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Monthly Archives: November 2015

Nov. 20 Top Ten

Here are the top 10 topics for the November 20 edition of the NAPA Syracuse Legends show..

1. It’s not every week that the no. 1 team in the nation plays football in the Carrier Dome. Clemson did so against SU last Saturday, and fears of an ugly disaster were voiced everywhere when the Tigers scored a pair of touchdowns before the game was two minutes old. But the Orange tied it, 14-14, late in the first quarter, and though Clemson retook the lead, it never got away. For the rest of the evening, SU chased, gaining 243 yards on the ground, but just a few mistakes, here and there, prevented a monumental upset. Clemson prevailed, 37-27, but just like LSU earlier this season, this other group of Tigers was all too glad to escape the Dome with its undefeated season and national championship dreams intact.

2. With all that said, the last two weeks of the season for SU will determine a whole lot for the program’s future. The Orange visit North Carolina State before hosting Boston College on November 28. If this season is any indication, it’s clear that SU has shown up, with an all-out effort, against the big-name opponents like LSU, Florida State and Clemson, but have shown less energy and spirit against other opponents. And what happens in these last two games might determine Scott Shafer’s fate, fair or not. Given the rash of coaching changes that will already take place this off-season, SU faces a difficult decision, no matter the results. Win these games, though, and a return for Shafer for at least one more season can easily be justified.

3. Before and after the SU football tilt with Clemson, basketball season opened at the Carrier Dome, and the Orange are 2-0, even if it was rough getting there. This proved especially true in the season’s curtain-raiser against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks from the Patriot League. SU’s defense in the first half was remarkable, holding Lehigh to two field goals in 23 attempts and just 12 points. Yet the Orange only led by six, 36-30, with 12 minutes to play before it regained control and, by a 57-47 margin, prevailed. Eight players saw double-digit minutes, with Michael Gbinije (16 points), MalachI Richardson (14 points) and Trevor Cooney (13 points) accounting for most of the production. But SU shot just 34.6 percent from the field.

4. An old Upstate New York rivalry was reborn Tuesday night when SU took on St. Bonaventure. At first, the Bonnies were in full control, leading for the game’s first 30 minutes, by as much as 11 on several occasions. But ultimately, St. Bona paid for not putting the Orange away, as midway through the second half SU took off. Over the course of the last 10 minutes, the Orange outscored the Bonnies 32-14, turning a troubling effort into a deceptive 79-66 victory. Again, Michael Gbinije set the pace, earning 23 points and six assists, with Trevor Cooney adding 18 points and Malchai Richardson putting up 16 points. And despite all kinds of trouble with offensive boards, Tyler Roberson grabbed 12 total rebounds.

5. But now the action will pick up for SU. First, there’s the warm-up act of facing the Elon Phoenix from the Colonial Athletic Association on Saturday night at the Dome. Once that is done, it’s off to Paradise – or more specifically, the Bahamas, to play in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament over the course of the Thanksgiving holiday. In the first round next Wednesday, SU takes on the Charlotte 49ers, who come from Conference USA. The next game, though, is against either old Big East rival Connecticut or Michigan, who beat SU in the 2013 Final Four. Gonzaga is in the other half of the tournament bracket with Texas, Washington and Texas A&M, and the Orange will face one of those teams on November 27 to end its tournament stay.

6. This weekend, SU’s field hockey team pursues its first-ever NCAA championship. Recovering from its overtime loss in the ACC title game to North Carolina (its only blemish of the season), the Orange swept through the regional games it hosted last weekend at Coyne Stadium. First, SU beat Massachusetts 4-2 in the round of 16, with Liz Sack scoring twice to help the Orange build a 4-0 lead before the Minute Men scored twice in the late going, as Emma Russell and Lies Lagerwell earned the other goals. A day later, SU roared past Princeton 5-0 in the quarterfinals, as Sack scored twice in the first 15 minutes and Alma Fenne also found the net to put SU up 3-0 by halftime. Fenne scored again in the second half and Russell added a goal.

7. Now SU’s field hockey team heads to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor for another NCAA Final Four. And in the greatest of ironies, Connecticut is waiting for a rematch of the 2014 title game in Friday afternoon’s semifinal. This time around, the Huskies arrive off shutouts over Louisville (3-0) and Boston College (1-0) in the early NCAA rounds and carry a perfect 22-0 record, having shut out 13 opponents, though not against the same kind of tough foes SU faced in the ACC. And as proof of that, the other national semifinal pits neighbors Duke and North Carolina against each other, so even if the Orange gets revenge on the Huskies, it would have to face the familiar Blue Devils or Tar Heels in Sunday’s championship game.

8. For the first time, the SU men’s soccer team is an ACC champion. And the Orange pulled it off the hard way, winning four tournament games, three of them on the road against teams ranked in the national top 10. First it was the penalty kicks against North Carolina in the quarterfinals. Then it was the 2-0 shutout at no. 2 seed Clemson in the semifinals. Finally, in the title game against Notre Dame in South Bend, the Orange completed its improbable run by defeating the Fighting Irish 1-0. Ben Polk netted the game’s only goal a minute into the second half, assisted by Julian Bueschler, and the defense did the rest, keeping Notre Dame off the board as Chris Hubbard only had to make two saves to preserve his latest shutout.

9. Not only did the ACC tournament title lift SU men’s soccer all the way to no. 6 in the national rankings, it also gave the Orange a favorable draw in the 48-team NCAA Tournament. Given a first-round bye, SU will host, on Sunday afternoon, the winner of Friday’s game between Hartwick and Dartmouth, with the first 200 students getting free admission since SU head coach Ian McIntyre bought tickets for them. The Orange need a win to host another playoff game in the round of 16 against Seattle, UCLA or Cal Poly. SU has been stopped the last two years in the round of 16. Three wins are needed for the Orange to go all the way to the NCAA College Cup that takes place on December 11-13 in Kansas City.

10. To start its season, the SU women’s basketball team, who have a no. 23 national ranking, had to survive a scare at Rhode Island, but defeated the Rams 57-54, rallying in the fourth quarter (they now play four 10-minute quarters in the women’s college game) from a six-point deficit, Brittney Sykes returning from her knee injury to hit the go-ahead with 5:16 to put SU in front for good. Brianna Butler led the Orange with 20 points. Of course, a much larger challenge awaits SU this Friday at Knoxville against no. 4 Tennessee. The home opener is Monday against Morgan State, followed by a trip to the South Point Shootout in Las Vegas where the Orange takes on Washington next Friday and then faces Fordham a night later.

Posted in Top Ten

Nov. 20 Best of the Week

Summit Auto Group Best of the Week: Yes, SU football lost to no. 1-ranked Clemson, 37-27, at the Carrier Dome last Saturday, but absolutely no one can fault the team’s effort, especially after it fell behind 14-0 I the first two minutes. For that, SU can thank the unsung heroes of the offensive line, who managed to control the line of scrimmage and spring the Orange backs to gain 242 yards on the ground, 40 more than the Tigers. The line’s efforts reflected that of the rest of the team, who didn’t let a superior opponent dominate them.

McDonald’s Rewind and Archive: SU’s return to the field hockey final four this weekend in Ann Arbor, Michigan is a chance for atonement for the Orange. Just 12 months ago, SU took a similar path, a strong regular season followed by a defeat in the ACC championship game (here it was to Wake Forest), followed by two home wins in the regional round. Then, in the national semifinals against North Carolina at College Park, Maryland, the Orange had to survive a shoot-out to defeat North Carolina, though the battle may have taken a toll because it lost the championship game 1-0 to Connecticut two days later. Does SU go all the way this time?

Eaton Crouse Hinds Community Corner: As if winning three consecutive games against nationally ranked opponent to snare the program’s first-ever ACC championship wasn’t special enough, SU men’s soccer coach Ian McIntyre has offered a way to thank students for supporting the team. The first 200 students who attend Sunday’s NCAA tournament second-round game against the winner of Friday’s game between Dartmouth and Hartwick won’t have to pay the $5 admission for the event, a graceful gesture to acknowledge the growing popularity of the Orange soccer program.

The U.S. Army Weekly Recap: No matter how it got there, the bottom line is SU’s men’s basketball team is off to a 2-0 start, something a lot of other power-conference teams can’t claim. First, the Orange led from start to finish against Lehigh last Friday night, overcoming long rough patches and 34.6 percent shooting to take down the Mountain Hawks 57-47. Then, against St. Bonaventure, SU trailed for more than 30 minutes, but took over in the last 10 minutes, outscoring the Bonnie 32-14 in that stretch to win 79-66 to take a perfect mark into Friday’s home game against Elon, the prelude to a trip to the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas during Thanksgiving week.

Posted in Best of the Week