Between typical 2020 happenings and the birth of our second (and last) child, TNIAAM was certainly a group effort this year. And even without games for months on end, there remained plenty to talk about with the Syracuse Orange — and we did talk about it, courtesy of the many writers and editors that help keep this place going.
With all of that in mind, I wanted to feature some of my favorite TNIAAM posts written by the staff (other than myself), to highlight the great work done by everyone here following another successful, eventful year.
These aren’t ranked below, but I’ve put them in chronological order just to see how the year progressed. Thanks to everyone on the TNIAAM staff for helping me stay afloat while running this place these last 12 months.
As the leader of Syracuse basketball, Elijah Hughes has been everything and more for Orange (James Szuba)
I love the fact that James gets to flex his feature muscles at least a few times per year. This piece on Hughes was a good one back in January, talking about just how important the former ECU transfer was to an offensively talented but still flawed 2019-20 Orange squad.
Every way Marek Dolezaj wins games for Syracuse men’s basketball (Bobby Manning)
Unfortunately the videos are gone at this point, but Bobby’s look at Marek Dolezaj as a focal point of both SU’s defense and offense was an interesting dive into the team’s unsung yet crucial player. A lot of this still holds true in 2020-21, though at least he has some additional help from Quincy Guerrier inside now.
Syracuse attempted fewest threes all season vs. Georgia Tech, finding success inside instead (Austin Lamb)
The 2019-20 Syracuse men’s basketball team was weird in many ways. This game was just one example of that. In similar fashion to the Buffalo win where the team was ice-cold from outside but scored over 100 points by shooting well inside the arc, the Orange found ways to exploit Tech inside last season too. Obviously not to the same extent, but there also weren’t as many interior options on offense last year.
Looking back at Syracuse men’s basketball’s minutes played leaders over the last decade (Kevin Wall)
I could’ve leaned on one of many #jokesandgarbage pieces from Kevin, but instead opted for this one; a deep dive into a statistical pet peeve that few other than he or I would want to take the time to dig into. Syracuse has been overworking players for years now, as you may have figured. Hopefully we’re starting to see a course-correction on that front.
Rivalry week: Syracuse men’s lacrosse has plenty of teams you could call ‘rival’ (John Orsenigo)
During one of the many “theme weeks” of this extended offseason, we looked at various rivalries across sports for Syracuse. Of the three primary men’s teams (football, basketball, lacrosse), lacrosse seemed to be the least straightforward question around who’s truly a “rival” for the program. Luckily, John stepped in to try and clear things up.
What I learned from John Thompson (Hoya Suxa)
The passing of John Thompson Jr. was sad, as nearly all deaths are, but I didn’t really feel like the most qualified person at TNIAAM to eulogize the Georgetown coach. Hoya Suxa was very much up to the task, however, and did so with aplomb in this piece that gave me (and hopefully others) some even better perspective on the Big John than I’d had before.
The type of center Syracuse men’s basketball should be recruiting going forward (Ajayi Browne)
The long and short here: SU needs more offensive big men to get away from the 3-on-5 sets we’ve seen in recent years. As we know now, they sort of have two right now in Dolezaj and Guerrier, who have become focal points of the offense and a huge help when threes aren’t falling. If SU can recruit more players like those two (maybe easier said than done), we’ll likely continue to see a more modern Orange offense.
The elephant in the room: Syracuse football’s tight ends (Christian De Guzman)
It was tough to pick just one from Christian, but I opted for this piece — diving into why Gilbert refused to use tight ends in the passing game — since SU’s ignorance of the position became a pet project of his. And since I’m always one to endorse pet projects, here we are.
For Syracuse, injuries have impacts beyond what you see on gameday (Steve Haller)
Steve’s own football-playing experience has a major influence on coverage here, and I try to use it whenever possible to be a better writer and observer of the game. For those still heated about the 2020 season, this is some good perspective (not an excuse) on how injuries hamper a team like Syracuse when suffered to the extent they were this year.
Just how many Infinity Stones does it take for Syracuse football to defeat Clemson? (Andy Pregler)
Some of you may dislike the fact that 2020 allowed the comics wing of TNIAAM to grow significantly as we looked for new things to talk about for months on end. This wasn’t that, and instead, was Andy using his own knowledge of Marvel to relate to just how tough a task SU had ahead of them facing Clemson. Surprisingly, the Orange wound up making it a much closer contest than we figured — even without Infinity Stones.
How Syracuse Women’s Basketball Can Improve in 2020-21 (Sara Stanley)
While Coach Q’s clearly improved the Syracuse women’s basketball program, there’s still more work to do to get this group to the next level: regularly competing for conference and national titles. Part of that requires individual improvements throughout the team, which Sara digs into here.
Syracuse football: I hate this feeling (Sean Keeley)
Who’s this guy? I discussed this article a little on Monday, but it was great to have Sean contextualize the worst part of Rex Culpepper’s fourth down spike... it was the fact that everyone else was able to watch, and contextualize Syracuse football accordingly, without actually going through it the same way we have.
This is just a sample of what TNIAAM was up to in 2020, so if a piece isn’t included here, that’s no indication that it has less worth than the rest. And hopefully re-reading the articles above also lead you to rediscovering other articles contributed by all of our writers. Thank you, as always, for being here with us.