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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Observations from another Syracuse win

Was once again happy to be able to watch the Orange from the comforts of my home. I thought MASN would save the day, but somehow it was once again only available on SNY. MASN will show it on tape delay later. It turned into a 76-70 Orange win, and Syracuse moves to 11-3 with the win and gets its first Big East win during its first game.

The Orange offense started very quickly and it made the game much more relaxing. Truly when looking at the entire 40 minutes, this probably wasn't a great performance. But the fact that it was an early lead for the Orange made it much less frustrating.

Donte Green was simply fantastic in the first half on the offensive end. He had 17 at intermission, but then he got in foul trouble the second half. He sat for a long time and finished with just 22. He shot the ball well, but struggled a bit from the free throw line. Had he not gotten in foul trouble, I think this would have been a double digit game. He is the best player on the floor most nights and he seems to only be scratching the surface.

Arinze Onuaku had quite possibly his best game as an Orangeman. He finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds, including 14/9 in the second half when he was needed. I don't really remember a post presence like his ever for the Orange. I think he clearly is the best Syracuse post player that I can recall. And he seems to be getting better and better. It is his development that gives me true hope for this team in the second half of the season.

This was the first time I got to see Scoop Jardine in the starting role. He is not the scorer nor the shooter that Devendorf was. However, he might just complete this team a little better. He filled the stat sheet with 7 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. I think he will get better, yet I expect him to be extremely inconsistent. Still for a freshman starting his first Big East game, I'd take the results.

This team is getting better defensively. But the defensive possession doesn't end until you rebound the basketball. And they struggled with that again tonight. The Johnnies had 14 offensive rebounds. Too many.

I was surprised to see a pair of bracket projections going into the day with the Orange at 10 & 11 seeds. With an RPI of 12, that seems very high. I would expect that if you drew up the brackets right now, they are a white-jerseyed team at the least. However, with that said, the inconsistency that we saw tonight makes it seem like a bid might be the max for this team. The RPI will adjust and the win tonight actually dropped them a slot, so there is still some adjustments to be made to the Index.

The schedule sets up well for this team to keep getting better. They get South Florida, who pounded Rutgers tonight, on Saturday at the Dome. Then they do on the road and play at Cincy and West Virginia next week. If they find a way to get to 3-1 in the Big East by that point, they'll be well on their way.

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