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UMusst Be Confusing Us With Someone Who Plays Defense

"The worst defensive team in Syracuse history."
-Jim Boeheim, according to Donte Greene

I'd like to take a more subjective opinion on the Syracuse basketball team and consider them a "work in progress" after their 107-100 loss to UMass last night.

The good news is that they're a scoring machine. Four players scored
at least 20 points (Eric Devendorf, Donte Greene, Jonny Flynn and Arinze Onuaku), shot 56.3 percent from the field and shot 7-for-17 (41.2 percent) from 3-point range. The Orange also got 12 assists from Flynn, 10 rebound effort from Onuaku and 11 rebounds by Paul Harris.

The bad news...that's wasn't good enough to win. And if the defense doesn't improve, it won't be all season long. Is it the system or is it the players? Jonny Flynn is the first to admit it's the people playing the defense, not the defensive scheme:

"We go man and we don't keep a body in front of us, we go zone and they make threes.''

Jim Boeheim seconds the notion:

"It's been obvious all year to me that we cannot guard whether we're in man-to-man or zone. We just cannot defend people. We couldn't defend St. Joe's or Siena. We couldn't defend Ohio State. We couldn't defend Washington and we can't defend UMass.''

Perhaps we're looking at something akin to the way the Phoenix Suns have risen to power in the NBA the last couple years. At first, they were a run-and-gun show that dared you to score as much as they their detriment. But as they began to hone their team game, they became more complete and a morphed into a well-oiled contender. Keep that in mind as the Orange continue to figure out who they are defensively.

Couple more notes from the game:

Syracuse had not scored 100 points and lost in regulation since the 1968 game against Niagara.

UMass' 107 points were the most for a visiting team in the Carrier Dome's history. The previous high was 103 by Notre Dame last year.

107 points were the most scored against the Orange (home or away) since DePaul scored 103-69 in 2006.

Going into tonight's game, SU was allowing 77.0 points per game, the most in Boeheim's coaching history.

Eric Devendorf had a run-in with a fan during the game,
Axeman witnessed the whole thing:

I was sitting right where this fan was and heard most of what was said. The fan, who was in the student section, yelled at Devendorf when he fouled out about how bad the team's defense was...Devendorf responded to the fan by pointing at him and yelling alot of words I can't print. I mean ALOT of words I can't print. He had to be restrained by a student manager, then told by the uniformed police officer that sits near the SU bench that he better calm down.

I'm all for showing up and egging on your team in an attempt to motivate them, but I've never understood why jackasses like that bother showing up. He's also the guy who takes no pleasure when the team wins cause "they're supposed to."

Oh and apparently DOCTOR Daryl Gross was on-hand with a police escort. Smart move.

The Orange now begin preparing for Saturday's game against Tulane (3-1).

(Photo Credit: DENNIS NETT/Associated Press)