The Syracuse Orange will tip-off the 2013-14 basketball season on Friday, as the Cornell Big Red visit the Carrier Dome in a non-conference showdown.
The season opener begins a new chapter in Syracuse basketball, as the Orange will slowly prepare for a brand new league, the ACC, and, much like the few seasons before this one, usher in a new rotation of players, most notably in the backcourt.
Now, with all the new toys -- league, freshman point guard and forwards -- with a dash of the traditional things -- Jim Boeheim begins his 38th season as head coach and SU will play the 2-3 zone defense -- there's always going to be some misconceptions. Most of these misconceptions are spread through television because TV is the world of broad generalizations.
So, before the season begins, as part of the TNIAAM basketball preview stuff, I decided I would put together a broadcasting cheat sheet for the those about to cover the Orange. The hope is, before more notable non-conference and ACC games are played, a broadcaster will not make the common mistakes that all us SU fans are used to hearing.
Also, it gives us a idea of what the 2013-14 Syracuse basketball drinking game will be.
Before you rant about Syracuse's non-conference schedule...
You think you're going to point out something that non-Syracuse fan will find interesting and make yourself look good.
However, before you start ranting about the Orange's traditional non-conference schedule -- "which never leaves the state of New York until February" -- write this down:
1) Last season, the Orange played their first game of the season in San Diego on a boat against a NCAA Tournament squad (I understand that may not count as a "real" game, but, hey, it was on the
road water); SU's fourth game of the season was played in an arena (Arkansas' Bud Walton) where it was the only team to win there ALL SEASON!
2) This season, Syracuse plays a few cupcakes at home before heading to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational where it will face Minnesota, then possibly Arkansas, Cal and maybe Gonzaga; a little over two weeks later the Orange play at St. John's. (Of course, it is being played at Madison Square Garden, so you can decided whether or not that counts as a road game.)
3) While you're bashing Syracuse's non-conference schedule make sure you mention Clemson's, whose toughest game is against South Carolina; Virginia Tech's, whose toughest test is the Coaches vs. Cancer early-season tournament and West Virginia; and Pittsburgh's, whose only faces Cincinnati in New York, while the rest of the slate is a bunch of cupcakes at home.
Here's how you actually beat the 2-3 zone
I know. I know. You really want to showcase your knowledge of basketball by breaking down the 2-3 zone and how to beat it. (Have a guy flash to the middle, ball enters, now you have options...) But, here is how teams actually beat the 2-3 zone.
1) Make a crapload of 3-pointers: there's no better way to get a Syracuse defense completely out of whack then to knock down some 3-balls and keep knocking them down. If a team does this, most of the time, an Orange defense is going to break down and other options will become available.
2) Have ONE player go off for 30-plus points: Whether it is Georgetown's Otto Porter, or Marquette's Davante Gardner, or Louisville Luke Hancock, somebody on the opposing team needs to play their best game of the season. Again, like knocking down 3-pointers. Once this starts happening things start to break down a bit and SU gets in defensive trouble.
3) Out-rebound the Orange by A LOT: The downfall of the 2-3 zone defense is that the Orange are usually a mediocre rebounding team. So, while the opposing team is chucking up 3-pointers, there's a good chance they will get one or more opportunities to make an easy put-back bucket. If a team out-hustles SU in this category there's a great chance they will win.
I understand these "keys to victory" are not very coach-like, but, in all honestly, your drawing on the television is meaningless if a team doesn't do those three things against Syracuse.
Syracuse has a go-to guy. His name is C.J. Fair
It seems impossible that the Orange could win so many games the past few years without a "go-to" guy -- that's what the members of the media were saying -- but, somehow, it happened.
(I am pretty sure this is only an issue because broadcasters are either overworked or lazy. If there's one guy to talk about then there's only one thing you need to do your homework on. But, that's just my opinion.)
This year, however, the narrative changes, as ACC Preseason Player of the Year C.J. Fair will be Syracuse's "go-to" guy.
Now, your producer in the truck will be able to put together a highlight package of him dunking over a bunch of players (please make your producer put the Otto Porter facial is in there), snagging a rebound and putting it back (he does the little things!), playing great defense in the 2-3 zone ("he's just so long and athletic") and knocking down a corner 3-pointer (this clip will end the highlight package with you saying, "OH! AND HE CAN SHOOT THE 3 AS WELL, as he made 47-percent of his attempts last season").
Honestly, there's not much more I can say about Carly Jepsen Fair, but, you're welcome. He just made your job easier.
The Big East is dead to Syracuse. Try not to bring it up.
Last season was the swan song for the Syracuse/Big East Conference relationship. In fact, for the better part of two seasons, same goes for the Orange fanbase, its players and head coach Jim Boeheim have answered questions about leaving the conference and now Syracuse is gone. So it no longer is in our thoughts -- well, that is unless Georgetown loses.
Like any relationship that just needed to end, lets try to avoid the conversation altogether. Instead, lets focus on our new relationship with the ACC, which will be a better one for the future. There's lots to talk about there, so just stay away from the Big East talk because your main audience is sick of it and bringing back a sore subject only makes them hate you more.
So help you, if you bring up...
The 1987 National Championship Game.
Georgetown. John Thompson.
Louisville's National Title.
Rakeem Christmas' jersey number and his last name.
Compare Trevor Cooney with Gerry McNamara, somehow.
Talk about graduation rates.
Bernie Fine. (Unless, you're talk about how ESPN botched the whole thing.)
Scroll down to the comments section below because our readers will have some advice for you as well.