It's been a while but we figured it was time to get the ball rolling again. Brian Harrison of Orange44 and I take turns asking each other questions about Syracuse sports on a weekly basis. Insight is provided. Jokes are made. Life is shared. It's matzo ball soup for the Syracuse fan's soul.
This week Brian recaps the Louisville game, Syracuse basketball to-date and memories of Jim Boeheim.
So...Louisville game...what the eff? Did that really just happen?
Apparently so. I’m still a little shell shocked from it. At this point with basketball really getting fired up this week with some big games in New York City I’m pretty over football at this point. Despite that fact I’m still going to the Dome this weekend to see the final home game because yeah, I am still a loyal fan. Will it be pleasant? Probably not.
Either way, getting back to the game, I’ve said my peace on the game in my standard postgame report, but I mean honestly! How do you lose by a missed extra point after holding the other team to a decade low 151 yards of offense? For the majority of the fourth quarter after the miss I just kept saying we aren’t going to win this one. And really, Syracuse had like four opportunities to end Louisville’s comeback hopes, and one big chance to drive down and get a field goal. They just couldn’t. Of course they couldn’t. Nothing has gone Syracuse’s way this year. Any fumble, the other team recovers. Any tipped ball by a receiver, it’s a pick six. It’s just that kind of year for Syracuse, and although I’ll be in the Carrier Dome this Saturday for the final home contest, I’m pretty sure my sobriety will be low and my level of depression will be high.
Should Syracuse fans take a step back from the ledge and remember this team had low expectations and is playing without a ton of players?
Trying to tell me something? Yes we should all take a step back. I mean let’s be honest, this team was not going to a bowl game this year. There was a slim, outside chance they could get to six wins, but it was HIGHLY unlikely. And this was when we had all the players we had at the beginning of the year, and everyone was gaga for Paulus. My how the times have changed. However, it is disappointing because I said in the beginning of the season, and I still maintain this would be the case if we still had the roster we started with, that we would win five games, including this past Louisville contest and the upcoming Rutgers game. Unfortunately we will be playing the "what if" game because so many talented players have quit or are injured for the year. The good news is Doug Marrone is still a good coach, and we have talented players coming in next season. So relax, enjoy basketball and lacrosse, and come back next year with renewed hope for a good football season. This was his first year after all, and he was working with what Greg Robinson brought in.
Does Doug Marrone have to shoulder some blame for the way the offense & special teams have played? Or is it more on Rob Spence and Bob Casullo?
Of course the man at the top always has to shoulder some of the blame. It’s your program and your name is on the door next to Head Coach. Therefore some of the responsibility, whether it actually is or not, will fall on you. But honestly how many weeks have we seen pretty big gaps in Special Teams competency? The Maine game comes to mind immediately. Similarly, the Northwestern game saw a botched field goal attempt from them go from no points to six by getting a touchdown. Unacceptable. Now, although there was a missed extra point this past weekend that was more players failing to execute than anything the coaching staff did, but we continue to see a pattern of either underprepared players or poor coaching choices when it comes to this side of the game.
As for offense, again Spence deserves some blame. He’s calling the plays out there, and on third and long why would any program just run up the middle? That is just screaming to the players "you suck and we don’t trust you", to the fans it is saying "we give up", and to the other team it says "yeah you got us". The play calling was varied and seemed novel in the first few weeks of the season, but in the last several games it has been flat, uninspired, and predictable. Most of the blame for that has to fall on the coordinator.
The farther away we get from Mike Williams' abrupt departure, the clearer it becomes that this was a horrible move for his NFL future. Where do you see him falling in April's draft and how much money did he cost himself?
I’m not going to pretend I’m any sort of expert on the NFL draft. However, I think everyone thinks he is a very talented player, but the off the field issues are looming large. As I said when it first happened, NFL scouts can always find talent, but they also want character too. It speaks volumes that Williams decided that quitting was his best course of action. There is a reason that quitters never win. I could see him falling as a value pick in the second or third round, but seeing as this was his third incident I’m guessing teams will probably not take a huge chance on him in the first round. No doubt he threw away guaranteed money though. He might as well have just taken a brick of money and lit it on fire.
The basketball team seems to have put the LeMoyne loss behind them. What's the most interesting thing you've learned about this team in the first two games?
Clearly we have learned that despite this team overall being fairly young, and despite losing Paul Harris, this team is very athletic. He may not hit shots every night, but Andy Rautins is probably the best defender on the team. James Southerland has got some mad ups. Brandon Triche is very quick. Somehow Scoop Jardine got quick and some serious ball handling skills. Wesley Johnson is pretty talented and he seems delivered as advertised. Finally, Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson have benefited from another off season learning from Bernie Fine. They both have improved post moves and are able to do moves this year they just could not last year. This team could lose some games because of a lack of pure shooting, free throws, or just making rookie mistakes, but I doubt it will be because they are out hustled or outplayed.
Andy Rautins: Emotional Leader?
Absolutely. You can tell the dedication and the way the team responds to his presence on the floor, especially after deciding to play after injuring his ankle in the first game of the season. But his intensity is what impresses me. Similar to Flynn seeming to have an endless battery of energy, Rautins to be the same way while on defense. He is always active in the zone, putting pressure on the ball, and is always willing to dive for a ball. Additionally, because he is the go to outside shooter for this season, he always seems to fly off a screen and is ready to catch and shoot. And he’s been around for five years now. He has seen a lot of situations and has a lot of game time logged in. He is a resource and leader for this team, and hopefully they will use him.
Jim Boeheim has now won 801 games. What are some of the most memorable wins you were a witness to?
Wow, I have to say I’m lucky that I’ve seen a lot. I was at Boeheim’s 700th win versus Providence, which was pretty special. I remember my first NCAA Tournament game in Albany, NY for the sweet sixteen and elite eight in 2003. Those were obviously exciting and sent us to the Final Four. As far as the Carrier Dome, the "triple court rush" Pittsburgh game in 2003 was pretty crazy, as well as Carmelo’s last game in the Carrier Dome. As far as memorable in the negative way was the Vermont loss in the NCAA Tournament, my last game as a student. Just a crushing loss. But by far the best games I’ve ever seen were the ones in the Big East Tournament in New York City in 2006. I was privileged to see each game and that run was easily the most astounding set of games I have witnessed in person. Had I been in New York for that six overtime game it might be that, but in 2006 when Connecticut was ranked #1, it was absolutely huge, especially since we were probably not in the NCAA Tournament before that game. Simply a magical run and a Big East Tournament that may never be topped.