Not much time left before SU takes on Kansas tonight but Cory from Rock Chalk Talk was kind enough to churn out some answers to a few questions I sent his way. Consider this your last-minute study guide.
2003. Still angry?
Yeah, pretty much.
I'm only 17, so there haven't been too many sports-related heartbreaks in my life. Really, the only two I can think of currently are the Chiefs' 2003 playoff loss to the Colts and the 2003 Championship game between the 'Cuse and Kansas. But while I have gotten over the Chiefs' playoff loss, I still am pissed off about the loss to Syracuse.
I mean, it isn't like we lost to a much worse team, as you know. That team you guys had was pretty awesome, and you were certainly a worthy Champion. It's just how we lost, with Nick Collison's kajillion missed free throws (hard to blame the guy, though, considering he carried us on his back to get that far) and Hakim Warrick's ridiculously long arms. Not that this directly relates to the story or anything, but Michael Lee, who was the Kansas player who had his shot blocked by Warrick, was a Grad Assistant on last year's team, and his take on Mario Chalmer's miracle three was pretty unique, considering he was put in the same exact position just five years previous, down by three with 2.3 seconds left (at least I'm pretty sure that is what it was).
So, after all of that, yes, I'm still pissed. But not too pissed off, more of just a regret-type thing. Just knowing you were so close and so capable to win, only to let it fall through your fingers is pretty hard. I cried at the time, and I re-watched the game awhile back and almost cried again. It's heartbreaking stuff.
Say congratulations. No, really, that is probably what I would do. Of course, I would then complain about his arm length, all in a good-natured fashion of course. But seriously, it was a tremendous play by a pretty good player, and he definitely deserves his props for it.
What kind of "home court advantage," if any, does Kansas have in this game?
Eh. It is obviously a pro-Kansas crowd, and the majority of the fans will, obviously, be donning the Kansas blue tonight at the Sprint Center. But there weren't a helluva lot of people there yesterday at all, and the majority of the people who seem to go to the Sprint Center games aren't the noise-making types, if you know what I mean. So, while the fans will be pulling for the Jayhawks, the noise shouldn't be a factor like it is in Allen Field House, or even how it was for last year's Big 12 Tournament.
Put the fear of God in me...Kansas will win because...
Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins. While I think it is fairly well-established that Syracuse has more good players, at least experienced ones, it could be argued that Kansas has the two best players on the floor. That may sound homerific, and it very likely could be, but both are being overlooked by just about everybody because they have never had to impress before on the college level. However, both are impressing early on this season, and they are a good enough inside-outside duo to compete for the Big 12 title. Also, the other two main contributors down low, the two Morris twins (#21 Markieff and #22 Marcus; if you get them confused, don't worry, because I still do at times) literally improve with each passing day. You can visibly see the improvements they have made since the opening two games, and they should be better players tonight than they were last night. You could say that about all freshmen, I suppose, but about none moreso than the two Morris twins.
Make me feel all warm and cozy...Syracuse will win because...
We can't shoot from the perimeter. Assuming the 'Cuse stick with their patented 2-3 Matchup Zone, we will have to make shots, as you all know, to stay in the game. And if there is one gaping weakness on this team, it is that there are, literally, three pretty good shooters on the team from beyond the three-point arc. Sherron Collins, who will likely draw plenty of attention, and Tyrel Reed, who actually hasn't shot too well so far this season. Still, Reed is the key player tonight, as he will have to have his stroke turned on for us to allow Cole to take over the game. Well, I suppose Conner Teahan can shoot the ball pretty well too, but that is about all he can do, and he sees very little playing time. So, basically, it will all fall on Reed. Or, a miracle could happen and Brady Morningstar or Tyshawn Taylor (who is an awesome player, just can't shoot from three very well) could have a career day from beyond the arc.
Quick, arbitrary prediction on how Kansas will end up this season?
This is where I'm clearly being a homer, but I'd like to think we can win the Conference. I know that Oklahoma and Texas are both dominant, and Baylor is going to be even better, but Bill Self is one of the best coaches in the country, and we have so much young talent it is scary. Plus, we get Mario Little, a 6'5" JUCO transfer, back in mid-December and he should crack the starting lineup, making us that much deeper.
So, just to throw out a random number, I'll give us 24-7, 12-4 in conference play. Tied for the conference title in the regular season, take home the Big 12 Tournament Title for the fourth straight year and get a 5 seed in the NCAAs. Make it to the Sweet Sixteen before we take on a team like, I don't know, and we lose a close-fought game. Everyone comes back for one more year and we challenge for the Championship next year.
Big thanks to Cory for turning that around so quickly. Keep an eye on Rock Chalk Talk tonight before, during and after the game. I also answered some Q's for him and you can read my answers here if you please.
On an somewhat-related note, stop by Superman Wears Rob Long Underoos for a livechat during the game. Topics will include the game, other SU-related sports stories and the undergarment choices of other superheroes and how they might tie in to Syracuse special teams players.