournament, including setting a record for NIT attendance along the way in the Carrier Dome, with arguably the best crowd of the season. The world is riding high on 'Cuse hoops (or at least we all are).

Last night:
Travel to Clemson to take on a Tigers team that is in the dumps, but has been rolling much like the Orange in the NIT. Clemson decides to hit everything from beyond the arc in the first half, finishing at .474 for the game (season long .338 team), while Cuse, a team known for it's shooting hits .188, the only shooter hitting being D. Nichols. You'd think we get blown out, and figure the season is a wash right?

Of course not! We rebound from a 17 point deficit in the second half, make a 22-7 run, and bring the game back within a point under a minute. I called it perfectly over in my South Alabama post-game thread, the state of Cuse Hoops has been a roller coaster for the last few years, every game.

The seniors gave everything they have to keep this run alive, and I respect them for it. The more I look back on it, the more I'm going to miss this group. They may not have been the smartest players, (Hoops IQ-wise), but damn it they gave everything they had on every day it seemed. From the heartache vs Wichita State when DNic missed the layup, to Roberts playing the end of the season and finishing it out on one leg, these guys have been great. Watching Mookie develop into a legitimate Center, and even seeing Gorman rocking around in his assless chaps at Providence...

Basically all I'm trying to say is that it was good to see this group of seniors step up and take the reigns, when at the beginning of the season everyone wondered "What will we do without Gerry?" Well, I'm here to pose a new question "What will we do without DNic? or Mookie?" There are some gaps to fill now and hopefully we can have immediate impact from Flynn, Greene, Scoop, and Jackson when they show up on campus to fill those shoes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Should we visit Mike Jones on the way?, Nah just leave him some tickets...

After a great win over San Diego State University, in a record setting attendance night for the NIT tournament with over 26,000 fans in the Dome last night, the Orangemen are on their way to South Carolina. I know I normally do a recap of the game, but if the fact that we rolled 80-64, with Todd Burach getting a basket in his final Dome game of his career don't sum it up, then Brian over at Orange44 had a great recap as well.

Down in the great state of South Carolina, the boys are looking to match up with a Clemson Tigers team that was the hottest thing since the Furby craze at the beginning of the year. Since that 17-0 start, against powerhouses Appalachian State, and Wofford, (and people criticize the SU non-conference schedule), the Tigers have successfully finished out of the NCAA's and into the NIT. Clemson's only notable wins came over BC (split) and Georgia Tech (also split). They basically choked more than Bobby Knight at Indiana.

Anyway, here's how we match up vs. the Tigers.

Starting Lineups:
Clemson - Pos. - Syracuse
Vernon Hamilton - 6'0" - PG - Eric Devendorf - 6'4"
Cliff Hammonds - 6'3" - SG - Andy Rautins - 6'5"
K.C. Rivers - 6'5" - SF - Demitris Nichols - 6'7"
Trevor Booker - 6'7" - PF - Terrence Roberts - 6'10"
James Mays - 6'9" - C - Mookie Watkins - 6'11"

Yet another team we should be able to out-size, though it seems we have trouble doing so this year. Our Bigs tend to play more solidly against larger teams (Mookie vs. Gray or Hibbert, as opposed to S. Alabama's Little). It looks like Nichols should have a reach advantage over Rivers, and should be able to extend his jumper over him.

Rivers is their leading scorer at 13.3ppg, also averaging 4.5 boards. All five of their starters average in double figures for points, with Rivers, Mays and Hamilton at 12.3, Hammonds at 11.7, and Booker at 10.4. They don't get much production off the bench, with the next leading scorer Sam Perry at 3.6ppg.

Hammonds is the primary distributor at 4.1apg, and Hamilton at 3.7. Mays and Booker take the boards at 6.5 a piece. On paper this seems like a very favorable match up, and I don't know how much they have seen an active zone. They are not a great shooting team from deep, but are solid, with Rivers at .391 and Hammonds at .374 on the year, and .369 as a team (opposed to our .369 and Nichols at .418, Devo and Homebrew Drew hovering around .360). They also seem to give up plenty of good looks from the field, with Opp FG% a very high .444 .

All in all it should be an interesting game. Though the fan support won't be there, neither will Clemson's. They average only 7,217 attendance per game. Maybe Mike Jones will show up and help root for the team he transferred from?