Tag Archives: Rick Jackson

Sweet Like Bear Meat!

…To quote Tracy Morgan.

Yes, Syracuse is back in the Sweet 16 after defeating Arizona State today. I don’t have time for a full recap of today’s game, but I wanted to look at the three keys to victory that I mentioned earlier on ASU blog House of Sparky. The Orange hit on all three today in their win:

1. Get Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson involved early.

This was obviously something that Coach Boeheim stressed to his players before the game, because the Orange had an inside presence from the beginning. The two big men combined for 10 of the first 20 Orange points, and both finished with double-digit scoring efforts. This was a key to getting open looks for Devendorf and Rautins against the ASU match-up zone.

2. Knock down some threes.

No problems with the outside shot today. Devendorf had five triples and Rautins added three threes of his own. 9-20 (45%) effort from long distance today, compared to the 2-16 showing in the first round. If the Orange shoot like they are capable of from outside, they can be a challenge to any team in the country.

3. Score, score, score!

I wrote that the Orange are 18-3 on the year when the reach the 80 point mark, and only 9-6 when they don’t. Well, they only got to 78, but against a team that was only giving up 60 points per game, 78 is a huge number. The Orange kept the pace where they like it and weren’t bogged down by ASU’s zone. Great offensive day for Syracuse.

Cory from House of Sparky was right on with his assessment on how to beat the Sun Devils. Pendergraph was forced out of the game with about ten minutes left (why did Herb Sendek leave him in there?) which eliminated any inside presence ASU had. While we did allow Kuksiks and Abbott to get open looks we kept the defensive pressure on ASU the eintire game, and limited the damage of James Harden. We also did a great job working inside-out on their zone.

All told, it was a very solid performance by the Cuse hoopsters. Next up is Blake Griffin and the Oklahoma Sooners.

Well, I Couldn’t Have Been More Wrong

After the six overtime marathon, I wrote that Syracuse had little to no chance to win in the semifinal against West Virginia. Actually, I wrote that the Orange had a 0.6% chance of winning. I’ve never been more happy to be wrong.

Syracuse survived another OT game against the Mountaineers, but luckily this one ended after just one extra session. Syracuse played very well in the first half, and when Eric Devendorf hit that 60 footer as the buzzer sounded, I thought they were going to come out guns blazing in the second half. West Virginia seemed to have other ideas, as they quickly erased their 7 point halftime deficit and forced Jim Boeheim to call a quick timeout to regroup his exhausted squad.

The second half was a battle, with each team going back and forth and nobody jumping too far ahead. Jonny Flynn looked completely gassed, and that might be the least shocking statement I’ve ever made. Dude played 67 of 70 minutes in the UConn game, and followed it up with a nice easy 45 minutes against WVU. That is ridiculous.

Luckily the Orange were able to somehow get it done again in the extra frame, setting up tonight’s final against number one seed Louisville. I don’t want to again predict that Syracuse is too exhausted to compete against the Cardinals, but how can they not be? I don’t think Jim Boeheim is going to change his strategy and suddenly give Kris Joseph more minutes to counter the fatigue of some of the other regulars. If he wanted to do that, last night was the game to do it in. So I guess I’d have to double our chances of winning tonight to 1.2% after this performance. I’ll keep it low since I don’t want to jink us.

Other random thoughts on the West Virginia victory:

-The Waffle was outstanding. 6 points on 3-4 shooting, 10 boards-including 7 off the offensive glass, as well as 4 steals. Not to mention a number of passes he got his hands on. The guy is instant energy off the bench and he seems to have responded well to Boeheim’s challenging of him earlier in the year.

-Interesting quote from Jonny Flynn in Dana O’Neil’s post game story:

“We knew nobody was giving us a chance,” Flynn said. “We like that. We’re all underdogs. None of us were really highly recruited. We’re all guys people have counted out and we like that feeling. We like when things are stacked against us.”

I like the sentiment, Jonny, and I’m sure the coaching staff is playing it up. But the fact is this is one of the most highly touted group of recruits that has worn the Orange in recent memory. Flynn wasn’t that heavily recruited, but he committed to the Orange before his junior season, the same time Paul Harris had committed (although it was Harris’ senior year). Flynn went on to be a McDonald’s All-American and surely had plenty of coaches from around the country trying to get him to renege on the Orange and go to their school.

And if you look at the other players on the roster, most of them were highly recruited as well:

  • Eric Devendorf was a McDonald’s All-American, so he had offers from a number of big-name schools, including Florida, Louisville and Michigan State.
  • Rick Jackson wasn’t as highly touted as hist 2007 classmates of Flynn, Donte Green and Scoop Jardine, but he was recruited by Villanova, Virginia, Virginia Tech and St. Joe’s amoung others.
  • Freshmen Kris Joseph and Mookie Jones (who, by the way, looks like an alien) were both recruited by big name schools. Joseph by Georgetown and Maryland and Jones by Marquette and Kansas.

So while I like the idea of the Orange thinking they are the forgotten ones, and granted, they were underdogs against WVU (although that had to do with the fact that they played 1.8 basketball games 24 hours earlier), they are hardly castoffs and rejects and Syracuse is far from The Island of Misfit Toys.

– Some interesting tidbits from the great website StatSheet.com:

  • Syracuse won while doing worse than it’s season averages for points, FG percentage, free throw percentage and rebounds (although West Virginia was noticeably worse in this category as well).
  • West Virginia (54.7) had a better effective FG percentage than Syracuse (50.0), which doesn’t happen often to the Orange. Syracuse ranks 1st in the Big East and 18th nationally in eFG% (more on that here).

The Greatest Game Ever Played?

Blogging really only requires three things: a basic knowledge of the subject you intend to write about, an internet connection, and an ability to get into some sort or rhythm so you can post more than twice a month. I have an unbelievable lack of the latter, seeing as how I never got into a rhythm posting on here and haven’t posted in three months. I was going to keep this blog dormant until I posted my football preview for next season, but after what I (and I’m assuming most Cuse fans) witnessed tonight, I knew I had to get some thoughts down.

Six overtimes...what else needs to be said?

Six overtimes...what else needs to be said?

Without hyperbole, this was the greatest basketball game I have ever watched. Seriously, try right now to think of five games better than this- on all levels, not just college but pro too- and if you can come up with one let me know. I know Kentucky-Duke was good, but it didn’t go six overtimes. This is by far the greatest Syracuse game I’ve ever seen, and maybe the best Big East game as well. This game was absolutely insane, and the fact that my favorite basketball team was involved only adds to the insanity.

How many words need to be said about this team? Before tonight, they might have gone down as the most frustrating Syracuse team of all-time. They are unbelievably talented, yet struggled to win games against any of the top Big East teams. Add in the fact that our center is shooting a whopping 12% from the free throw line in conference play, his backup was not much better from the line, Paul Harris has spent more time in Jim Boheim’s dog house the past 2 weeks than Jeremy McNeil did in his entire senior season, and this was quickly becoming another lost Syracuse season. Oh, and that is without mentioning the whole Eric Devendorf saga.

But tonight changed all of that. No matter what happens against West Virginia in the Big East semifinal, no matter how the Orange do in the NCAA tournament, this game is what this team will be remembered for. Even Boheim knows how special this was, saying he has never been as proud of a team as he was of this team on this night. And he coached a national championship team. What does that say about tonight?

The fact that Syracuse didn’t even have a lead in the game until the 6th overtime shows how impressive their victory was. After Onuaku, Jackson and The Waffle all fouled out, Kris Joseph, a 6-7 freshman played center. I don’t know if he’s ever played there in his life, but he did tonight. 8 total palyers fouled out of tonight’s game. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. Jonny Flynn played 67 minutes! I sat in a chair for 3 hours and 45 mins watching this thing and I’m exhausted. How must Jonny feel? Flynn finished one point shy of his career high with 34 points. Harris ended with his own career high- 29 points. Syracuse as a team was shooting 64% from the free throw line this season. In the 35 mins of overtime, they shot 23-26 from the charity stripe. Look at that again: 23-26. If before this game I would have told you Syracuse would make 23 out of 26 free throw attempts, would you have believed me? Of course not. You probably would have yelled, spit or cursed at me. Oh, and don’t forget Devo’s unreal shot that didn’t count. It might not have been good, but how the hell did he get that thing over the defender? Syracuse only had 16 turnovers in 70 minutess of play! Pretty amazing for a team that was 15th in the Big East in turnovers per game in the regular season.

This game had too many stories to tell, but I’ll remember the greatest details for a long time. As Chris Chase pointed out, this is why we love college hoops. I couldn’t agree more.

I was going to go down to NYC on Friday if Syracuse beat UConn. Now, I don’t really see the point. Nothing I could witness in person would come close to tonight. I wouldn’t see basketball even a fraction as good , and, let’s face it, there is about a 0.6% chance we can win tomorrow. We just played 1.8 basketball games against a top 5 basketball team.

I work for a sports network, and was working tonight during the game. Since I was in a studio where a live broadcast was being produced, I had my cell phone off. When I left, I had 13 text messages waiting for me. They basically tell the story of the game:

  • My buddy Jay: The waffle is in already
  • My sister: Sweet!
  • Jay: When are you going to admit I was right about the Belgian? (editors note- I’ve never been against Kristoff, per say. And he has been playing out of his mind the last two weeks. All in all, I enjoyed the Kristoff era)
  • My sister: Holy shit I’m going nuts!
  • My buddy Ross: This is absolutely amazing!!!
  • “The” Trout: Shit, I’m gonna run outta beer if this keeps up.
  • Bob from work: One of these players is gonna die on the court.
  • Bob again: Honestly….someone will die.
  • Trout again: GaaAAAaaahhh! (editors note- that is the actual capitalization he used)
  • My UConn alumni-roomate: I’m not even mad to lose this one. Congrats.
  • Trout again: …!
  • Another UConn co-worker: I can’t sleep. I’m not mad. I don’t know what this emotion is. It’s like purgatory, but Jews don’t believe in that. (editors note-just so you know, he’s Jewish, I’m not racist)
  • Bob again: Wow…all I have to say.

Wow indeed.