Syracuse Basketball Roundtable: Virginia's Coming Up Fast, Huh?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

TNIAAM's esteemed basketball panel deals with the most important things in the world of the Syracuse Orange this week.

Welcome back to the Syracuse basketball roundtable! This week, there's plenty of consideration given to the Duke and Notre Dame games, while we try to look forward as well. Yes, we've got some difficult matchups coming up and we start looking at one of them... the one that takes place a month from now. Because who cares about calendars.

As is and will be the norm all season, we're chatting about Syracuse basketball, the ACC and anything else that might come up in the never-ending soap opera that is Jim Boeheim's Orange team. Join us below...

In one sentence, describe your emotions at the end of the Duke game.

Chris Daughtrey: It was the validation of a long held belief

Aaron Goldfarb: "I need to hug my girlfriend, kiss Vanessa Williams, smoke a cigarette, and laugh heartily at the tub of a Duke fan beside me (he paid $500 for his ticket and has never been to North Carolina before)."

Lisa Nelson: Elated and exhausted; emotionally spent.

Matt McClusky: By the time Duke sent the game into overtime on that breathtaking three-pointer at the buzzer, all I could think was, Man I'm glad Syracuse is apart of a game like this.

Jared Smith: Happy for a number of different reasons, but the biggest reason was the realization that that is why we all watch sports -- to be a part of moments like Saturday.

Jeremy Ryan: Spent. I can understand why SU had such trouble bouncing back against Notre Dame - I did too and all I had to do was tweet for two hours.

Sean Keeley: I stared into the abyss, and the abyss stared back, and then we high-fived.

John Cassillo: I've found that I am much calmer during intense games when I'm typing "fuck!" in the comment section here instead of yelling it at the television, which my wife very much appreciates.

Rakeem Christmas's foul embellishments were totally warranted, right?

CD: I've long been of the opinion that, if you ain't cheating, you ain't trying. Were they flops? Sure. Were they blatant, Vlade Vidac, WWE style flops? No.

AG: Watching the game on replay, I didn't even think they were *that* bad. He was getting fouled, and he was barely flopping in comparison to some of the cannon-ball-in-the-stomach backward flops that the Manus and Dukies of the world have perfected over the past decade.

LN: See, you can't embellish something that's not already there. For example, Ed Hardy needed millions of t-shirts first. He knew he couldn't just BeDazzle empty space, you know? Rak didn't create the fouls. They were there. Good on him for making sure the refs caught it.

MM: It's a a shame Christmas over-sold those calls because, in all actuality, they were fouls. I don't have too much of an issue with the way Christmas reacted because everyone does the same and, really, in today's game, dramatics are what officials look for when making calls. Yet, it's a little disappointing to hear some of the talking points from a brilliant game surrounding whether or not Christmas flopped. He did a little, but a foul is a foul is a foul.

JS: The second foul was a bit understandable than the first foul. With that said, there's no way the first foul gets called if he doesn't flop and the same argument an be made for the second foul. Either way, both were fouls it just looked bad because he embellished a lot.

JR: A wise man once said, "You play to win the game."

SK: Even if he hadn't done it, he still would have gotten the call. And I get that it's become "okay" to do that kind of thing. But…yeesh. Really wish he hadn't.

JC: Glad everyone caught the words I used in the question. Rak was well within his rights to ensure those rightful fouls were called. Sure, maybe he would've gotten the whistle anyway, but why take the risk? These things happen in every game. For once, SU benefited from it.

What the hell was going on during the Notre Dame game?

CD: Hangover game, plain and simple. For whatever reason, most of the team didn't have that little bit of extra energy to drive instead of settle for jumpers. Luckying for the Orange, Trevor Cooney was damn good at settling for jumpers.

AG: Mike Brey doing what he's best at: almost upsetting a far superior team not mentally prepared (or interested) in playing his team of SPF 65 wearers.

LN: Nothing we shouldn't have expected. The performance against Duke took just about everything out of this team. Hell, it took just about everything out of me! For all we know, Trevor Cooney may have been operating on adrenaline still. Or not. That's fine. Whatever it was, it worked.

MM: Mental fatigue. It's sounds too easy an answer for it to be true, but there's a big difference between Duke and GameDay and 35,000-plus people and Notre Dame. I'll also buy that the Orange tend to play with teams, rising for some and falling for others. I think it's probably 75 percent fatigue and 25 percent playing down to the opponent - which I guess equates to it being one-hundred percent mental.

JS: A lot of pretty good defense by Notre Dame, a lot of bad luck for SU when it came to shots not going in (Jerami Grant had two bunnies go in-and-out, while Fair was missing WIDE OUT shots he never misses), but, it was mostly just emotional and mental fatigue. I don't like that it happened because 18-20-year-old kids should be able to bounce-back from big Ws with a solid performance, however, it does happen. Luckily, Syracuse won (thanks to Trevor Cooney) and we move on.

JR: Emotional fatigue. It's asking a lot for a bunch of college kids to get up for one of the biggest games of their lives, and then have to summon the energy to do it again two days later. It wasn't even physical fatigue, at least I don't think. It was purely mental. Plus, Mike Brey has seen SU play enough time to know how to plan for them. ND may have been the worst possible opponent for SU coming off of that Duke high.

SK: It seems silly to think that world-class athletes could be tired two days removed from a basketball game, but, I dunno, I guess they were? Nah, that just seems dumb. More likely, a confluence of multiple guys coincidentally having terrible games at the same time.

JC: Cooney got plenty of rest during the Duke game, and then "coincidentally" goes off against Notre Dame while everyone else is stone cold. I don't like this team's very obvious struggle with bouncing right back on "short" rest, but I'm trying not to read into it too much yet. Just hope this isn't the case next month...

Who will we see more of in the upcoming weeks: Michael Gbinije or Tyler Roberson?

CD: I think it stays pretty equal. Both play backup for guys who are critical for the Orange so neither will see the floor too much. If I had to pick, I'd say Gbinije because he backs up both guard spots. The patter is been be comes in for Ennis, then Ennis comes in for Cooney, then Cooney for Silent G. It's been working, so why mess with it.

AG: Gbinije, but I'd like to see more Roberson as well. He's been doing at least one good thing every game he gets into.

LN: Gbinije. It seems like Boeheim really wants him to find his groove, so he keeps giving him minutes. Also, he can play more positions, and being versatile like that makes playing time more likely.

MM: My guess is Gbinije will continue to get more run because he is the more "experienced" player. Roberson has a wealth of potential, but in some ways he is too much like Grant except he's even more raw when it comes to Xs and Os. Whereas Gbinije, who certainly hasn't found his role or rhythm yet, can be, at the very least, much needed relief for Cooney and Ennis.

JS: Gbinije, however, not by much. Boeheim needs to keep the forwards as fresh as possible going down this brutal stretch of basketball. I know JB would like to win him all, but don't be shocked if in one of these games, when maybe it is not at all Syracuse's night, he rolls with Gbinije and Roberson a ton. Guys like Ennis, Fair and Grant will need to rest at some point.

JR: Probably Gbinije, but not by much. Boeheim can play Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita together if he needs to give Jerami Grant and/or C.J. Fair some rest. But Gbinije is the only guard that is getting any run right now, and I don't see Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney regularly playing a full 40 minutes the way Grant and Fair do.

SK: Guessing Gbinije. While Roberson is the more obvious choice from a depth chart point of view, I don't think Boeheim cares about that. He's gonna rely on Christmas and Keita as much as he can and pray the eventual foul-trouble game that's coming doesn't come. In the meantime, it looks like Gbinije is going to see increased minutes at the point.

JC: Roberson's getting better with every game, it seems, and I'd like to see him get more burn. It would really be smart to give Fair and Grant some rest where we can, since they (again) truly looked gassed on Monday. We've been here before. No matter how athletic, players can't go a full 40 every single night. Roberson needs to take the heat off those guys for the sake of our postseason.

Have you been paying attention to Virginia lately? That remaining schedule looks awfully favorable...

CD: Yeah, I've noticed that too. They have sort of the antithesis of the Syracuse schedule. SU started out fairly easy and finishes with a brutal stretch. Virginia started out tough and, except for the date with SU, finish kind of soft. The SU/UVA game could end up deciding the ACC regular season champion.

AG: Yes, and I'm definitely concerned. I hate to be a whiner, but with these ballooning conferences, "unfair" scheduling is going to start happening every year. There's got to be a better way to do this.

LN: Sort of. Mostly, I've just been following the whole #swoon movement surrounding Joe Harris. It's research. I'm trying to identify his weaknesses. It's for the greater good. I swear.

MM: The Cavaliers are who we thought they were: a better than average team. I was completely stunned at how bad Virginia looked in nonconference play -- losing at home to VCU and getting pounded at mediocre Tennessee. Just the same, though, I'm not surprised Tony Bennett's group is looking like a squad that could beat halfway decent teams -- it just took longer than expected. It's a team that like to grind you down, a lot like Pittsburgh, really. As for the ACC race, a relatively easy schedule for UVA could set up next month's game in Charlottesville as a de facto regular season championship.

JS: Oh yes I have. Did it Monday after Syracuse's win. Now, Virginia will slip-up in one of these games is SHOULD win. That happens to everyone. It will happen to Syracuse too. The key for the Orange is to keep winning the games it should, beat Virginia and thing should work out well for them. But, yeah, the Cavs have a real nice draw moving forward.

JR: That is going to be a tough game on March 1st. Virginia plays a slowdown style that gives SU fits, and they like to ugly things up as much as they can. That is not going to be an easy road trip for the Orange by any stretch. If SU loses that game, Virginia could very well end up stealing the conference title based on what little opposition they face the rest of the way.

SK: I probably should. I was kinda surprised to look over and see them in 2nd place. I mean, I know they're supposed to be good, but…whoa. We're not going to live down that crappy ranking we gave them a few weeks ago if we lose to them.

JC: So here's the deal: Virginia is a very good team, on both ends of the floor. They're not better than Syracuse, though. The problem is, their schedule might just make it look like they are. Beyond their home game against the Orange, UVa will be favored in every remaining contest... and they're only a game back of us. So we need to be very scared of this team. The best way around any issues? Beat them down in Charlottesville. If we do that, we can go 6-2 in the other eight remaining games and still win the ACC. Let's do that.

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