Monthly Archives: February 2016
Summit Auto Group Best of the Week: Nothing in SU men’s lacrosse has turned around more in the last couple of seasons than the ability to win face-offs. The presence of Ben Williams in that center X has made all the difference, as it did again when the Orange pounded Albany 16-7 last Sunday at the Carrier Dome. In that game, McDonald won 17 of the 24 draws, and the team was 20-for-27 overall, keeping the ball away from the Great Danes as it improved to 2-0 on the season.
McDonald’s Rewind and Archive: We’re reaching the 35-year anniversary of the only time SU ever hosted a conference tournament. The Big East tournament was played at the then-new Carrier Dome in March 1981 and ended with an epic between the Orange and Villanova. It went to three overtimes before sophomore Leo Rautins tipped in a missed shot with three seconds left and the Orange went on to win 83-80. Since the Big East didn’t have an automatic bid, SU instead went to the NIT and made it all the way to the finals at Madison Square Garden before falling to Tulsa in overtime.
Eaton Crouse Hinds Community Corner: On Saturday, when SU faces North Carolina State, it will be time to honor the team’s seniors. And that includes Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije, mainstays for the program that have shown strong leadership through an up-and-down period in the program’s history. Cooney has delivered some memorable shooting performances and Gbinije has scored in double figures every game as a senior, so if there’s any justice, they get rewarded with deep runs at either the ACC Tournament in Washington, D.C. or in the NCAA Tournament that follows.
The U.S. Army Weekly Recap: SU really had a chance, against Pittsburgh, to nearly lock up an NCAA Tournament berth in its only game in the last week. Tyler Lydon’s spectacular start helped the Orange lead most of the first half, but Pitt turned it around with a 17-2 run and then dominated down the stretch, too, taking 43 rebounds to SU’s 23 and winning the game by a 66-53 margin. Now the Orange really need to take care of struggling N.C. State since trips to North Carolina and Florida State loom at the end of the regular season, and SU will have to go 2-1 in those games to finish above .500 in the ACC and, likely, punch its Dance ticket.
1. No doubt, SU men’s basketball’s NCAA Tournament push would take a giant step forward if it avenged its late-December defeat to Pittsburgh last Saturday at the Carrier Dome. As the 1995-96 team that went to the national championship game looked on, SU got off to the right start, jumping out 10-2, and still led 20-13 midway through the half. But then the Panthers went on a 17-2 run, something the Orange couldn’t turn around until the latter stages of the half, when a pair of Tyler Lydon 3-pointers cut Pitt’s lead to 30-28 going into the break. Without Lydon, who poured in 13 points, the Orange would have been in real trouble since Tyler Roberson and Malachi Richardson were shut out and Trevor Cooney had just three points.
2. Throughout the early part of the second half, SU’s men chased Pittsburgh, finally catching them when Tyler Lydon’s 3-pointer with 8:42 left produced a 43-42 lead. But then the Panthers went back in front for good and didn’t look back until it had dealt the Orange a 66-52 defeat, getting 21 points and 11 rebounds from Jamel Artis as, like other opponents before them, SU owned Pitt on the boards by a 43-23 margin. No amount of shooting by Tyler Lydon, who led with 21 points, could counter that, with Michael Gbinije held to a season-low 10 points. During the second half, SU only made nine of 30 shots, leading to a 37.3 percentage overall, which, combined with the struggles on the boards, helped the Orange get swept by the Panthers.
3. In the aftermath of that defeat, and with a week before SU took the court again, Jim Boeheim made interesting comments on Tyler Roberson that became a heated debate. Though Roberson has been part of the Orange rotation from the start of the season and has made plenty of big contributions, he struggled against Pittsburgh, and afterward Boeheim said, “If I had anyone else he wouldn’t play a minute.” It was interpreted in some circles as a total public berating of Roberson, by others as a way to motivate Roberson for the rest of the season. Either way, it gave SU fans a whole lot to debate during the interminable week where the Orange’s tournament hopes were again debated and the most important games lay ahead.
4. So on Saturday afternoon SU’s seniors, including Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije, would be honored, and then the Orange would have its last regular-season home game against North Carolina State, who has struggled near the bottom of the ACC after reaching the Sweet 16 (and playing in the Dome) a year ago. Then, two nights later, SU would make a fateful trip to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina before the Orange conclude the regular season next Saturday at Florida State. Two wins could guarantee 18-10 SU a winning record in the ACC (it’s 8-7 now), and just might lock up an NCAA bid. Certainly an upset of the top-10 Tar Heels might alone do the trick, so a lot of pressure awaits SU in this eight-day stretch.
5. But the rise of SU’s women’s basketball team continued without interruption. In last Sunda’s game at Pittsburgh, the Orange dazzled again, rallying from behind to defeat the Panthers 70-56, something its male counterparts couldn’t do twice. Pitt led, 22-16, after one quarter, but the Orange zoomed out in front 38-35 by halftime and then its defense took over again, limiting the Panthers to 21 points in the last two quarters. To lead the comeback, Brianna Butler poured in 20 points and added five rebounds, but had plenty of help. Brittney Sykes, with 16 points, and Alexis Peterson, with 15 points, made major contributions, and SU improved to 22-6, and 12-3 in the ACC, third in the league behind Notre Dame and Louisville.
6. Just one regular-season game remained for SU’s women’s team, at Boston College on Thursday night, and it went there at no. 18 in both national polls, the highest the Orange have ever been placed. And when SU beat the Eagles 71-55, it matched the team record for 23 regular-season victories and concluded a 13-3 run through the ACC, too. The second quarter proved pivotal as SU built most of its margin there, leading 39-29 at the break and then protecting that lead the rest of the way. Brianna Butler moved into fifth on SU’s all-time scoring list and led the team again with 19 points, followed again by Brittney Sykes (15 points) and Alexis Peterson (12 points). Now SU would wait for the start of the ACC Tournament March 4 in Greensboro.
7. Through two weekends, the SU men’s lacrosse team has rolled through two Capital District opponents. Having already topped Siena, the Orange rolled past the Albany Great Danes 16-7 last Sunday afternoon, doing most of its damage in the first and third quarters, where SU outscored the visitors 5-2 on the way to building a 12-6 lead, and then closing 4-1 just for good measure. SU won all eight face-offs in the first quarter and 20 of 27 overall, Ben Williams going 17-for-24 all by himself. On the scoring side, Nick Mariano and Derek Deloe led a well-balanced attack with three goals apiece, while Dylan Donahue notched a goal and four assists. SU completes its early-season homestand meeting Army-West Point at the Dome this Sunday.
8. Just like the week before, SU’s women’s lacrosse team played two games on the same Sunday, this time with the men’s game against Albany in between. In the afternoon game against Wagner, the Orange dispatched the Seahawks 16-5, racing out to a 9-0 lead before Wagner even got on the board and then netting four straight goals early in the second half to make sure the Seahawks didn’t get too interested. Kayla Treanor won 12 draw controls to help SU lead 17-6 on that front and also earned five assists to go with her pair of goals. Aided by that generosity, Riley Donahue and Halle Majorana each scored three times and got one assist apiece, with Kelly Cross stepping up to earn a pair of goals.
9. Hours later, SU’s women’s team made it back-to-back doubleheader sweeps when it beat the Marist Red Foxes by the same 16-5 margin by which it disposed of Wagner. This first half proved even more lopsided, the Orange jumping out to a 7-0 lead and, after Marist got on the board, adding six more goals to make it 13-1 by halftime. This time SU didn’t even control most of the draws, but it made stops and saw 12 different players notch goals, led by Riley Donahue, who scored four times, and Halle Majorana, who had two goals and three assists. All of this was a prelude to the first big game of the season, Sunday’s visit from traditional power Northwestern that will be the first true measurement of where the Orange stand so far.
10. And now the Dino Babers era in SU football has officially started with the first week of spring practice. Mere days after filling out the rest of his coaching staff and three weeks after college senior signed national letters of intent, Babers got a first on-field look at the guys he is trying to lead out of the ACC cellar. He quipped that this would be as fresh as his team would be as they got used to the fast tempo Babers wants to use from the moment the season kicks off on September 2, knowing he does have 19 returning starters, a luxury few other teams can claim. Spring practice will go through most of March and will culminate with a relatively early spring game on April 2, just when most other ACC sides are in the middle of their sessions.