Orange to the Pinstripe Bowl: This One’s for All the Schwartzwalders

There was a lot of this the last time the Orange and the 'Neers met.

There was a lot of this the last time the Orange and the ‘Neers met.

By virtue of a 7-5 record and winning five of their last six games to become Big East co-champions, the Syracuse Orange are headed back to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl for the second time in two years.  Their opponent?  A familiar foe in the West Virginia Mountaineers.

I think it’s safe to say that playing another bowl game in Yankee Stadium was everyone’s preference outside of sneaking into the Big East’s BCS bowl berth.  DOC Gross gets to plaster orange block ‘S’s all over town and really ramp up his “New York’s College Team” marketing schtick.  The players get to spend a week in NYC.  And Syracuse fans have a bowl in close enough proximity that they might actually be able to attend.  It’s a winning situation all around.

One can only hope that the only loser that comes out of this is WVU.  Last season’s 49-23 manhandling of the ‘Neers was both Syracuse’s best and worst game of the season.  On the one hand, it was a totally unexpected domination of what was widely considered the best team in the conference.  On the other hand, it was the Orange’s last win of the season as they squandered a 5-2 record to finish 5-7 and miss out on the bowl game festivities. Continue reading

Syracuse- 38, Temple- 20: An Ante-Post Mortem

Sophomore running back Adonis Ameen-Moore had a career day against Temple.

Syracuse football closed out its final Big East season on Friday against an old/new conference opponent, beating the Temple Owls 38-20.  The win put the Orange at 7-5 overall and 5-2 in the Big East, comfortably in position for a bowl that hopefully doesn’t have the word “beef” in the title.

Of course, the season isn’t officially over.  The Orange will have a month off before taking part in a meaningless bowl game that serves no purpose other than to generate TV revenue, line the pockets of game organizers and provide the players with whatever swag is being doled out this year.  Still, for all intents and purposes, Syracuse football is done for the year, so let’s take a look back at the Orange’s final season in the Titanic Big East.

The game against the Owls was eerily reminiscent  of just about any the Orange have played this season.  They stumbled out of the gate, fumbling twice while Temple got out to 10-0 lead.  The Orange then finally righted the ship and behind the three-headed rushing attack of Jerome Smith, Prince Tyson-Gulley and Adonis Ameen-Moore, with a little bit of Ryan Nassb, Marcus Sales and Alec Lemon sprinkled in for good measure.  The contest was very similar to the UConn game in that it felt like the same old Orange team that lost close games to Northwestern and Rutgers showed up in this one.  The only difference is that the mistakes (10 penalties too) didn’t hurt the Orange because they were playing Temple and not a better team. Continue reading

Syracuse Basketball has Finally Returned!! (Sort of)

Baye Keita perfectly embodies my feelings about the start of another Orange basketball campaign.


As much as I enjoy the agony that is the Syracuse football roller coaster, it’s well-known that I’m a basketball fan first and foremost. Football season is just a space for me to bide my time until hoops finally starts up again.  So, it was with great relish that I tuned into the Orange‘s first exhibition game against the Pace University Setters on Thursday night.

It was everything I expected it to be.  The dunks were dunktastic.  The threes were swisheriffic.  The rebounds were reboundonkulous.  And Syracuse cruised to a 30+ point victory over a Division II opponent.

Normally this is the part where I pour over the stats and draw conclusions about what they mean for the Orange.  But there’s really no point in going too in-depth into the shellacking of the Setters.  The Orange could have (should have) won by 60, yet they took their foot off the gas on both ends and allowed Pace to keep the game respectable in the second half.  the Orange’s 99 points don’t mean much.  Their 55 rebounds are the norm when playing against a team who only has one player over 6’6″, and he only played 12 minutes.  The same goes for the Orange’s 14 blocks.  Syracuse had the overwhelming size advantage and it showed, rendering statistical analysis pointless.  Instead, we’re left with the good ol’ eyeball evaluation.  First, the good.

The first thing that stood out to me was young DaJuan Coleman.  Clearly, the freshman is a big boy.  It’s worth repeating.  He’s a BIG boy.  But he’s not fat.  He’s listed at 288, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s actually closer to 27.  He looked quick and agile, defending the wing well in the zone, getting himself in position for rebounds and running the floor well.  He also played 20 minutes, most of which came in extended stretches.  Regardless of size advantage, getting himself up and down the court and playing hard at both ends is the same whether you’re playing Pace or Georgetown.  It remains to be seen if he can maintain that energy as the season hits the 20 and 30 game mark, but the young man’s conditioning looks good so far.  Oh, and DC 2.0 was 5/5 from the free throw line.  He’s going to get fouled a lot, so have a big guy who isn’t a liability at the line is an unheard of luxury for the Orange.

Then there was C.J.  At first, I was a bit disappointed in his performance.  I wanted him to flex some and drop 30 on the poor Setters.  I liked that he showed more confidence in his long range jumper (2-3 3PT) and made some strong moves going to his off (right) hand.  But it seemed to me like he was still playing the secondary role.  Until I looked at the box score.  His eleven shot attempts were most on the team, but still showed is characteristic attacking style with only the three 3PT attempts.  C.J. being a stat ninja is great.  I just hope he has it in him to put the pedal to the metal and be dominant when it’s needed.

After that, nothing really stood out.  James Southerland rained threes.  Micheal Carter-Williams was solid, if a bit loose with the ball (5 TO) at times.  Baye Keita got his garbage buckets.  It was everything you’d expect. Continue reading

Syracuse-37, South Florida-36: Box Score Impressions

Jerome Smith ran wild all over the Bulls on Saturday.

I’ll admit to not watching a snap of Syracuse‘s 37-36 victory over the University of South Florida on Saturday night.  The game wasn’t televised in my area and I refuse to even try to watch the crappy ESPN3 feed.  I don’t have a 46-inch LED TV in my living room so I can watch a grainy internet feed on my piddly 19-inch computer monitor.  But I digress.

Needless to say, my thoughts on the game are based purely on the box score, which we all know is a sketchy proposition.  If I were to see that Ryan Nassib went 27/40 for 328 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, I’d be thrilled.  If I were to see that Jerome Smith added a punishing 127 yards on 28 carries, I’d think that Syracuse had this game well in hand.

And I’d be wrong (as usual).

As it turns out, the team on the other sideline came to play football too.  South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels and running back Lindsey Lamar combined for 279 yards rushing as the Bulls nearly doubled up the Orange on the ground.  Daniels played a nearly flawless game to pair with Nassib’s, adding 17 pass completions for 183 yards and a TD and no INT to his rushing total.

It was really a game of two halves for the Orange as they were down 20 at halftime and seemed ready to surrender a laugher to the last-place team in the conference.  Nassib and company woke up in the third quarter, though, scoring 21 unanswered points before finally surrendering a USF field goal.  That surge set up what was likely the biggest play of Syracuse’s season so far. Continue reading

UConn- 10, Syracuse- 40: Halfway to Beef

Syracuse senior wide out Alec Lemon had a monster game against the Huskies.

Syracuse defeated UConn on Friday in a game that made former Orange(men) and current Huskies coach Paul Pasqualoni wish he had come to central New York for the hayrides and apple picking rather than for a football game.  Led by Ryan Nassib (14/20, 251 YDS, 2 TD), Jerome Smith (19 CAR, 133 YDS) and Sir Alec Lemon (8 REC, 166 YDS, 1 TD), the Orange trounced the Huskies in every aspect of the game to win going away, 40-10.  Syracuse “improved” to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in the Big East.

The numbers don’t show anything that’s really surprising.  500+ yards of total offense is nothing new for the Orange.  The Syracuse run defense has been stout of late, but still, holding UConn to -6 yards in total rushing is an impressive, almost Madden-esque feat.  The game plan was simple; shut down the Husky rushing attack and force UConn’s solid, if not spectacular, quarterback Chandler Whitmer to win the game with his arm.  He proved unequal to the task.  In fact, the only really surprising thing about this game is that Syracuse game away with a victory. Continue reading

I Wish Doug Marrone Hadn’t Come to Syracuse

Unless he can turn the Orange around, Doug Marrone will spend a lot of time looking over his shoulder.

I wish Doug Marrone hadn’t come so Syracuse.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some HCDM.  Well, I mean, I don’t love him, but I will admit to a semi-serious man crush on him.  How to I love him?  Let me count the ways.

I love that he takes his job of molder of young men just as seriously as he does his job of coacher of football players.  It’s trite and cliché, I know, but it’s an underrated aspect of college coaching.  Coaches are responsible to putting the final touches on the years when kids turn in to the adults they are going to be.  Marrone understands this and takes it just as seriously as his game planning or halftime adjustments.  When Marcus Sales was pulled over with his brother, no license and a crapload of drugs, it would have been easy to dismiss him immediately.  When none of the charges save the license stuck, it would have been just as easy for Marrone to throw some weight around and have Sales be eligible to play.  He did neither.  He did what was best for Sales the man, not Sales the football player.  A year off to get his head straight and realize that football was his path away from Syracuse.  And it’s paid dividends.

I love that Marrone is recruiting talent from high school, the JUCO system and even other FBS schools.  Sure, he’s not getting the certified studs in the numbers that the likes of Alabama or USC get them, but the level of talent coming to SU is rising.  Where once guys would rather sit on the sideline for powers rather than come to Syracuse, now the opposite is happening (See: Funderburke, Quinta).  Under Marrone, the JUCO pipeline is stronger than ever and, with the help of über recruiter Tyrone Wheatley, Syracuse has a knack for finding diamonds in the rough like Cam Lynch, Justin Pugh and Dontez Ford.  Studs they might not be, but they’re the types of solid football players that are needed to win.

And I love the fact that Marrone is an alum.  This is his dream job.  He was there in 1984 when the Orange(men) shocked the #1 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers.  All coaches work hard.  All coaches want to win.  But you get the feeling that Marrone would sacrifice a testicle for a W.  Hell, at this point, he might even be willing to part with both.  Every game means that much more to him because Syracuse football is more than his job.  It’s an integral part of who he is.  For me, that trumps a lot of other qualities other coaches might have.

Still, I wish Marrone hadn’t come. Continue reading

Syracuse Basketball: Is This the Year?

The Syracuse Orange are poised to cement their place among the basketball elite. Can Brandon Triche lead them three?

Is this the year?

Now that college basketball season is officially underway, that’s the question on the minds of hoops fans everywhere.  Is this the year we win a title.  Can we at last make a Final Four run?  If this team finally going to make the NCAA tournament?  Can we break .500 this year?  No matter that team you pull for, you have hopes and goals and expectations.  Some are more ambitious than others, but the core question is always the same.  Is this the year?

We Syracuse fans have been blessed in that the goals and expectations are high, and rightfully so.  Under Jim Boeheim, Orange(man) basketball has been nothing short of solid and has at times bordered on spectacular.  While one title in three title game appearances and three Final Fours might pale in comparison to the UCLAs and Kentuckys, it’s still more than most programs achieve in their whole history.  Boehiem has crammed all of that into 36 years on the Syracuse bench, turning the program from an also-ran into a perennial conference and national contender.

Yet for all that’s been accomplished under Boeheim’s watch there are still many, even Orange fans, who shy away from labeling Syracuse as an “elite” program.  Many don’t think that the fifth all-time winningest program deserves to be put in same category as UCLA, Kentucky, Duke, Kansas or UNC.  And maybe they’re right.  Maybe Syracuse has work to do.  So, the question remains.  Is this the year?
Continue reading

Syracuse-15, Rutgers- 23: Time to Face Facts

The looks on their faces tell you everything you need to know.


That pretty much sums up Syracuse‘s beyond woeful performance against Rutgers this past Saturday.  It was a microcosm of the season thus far; a close, winnable game thrown away via a variety of mental mistakes and miscues. Questionable play calls, bad penalties and worse turnovers were the order of the day.  To watch this game was to know what the 2012 football season as been for the Orange.

There’s no sense in delving too deeply into the stats.  On paper, Syracuse dominated the game.  Ryan Nassib completed more passes that his counterpart in scarlet even attempted.  Marcus Sales had his fourth 100 yard receiving game in six starts.  The Syracuse defense held Big East-leading rusher Jawan Jamison to 64 yards on 28 carries after he had run for at least 100 in six straight games, dating back to the Knight’s Pinstripe Bowl win over Iowa State last season.  The Orange out gained the Scarlet Knights by 180 yards.  Looking at the box score, you’d think that Syracuse won this one going away. Continue reading

Syracuse 10, Minnesota 17: Back to the Drawing Board

The Golden Gopher defense proved to be too much for Ryan Nassib and the Orange.  It must have been the matte finish.

Coming off their first win of the season, Syracuse was looking to take the momentum on the road against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday.  It wasn’t to be, though, as the Orange dropped to 1-3 with a 17-10 defeat.

It was a performance typical of Syracuse’s season so far.  Quarterback Ryan Nassib was the key to just about anything good that happened for the Orange.  He was 21-31 for 228 yards and a touchdown.  He also threw two picks and lost a fumble, though.  The platoon of running backs gained 122 yards, led by Jerome Smith’s 52 on nine carries.  And it was clear that the Minnesota coaches did their film study, because they were able to shut down Marcus Sales, holding him to just two catches for 32 yards.  He did, though, haul in Nassib’s lone TD pass, giving them a scoring play in every game so far this season.  Alec Lemon was the beneficiary of the extra attention paid to Sales.  He caught nine balls for 106 yards and became Syracuse’s all-time receptions leader in the process.  So, kudos to him for that.

Unfortunately for the Orange and their fans, the Golden Gophers had a pretty good day too.  Backup quarterback Max Shortell was 16-30 passing for 231 yards.  Running back Donnell Kirkwood had 99 yards, including two short TD runs, on 28 carries.  Not the most efficient running attack, but it got the job done.

Minny got it done, though, on defense, holding the Orange to only 350 yards of total offense while forcing four turnovers.  They also sacked Ryan Nassib three times in the game, as many as Syracuse had given up in the first three games combined. Continue reading

Stony Brook- 17, Syracuse- 28: One Down…

Marcus Sales has been rock solid for the Orange so far this season.

After a disappointing result against the USC Trojans down in Jersey, the Orange returned home to the Carrier Dome on Saturday to take on FCS power Stony Brook.  After struggling in the first half, Syracuse put the clamps on in the second, coming away with a 28-17 victory.

Offensively, it was the Ryan Nassib and Marcus Sales show once again.  Nassib went 22/35 for 335 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions.  He also had 30 yards rushing on six carries.  Sales didn’t record a catch in the first half, but ended up with five grabs for 117 yards and a TD for the game.  It was Sale’s fourth consecutive game with 100+ yards and a TD, dating back to his break out performance in the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl.

Running backs Prince Tyson Gulley and Jerome Smith also chipped in.  Though Smith failed to find the end zone, he rumbled for 95 yards on 16 carries.  PTG had a rough day running the ball, including a fumble, but he was able to take a swing pass from Nassib 61 yards in the first quarter for the Orange’s first TD.

Stony Brook leaned on their stellar running attack, led by Miguel Maysonet, who gashed the Orange for 158 yards on 21 carries, including a 71 yard TD run.  That’s pretty much the whole story for the Sea Wolves offense, though, as QB Kyle Essington was only 4/19 for 94 yards, one TD and two INT.  Most of that came on a 63 yard play to speedster Kevin Norrel for the game’s first TD. Continue reading