TNIAAM Takes A Look Back At Syracuse Sports In 2013 & Ahead To 2014

Brett Carlsen

I posed some questions to the TNIAAM crew about Syracuse sports in 2013 as well as what's to come in 2014. Here are their answers...

1. Syracuse Orange sports thing you'll miss most from 2013.

Dan Lyons: The defense from last year's NCAA tournament run. Last year's team's offense left a lot to be desired at time, which makes this year's Ennis/Cooney/Fair/Grant show even more awesome, but holy crap - that defense was mean. Can we bring back MCW and have him play at the top of the zone forever?

John Cassillo: The Final Four run. There are a lot of other things/memes we could put here, but all of those can still live past this year. The Final Four run, on the other hand, was an isolated moment that I'll miss a whole lot (unless we win it all in 2014, of course).

Andrew Pregler: There's a ton of great memories, but I think I'll miss the Final Four run. It was something else to see Syracuse not just survive and advanced, but for the most part dominate all the way up until Michigan. I'm sure it's something we're going to see again, maybe even with this year's crop of players. But the entire month of watching the entire basketball world focus in on Jimmy B's defense and Syracuse's dominance? I'll miss that.

Matt McClusky: Watching Scott Shafer figure things out and become Head Coach Scott Shafer. He seemed to stay true to himself, emotions and all, but he absolutely evolved through his first season has boss. It wasn't always pretty, but it was real and it was fun to watch. Which should make for an even more exciting year two for Head Coach Scott Shafer.

Chris DaughtreyBeating Georgetown.

Sean Farrell: It’s really hard to pinpoint to just one, so I’ll give three specific examples. First off, Syracuse’s run to the Final Four was cool to experience, particularly as someone living on-campus. The Orange may get back to the Final Four soon, but it won’t get back to the Big East Tournament. The city, the spotlight, the "World’s Most Famous Arena", the revenge on Georgetown, oh my! Getting to be there in person is something I won’t soon forget. Finally from a reporting perspective, I really enjoyed following Kayla Alexander. She is the all-time leading scorer for SU women’s basketball and led the Orange to a great run in 2013. I know WBB isn’t the most popular sport, but to all of you guys who took the time to read or even comment on some of the articles, I sincerely appreciate it.

Lisa Nelson: Playing Georgetown. During a random TNIAAM Twitter chat a few weeks ago (#TNIAAMChat), some of us said we weren't really going to miss the Big East because it's in shambles. That's true, but Georgetown games were so intense, it was amazing. It will take a bit for any ACC team to give me the same knots in my stomach and elevated blood pressure that Georgetown did. It's strange, but I'll miss that.

Sean Keeley: Since I expect to have that feeling of going to a Final Four again (that won't get me in trouble at all…), is it weird that I'll miss our first season in the ACC? I've enjoyed getting to know the new fan bases, ingratiating ourselves into all that #goacc identity, collectively hating Maryland, realizing that we're now in a position to take shit to the Big Ten and Big 12 about performance (but not the SEC, oh God, no…).

2. SU fan/sports trend you hope snowballs into something that can catch fire in 2014.

DL: I'm hoping 2014 becomes the real launching point for Syracuse football. I think it's just about safe to say the program is back to being decent enough, but with so many players and coaches returning and hopefully growing into their roles, and a more manageable schedule, I think the program is in a good position to take a real step forward in 2014.

JC: Syracuse basketball being the class of the ACC. Let's have that continue.

AP: Syracuse consistently recruiting top 20 basketball talent. Ever since I've looked at Syracuse as a school, they've consistently been in the mix for some of the best basketball talent in the nation. MCW, Dion Waiters, now Tyler Ennis, the guards Boeheim and crew have brought in have been nothing short of five star. I would love if this were to continue with big men as well.

MM: Well, the trend of bowl wins, Final Fours in hoops and lacrosse is pretty good, right? SU athletics, all the way around, has never been in a better place collectively and all fans should really take stock in how good they really have it. Throw in jumping off the Big East's sinking ship and life is good for those in orange.

CD#CuseTixforKids

SF: Non-Syracuse reporters asking Jim Boeheim if he’s going to retire – can that become a thing?

LN: There's an increased interest in the sports programs recently. I'm sure some of that is because, on the whole, the programs are doing really well, but I think it's more than that. Moving to the ACC seemed to rejuvenate just about everyone, from fans to coaches to players, and I'd really like us to keep the momentum going.

SK: I love that in basketball we're already at the point where we expect top ten rankings and Elite Eight appearances every year. Now it's time to up the ante with football. Not too crazy, but I'd love to come into a football season expecting a seven-win basement. And then it'll become eight. And so on...

3. SU fan/sports trend you hope dies a quick death in 2014.

DL: There's a sect of our fanbase (although it may not be totally appropriate to include them in that word) that still hasn't bought into the football program and disparages people who have, because the team hasn't hit some level that they deem is acceptable for them to start supporting it, and I think that's pretty ridiculous. Whether or not the team has gone and "earned" your money or your time or whatever, ultimately fans need to start coming out in bigger numbers for us to reach the level that we believe we can in football. People waiting for Syracuse to win ten games every year are going to be disappointed for a long time. If you live in the Syracuse area, get some cheap season tickets and go support the team, and enjoy the progression of this program, the payoff will be that much better when Syracuse is in a position to compete for conference titles and top bowls.

JC: Football attendance issues. Syracuse fans, this team has won 15 games (including two bowl games) over the past two seasons. Time to start supporting them more. It's the only way the realistic expectations can go from six wins to eight every year.

AP: "Syracuse Football Isn't That Great" Yeah, I know there are attendance issues, I know we're not Alabama and I know we're not the cream of the ACC. However three bowl wins in four years, consistently producing NFL talent from not as heralded recruits and a coach who's clearly committed to a system and wearing his emotions on his sleeve, I'm 100% ok with the direction the program is going and the direction it's going is great.

MM: Underclassman declaring early! No one can argue Michael Carter-Williams made the right choice, or that SU is certainly in a great spot with Tyler Ennis at the helm, but it's fun to think of Carter-Williams and Ennis working things out in the same backcourt; or having Ennis as a super-sub. Plus, Jerome Smith leaving the football program a year early is something of a blow, too. Smith's coming back would have been a major factor for Shafer and George McDonald on offense. But Smith is gone to test the waters of the NFL in a way that rings all too familiar to Taj Smith.

CD: "Syracuse never leaves the state of New York."

SF: For my own personal sanity, dear God, I hope it’s this school’s obsession with commemorative t-shirts. Maybe it’s partly because I’m currently a student, but c’mon, enough already. I went back and counted my emails. I had 18 emails from the Syracuse online store in the month of December alone. (‘Now Sean, can’t you just unsubscribe from their mailing list?’ Well that would be too easy now, wouldn’t it?) I don’t need a shirt for every big basketball game, every time we’re ranked No. 1, or every milestone win for Jim Boeheim. Nor will making the shirt 25 percent off change that. We’ve gotten to the point, particularly in basketball, that SU is an elite program. In 2014, I hope Syracuse finally acts like it’s been there before.

LN: Negativity. Look, there's a difference between making honest evaluations about our teams/players, and talking about them like they're a total lost cause. This is supposed to be fun. If you're having such a bad time following "crap" teams or "idiot" players, stop it. Leave the fandom to the rest of us because you're doing it wrong.

SK: It's totally my fault but I'm really kinda done with "Cal can get back in this." We've wrung all the blood out of that stone and sanded it down to a nub. The knowledge that we're playing in another early-season tournament with Cal next season does nothing to assuage my concerns.

4. If you had to book a hotel room for SU's 2014 bowl game right now, where would you make it? Or would you not book one at all?

DL: I'll say we'll be slightly optimistic and say Charlotte, NC. The Belk Bowl would be a great slot for an eight win Syracuse squad. It's a fairly easy trip from Syracuse with direct flights right to Charlotte, and not an awful drive from anywhere in the northeast. There is also that strangely huge CNY transplant base in North Carolina, so I think the Syracuse attendance would be pretty good. Playing an SEC team would be fun as well.

JC: Tough call. While I think SU will be even better next year, the middle of the ACC's too muddled to really tell where we'd end up. D.C. or Nashville makes the most sense, since the Carolina schools have Belk on lock and I doubt we'll be going to a Florida-based game.

AP: I'd just save up money for a bowl game, but I don't even know what Bowls the ACC has ties into going into next season and if this year was any indication, you can throw those out the door the moment more than 9 ACC schools qualify for a bowl game. Though to the heart of the question, I don't see why Syracuse isn't another 6-7 win team next season and I'd call that the conservative floor.

MM: Everyone is answering with Belk Bowl, right? For me, I think we've all seen how crazy and corrupt the "bowl season" can be, so I'm not about to predict where the Orange will end up next December -- but I think it is a very safe bet SU will at least be playing next winter. Three bowl appearances, and three bowl wins, in four years means one thing: Syracuse Football is consistently good. Bowl trips are routine and regular for consistently good teams.

CD: Pasadena. I've always wanted to go to The Granddaddy of Them All.

SF: I’m not a betting man, but Syracuse will be in another bowl game next year. Mark my words. As for where it will be, that’s a whole other story. The Pinstripe Bowl feels like a frontrunner because it’s one of the few games in the northeast. It’s one game that Syracuse could do well in financially. My other guesses would be the Belk Bowl or the Sun Bowl.

LN: Um...Hawaii. Yea, that sounds good. Sean seemed to enjoy it, so I can watch the bowl game from there, right?

SK: While I'll always assume Syracuse will be the go-to choice for the ACC's new slot in the Pinstripe Bowl, I'm going to go ahead and book my room in the Charlotte Quality Inn for the Belk Bowl. Obviously, there's so much upheaval every season with ACC's bowl affiliations, but, I'm feeling like it's the next step.

5. December 31, 2014...is Jim Boeheim still the head coach of SU basketball?

DL: Yes, unless *maybe* Syracuse wins a title this year and he decides to ride off into the sunset. I think Boeheim wants the chance to coach Chris McCullough, and I don't blame him. Depending on who sticks around, next year's team could be the most talented he's ever had on paper.

JC: That depends. Did we win a National Championship in April of 2014? If so, then no. If we fell short, then I expect he'll still be manning the sidelines at SU.

AP: The only way I see Jim Boeheim not on the sidelines is if the Orange win the National Title because I can see Boeheim wanting to go out on top. Otherwise, I think this is a non-question because Boeheim will retire when it isn't being asked after every single game.

MM: You would have to be an idiot to think anything else.

CD: Is he still breathing on December 31, 2014?

SF: I’ll believe the retirement speculation when I see it. For every win Boeheim has, it seems like there’s a corresponding reason that he’s supposedly retiring. Boeheim is leaving the game because he’s old, Syracuse reached the Final Four, Syracuse had a good season, Syracuse had a bad season, Bernie Fine got in trouble and the school got into the ACC. Heck, there were even some rumors after the Orange won the championship in 2003. He had to go out on a high note, right? So, this all leads me to believe he will be back for another season. He still is in good health and brings the same dry humor and curmudgeon attitude to press conferences. As long as he can do that, he’ll continue to be at the helm.

LN: I wouldn't want to speculate. Someone should just ask him if he plans to retire.

SK: Yes, because the more I think about it, the more I feel like he's going to have to be dragged away from this program. Next year's team always brims with potential. Next year's team always has new, talented players who need to be molded. Next year…next year...

6. SU's starting five at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season is…

DL: Tyler Ennis, Trevor Cooney, Chris McCullough, DaJuan Coleman, Rakeem Christmas

JC: Really hoping Grant and Ennis stay, but if we win it all, that's unlikely. Operating under the assumption/prayer we're the National Champs, your 2014-15 Syracuse starting lineup consists of: Kaleb Joseph, Trevor Cooney, B.J. Johnson, Tyler Roberson, Chino Obokoh. Looking at that, wow... quite a lot of turnover.

AP: Cooney, Rak, Coleman, Gbinije and McCullough. Yes, I'm thinking the Orange lose both Grant and Ennis to the NBA. Grant is too athletic and too much like Dion not to take advantage of the hype surrounding him. Ennis is continually impressing and as the season moves on, I think he continues to gain talk as not just one of the best freshmen in the country but one of the best PG's in all of the country. If Ennish comes back, holy crap I like this team to go far.

MM: It's more than a safe bet Trevor Cooney, DaJuan Coleman and Rakeem Christmas will be back next season. I'm guessing Ennis will be too, but his going pro is becoming more and more of an intriguing notion. Still, undersized and a little gun-shy when it comes to shooting are not attributes NBA GMs covet in a point guard. So here's safe-betting this season's starting five looks the exact same next year save for the massive hole left by CJ Fair. I think Fair will be in the NBA next season and his heir apparent in the starting five, Jerami Grant will be too. Which may lead to super frosh Chris McCullough earning the starting nod, not a bad alternative.

CD: Tyler Ennis, Trevor Cooney, Michael Gbinije, Chris McCollough, Rakeem Christmas

SF: Tyler Ennis, Trevor Cooney, Tyler Roberson, Rakeem Christmas and DaJuan Coleman. Maybe I’m crazy, but I can’t see Ennis leaving the "dream" school after only one year. The only change in the lineup is Tyler Roberson. He’s my pick for Syracuse player who develops as a freshman and is bound to have a breakout sophomore season.

LN: Awesome question. It'll be Ennis, Cooney, Gbinije, Christmas, and Coleman. Aside from the three Cs, it gets dicey. Let me explain: Jerami Grant would be a lock to take C.J. Fair's soon-to-be-vacant spot, but he's a projected lottery pick already. Barring injury, he's gone. Enter, Silent G. As for Tyler Ennis, he's appearing pretty late on some mock drafts (and that will go up - the kid's an effing rockstar), but I think he comes back to be a top-10 pick in 2015.

SK: Guys, Ennis and Grant are gone. Accept it and move on. Your 2014-2015 starters are Michael Gbinije, Trevor Cooney, Chris McCullough, DaJuan Coleman and Rakeem Christmas.

7. SU's football MVP in 2014 is…

DL: Terrel Hunt. I think he will be more BC/Minnesota Terrel Hunt than Georgia Tech Terrel Hunt next year, and ultimately the offense will go as he goes, though a PTG/George Morris/Devante MacFarlane running attack should be really good once again.

JC: George Morris II. While Terrel Hunt will decide how far we go, Morris will be the engine that keeps the offense running smoothly. I was tempted to go with someone like Julian Whigham, but let's not kid ourselves about this secondary. It's still very much a work in progress.

AP: How can it not be Terrell Hunt? No, he's not Donovan McNabb but he's the closest the Orange have had to someone like him at QB. He's already showed off the legs that can extend the play and go for yards and a pretty good arm. He'll become more refined on touch passes and accuracy which won't make him the top QB in the ACC, but he should be in the top five and make us all salivate for what could be in 2015.

MM: Terrel Freakin' Hunt. The last six or so quarters have shown Hunt has not only improved tremendously but he's grown into the role of Starting Quarterback. This looks like his team and with weapons returning -- Brisly Estime, Prince Tyson-Gulley, George Morris II, etc. - Hunt should continue his upward incline.

CD: Terrel Hunt.

SF: Terrel Hunt – Not going out on a limb very much for this pick. With "good Terrel", Syracuse is a multi-dimensional offense that is hard to game plan against. With "bad Terrel", Syracuse’s offense is, well, offensive. Which one shows up in 2014 will greatly determine the direction of the season. Based off of the last two games, I think we’ll see more of the good Terrel. With so much of his surrounding cast coming back and Scott Shafer having another year of seasoning, Hunt and the Orange are headed in the right direction.

LN: The uniforms. We analyze how the team performs in every single permutation of color, logo, and helmet. No way we do that with any of the players. Uniforms win.

SK: Terrel Hunt is the obvious choice, but assuming he remains on the upward slope, I'm going to look in the direction of Ashton Broyld. He's a hothead and a loose cannon but I feel like there's a well of potential just dying to take over a football field. He might be headed down the Mike Williams route of obliterating record books as well as relationships within the program.

8. Sum up SU Sports in 2013 in three words (other than "Let's Go Orange")

DL: @Honor Your Contract@

JC: WHAT UP, ACC?!

AP: On the Map.

MM: Plenty of wins.

CD: Put in Work.

SF: Captivating, Surprising, Successful.

LN: I love everything!

SK: Doggone hardnosed year.

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