Written for your enjoyment by: Raff
I don't know Scott Stone - had never read anything by him before today - but my good friend Derek Snow sent me this little bit of garbage this morning. He was undoubtedly trying to get me to respond. So I feel obliged.
Truly, I'm not totally sure what Stone's deal is. It isn't like he's Doug Gottleib and he's holding the grudge of being bypassed by Jim Boeheim for an Orange scholarship. He did point to some sort of Big East bias coming from Bristol. Perhaps he was a PA who never made the cut. But even that was seemingly misled. If there is any bias in Bristol - at least in the college basketball world - it is clearly slanted towards the ACC.
But Stone quite clearly states his ignorance to the game of basketball on so many levels in this piece.
He talks of Syracuse shooting the ball very well as being a flaw of the team - that it hides a lot of weaknesses. I might agree that it hides some weaknesses. But shooting the ball well - and shooting it well consistently - shows the strengths of this Syracuse team. History will show that teams that shoot the ball well are some of the stronger offensive basketball teams. In this case, it shows that it isn't reliant on one aspect on the floor. Furthermore, take the fact that the Orange is 1st in the country in 2 point FG % - and 34th in 3pFG% - and my argument is solidified.
Stone also wants to make the argument that Syracuse is playing a junk defense. And a defense that has only led Syracuse to one national championship through the years. He did prove to us that he can count to one. And he got the addition right. So credit him there. What he fails to mention is how it has taken the Orange to 3 National Championship games during that time. He fails to mention that when the point of his argument is that Syracuse won't make it out of the first weekend. But he obviously has no idea what a junk defense is. A 2-3 zone, with matchup and man-to-man principles doesn't qualify. He doesn't mention that the Orange ranks 8th in the country in defensive efficiency with that same junk defense. In fact, the defensive efficiency numbers are better than the offensive numbers. So it isn't like the strong shooting Orange are hiding a porous defense. Is it a different type of defense? Absolutely. Could it be susceptible in the NCAA tournament to one player getting extremely hot and having a career day and knocking the Orange out as a result? Certainly. But the defense has held up rather well over the season - against guys like Ryan Witman - who I can only assume Stone has heard of. And history has shown that that defense is much tougher on teams in the NCAA tournament. Much tougher because teams aren't used to it - and they don't have long periods of time to prepare for it. Those eight seeds - that Stone speaks of - will have only one practice between beating an equally capable 9 seed to prepare for something they aren't used to. Those of us who have been faithful Orange fans - we know it isn't the schematic design of the defense anyhow. We know it's the players, their athleticism and their length that makes it so impressive - and so difficult to score on.
Stone also says that Georgetown is the Big East's best chance to reach the Final Four. Nonsense. Georgetown is a threat, but they are clearly the third or possibly fourth best team in the Big East. And it's quotes from guys like JTIII - and how good the Syracuse defense is - that make me so comfortable in the Orange. Of course he does refer to the Big East as watered down - and makes mention of the same Hoyas when he's calling it watered down.
He also says that one of the reasons Syracuse won't make a serious run - is because they don't have one of those impact freshmen. But in the next sentence he's talking about how those types of freshmen are falling on their faces in North Carolina. And wouldn't a guy like Wesley Johnson - in his first year at Syracuse - be providing the type of charge or lift that Stone might be referring to.
He knocks the Syracuse veterans - go figure. Nobody else would want an Andy Rautins or an Arinze Onuaku playing for them?
So really all Stone did with his arguments was make the case that Syracuse is a real contender even stronger. He made arguments but failed to look at the facts that surround those arguments.
Obviously, I can't sit here and say that the Orange will win the national championship. I can't guarantee you that they won't lose to the Mount in Round One. But what I can tell you - and I'm a big believer in this - is that this Orange team is the one that is most equipped and most prepared to win the NCAA tournament. It has the most balance, the most weapons, and the most ways to bail them out of a tough spot. This is a complete Syracuse basketball team - that looks ready to charge deep into March - no matter what Stone has to say.