Monthly Archives: January 2016
Summit Auto Group Best of the Week: Twice in three nights, SU men’s basketball got transcendent performances. First, it was Trevor Cooney scoring five 3-pointers in the first 10 minute at Wake Forest, and 21 first-half points, setting the tone for the Orange’s 83-55 rout of the Demon Deacons. Then, in the Big Monday game at Duke in front of the ESPN cameras, Tyler Roberson silenced the Cameron Crazies by gathering in a career-best 20 rebounds, 11 of them offensive boards, and the Orange got a big 64-62 victory over the Blue Devils to continue its recent turnaround.
McDonald’s Rewind and Archive: Like with most of the teams in the ACC it joined a couple of seasons ago, SU met Virginia before. In that famous 1983-84 season, which included Pearl Washington’s half-court shot to beat Boston College and the infamous Michael Graham punch in the Big East final against Georgetown, SU found itself in the East Regional at Atlanta in the Sweet 16, where Indiana stunned Michael Jordan-led North Carolina and a Final Four opportunity beckoned. But Virginia, one year after Ralph Sampson graduated, beat the Orange 63-55 and did go on to Seattle before dropping the national semifinal to Hakeem Olajuwon and Houston in overtime.
Eaton Crouse Hinds Community Corner: Some college student-athletes never forget about their good fortune and give so much back. A good example of this was on Monday afternoon when, during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, several members of the SU football team, led by Kendall Moore, joined more than 200 other community members at Pensabene’s Casa Grande as they packed hundreds of sandwiches and coats for the poor and needy – a vital need during this cold time of year, and a great way to honor Dr. King’s legacy of unselfish devotion to a higher cause.
The U.S. Army Weekly Recap: Now SU’s men’s basketball season has turned around following an 0-4 start in the ACC. What started with a solid home win against Boston College continued with a rout at Wake Forest sparked by Trevor Cooney’s first-half eruption, and culminated on Big Monday with the Orange going into Cameron Indoor Stadium and beating the Duke Blue Devils 64-62, gaining an eight-point lead in the second half and hanging on at the end despite some missed free throws, and getting quite the start turn from Tyler Roberson, who amassed 20 rebounds, 11 of them offensive, to go with his 14 points. SU handed Duke a rare third consecutive defeat.
1. It turned out to be a Big Monday for SU’s men’s basketball team for several reasons. The Orange were at Cameron Indoor Stadium for its only regular-season meeting against the Duke Blue Devils, coming off two straight wins. Duke was trying to avoid rare back-to-back home losses and an even rarer three-game skid. As before, it would prove close between SU and Duke, with the Orange shutting out the Blue Devils for more than five minutes at the outset, but Duke eventually started making its share of 3-pointers and going up by as much as six late in the first half. But Trevor Cooney’s 3-pointer cut that Orange deficit to 29-26, and a 3-pointer to restore Duke’s margin came a millisecond after the horn, so the margin was three at the break.
2. And then SU turned it around in the second half at Duke, outscoring the Blue Devils 26-12 during one long stretch that created a 61-53 margin with less than five minutes left. To no one’s surprise, Duke fought back, led by Marshal Plumlee, who finished with 19 points and 17 rebounds. A couple of missed free throws by the Orange in the final minute allowed Duke to pull within one and get a shot at the win. SU gave a pair of fouls, forced a missed shot and Malachi Richardson was fouled with two seconds left. Richardson made one, missed the second, and Duke couldn’t get a shot off before the horn, so the Orange, by a 64-62 margin, had held on for its third straight win, quite a turnaround from the team’s 0-4 start in ACC play.
3. In order to get a signature win like SU earned at Duke, it requires some signature performances. Tyler Roberson delivered one, by far his best in an Orange uniform, snaring 20 rebounds, and what’s more impressive is that 12 of them were offensive boards, quite a number for a team that’s struggled on the glass most of the season, but out-rebounded Duke 49-42 on this night. Aside from that, the balance on this team was incredible as Trevor Cooney, Malachi Richardson and Michael Gbinije each finished with 14 points, too. Still, what Jim Boeheim said he was most proud of was the team’s collective defensive effort, and he called it one of the best road wins in his 40-year head coaching tenure, and he’s had a few big road wins along the way.
4. All of this came less than a week after SU found itself reeling from four consecutive defeats to open ACC play, though three of them came while Jim Boeheim served his NCAA punishment. Staring at disaster, the Orange didn’t blink, instead leaning on its defense to begin its turnaround against Boston College on January 13, leading from start to finish in a 62-40 victory. Then it traveled to Tobacco Road and, two days prior to the big win at Duke, warmed up by whacking Wake Forest 83-55. The Danny Manning-coached Demon Deacons never got into the argument, victimized by an SU shooting barrage that made it 47-27 by halftime, and unlike some games this year, the Orange closed strong, allowing an early exit for the starters, which proved valuable.
5. No doubt, the biggest story in SU’s rout at Wake Forest was Trevor Cooney. The first half belonged to the senior, who got into that “zone” and netted five 3-pointers in the game’s first 10 minutes and was outscoring the Demon Deacons all by himself deep into the half. By the time they reached intermission, Cooney had 21 points, and though he only added four more points the rest of the way, the tone was set and Wake never recovered. Tyler Roberson gave a hint of what he was to do at Duke two nights later by delivering 16 points and 13 rebounds as Michael Gbinije (15 points) and Tyler Lydon (11 points) also hit double figures. Even Franklin Howard contributed five points to help the cause.
6. Once, a win over Duke was a defining moment, but SU can gain something bigger if it goes to Charlottesville on Saturday and beats Virginia. As two-time defending ACC regular-season champions, the Cavaliers were ranked in the top 10 throughout the early portion of the season, only to start 2-3 in conference play this season, having lost to Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Florida State. Both teams will be desperate to reach .500 in the ACC, with SU knowing that it comes back home for its next four games, starting with next Thursday’s visit from Notre Dame, and a win over the Cavaliers will further strengthen an NCAA Tournament case that, with the committee needing into account Jim Boeheim’s hastily scheduled absence.
7. Things are also looking up for SU’s women’s basketball team. Going into last Thursday night’s game against Pittsburgh at the Carrier Dome, the Orange was 12-4, and 2-1 in ACC competition, but moved up on both fronts after dismantling the Panthers 71-48. This was a gradual process, SU starting to build its lead in the second quarter and, up 36-26 at halftime, continuing to excel on the defensive side in the second half, holding Pitt to five-for-23 shooting as the margin more than doubled. On the offensive side, nine different players got on the scoreboard, led by Briana Day, who recorded a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. Help came from Maggie Morrison, with 12 points, and Cornelia Fondren, who produced 11 points.
8. Then SU’s women went to Wake Forest on Sunday and mimicked what their male counterparts accomplished a day earlier, in terms of a one-sided victory. This one went 91-65 in the Orange’s favor, featuring a first half where SU seemed to produce at will against a porous Demon Deacons defense, eventually building a 46-27 edge. But not content with that, the Orange kept pulling further away and saw five players score in double figures. Brianna Butler and Alexis Peterson had 19 points apiece, with Butler adding nine rebounds. Brittney Sykes joined Maggie Morrison, each getting 11 points, and Cornelia Fondren earned 10 points. Briana Day and Taylor Ford, with eight points apiece, got close to double figures.
9. This was just what SU’s women’s team needed heading into one of its toughest stretches of the season. The Orange are now 4-1 in the ACC, 14-4 overall, but what looms is a trip to South Bend to face Notre Dame, a perennial powerhouse that lost its lone game to Connecticut and, at 16-1, holds the no. 3 national ranking and a perfect 6-0 ACC mark. Once that is done, the Orange returns to the Carrier Dome Monday night to take on no. 17-ranked Louisville, another prime ACC contender. SU has reached the point where an NCAA Tournament berth is just about a given. The question is whether Quentin Hillsman’s team can go to the next level and beat the ACC’s bigger sides, which they couldn’t quite do against North Carolina.
10. Sad news from SU football’s alumni front. Bill O’Donnell passed away at the young age of 38 last Thursday at his home in New Jersey. Born and bred in Jersey, O’Donnell came to Syracuse and, early in his time at the school, was scout team player. But unlike Rudy, he earned a starting spot by 1998, his junior year, blocking for Donovan McNabb in the year that SU won that dramatic last-second game over Virginia Tech and then routed Miami to win the Big East title before an Orange bowl defeat to Florida. O’Donell managed to play in five bowl games, a rare feat. Like most college players, O’Donnell didn’t go pro, but instead went into the business world and was a business analyst at Health and Hospitals Corporation in New York City when he died.