In case you missed it, Boeheim’s Army took down Team Fancy last night in the Super 16 of the $2 million, winner take all basketball tournament. The victory didn’t come with ease, but once again a team of Syracuse players edged out a close victory. Are we really surprised at this point?
“That was a tough game, back and fourth, they took lead, (we) did a good job of making plays down at the end. We made the plays we needed to. Defense needs to be better, rebounding needs to be better,” head coach Ryan Blackwell said following the win.
Just a year ago the team of former Syracuse guys bowed out in the Super 16 to The Untouchables, a team comprised of Pittsburgh alumni. What a difference a year can make, but what exactly was that difference?
“I think they made the commitment this year. They came up to practice, they’re more into it. They’re more involved, attention to detail. I just think they wanted it a lot more than they did in the past. Not saying they didn’t but I can just tell. Donte coming up for practice was huge. CJ coming up for a few days of practice was huge. James even though he wasn’t there he’s in great shape now, he just came from the Jazz summer league. So these guys are committed more so than they were in the past,” Blackwell opined.
Perhaps the execution, particularly late, comes more naturally with a certain level of commitment. End of game situations have been pivotal for Boeheim’s Army in its last two games. But both times, the former Syracuse guys have come out on top in part to execution as well as shrewd coaching.
In the waning moments of last night’s game, clinging to a two-point lead, Blackwell elected to go with his four guard while having Donte Greene — taller and longer than the inbound defender — pass the ball in.
“We needed guys who could shoot free throws and those are our best guys. Just getting the ball in, Donte at 6-foot-10 taking the ball out and had him make a good pass.”
It worked. Brandon Triche received the inbounds pass from Greene. He was fouled and made both of his free throws, all but sealing the victory.
The team will now get a few days to rest and prepare for Sunday’s game in the same Brooklyn gym. But as the wise, modern day poet from Brooklyn (read: Fabolous) once said, “I hear if you stay ready, you aint gotta get ready.”
And when asked about the next opponent (Team FOE), Blackwell already had the scout.
“Talented, guard-oriented, especially the last half they played four small and one big. Their guys can handle the ball and make plays. They have shooters so we have to make sure we have a hand up,” He said. “I think with our guys as long as we rebound we have a size advantage. Rebound in the zone, get out and run and make plays... as long as we consistently move the ball we’ll be fine.”
(We’re still unsure if Fabulous will be in attendance for Sunday’s game)