Sunday, February 17, 2008

Weekend wrap

Huge win for Syracuse yesterday. After a miserable defeat to South Florida earlier in the week, the Orange rebounded by dominating Georgetown on Saturday en route to a 77-70 victory. The win was key for the Orange as it tries to get back into NCAA tournament consideration. The Orange is 17-9 (7-6 Big East). With all the parity in college basketball this year, I’d say reaching the 20 win mark would be good for a tournament berth. So the Orange would have to win 3 of its next 5 games, and possibly a win in NYC in the Big East Tournament to shore up a bid.

Here are SU’s next five games:

Monday at Louisville
Saturday at Notre Dame
March 1 vs. Pitt
March 5 at Seton Hall
March 8 vs. Marquette

That’s a tough stretch, but it also presents quite a few “resume-building” wins. The next two (Louisville and ND) are extremely tough contests. If Syracuse can steal one from either the deep Cardinals (one of the hotter teams in the nation) or the strong inside-out Irish (who have won 35 straight home games) it would be a huge boost. The Orange should be able to then win at least the next two of three. Seton Hall is a game the Orange should win, but it won’t be easy on the road. Pitt and Marquette are both solid squads above SU in the Big East standings, but they have been struggling somewhat, and considering both games are in the Dome, SU should be able to at least split those. So three wins will be tough, but doable. As I said, if the Orange can do that and win a game in New York, I’d find it difficult for the selection committee to once again leave Syracuse out.

As for Saturday, it was an unreal game. It was just about perfect. Attendance had seemingly been falling off a little since Gerry McNamara left, but yesterday there were 31,000 plus howling fans. The atmosphere was great, it was probably one of the loudest crowds I’ve heard in the Dome in the past few years. And an unranked team bursting out to a 26-4 scoring run against a top-10 Hoya squad? As I said, unreal. This team will find it challenging to keep up such intensity with only a seven man rotation, but what the team lacks in a bench, it makes up for with resiliency. This team really never quits, even at South Florida when down 20. Center Arinze Onuaku could have quit after hearing just about everyone harp on his disappearance, but instead he came out and beasted on Roy Hibbert. I will have to take some credit for Hibbert’s poor play – during the shoot-around I was screaming at him about his chicken legs. His teammates must kid him about it and were all laughing, but Roy, alas, was not. Seeing a sensitive side of the big man, I moved on to tell him what a bad idea it was for him to return to college and seeing his numbers fall instead of going to the NBA last year. Sure, it was probably a fine decision, and Georgetown is in the top-10, he’ll still be a high pick, and as long as he doesn’t get hurt another year of college is probably a lot of fun. But of course I had to tell him it was the worst decision ever. I mean, Arinze throwing nearly 300 pounds into Hibbert probably affected the big man’s play, but I’d like to think I may have had a very minimal impact. Probably not though. But I definitely bothered the Hoya fans:

This was the moment I believe when the cop felt bad for them, to which I asked the cop, "When you were twenty did you paint your face? I think not."

Anyways it was great to see the team and the crowd fired up. But there’s still a lot of work left to be done. If the atmosphere against Pitt and Marquette rivals the environment on Saturday, SU could be in business for two big wins as they seem to really feed off the support. So yet again there is life to the season and expectations are again beginning to rise. Although I’ve broken down the next five games, the team has to take it game by game (we saw at USF what happens if it looks ahead). It’s still an uphill battle, but Saturday the Orange made a push towards the summit.

Dunk you very much
Saturday was a great day of basketball, with SU winning, buzzer beaters galore and just excitement everywhere. And the icing on the cake was a fantastic dunk contest. There are a lot of articles out there proclaiming that the dunk contest is back, and I will cautiously say, yes, it is. Eventhough it’s still missing a lot of big names, last nights affair was extremely entertaining. The creativity was off the charts – from blowing out a candle sitting in a cupcake on the back of the rim, to literally flying through the air in a Superman outfit. Dwight Howard put on an absolute show. Despite the fact he didn’t really dunk on his Superman attempt, he had two other unbelievable dunks.

If I were to have one suggestion, other than the common thought to get in bigger names, I’d say have a wild card spot. Open up some sort of competition for an open entry to challenge NBA players. And-1 mix tape players, anyone, can go through a few competitions and qualify for the event. Would it be time consuming and probably logistically impossible? Most likely. But would it be awesome to just up that challenge to NBA players one more notch? Absolutely. Plus, there’s a guy out there who can do a 720. It’s impressive.

Here's a nice compliation

And here could be one of those challengers


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