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Orange::44 Is An Absolute Magician 2.0

It's time once again for a meeting of the minds as I posed some questions to Orange 44's Brian. Last time, we talked SU football and basketball. This time, we talk...SU football and basketball.
TNIAAM: What did you learn about the Syracuse basketball team from Wednesday (loss to Ohio State) to Friday (win over Washington)?

BRIAN: I think lesson number one is that this team is not invincible. I think no one learned this more than the team itself, which is good. You got the feeling that this team just thought they were going to win out and then six in a row in March. Now they know that this is not the case. The team now knows that there are no easy games and no easy buckets.

We have also learned that defense and limiting turnovers will be the key to this season. The offense is there. There are plenty of offensive weapons in Jim Boeheim's bag o' tricks. As we saw in the St. Joe's game the defense spurred on the offense. This means an active zone and coverage on the perimeter. Mental lapses will kill this team. If anything the Ohio State game was, to borrow a buzz term used a lot lately, the blueprint to beat the Orange.

This team can score, but really, the key is preventing the other team from doing so. This was shown in the Washington win. It is clear that when Jim Boeheim sees something that needs correcting, and the team is motivated enough, it will be corrected. It could have been the fact that they were coming off a loss, or just that Jim knew what to say, but the Washington win shows that in one game, probably without watching much film of the opponent, the team can fix the major problems they had from the game before, which is a good sign of things to come.

TNIAAM: So whose team is this? Flynn's? Greene's? Devo's? A little of all three?

BRIAN: You have to assume that this is Devendorf's team. He is the older player, the one with big game experience, and also a player that has yet to experience a victory in the NCAA Tournament. Something that I'm sure he is not too happy about. Also, from what I have seen for the majority of the season so far, he seems to be a little older and wiser. He is also playing this season for his friend from Bay City that got shot last season. This is a huge personal motivation that will surely carry his game to a different place.

That being said, I think Paul Harris is a big leader as well. It is obvious that Flynn looks up to Paul after playing with him in Niagara Falls.I think after improving his jump shot, that he has probably earned a lot of respect with the team as well. He has shown his commitment to the program and improving his game. You have to respect that.

I think Greene and Flynn are natural leaders, but I have not seen any leadership qualities that jump out at me, other than the new "Mac to Hak" combo of Flynn and Greene. As ESPN the Magazine said, "a point guard at Syracuse that passes? Here?"

TNIAAM: The basketball pecking order in the Big East is slowly beginning to take shape, who is your early pick for conference disappointment and for conference sleeper?

BRIAN: The disappointment of the conference so far has to be Villanova. They lost a close game to NC State by fouling and allowing NC State to go up by one on free throws. 'Nova was ranked 19th at the time and lost to an unranked NC State (By the way, they are now #21 and Syracuse was #21 and after a loss that I don't think was as bad and we get dropped out? WTF?). 'Nova is a decent looking club that should have probably won against that team. While other Big East teams have lost, this one was probably the worst loss, but it is early in the year obviously. This team is ranked pretty high to start the year, and I just don't see them going that far.

Sleeper of the conference at this point is definitely Seton Hall. They last beat a good ACC team in Virginia, they have a great freshman in Jeremy Hazell, and have won an game in overtime. They are currently 5-0 on the season, and are looking to surprise some people this year. However, I think Cinderella might lose her shoe when it comes to conference game time.

TNIAAM: Statistically, the SU football team did some good things against Cincy. Fluke, a preview of things to come or just one last gasp to save their coach?

BRIAN: Watching this game there were some good things going on. The passing game looked pretty good. At least, better than it has in the last three games. However, after the Louisville game, Robinson was inconsistent at best. Plus, there was the injury situation. So it leaves us asking the question will Andrew Robinson be a consistent threat next season? To that, at this point, I am not sure. He looked great in a few games, and terrible in others. He happened to look good against Cincinnati. But, in a season full of disappointment, great offense was the exception and not the rule. I have to, based on the evidence, call it a fluke.

I'm not sure if the Robinson losing his job factor played any part in how the team played. I did not get the feeling like this team was playing for their coach's livelihood. I did not feel a sense of urgency in their play either. So I have to say I believe that was a non-factor.

As for if this was a preview… God I hope so. Not the outcome, but just sheer production from the offense. An offense which has typically been in the bottom tier of the NCAA in all categories in the past three years, that happened to have a great game in the air.

TNIAAM: Many football coaches are being fired over stats and records much better than Greg Robinson's, how is he keeping his job right now?

BRIAN: By the grace of God go he. That, and when you have an arrogant Athletic Director that hired you, you have to believe that you will see year four. I am all for giving coaches a chance, and looking at all the angles, but I personally believe that Greg is just not a very good coach. I'm willing to say I am being a little more subjective than my colleague Matt Glaude, but I really do not understand any justification, other than money, for keeping this guy. Even then, I cannot really accept money as the reason because we are losing money hand over fist because our team is so bad. I also guarantee that season tickets and attendance will fall yet again if Robinson is retained.

So I guess the real answer is… I have no freaking idea how this guy is still at the helm of the flagship program of the department. Then again, a lot of the decisions the department, and the university as a whole, make are most often puzzling to me.

I think the record speaks for itself. Matt points it out in his analytical masterpiece, and I agree, it is one of the few things that is 100% positive, true, and in the public eye. But, much like pornography to a Supreme Court Justice, you know terrible football when you see it. We have all seen a lot of it in the last three years. That has to directly relate to the man in charge. That is Robinson. I think we all look for some simple improvement, and we have yet to see it in his tenure.

TNIAAM: Apropos of nothing, give me an early prediction of the 2008 Syracuse football team, assuming Robinson is still at the helm.

BRIAN: Well you know me, I'm the Orange Optimist. I sort of blew the call for this season, but in my defense, I don't think anyone saw how bad our offensive production/defense/team would be. Looking at our five non-conference games, it looks possible we could win three, those being Akron, Northwestern, and Notre Dame. Northwestern could be a loss though, as it is an away game. If Notre Dame is as terrible as it was last year we should be able to beat them in South Bend, or at least be entertained by the notion. We have one slot for a game open, and the current rumor is a 1-AA team, possibly from the Big East like Villanova or Georgetown, so that very well could be a win of Buffalo caliber. The final non-conference contest has Penn State and JoePa heading to the Dome. This used to be a great rivalry back in the day and I see this game as a complete tossup I will not predict until next season.

Then there is the conference slate. West Virgin(i)a should be a good team again. Everything below that is a complete jumble as well. I never saw Cincinnati being good this year, not to mention the amazing early run USF had. Then there is the bain of my existence, UConn. We could walk out of the conference 1-6, 2-5, or even 4-3. It all depends on who steps up for our team, and if we improve at all.

So, I suppose, based on not many facts, and pure conjecture, I will say that this team will improve on the number of wins, but most will probably be ugly or close. Syracuse will win five, and possibly six games next year, provided that the offensive line especially, and the overall offensive and defense improves even a little.

(Photo Credit: AP)