There was only concern. The weather. And so when the forecasts called for blizzard like conditions in the Northeast over the weekend, we decided that staying home was the best option. It's probably good we did. Because if the roads wouldn't have done me in the results probably would have.
If you are a Syracuse/Mount St. Mary's fan, you know how I was feeling last night about 10pm. And if you're just one or the other, multiply whatever you were feeling by two and you've got where I was last night.
So let's recap my thoughts on both games. We'll start with the debacle in Syracuse.
- Pitt is a good team. Not a great team. But a good team. A team that actually might be a little better than they played over the first two months of the season because of the additions of Brown and Dixon and the maturation of the freshmen. They took a more conventional approach to replacing all the offense/players that they lost from last season, then the Orange did. And as fans we probably expected the Syracuse season to look a lot more like the Pitt season then it actually has. We'll see if Pitt builds on this. They have two very difficult Big East games approaching. @ Cincy and @ Connecticut before returning home. I thought they'd be close to a .500 Big East team before yesterday. Now I think they have the potential to be a little better.
- A lot of yesterday was due to Pitt. The Panthers played well and shot above their true ability. I don't think they are as good a shooting team as they displayed yesterday. But Ashton Gibbs is a true shooter, who killed Syracuse.
- The one thing that concerns me about Syracuse - and it crept into the game against Seton Hall as well is that there isn't a lot of offensive balance right now. And they still are getting the balance from different players. But they made just three treys against Seton Hall, and just one against Pitt. Through the start of the season, they scored all sorts of ways. Sharing the basketball was a key. I think they are still sharing the ball well, but some shots that were falling are not now. The question becomes is that because the competition defense is better or is it simply a shooting slump.
- Andy Rautins has really hurt the Orange the last two games. He is not shooting well, and he is making mistakes that a fifth year senior shouldn't be making. He can help the team if he doesn't shoot well. But he hasn't done that the last two games. Past history would indicate that he will start making shots again. In the meantime, I'd like to see Mookie Jones get some minutes. We need to have a perimeter presence or teams will be more easily able to defend us.
- I said 28-3 was the most likely record for this team. I did not figure yesterday. But the only game where I thought they'd be underdogs was the West Virginia game. 27-4 might make more sense right now, and 26-5 could become a factor.
- With all that said, one game does not make a season. You still have to look at things over what we've seen in 14 games. The full body of work indicates that this team is a national title contender. If all you looked at was yesterday, you'd call them a bubble team. Let's not get too caught up in one result, and let's see how this team responds. Memphis is Wednesday night.
Now onto the Mount
- If I'd be picking up the paper this morning and looking at the linescore and saw the Mount lost to Siena in overtime, I probably would have been happy with the result. But having watched the game and seeing the way the loss came to be, I just couldn't have that feeling.
- The team has been in a lot of close games. And the schedule certainly hasn't been forgiving. But at some point, if you are a good team you've got to win those games. Good efforts go so far.
- Most predictions and computer rankings had the Mount as 18-22 underdogs in this one. So it is obvious the Mount played above that level. Siena is a good team. I don't think they are as good as Pitt, Georgetown or ODU. But maybe in the level of Oklahoma, but with an athletic ability that is more likely for the Mount to compete. The Mount did a good/great job on everybody except for Ryan Rossiter - and they made some second half adjustments which slowed him down.
- The Mount played a great game for 38+ minutes. It was a great gameplan and the players played with extreme confidence. If you saw the Vermont game and thought the team was improved. This effort built on that.
- Jeremy Goode controlled the game from the point guard slot and the Mount made the extra pass and knocked down shots that they've been missing (but should be making). Kelly Beidler and Will Holland were very good offensively - and the Mount which really has had no balance within the offense - got a lot of it. Scoring both inside, on the dribble, from behind the arc, and in transitition.
- There are a lot of things to take out of the game and think that the Mount will be highly competitive in NEC play. However, like Syracuse above, you have to consider the full body of work. Still the Mount is going forward. I thought there was improvement at Boston U, more against Vermont, and a lot more against Siena.
- Listening/watching the game with opposing announcers can be extremely frustrating for a fan of the other team. However, the Siena announcers were very complimentary of the Mount and realized that it was the Mount's effort more than a Siena non-effort that made the game what it was.
- Some examples. "Kelly Beidler is the type of player that you don't expect to see at a school like Mt. St. Mary's. He is strong and long. He rebounds well and he doesn't miss." "Jeremy Goode is absolutely controlling the game from the point guard spot. You haven't been able to say that too often about opposing point guards against Ronald Moore (who leads the country in assists) the last four years."
- So if I'd have turned it off with 1:30 left (or whatever it was) I'd have been real happy. The Mount was up 69-62 and it seemed over. But the Mount self-destructed. Sure, Siena made plays, but the Mount made mistakes. Rossiter got a rebound off a Ubiles missed foul shot - and scored and got fouled. He made the free throw. The Mount missed a pair of free throws, allowed another offensive rebound bucket and had a ten-second violation that gave the ball back to the Saints so they could tie the game and force overtime. Then with the ball and a chance to win, the Mount went with a long-range jumper from Goode (that nearly banked in), but should have gotten more with nearly a full shot clock left at the end of the game.
- Overtime was a foregone conclusion. After the way the game had ended, I expected Siena to run away with the result. It looked that way early as Siena scored the first six points of the extra session, but the Mount rallied back. But again made mistakes that elevated my blood pressure late - and didn't really get a good attempt at a game-tying three after Siena had made two free throws with 8.2 seconds left to make it 79-76. I'll give the Mounties credit for the heart they displayed in that session. But they've got to find a way to make some plays with the game on the line.
- The team has always shown great character to me - and responded when I least expected it. We'll see if they can continue that trend when the NEC part of the schedule really gets rolling this week. For what it is worth, Quinnipiac lost at Monmouth and Sacred Heart fell at FDU. Robert Morris got a nice non-conference win over Ohio.