Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Day Fight with Notre Dame


While we all recover and relish the victory at Yankee Stadium yesterday and start thinking about how tonight is New Years Eve, we as Cuse fans can not forget that tomorrow is a huge game for the basketball team.

The University is probably a little distracted by football right now. Safe to say it's been a long time since a Syracuse squad ranked 5th in the nation was over shadowed by the football team. But thanks to Doug Marrone and the rest of the SU Football team that's the world we're living in right now. There's a ton of excitement out there about the football team and rightly so.

For Jim Boeheim and the 14-0 Syracuse Orangemen, tomorrow is a New Years Day matinee against the #15 Notre Dame Fightin' Irish (12-1) in the Carrier Dome. Take out the Pinstripe Bowl victory and this is the biggest sporting event this weekend for Central New York.

Notre Dame is coming off a 69-55 victory against the #9 Georgetown Hoyas on Wednesday night in South Bend. Tim Abromaitis lead the Irish with 20 points, 5 of 7 from 3-point range, and Tyrone Nash had 15 points 10 rebounds. Now they're taking on the #5 Syracuse Orangemen.

In what has the makings to be a classic, the Orangemen enter the Dome undefeated and since the Michigan State game on December 7th have won each game by an average of 24 points. Kris Joseph has scored 20+ points three times in the past four games, including 27 points against Providence in the Big East opener on Tuesday night.

Scoop Jardine has a pair of 21 point games in his last two outings, and dished another 7 assists on Tuesday against Providence. As a team, Syracuse averages 17.7 assists per game, which ranks 17th in the nation.

For the Irish, senior Tim Abromaitis (6'8" 235 pounds) is the leading scorer, averaging 16.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He is also shooting 38.2% from 3-point range. Directly behind him is Ben Hansbrough (6'3" 206 pounds) averaging 15.5 points per game and a 47.8% accuracy rating from behind the 3-point line. He is also Tyler Hansbrough's brother, of UNC fame.

Two more players average in double figures for Notre Dame, Carleton Scott (6'7" 217 pounds) and Tyrone Nash. Scott averages 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, and had a season high 23 points against Gonzaga on December 11th. Scott has also pulled down a season high 11 rebounds twice and shoots 33.9% from beyond the arc. Tyrone Nash (6'8" 232 pounds) out of Queens, NY had 15 points 10 rebounds in Wednesday night's game against #9 Georgetown. Nash averages 10.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

It will be interesting to see if freshman C.J. Fair plays in this game, after sitting out the past three games with an ankle injury. Prior to Tuesday's game against Providence Fair said he would be healthy enough to play. Fair sat on the bench in uniform although he did not take the court. Jim Boeheim said he had trouble jumping on Monday, we'll see if he plays Saturday.

Fab Melo was held to just 5 minutes of action and 2 rebounds in Tuesday's conference opener against the Friars. Baye Moussa Keita played just 11 minutes, so that means that Rick Jackson saw many of his 36 minutes on the court at the center position. We'll continue to monitor that situation as Conference play progresses.

Tip off for #5 Syracuse - #15 Notre Dame is at 3:30PM and the game will be televised live on ESPNU. Check back with The Cuse Connection after the game for full recap and analysis.


photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Pictures from the Pinstripe Bowl


Pictures from the 2010 New Era Pinstripe Bowl are now available at our Facebook page The Cuse Connection. You can access the gallery by clicking here.

Doug Marrone Delivers for Syracuse


When Doug Marrone took the job as the head coach at Syracuse University, he addressed the Orange faithful at halftime of the Syracuse-Notre Dame basketball game in front of 30,000 fans. "I started my coaching career I had a dream, and every decision that I made, I made with the thought that the end result, that I would be the head football coach at Syracuse University."

Doug Marrone continued "I am here, and my responsibility is to win football games. That is what we're going to do." In just his second year at the helm of the Orangemen football team he once captained, Doug Marrone has done what many analysts and pundits called impossible. Most talking heads around the country looked at our program and said we were finished. The majority of high school seniors knew Syracuse as only one thing, a laughing stock (thanks to Marrone's predecessor Greg Robinson).

However, in a very short amount of time, Doug Marrone has taken this program out of the dregs of college football and transformed the Orangemen back into a competitive, hard nosed, no nonsense football team.

To Doug Marrone's credit, he has done his part. He turned our football team into a winner. After going 4-8 in his inaugural campaign, HCDM has steered the 2010 Orangemen to an 8-5 final record and a 2010 New Era Pinstripe Bowl Championship in just his second year on the hill.

Doug closed his speech inside the Carrier Dome that night by saying "Now, for the people that are going to grow up and be an alumnus like myself, we need to make this place the hardest place to play in the country. We need you, we need everyone. This is our state, our town, our team, and we gotta win. Now! Go Orange!"

This is the fan's moment to respond. Doug Marrone did his part. He gave us back a winner. He gave us back a football team we can be proud of. He took the punchline off our jersey and returned a jersey with pride and passion. Now Syracuse fans need to do their part!

We need to sell out the Carrier Dome. This team deserves it. They deserve 50,000 fans every Saturday. They deserve our support, just like we show our basketball team. The Carrier Dome is one of the toughest venues in the country for college basketball, and it needs to have the same energy and excitement for Doug Marrone's football squad. Let's be honest, 50,000 fans isn't that many. It's not as if we need to find 80,000 fans to turn out to sell out our stadium.

There were a couple home games down the stretch this season where the student turnout was, simply put, DISGRACEFUL. There were two entire sections of student reserved seating that were utterly empty, and on more than one occasion. Even in the days of Greg Robinson's putrid coaching displays the student body had pride in their team and went out to the games (sometimes GROB's ways drove the fans away early but they went to the games every week).

This generation of students needs literally WAKE UP and go to the Carrier Dome. As I said, Doug Marrone upheld his end of the deal. His part was the hardest. He had the challenge of turning a 10-loss team into a winner. All we have to do is watch the games!

There's no excuse for the student turnout we witnessed this season. And it better not happen again.

In Doug We Trust.

Delone Carter's [Final] Run Through the Record Book


All year long we at The Cuse Connection have tracked Delone Carter's journey through the top-10 of Syracuse University's All-Time Rushing Leaders List. We watched as he passed Syracuse Football legend Ernie Davis (2,386) for 10th All-Time. We cheered as Carter passed Dee Brown (2,626) and David Walker (2,643). Cuse fans rejoiced as Carter etched himself past another legend and NFL Hall of Fame inductee Floyd Little (2,704). We wondered how far he'd go, and Syracuse fans assumed he would settle in somewhere around 3rd or 4th All-Time on Syracuse's rushing list.

Delone Carter entered his final game in a Syracuse uniform with 2,906 total rushing yards in his career, just 28 yards behind another legend of the gridiron, Larry Csonka. In his final game for Doug Marrone, DC3 rushed for a game high 198 yards and two touchdowns in the 2010 New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

His efforts earned Carter the game's MVP trophy, and if it was an audition for the upcoming NFL draft, Delone Carter can sleep well knowing that he put on one of his most ferocious rushing performances in his final college game. Kansas State had trouble wrestling Carter to the ground all game, and DC3 routinely carried defenders for extra yards after initial contact. It was the kind of game power running backs dream of!

With 198 yards, Delone Carter finishes his Syracuse career with 3,104 total yards on the ground on 646 carries with 24 touchdowns. Carter averaged 4.8 yards per attempt in his career, and averaged an amazing 7.3 yards per attempt in the Pinstripe Bowl. Carter cements his name in 3rd place, and closes out his SU career 320 yards behind Walter Reyes' 2nd place career total of 3,424 yards.

At the conclusion of the 2010 football season, the Orangemen's All-Time Rushing List goes as follows:

1. Joe Morris 4,299
2. Walter Reyes 3,424
3. Delone Carter 3,104
4. Larry Csonka 2,934
5. James Mungro 2,869
6. Floyd Little 2,704
7. David Walker 2,643
8. Dee Brown 2,626
9. Bill Hurley 2,551
10. Damien Rhodes 2,461


photo courtesy of michael borkowski

PINSTRIPE BOWL CHAMPIONS!!


It was an adventure just getting all of the Syracuse Orangemen athletes into New York City, but in the end it was all worth it. Doug Marrone, in just his second year as head coach of his alma mater, delivers the Syracuse University Orangemen their first Bowl game victory since 2001. Behind 198 rushing yards and two touchdowns by senior and game MVP Delone Carter and an unbelievable 172 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns by junior Marcus Sales, Syracuse knocked off the Kansas State Wildcats 36-34 in Yankee Stadium in front of 38,274 fans. Ironically, Syracuse's previous bowl win was also against the Kansas State Wildcats in the Insight.com Bowl.

On just the third play from scrimmage Daniel Thomas took a hand off 51 yards to the end-zone to put the Wildcats up 7-0 just nineteen seconds into the game. It appeared as if Syracuse wasn't fully prepared to start the game, which was peculiar since they won the coin toss and opted to defer possession until the second half.

After Syracuse's offense went three and out, Ryan Lichtenstein got his first chance to punt in place of Rob Long, who is recovering from surgery. Kansas State took the punt back to the house to seemingly give the Wildcats a 14-0 lead and an absolute tremendous edge in momentum. However, a block in the back foul was called on the return team and Kansas State took the ball on the 28 yard line with the score remaining 7-0. It was a tremendous moment in the game for the Orangemen.

Two possessions later for the Cuse, Doug Marrone opened up the playbook. After a 24 yard scamper by Delone Carter brought Syracuse to the 48 yard line, Marrone called for the flee flicker. Ryan Nassib unloaded an absolute bomb to Marcus Sales which was right on the money. Sales caught the pass in stride 52 yards down field for a huge touch down and momentum-changing score for Syracuse, tying the game at 7-7. The Orange fans in attendance were sent into absolute pandemonium at Yankee Stadium, and they would not settle down for the remainder of the game.

About eight minutes later in the 2nd quarter Ryan Nassib would hook up with Marcus Sales again, this time for 36 yard touchdown pass, giving the Orangemen their first lead of the ballgame, 14-7. Marcus Sales, who had 1 touchdown catch all season (the difference-maker in West Virginia), now had two touchdown catches in the Pinstripe Bowl, and he wasn't done yet.

Kansas State would score on a 10-yard rush by Daniel Thomas with 1:51 to go in the first half to knot the score at 14-14. The score, the second of the game for Daniel Thomas, set the stage for the most exciting half of football Syracuse has played all season.

The second half would be an absolute shoot out. Syracuse took the opening kickoff of the second half and pounded the ball on the ground seven straight times against the 4th worst rushing defense in the country. Delone Carter rushed 47 yards on the drive, and Antwon Bailey chipped in a 13-yard carry to help bring the Orangemen down to the KState 7 yard line. Carter bounced into the end-zone on a 7 yard run to give Syracuse a 21-14 lead.

Kansas State responded to tie the score at 21 on their next drive, a 10-yard touchdown pass to Chris Harper, who had a terrific day in the Pinstripe bowl. He made numerous difficult catches, many of them drive extenders, to finish the day with 56 yards on 5 catches and 1 touchdown.

Delone Carter would find the end-zone again with just 2:11 left in the 3rd quarter. It was a balanced drive, featuring 37 passing yards by Nassib to three different receivers and 35 rushing yards by Delone Carter, including a 15 yard touchdown run to give the Orangemen the lead again, 27-21. With the fourth quarter looming, there was a bad snap on the extra point which Charley Loeb (filling in for Rob Long) barely got down. Ross Krautman did the unthinkable, and missed his first extra point of the season, leaving the Orangemen up just 6 points.

Kansas State answered the drive with a trick play of their own. Daniel Thomas took a direct snap and found his quarterback Carson Coffman down field for a 29 yard completion down to the Syracuse 16 yard line. The Wildcats would go for it on 4th down twice, including the final play of the drive, a 1 yard touchdown run for Daniel Thomas, his third of the ballgame. They would not miss their extra point try, and now KState was up 28-27 with 11:03 left on the game-clock.

In true shootout fashion, 3:08 later Ryan Nassib again threw an absolute bomb up into the Bronx sky. Running free was Marcus Sales, and the two hooked up for their third touchdown on the night, Sales' fourth on the year. This one to the tune of a 44 yard touchdown blast to put the Orangemen back up top 33-28. Syracuse would miss the two point conversion, and their lead would remain just five points.

Kansas State's ensuing drive would be the first time an offense was held without a touchdown in the second half. The Wildcats had been pushing the envelope all night on 4th down, and this drive would be no different. After a quick drive which began at their own 43 yard line, Coffman hit Aubrey Quarles for a 41 yard gain to the Syracuse 16 yard line. The Orangemen defense finally held, and the Wildcats lined up for a field goal try, down 5 points, with 5:09 left to play.

Syracuse, who was not fazed by the lineup, did not all out attempt to block the ball, and instead stayed home protecting the tackle box. Freshman linebacker Marquis Spruill was the first snuff out the fake, and the Wildcat's futile effort to fake field-goal run into the end-zone was thwarted, as the Orangemen clung to their 5 point lead.

On the very next play, Delone Carter exploded out of the gates for a 60 yard gain down to the KState 26 yard line. The rush set up a 39 yard Ross Krautman field goal, who has been money all season long, and pushed Syracuse's lead to 8 points with 3:13 on the clock. 36-28 Orangemen.

What happened next will be remembered by Wildcat fans in Kansas for as long as the victory will be remembered in Syracuse. With 1:24 on the game-clock and Kansas State driving, Coffman found Adrian Hilburn for a 30 yard touchdown pass to put the Wildcats down just 36-34 with a two-point conversion looming. Hilburn, who clearly has some military appreciation, opted to take the time to salute the crowd, and immediately two officials threw the yellow flag for excessive celebration. Fifteen yard penalty which will be added to the 2-point try. Instead of attempting the 2-pointer from the 3-yard line the Wildcats were lining up at the 18-yard line.

The two point conversion failed as did Kansas State's onside kick attempt, which was touched by a KState player before the ball went 10-yards, and Syracuse retained possession. A couple kneel downs later and with 00:00 showing on the game-clock, the Syracuse Orangemen were 2010 Pinstripe Bowl Champions!

Many KState fans will cite the excessive celebration penalty for years to come. As Syracuse fans
that's really not our concern. It's not a given that the Wildcats punch in the two-point conversion from the 3-yard line, and had KState kicked the field goal with 5 minutes on the clock to cut Syracuse's 5 point lead to 2, they would have won the game on that late touchdown rather than attempting a 2-point conversion to tie it.

After giving up a 51 yard touchdown run on the third play from scrimmage to Kansas State star running back Daniel Thomas, Syracuse's defense put the clamps on the big back. Although he did scamper for two more touchdowns to give him 3 total on the day, he was held to just 90 total yards in the game. That's a mere 39 yards on 21 carries the rest of the game after his first carry of the game, which comes out to 1.8 yards per attempt. A tremendous job by Syracuse's rushing defense.

Doug Marrone, the kid from the Bronx. The kid who's grandfather was an usher at the true Yankee Stadium for 20 years. The kid who went to Syracuse University, and then to the NFL, and then returned as head coach at his school's darkest hour. Doug Marrone has taken the first step towards national respectability, and after five years of humiliation at the hands of Greg Robinson, Syracuse Orangemen football fans can kick-back, put their feet up, and bask in the warmth of an 8-5 season and a 2010 New Era Pinstripe Bowl Championship.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

PINSTRIPE BOWL PREVIEW!!


Way back on December 2nd it was announced that the Syracuse Orangemen were accepting an invitation to play in the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York City. The news sent Orange Nation into a frenzy, as fans scrambled to purchase tickets, talk trash to their friends, and make travel plans to the big city.

Along the way, 20" of snow fell in Manhattan and brought much of the city to a stand still. Airports were shut down and literally thousands of flights were cancelled. Trains stopped running. Subways were frozen. Buses were stuck in tremendous snow drifts.

While 20" of snow in Syracuse, NY is a walk in the park, in New York City, people panic. The Syracuse University football team was schedule to arrive in the Big Apple on Sunday night. Unfortunately, that's when the storm was at its peak, and many players were stuck in airports around the country. Only twenty or so athletes were in Manhattan as of Monday morning.

Senior Mike Holmes took off from Jacksonville, Fl. en route to NYC when his flight had to land in Charlotte, NC due to the winter storm in New York. Holmes and an SU graduate assistant then rented a car and drove 12-hours to New York City, arriving around 5:00AM monday morning.

Delone Carter's , Syracuse's senior running back, flight from Akron, OH to New York was cancelled and he was told that he may not be able to fly out until Tuesday. So, on Monday, Carter boarded a bus at 12 noon, and arrived in NYC 2:30AM on Tuesday. Just a 12.5 hour bus ride!

Kansas State's football team, on the other hand, flew to NYC as a group and arrived at their hotel as a team and on time. They did not have to deal with the hassle of getting everyone to one location from all across the country during the worst snow storm of the season as the Orangemen did.

Turning our focus to the game, Syracuse fans are going to be witnessing their first bowl game since the 2004 season. That year Syracuse finished 6-5 in their last season under Paul Pasqualoni, and went to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Florida. Let's just say Syracuse did not win that game.

Syracuse has faced the Kansas State Wildcats twice in team history, both times in post-season bowl games. The first meeting was the 1997 Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona. K-State took that game 35-18, however Syracuse would take the 2nd match up in 2001 at the Insight.com Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona. Syracuse defeated the Wildcats 26-3 on that fateful day, which means that the 2010 New Era Pinstripe Bowl will be the rubber match.

Kansas State's biggest weapon is Daniel Thomas, a 6'2" 228 pound running back out of HIlliard, Florida. The senior rushed for 1,495 yards this season and 16 touchdowns, breaking the 100 yard plateau seven times in twelve games, and rushing for over 200 yards twice. In the final game of the regular season, Thomas rushed for 269 yards and 2 TDs on the road against North Texas. For Syracuse's 39th best rushing defense in the nation (that is playing without starters Max Suter and Andrew Lewis), stopping Daniel Thomas will be a difficult but necessary challenge to be victorious on this day.

At the quarterback spot Carson Coffman, a senior out of Peculiar, MO (6'3" 211 pounds) will be taking the majority of the snaps. This season Coffman's completed 154 of 240 (64.2%) passing attempts for 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns with 7 interceptions. Coffman's best game of the season came back on September 11th when he threw for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns against Missouri State. Coffman also ran for a season high 45 yards against Nebraska back on October 7th.

Also playing quarterback is sophomore Collin Klein, who is expected to see action in the Pinstripe Bowl. While Klein (6'5" 233 pounds) out of Loveland, Colorado has only thrown 1 touchdown pass this season and 138 yards on 18 passing attempts, he is the 2nd leading rusher on the team behind Daniel Thomas. Klein has rushed for 430 yards on 75 attempts, for six touchdowns. Rutgers used the wildcat formation effectively against the Orangemen, something you can bet K-State's coaches are aware of.

On the receiving end, Aubrey Quarles (5'11" 202 pounds) is leading the Wildcats with 47 catches for 685 yards and five touchdowns. Chris Harper (6'1" 234 pounds) has 20 catches for 274 yards and 3 touchdowns. Daniel Thomas has the 3rd most receptions on the team (26) for 163 yards. The Orangemen have the 6th best passing defense in the nation, only allowing 157.58 yards per game this season. With the Wildcat's limited passing attack, attention must be paid to the ground game.

For the Orangemen on offense, Ryan Nassib will be leading the team out of the huddle. Nassib has thrown for 2,095 yards on 189 of 337 passing attempts. He has thrown for 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions this season, and has a quarterback rating of 119.2. Kansas State boasts the 48th ranked passing defense in the nation, so there's a chance Nassib will be able to exploit their secondary for some big chunks of yardage as the Wildcats allow 212.25 yards per game on average through the air.

Syracuse's receiving group, which was banged up at the end of the season and thus much less ineffective, has had the benefit of having the past month off to rest and recover. Van Chew has pulled down 41 catches for 611 yards and 5 touchdowns to lead the Orangemen this season. Second is Alec Lemon who has 30 catches for 377 yards and 4 scores.

Marcus Sales emerged as a great pass catching option. After not factoring in the offense at all for the first 9 games of the season, Sales has lead the team in receiving yardage the final three games of the season. Sales finished the regular season with 21 catches for 242 yards and 1 score.

Nick Provo, tight end, has also been a reliable target for Ryan Nassib, grabbing 32 catches for 356 yards and 1 touchdown. Antwon Bailey has been another trusty target for Ryan Nassib, grabbing 32 catches of his own for 277 yards and 3 scores out of the backfield.

On the ground, its all Delone Carter all day. Carter has rushed for 1,035 yards on 204 carries, his second consecutive 1,000 yard season, and 7 touchdowns. Carter left the final regular season game against Louisville with an undisclosed injury, however he is expected to be 100% come game time. Delone Carter has 2,906 yards in his Syracuse career, ranking him 4th All-Time and just 28 yards behind #3 leading rusher Larry Csonka.

Complimenting Carter is Antown Bailey. Bailey has rushed for 504 yards on 107 carries and 2 touchdowns to go along with his 32 catches for 277 yards and 3 touchdowns. That gives Bailey 781 all-purpose yards and 6 total touchdowns in 2010. Kansas State's rushing defense ranks 117th in the nation, and that is no typo. They give up 229.1 yards per game on average on the ground, and are quite literally the 4th worst rushing defense in the FBS. Hopefully Carter and Bailey are ready to feast on them, as Syracuse loves to pound the running game and play smash-mouth football.

Kickoff for the Pinstripe Bowl is at 3:20PM on Thursday at Yankee Stadium, and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN. Be sure to follow @CuseConnection on twitter, as we will be tweeting live all day from our Manhattan Pre-Game party and will be at Yankee Stadium for kickoff. Be sure to check back with The Cuse Connection for post game recap and analysis!

Syracuse Knocks off Providence 81-74, Improves to 14-0


As Syracuse's second half lead went from sixteen points to just four with 3:08 left in the game, the Orangemen had to dig deep if they wanted to preserve their perfect record. With Rick Jackson and Kris Joseph leading the way, Syracuse was able to hold on for a 81-74 victory in the Carrier Dome in front of 20,388.

Rick Jackson went 3 for 4 from the foul line in the final minutes to help seal the victory over the Providence Friars (11-3). Jackson finished with a game high 17 rebounds while shooting just 2 of 6 from the floor, giving him 9 points on the night. Rick Jackson played significant minutes at center, as Fab Melo was limited to just five minutes of action and Baye Moussa Keita played just eleven.

Kris Joseph had a career high 27 points in the win. Joseph was also 4 of 6 from 3-point range, and had 5 rebounds with 4 assists. KrisJo credits his improved 3-point shooting of late to the "Donte Greene Drill," he's been doing at practice with coach Rob Murphy. The drill consists of shooting with an oversized "big ball," and when you switch back to a smaller ball its much easier to control.

Absent from the game was C.J. Fair, who was in uniform on the bench. Fair is recovering from an ankle injury and although he said he would be available for the Big East opener, Boeheim felt he was unable to perform. Coach told reporters "He couldn't really jump yesterday. He's run the last two days, but he couldn't really go up."

In his place was James Southerland. Southerland picked up 28 minutes of action, shooting 3 of 7 from the field. He also grabbed 3 rebounds and was 2 of 4 from beyond the arc. Mookie Jones, who has been making waves on twitter lately, did not enter the game.

At the guard spot, Brandon Triche had a big 2nd half for the Orangemen and finished with 15 points on 6 of 11 shooting, while Scoop Jardine also finished 6 of 11 from the field en route to a 21 point performance. Scoop also dished 7 assists while turning the ball over 3 times. Dion Waiters finished with just 1 point in 9 minutes.

For Jim Boeheim, it was his 843rd career win, meaning he is just one win away from 844. The #5 Syracuse Orangemen improve to 14-0 (1-0 Big East) and will host #15 Notre Dame in the Carrier Dome on New Years Day at 3:30PM on ESPNU.


photo courtesy of syracuse.com


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Conference Play Set to Start - Providence and Syracuse Square Off


Syracuse basketball fans have enjoyed watching their team jump out to a 13-0 start and a #5 ranking nationally. Beating then #8 Michigan State in Madison Square Garden by 14 was fantastic. Winning the Legends Classic down in Atlantic City, NJ was wonderful. Now it's time to bunker down and get SERIOUS about Syracuse basketball. Throw those 13 games out and get ready for the toughest test in college hoops. The Big East regular season schedule.

Seven of sixteen Big East members are ranked in the Top-25. Two more teams are receiving votes from both the AP Top 25 and the ESPN/USA Today polls. To raise the stakes even higher, five of the nations Top-10 teams hail from the Big East Conference. Even the ACC's biggest cheerleader Dick Vitale tweeted today that "Flat out the Big East will be the best conference in the nation!" Will be? We've been for years!

Today, Syracuse will take on their first Big East conference member, the Providence Friars (11-2), in the Carrier Dome at 9:00PM on ESPNU. Although unranked, the Friars are averaging 81.2 points per game (17th in the nation) and 42.5 rebounds per contest (5th in the nation) and it's their best start since the 1988-89 season. The Friars have yet to play any ranked opponents, and their two losses came against La Salle (84-73) and at Boston College (88-86). Providence also beat Morgan state 77-55, a team Syracuse beat 97-55 back on December 20th.

Marshon Brooks (6'5" 190 pounds) a senior out of Stone Mountain, Georgia is leading the Friars this season with 23.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Brooks has scored a season high 33 points twice this season, most recently against Alabama. He is also shooting 35.5% from 3-point range this season and has six double-doubles through 13 games this season.

Providence is also getting good production from Brooklyn born guard Vincent Council (6'2" 180 pounds). Council is averaging 16 points, 6.8 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. He shoots 33.9% from beyond the arc and dropped a season high 29 points against Wyoming on November 24th. Against Brown on December 6th Council dished out a season high 16 assists.

Gerard Coleman (6'4" 170 pounds) is another offensive contributor for the Friars, averaging 10.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. In Providence's win over Alabama Coleman had a season high 18 points for the Friars.

Providence has had an interesting travel schedule. Originally set to depart Rhode Island via airplane, the Friar's flight was cancelled due to the winter snow storm that has literally crippled the North East. As a result, the Friars boarded a team bus at 12:30PM on Monday and they will be busing it to the Carrier Dome in order to arrive on time for the 9:00 tip.

For the Orangemen, C.J. Fair has returned to practice following the Christmas break. While the rest of the team went home for the holidays, Fair stayed behind and received treatment consisting of ice baths and ultrasound to loosen up the ankle and get back on the court quickly. Fair told reporters "I expect to play on Tuesday," which is good news for Syracuse fans.

Fab Melo, who was looking extremely impressive against Morgan State with 9 points, 2 rebounds and 4 blocks on 3 of 4 shooting rolled his ankle during the contest and was limited to just 8 minutes against Drexel in Syracuse's final tune-up before the conference schedule began. Melo practiced on Sunday along with the rest of the team and did not appear to be limited.

As usual, check back with The Cuse Connection for complete recap and analysis from the first Big East conference basketball game of the season.


photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Monday, December 27, 2010

Updates from New York City


The Pinstripe Bowl is just days away and a monkey wrench has been thrown into many Syracuse fan's and player's travel plans, to the tune of 12-20" of snow in Manhattan. In Syracuse, a foot of snow is nothing. Even two feet of snow is a snooze-fest, however in New York City, anything over 3" of snow is enough to bring the biggest city in the world to a standstill.

This morning in Central Park there was a reported 20" of snow. Thousands were left without power around the New York Metropolitan Area, and thousands of flights in and out of New York City airports were cancelled. Normal airline service is expected to resume Tuesday, however delays will likely continue for days.

Where does this leave the traveling SU Football team?

Doug Marrone and his staff along with about 20 players took an Amtrak train from Syracuse into New York's Penn Station which arrived yesterday on schedule. They all checked into the team hotel, The Grand Hyatt, on 42nd and Park without a problem. For a team that has been losing players at an alarming rate since the regular season has ended, stranded traveling players are definitely a serious concern!

Head Coach Doug Marrone told reporters that "We may be missing some [players] tomorrow, but they should be here by Monday night." Syracuse has a scheduled practice today, Monday, at 4:00PM at the Timex Performance Center, which is located adjacent to the New Meadowlands [Giants] Stadium.

Kansas State athletes and coaches flew as a team into New York City and were checked into their hotel, The Sheraton Hotel and Towers around 5:30PM. While driving crosstown yesterday, I noticed the team's equipment bus on 53rd Street and 7th Avenue, incase any SU fans want to go heckle the opposing team (encouraged).

There was a scheduled clinic for Bronx youth at Macombs Dam Park which was to be hosted by Syracuse athletes, however it has been cancelled. There was also a pep-rally for the Pinstripe Bowl which was going to kick the bowl-week off at 12:30PM in Times Square today that was also cancelled.

For the Syracuse fans traveling to NYC, be safe. If you are flying, maybe think about driving. Check your carrier's and make sure that your flight or train is on time, and good luck getting to your hotels/destinations!

The Cuse Connection is already situated very comfortably in NYC and will be eagerly awaiting all of your arrivals. Be Sure to follow @CuseConnection all week for updates from the Big Apple, leading up to kick-off on Thursday.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pinstripe Bowl Update


We are now standing 7 days and 3 hours away from kick-off at the Pinstripe Bowl. With the game fast approaching, Syracuse is having a little bit of trouble keeping their players on the field. News came down from the Hill yesterday that senior and starting defensive tackle Andrew Lewis and freshman linebacker Brice Hawkes have been suspended for a violation of team rules and will not be playing in the Pinstripe Bowl on December 30th.

Head Coach Doug Marrone did not offer a comment on the situation other than the fact that they will not be participating in the Bowl Game at Yankee Stadium. For Brice Hawkes, its disappointing to miss out on a great opportunity to play a post-season football game in his freshman year. For Andrew Lewis, does disappointing even begin to describe the situation?

Lewis is a senior and a two year starter out of Centreville, VA who first arrived on campus in 2006. Andrew endured losing seasons of 4-8 (redshirt), 2-10, 3-9 and 4-8 prior to this season's turnaround (7-5). In the three years he participated leading up to 2010, the team won a total of nine games. In his final season in an Orangemen uniform Syracuse has an opportunity to finish with eight wins, and Andrew Lewis will not be on the field to cap off the end of a memorable year in Syracuse Football.

We do not know why they are out, and its likely we won't ever learn the true reason. However, considering Max Suter (another senior and starter on the defense) is out rehabbing from shoulder surgery and senior Rob Long is battling brain tumors and also can not participate in the Pinstripe Bowl, its really upsetting that Andrew Lewis will not play due to something he can control.

Additionally, Syracuse lost the services of Malcolm Cater, freshman linebacker, when he was arrested for allegedly burglarizing apartments on South Campus earlier this month.

The Orangemen can not play this game fast enough. With players dropping seemingly like flies, Syracuse needs to take the field already before they lose anyone else!!

Filling in for Rob Long's punting duties will be sophomore Ryan Lichtenstein, who walked onto the team last season and won the starting field goal kicking job. As a senior at Gateway High School in Pennsylvania Lichtenstein was named Second-Team All-State Punter by the Pennsylvania Football News. In his senior season, he averaged close to 41 yards per punt and played in "extreme weather in Pittsburgh." So we've got that going for us. Walk-on quarterback sophomore James Jarrett will be the back-up punter on December 30th.

Orangemen Perfect in Non-Conference Slate


I was going to say that Syracuse slayed the Dragons last night, but then every other news outlet and blog in the country already made that joke. So I'll say the Orangemen thumped Drexel last night in the Carrier Dome 93-65, in front of 17,856 Orange-clad fans.

Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine lead the scoring for Syracuse. KrisJo scored a career high 25 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the floor including 6 of 7 from the charity stripe. He also grabbed 7 rebounds and chipped in 2 blocks, 1 assist and 1 steal. Scoop Jardine finished with 21 points on 9 of 10 shooting from the floor and dished out 5 assists.

Rick Jackson was straight-schooling kids inside the paint all night. He posted his 9th double-double in thirteen games posting 15 points and 12 rebounds. Jackson also put up 5 blocks and 4 assists in 35 minutes on the floor. Drexel, the 16th best rebounding team in the country so far this season, was no match for Rick Jackson inside, who literally had his way with the Dragons all evening. To say the Dragon's were outclassed is an understatement. Rick Jackson, who has improved each year in a Syracuse uniform, is literally a machine right now.

Fab Melo played 8 minutes without taking a single shot, pulling down any rebounds, or dishing any assists. He did however commit two fouls. The most disappointing part of the night for Fab Melo was that he quote "turned" his ankle early in the second half. He did not return and Jim Boeheim told reporters after the game "It wasn't the same thing [injury]. He could have played. He's fine." Good news for Fab Melo is that the team is off until December 28th so he will have an opportunity to rest up and heal before the Conference schedule starts up.

Baye Moussa Keita played a strong 13 minutes off the bench for Syracuse running the court and cutting to the hoop en route to a 2 for 2 shooting performance from the floor to finish with 4 points and 3 rebounds. Rick Jackson played some center as well last night, while James Southerland filled in once again for injured C.J. Fair, who is said to be improving.

Southerland's jumper wasn't as effective as it was Monday against Morgan State. Southerland's first shot attempt, a 3-pointer, clanked off the rim. However, Syracuse got the long rebound, kicked the ball right back out to James Southerland, who proceeded to swish a 3-pointer and give the Orangemen some juice.

Unfortunately for Southerland, he finished just 2 of 5 from 3-point range for 6 points and grabbed another 3 rebounds for the Cuse. Overall, Syracuse shot a whopping 63.6% from the field against Drexel.

Speaking of shooting the ball, the most surprising statistic to come out of the game last night is that Mookie Jones played 7 minutes, and get this, without taking ANY shots! He did grab 1 steal on the night to get himself some ink in the box score. Mookie, who is known as a shoot first player, has been fighting for time on the floor for almost two years. Could he be trying to prove to the coaching staff that he doesn't have to shoot the ball all the time? Possibly.

With the win, Syracuse finishes their non-conference schedule with a perfectly unblemished 13-0 record. This is the 8th time in Jim Boeheim's career behind the bench that Syracuse has started 13-0, and the Orangemen have now put together 28 non-conference regular season wins in a row.

C.J. Fair, who has missed two straight games with an ankle injury, was sporting a walking boot on his left foot during Monday night's game against Morgan State. Good news for Syracuse, the walking boot was not on Wednesday night during the Drexel game and Jim Boeheim thinks that he can be back for practice on the 25th assuming things go well.

The Big East Conference schedule starts on December 28th for the Syracuse Orangemen. Their first test will be a 9PM tip-off against the Providence Friars (11-2) in the Carrier Dome. The Big East currently has five of the nations top ten basketball programs, and seven total teams in the Top-25.


photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Final Non-Conference Game of the Season Tonight


It's the last night of the non-conference schedule for the #5 Syracuse Orangemen as they welcome the Drexel Dragons to the Carrier Dome. Drexel comes in sporting an 8-1 record, with a big upset win at then #21 Louisville on December 14th by the score of 52-46. The lone blemish on their record is a 74-68 loss at the University of Rhode Island back on November 24th.

Way back in the 2006-07 campaign Drexel, out of Philadelphia, PA, came to the Carrier Dome and knocked off the Syracuse Orangemen 84-79. It was their first win over a ranked team since the mid 90s! Drexel received 6 votes in the AP Top 25 this week, and will be looking for their second victory in the Dome. The Dragons are also riding a six game winning streak.

The Dragons, out of the Colonial Conference, are lead by Chris Fouch (6'2" 170 pounds) out of New York City. Fouch averages 19.7 points per game and shoots 39.4% from long distance. His season high is 30 points against Binghamton, he shot 8 of 11 from 3-point range that night.

Drexel also has a double-double machine of their own, Samme Givens (6'5" 225 pounds) a local kid from Philly. Givens currently averages 11.8points and 11.8 rebounds per game, and has five double-doubles in nine games this season. In Drexel's last game Samme Givens had a season high 19 points and a season high 16 rebounds for the Dragons over St. Francis of Pennsylvania.

The Orangemen will be looking to finish their non-conference schedule with a perfect 12-0 record tonight, and tip off is at 7:00PM. Syracuse will be without freshman C.J. Fair, who has yet to practice since spraining his ankle in the win over Iona on Saturday night. Fab Melo who is nursing an injured calf muscle played 19 minutes on Monday night after being held to just five minutes on Saturday.

This will be Syracuse's third game in five nights. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3, and as usual, check back with The Cuse Connection after the game for full recap and analysis.


photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Syracuse Rolls Morgan State 97-55


Behind 28 strong minutes from Rick Jackson and a tremendous shooting performance off the bench for James Southerland, Syracuse thumped the Morgan State Bears 97-55 in the Carrier Dome Monday night in front of 16,031 fans.

Rick Jackson and James Southerland each scored a game high 18 points to help push the #5 Syracuse Orangemen to a perfect 12-0 record. Jackson was just 1 rebound away from a double-double (9) and dished 4 assists grabbed 1 steal and swatted 2 blocks with zero turnovers on the night.

James Southerland played 21 minutes and scored a career high filling in for injured C.J. Fair, who is out with an ankle sprain. Southerland was 7 of 10 from the field (4 of 6 from 3-point range) and chipped in 5 rebounds along with 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks and zero turnovers.

After playing just 5 minutes against Iona Saturday night, Fab Melo saw 19 minutes of action, the most since November 30th when Melo played 22 minutes against Cornell. Fab scored a career high 9 points on 3 of 4 shooting from the floor. Additionally, Fab Melo made 3 of 4 shots from the charity stripe and picked up 2 rebounds, both on the offensive glass. Melo also gave out 2 assists, had 2 steals, made 4 blocks and turned the ball over twice. It was a step in the right direction for Melo, who has been nursing a calf muscle tear for the past few weeks.

Freshman Baye Moussa Keita played 14 strong minutes off the bench for the Orangemen. He scored a season high 8 points on 3 of 5 shooting, including 2 of 3 from the foul line. Keita grabbed 5 rebounds had 1 assist with 3 steals and 2 blocks on the night. It was a great bounce-back performance for Keita who struggled to make as big an impact the previous two games.

All of Syracuse's walk-on's saw minutes, but no one filled up the stat sheet like Brandon Reese. In 5 minutes on the floor, Reese (out of Davie, Florida) shot 2 of 3 from the field to finish with 4 points, just 1 point less than he scored all of last season. Reese also had 2 rebounds and 1 steal to cap off a good night for the Orangemen.

Syracuse's defense held the Bears to just 37.7% shooting from the field and created 17 turnovers. The Orangemen also had 11 blocks. Freshman Dion Waiters had a season high 8 assists and added 5 points for the Orangemen.

Syracuse's final non-conference game comes tomorrow night, Wednesday, in the Carrier Dome against the Drexel Dragons (8-1) at 7PM. The game will be broadcast on ESPN's flagship station, ESPN3.


photo courtesy of syracuse.com

The Awakening: James Southerland Returns to the Carrier Dome


James Southerland endured an unbelievably bad shooting streak early this season. He went a combined 5 of 23 (21.7%) from the field in the first five games. During that same time period Southerland minutes began to dwindle. After averaging about 13 minutes per game the first 4 games of the season, Southerland would play only 13 total minutes the next five games. He would not get off the bench for three of them.

With the final four games of Syracuse's non-conference schedule approaching, many SU fans looked at this as James Southerland's opportunity to earn his way back into Jim Boeheim's rotation. After a decent performance against Colgate (which saw the entire Syracuse squad put in quality minutes in a 100-43 laugher), James Southerland played sparingly against Iona.

Then C.J. Fair injured his ankle in the first half of the Iona game, and opportunity knocked for James Southerland. Everyone was looking at the 6'8" sophomore from Bayside, NY for a response.

In 21 minutes off the bench last night against Morgan State (4-4) a mid-major program that has been to the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons, James Southerland gave us his response.

Southerland exploded for 7 of 10 shooting from the floor (70%) and shot a very impressive 4 of 6 from 3-point range (67%). Southerland added 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 2 blocks to finish with a career high 18 points.

Jim Boeheim spoke on Southerland's opportunistic performance after the game. "He's getting good looks. And he's shooting the ball with a lot of confidence." When asked about Southerland's defense Boeheim continued, "He played well. This was a good game for him."

With C.J. Fair not expected to play against Drexel on Wednesday, James Southerland can expect another great chance to show the coaching staff he is a player that can be trusted in conference play. Not just for mop-up minutes, but critical junctures of the game as well.


photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Monday, December 20, 2010

Syracuse (11-0) Stays at #5 in ESPN/USA Today and AP Top 25


If any basketball analysts call you up and talk to you about Syracuse's non-conference strength of schedule or how difficult their travel itinerary was, be sure to point this out to them:

Five of the top 10 teams in both the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and the AP Top 25 are from the Big East! Don't let Dick Vitale convince you that the Big 10 (11?) or the ACC is the cream of the crop. It's the Big East, and it has been for years.

No one needs to worry about the non-conference schedule for the Syracuse Orangemen. Once conference play begins, the gauntlet is on!

Duke remains #1, however there are no other ACC teams in sight. In the AP Top 25 Connecticut is the highest ranked Big East program, grabbing the #4 spot, immediately followed by Syracuse (#5) and Pittsburgh (#6). At #8 is Villanova and #10 is the Georgetown Hoyas.

In the Coaches Poll, the 4-5-6 is the same, however Georgetown is ranked #9 in the country.

Rounding out ranked Big East teams are Notre Dame (#22 in AP, #20 in ESPN/USA TODAY) and Louisville (#25 ESPN/USA TODAY, NR in AP Top 25). West Virginia is nipping at the heels of the top 25 in the Coaches Poll, coming in 28th with 32 votes.

Louisville is just outside the AP Top 25 with 124 votes, enough for 26th place. Also receiving votes in the AP Top 25 are West Virginia, Cincinnati and Drexel, Syracuse's opponent on Wednesday.

For the complete rankings, click here. Photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Syracuse and Morgan State Scheduled for Tonight at 7PM


Coming off the 83-77 victory over Iona on Saturday night, Syracuse (11-0) will host the Morgan State Bears (4-4) for their second game in three nights in the Carrier Dome. Morgan State comes to Syracuse out of the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference, where they are 1-0 in conference play. Back on November 18th the Bears lost on the road to Big East Conference member Providence 77-55.

There has been some recent success on the hardwood at Morgan State College, which is located in Baltimore, Maryland. The past two seasons the Bears won the MEAC regular season and tournament championships, earning them an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament. They would go on to lose to the Oklahoma Sooners in 2009 and the West Virginia Mountaineers in 2010 both in the 1st round, playing in each tournament as the #15 seed.

Morgan State College is also known for having the 11th worst graduation rate among colleges in the country. They boast a very unimpressive 32% graduation rate and nearly 15% of the school's undergrad's transfer to other colleges.

The leading scorer for Morgan State is Dewayne Jackson (6'8" 210 pounds) a sophomore out of Bowie, MD. Jackson averages 15.4 points per game along with 4.6 rebounds and shoots 39.5% from the field. After shooting 41.9% from 3-point range last season, he is off to just 22.2% shooting from beyond the arc this season. Kevin Thompson (6'9" 240 pounds) is a junior out of Baltimore, MD who is averaging 14 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Thompson scored 25 points against La Salle back on November 20th, and finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds against Providence on November 18th. He has 5 double-doubles in 8 games this season.

Morgan State isn't a very impressive shooting team, their 40.9% from the floor ranks 272nd in the country and they shoot a measly 29.5% from 3-point range as a team. However, they are an adequate rebounding team, averaging 38.3 boards per contest.

Syracuse appears to be without freshman forward C.J. Fair, who was held out of practice yesterday after spraining his ankle in the first half of the game Saturday night against Iona. Jim Boeheim did not offer encouraging words for Fair's availability tonight, which means that James Southerland will probably see a few increased minutes off the bench. C.J. Fair has played in every game this season, averaging 5.3 points and 2.6 rebounds in 13.8 minutes of action per game.

Brandon Triche has been on a terrific offensive run the past two games, and will look to continue that hot play tonight. In the last two games Triche is averaging 14 points and has shot 66.7% from the floor overall. He's 4 of 8 (50%) from 3-pt range in that same time period and had 7 assists against Iona Saturday night, which was a season high.

No word yet on Fab Melo's availability, however he did participate in workouts yesterday and said after practice that he was feeling good. The game is scheduled for 7:00PM and will be broadcast live on SNY, the Big East Network.


photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Orangemen Defeat Iona 83-77


The #5 Syracuse Orangemen Basketball team defeated the Iona Gaels 83-77 Saturday night in the Carrier Dome in front of 18,871 fans. Kris Joseph lead the Orangemen with 21 points on 8 of 11 shooting from the floor. Joseph shot 2 of 3 from 3-point range and also grabbed 7 rebounds and dished 4 assists to go along with zero turnovers.

Brandon Triche held on to his shooting touch he found a week ago against Colgate and contributed 14 points and 7 assists for Syracuse on 5 of 8 shooting from the floor. Syracuse got further production from the guard position, as Scoop Jardine added 11 points and freshman Dion Waiters scored 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting in 15 minutes. Dion Waiters scored many of his points on the fast break, and his speed on the court was the catalyst of his performance. He also grabbed two steals for the Cuse.

Fab Melo, nursing an tear in his right calf muscle, managed to start Saturday night after sitting out practice much of the week leading up to the game. He played 5 minutes and scored 2 points while grabbing 1 rebound. In his absence Baye Moussa Keita played 26 minutes hauling in 3 rebounds and scoring 2 points for the Cuse.

If Fab Melo is nursing an injury as serious as a calf tear, one that Boeheim said that Fab Melo may have to learn to live with this season, then why force him into the game against non-conference teams if he's only going to play 5 minutes? Let him sit and rest his leg, and at the same time he will watch and learn from the sidelines. Playing five injured minutes isn't doing any good for anyone. I'm never one to question Jim Boeheim, but I don't know how much sense it makes putting him in the game, especially if he's just going to play five minutes.

C.J. Fair, who scored 6 points in 14 minutes and grabbed 4 rebounds, rolled his ankle in the first half of the game. He did not practice yesterday [Sunday] and Jim Boeheim said he will be out for the game tonight [Monday] against Morgan State barring any miracle healing.

With Fair seemingly unavailable for the game tonight, Syracuse fans will turn to the "Mookie Jones-James Southerland Watch" to see who picks up his minutes. If Saturday night is any indication, Southerland is the leading candidate. Mookie Jones did not get off the bench, while James Southerland played 10 minutes shooting 3 of 5 from the field and 1 of 2 from 3-point range. Southerland finished with 7 points and 2 rebounds on the night.

Michael Glover was an absolute beast for Iona all night. The one-time Seton Hall player turned junior college transfer shot 9 of 11 from the floor and grabbed 16 rebounds on his way to a game-high 25 points. He was seemingly unstoppable along the baseline, an area where Syracuse's defense must improve. Glover was also 7 of 12 from the charity stripe.

The win pushes Syracuse's record to a perfect 11-0, and their next game comes tonight in the Carrier Dome against Morgan State (4-4). The game will be televised live on the Big East Network, SNY.

photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Friday, December 17, 2010

Orangemen to Host Iona Saturday Night


Saturday at 7:00PM in the Carrier Dome the Iona Gaels of the MAAC Conference will take on the #5 Syracuse Orangemen. Iona comes to the Dome sporting a 7-3 record. They opened their season with three straight losses, however answered that streak with a seven game winning streak.

Syracuse (10-0) is coming off a 57 point drubbing of the Colgate Raiders last Saturday night. Rick Jackson lead the way that night, scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for his eighth double-double in ten games.

Sophomore Brandon Triche had his best shooting night of the season and his biggest offensive output since the 2nd game of the season against Canisius. Triche finished with 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting from the floor. He was 3 of 5 from beyond the arc, and if he can continue to knock down his shots it will really open up the floor for Syracuse's big men underneath.

Speaking of the big men, there was an injury update on freshman center Fab Melo this week. Fab Melo, thought to be nursing an Achilles tendon injury, discovered that he has a calf muscle tear in his right leg, and will be resting it leading up to the game against Iona Saturday.

After resting for a few days, Fab Melo participated in some light shooting and running on Thursday. Jim Boeheim said that if that went well, he would practice Friday. Assuming things went well and Fab Melo feels fine, he'll suit up for the Orangemen on Saturday night. If he feels discomfort, he won't. As news on Fab Melo's injury becomes available, we will post it here at The Cuse Connection.

Prior to the game against Colgate we discussed how important it was for Mookie Jones and James Southerland to play well when called upon these next four games, starting with then 0-7 Colgate. James Southerland found 22 minutes on the floor, and was 3 of 6 from the field to go along with 9 rebounds, 2 assists 3 steals and 3 blocks with zero turnovers, and finished with 7 points. It was the kind of game Southerland needed to show Jim Boeheim. He had to show that he could do more than just throw up long range jumpers, and I feel as though he did just that. We will need more of the same from Southerland these next three games if he wants to play more than just garbage minutes once the Conference schedule begins.

Mookie Jones played 17 minutes and was 3 of 6 from 3-point range (3 of 8 overall). He had 1 rebound, 2 assists 1 block and 1 turnover and finished with 9 points. Although he shot 50% from beyond the arc, he did not impress as much as Southerland and will need to do better in the three remaining non-conference games.

The Iona Gaels are lead by Michael Glover (6'7" 215 pounds) a forward from the Bronx. He is currently averaging 22.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game for the Gaels. Against Canisius on December 3rd Glover dropped 39 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Guard Scott Machado (6'1" 180 pounds) out of Queens, NY averages 13.7 points and 8 assists per game. He had a season high 28 points against Richmond on November 18th and a season high 15 assists against Albany on November 23rd. Machado averages 4 turnovers per game as well.

Iona also gets offensive production out of Kyle Smyth and Jermel Jenkins. Kyle Smith (6'4" 185 pounds) a guard out of River Edge, NJ averages 12.8 points per game and shots 45.9% from 3-point range. Against Albany Smith shot 8 of 13 from beyond the arc en route to a 29 point game. Jermel Jenkins (5'11" 185 pounds) averages 12.1 points per game and shoots 40.3% from long distance. His best shooting performance was also against Albany, when he shot 7 of 11 from 3-point range and finished with 21 points. Jenkins also averages 3.8 assists and 3 rebounds per game.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00PM on Saturday night and the game will be broadcast live on SNY, the Big East Network. If Fab Melo is unable to go on Saturday, than expect Baye Moussa Keita to get his first start of the season. Syracuse will have no true center to backup Keita, thus Rick Jackson will probably have to log some minutes in the middle.

Check in with The Cuse Connection after the game for full recap and analysis.


photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Pinstripe Bowl Travel Guide


Countless Syracuse fans will descend on New York City in the coming weeks for the Pinstripe Bowl. Many Cuse fans have been here before for early-season basketball tournaments and the Big East tournament, however there are those who are making their first trip to the Big Apple and they need to plan accordingly.

First off, how to get to and from the Pinstripe Bowl is going to be important to plan out. There are a few different mass-transit options from New York City, and they all offer different benefits. Right off the bat, most people will tell you that the 4 train is the best way to Yankee Stadium.

The 4 train is nice, it's a newer train. However, it's also a very overcrowded line and it makes quite a bit of stops along the way. If you are staying on the east side, it's certainly a solid train to take. Wherever you get on, you will want to get off at 161st Street - Yankee Stadium.

My favorite way to Yankee Stadium is the B/D train line. The B/D uptown is a real quick ride if you are in mid-town Manhattan or staying on the west side. It drops you off at the same 161st Street - Yankee Stadium station. It is also much less crowded than the 4 train, and you can often find a seat if that's something that interests you.

For those of you who are more adventurous, you can take the A train which runs express from 59th Street to 125th Street (no stops). From there you get off at 125th St. Station and on the same platform the B/D will come to take you 4 more stops to Yankee Stadium. That's how I do it.

If you prefer to travel in a little more style, there is a brand new Metro-North train that can get you to the game in 15 minutes from Grand Central Station, which is located at 42nd Street between Park Ave. and Lexington Ave. Passengers get off at Yankee Stadium - 153rd Street Station, and you have to walk a few blocks, but it is much cleaner than the NYC Subway system. I've never gone this way but I'm sure people use it.

For further information on traveling to Yankee Stadium, check out the MTA official website with bus directions and other information for other boroughs.

Now, assuming you know how to get to the game, and you have picked out a hotel, you will need to find some classic New York food to keep you going between drinks. If I had to give a list of places to eat in Manhattan it could go on for days, instead I'm going to point out a couple famous places that everyone should try once in their life.

If you want Chinese food, you have got to go down to Chinatown. It's dirty, it's overcrowded, and it's the place to go in NYC for good Chinese food. I recommend Wo Hop located at 17 Mott Street. During the holiday season there can be a wait, however it is DEFINITELY worth it! There is two Wo Hop's, one upstairs, and one downstairs. You will want to wait in the line to eat in the one downstairs. Believe me, you will not be disappointed. There was a time when Wo Hop was open 24-hours, however now they close for 2 or 3 hours around like 5 or 6AM. Perfect for after the bar scene.

From there, it's a very short walk to Little Italy, which has gotten littler and littler over the years. The Feast of San Gennaro is over unfortunately, however there still are some great Italian restaurants along Mulberry Street year round.

If a New York deli excites you, and you want a Pastrami sandwich literally as big as your head and a knish (and lets be honest of course you want those things) than you should definitely hit up Katz's Deli, located at 205 East Houston Street. Katz's has been open since 1888 and although it is a little pricey, it is totally worth it. Once again, you will not leave disappointed.

Everyone also knows that New York City is a pizza town. There's tons of places to get a New York slice. Ray's, Famous Ray's, Original Famous Ray's, Sbarro's. The list goes on and on. Lombardi's on 32 Spring Street claims they invented pizza as we know it today, and they might be right. They started making pizza in 1905 and are still going strong.

If you want to take a trip to Brooklyn, than Grimaldi's is another famous NYC pizza place. Located just over the Brooklyn Bridge at 19 Old Fulton Street, Grimaldi's makes their pizza in a brick oven, which just spells awesomeness. They have a few locations in the New York area (Queens, Long Island), however Brooklyn is their original and most famous location. Definitely recommended.

Overall, you can not go wrong getting a slice of pizza in New York City as long as you stay away from the chains you can find in any city. If you take the train into Penn Station, than I recommend going to Rosa's Pizza on the LIRR level. Big slices, great taste. They also sell some big beers that can get you in the right spirits for your trip uptown to Yankee Stadium.

Check back in the coming days/weeks as we will have more travel tips and places to see here at The Cuse Connection.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pittsburgh Finds A Coach


The Pittsburgh Panther's Football team has found a replacement for recently ushered out Dave Wannstedt. The University announced today that Michael Haywood is the next head coach of the Panthers.

Haywood comes to Pittsburgh from Miami of Ohio, where he was the head coach for the past two seasons. In his first year the team went 1-11, however this past season he guided them to a 9-4 record. Michael Haywood was an offensive coordinator at Notre Dame under Charlie Weiss, where he also played cornerback during his playing days.

Michael Haywood is the first black head coach in football or basketball in Pittsburgh Panther history. He gave this speech to his team before taking the field against Temple on November 23rd, 2010 right before coaching his team to a 23-3 victory.

Much like our HCDM, he requires his players to wear shirts and ties on road trips. Some fans in Pittsburgh are "less than thrilled" with the hire.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

FAB MELO Injury Update


Back on December 6th, the Post Standard first broke the story that Fab Melo had been battling an Achilles tendon injury for a couple weeks. Well, it turns out that wasn't entirely correct.

Tonight, word comes down that it wasn't his Achilles tendon that was injured. In fact, he has a muscle tear in his right calf. "It's been there for like two weeks" according to Fab Melo. He thought it was his Achilles, but it turned out to be more than that.

Melo says the pain isn't too bad, however when he exercises "it hurts really bad." Not great news for Fab Melo, but perhaps it explains his generally poor play through the first 10 games of the season.

Jim Boeheim told reporters "We're going to rest him. He's going to shoot around tomorrow [Thursday] and practice Friday. And if he feels good, he'll play Saturday. If he doesn't, he won't."

The game in question is this Saturday night at 7PM against the Iona Gaels. Iona (7-3) is out of the MAC conference and have won seven straight games after dropping the first three. There is no reason to rush Fab Melo back, especially when he is averaging only 12.7 minutes per game.

Without Fab Melo in the lineup, there would be no true center backup for freshman Baye Moussa Keita, who is averaging 20.5 minutes per game. Rick Jackson has played some center this season when the young centers have gotten into early foul trouble, however he has been so dominant as the power forward it would be a shame to shift him out of his regular position.

Melo is averaging just 2.1 points and 2.2 rebounds per game and is shooting 47.4% from the floor. He is an even more shocking 23.1% from the foul line. Those numbers from the charity stripe make even Arinze Onuaku blush.

Fab Melo's best performance came against Cornell on November 30th, when he had a season high 8 points and 7 rebounds and 4 blocks in 22 minutes of action. He was limited to just 6 minutes Saturday night against Colgate due to the injury.

What's important right now is that the team gets rested and healthy for the Big East opener on December 28th against Providence. Syracuse needs Fab Melo as close to 100% as possible by that date, and if that means sitting out non-conference home games against Iona, Morgan State and/or Drexel than so be it.

While none of those teams are push-overs, the Orangemen need two healthy centers for the when the gauntlet of the conference schedule begins. Stay tuned to The Cuse Connection for more information.

Practice Underway for Pinstripe Bowl


With tickets flying off the shelves and many Syracuse fans preparing to travel down to Manhattan for the Inaugural Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, the Syracuse Orangemen football team resumed practice this week at the newly renovated Manley Field House.

There is enough excitement to go around surrounding the trip to the Big Apple. While the basketball team enjoys a trip to New York City several times a year, this will be the first time many SU Football players will travel to Manhattan.

Antwon Bailey is one of those players and plans on making it a memorable trip. "I want to see the big Christmas tree [in Rockefeller Center]. I saw it on Home Alone." Clearly expectations are high.

On the field, Syracuse practiced in helmets and shoulder pads without head coach Doug Marrone. HCDM is out on the recruiting trail and left the team in the capable hands of Scott Shafer, Nathaniel Hackett, Tyrone Wheatley, Greg Adkins and Jim Brumbaugh.

On Tuesday Van Chew was not in pads and watched from the sidelines. According to a trainer he was just resting a nagging groin injury and the usual bumps and brusies that come with a college football season. Da'Mon Merkerson and Delone Carter were on the field in pads however did not take part in the contact portion of practice. They both participated in sprints.

With Rob Long recovering from an apparently successful surgery to remove a brain tumor, Syracuse has been practicing Ryan Lichtenstein at punter for the Pinstripe Bowl. Lichtenstein was a walk-on place kicker last season. Also working on punting was walk-on quarterback James Jarrett.


photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Monday, December 13, 2010

This Week's ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll Released


The Syracuse Orangemen (10-0) have moved up to #5 in the Coaches Poll this week, receiving 639 votes. Just 3 votes ahead of Syracuse is UCONN at #4, who got 642 votes. In total seven Big East teams made the Coaches Top 25. Michigan State fell to #15 after losing to Syracuse this week in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Other Big East teams in the top-25 are Pittsburgh (#8), Villanova (#11), Georgetown (#13) Louisville (#21) and Notre Dame (#23). Don't let any ESPN talking-heads tell you that the Big East isn't the best college basketball conference in the country.

With seven of the nations top 25 teams hailing from the Big East Conference, it should also be noted that West Virginia received 28 votes and Cincinnati received 3 votes. Texas, the #25 team, received 41 votes, meaning WVU was 13 votes away from having an unheard of 8 teams in the Big East ranked in the Coaches Poll.

Syracuse's next game is Saturday night at 7PM against Iona (7-3). Conference play begins on December 28th when Providence travels to the Carrier Dome for a 9PM tip.

For the complete Coaches Poll, click here. Photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Syracuse Hands Colgate Worst Loss in Series History


Syracuse and Colgate have played on the hardwood since the 1901/02 season. Never before have they been beaten like this. In fact, never before in the Dome has a visiting team been held to such few points in the first half. However, that's what happened on Saturday night in front of 21,247 Orangemen basketball fans.

Syracuse held Colgate to just EIGHT first half points en route to a 100-43 victory to push the Orangemen's record to 10-0. The loss drops Colgate to 0-8 on the year. Every member of the SU basketball team registered minutes in this one, and Rick Jackson lead the offense with 18 points and added another 10 rebounds for his 8th double-double in ten games this season.

Freshman Dion Waiters scored 17 points on 5 of 7 shooting from the floor and dished out 5 assists. Brandon Triche had his best shooting performance of this young season adding another 14 points for the Orangemen on 5 of 7 shooting (3 of 5 from beyond the arc).

It was Syracuse's best shooting game from behind the 3-point line this season. Six different players knocked down 3-pointers, and the Orangemen shot 11-25 from long range (44%). On the night Syracuse was 37-66 from the floor (56.1%) and held Colgate to just 10 of 56 shot attempts (an unreal 17.9%).

Mookie Jones played 17 minutes in this one, going 3 of 8 from the floor (including 3 of 6 from long range). He also had 1 rebound and 1 block to go along with 2 assists. James Southerland chipped in 22 minutes for the Orangemen, scoring 7 points on 3 of 6 shooting and grabbed 9 rebounds on the defensive glass.

This game was over early, and gave Syracuse a chance to let their freshman and walk-ons get some minutes under their belts. Unfortunately, Fab Melo was only able to play 6 minutes and left the game early due to an aching Achilles tendon that has been nagging him for quite a while.

Fab Melo and the rest of the Orangemen are off until Saturday December 18th when they square off against the Iona Gaels (7-3) in the Carrier Dome at 7PM.


photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Where Have You Gone, Malcolm Cater?


At some point this afternoon a message came across my twitter feed saying that syracuse was about to be thin at linebacker, and Malcolm Cater's name was mentioned. Not too long later, a player tweeted that he heard some bad news at practice today.

Sitting on my couch, I wondered what it could be. I searched the internets. Nothing. I looked on various message boards and still no go. I assumed it was some kind of injury that happened at practice. I mean what could possibly have happened?

Finally, around 4:20PM I get a text message saying that Malcolm Cater's name has been taken off the roster on SUAthletics.com. I poked around some more message boards and finally saw some threads about Malcolm Cater.

I'll preface the news saying that you should never believe anything you read on a message board. However, I went to SUAthletics.com's Football Roster myself and Malcolm Cater has indeed been removed. The story swirling around the internets right now is that Cater ALLEGEDLY (and remember everyone's innocent until proven guilty) broke into apartments on South Campus and ALLEGEDLY stole televisions.

The most shocking part of all this is that one of the alleged stolen televisions allegedly belonged to Syracuse starting Quarterback Ryan Nassib. All we can confirm right now is that Malcolm Cater, Freshman linebacker, is no longer listed as a member of the SU Football team.

More news will be posted here as it becomes available. Photo courtesy of syracuse.com

UPDATE: Syracuse Post-Standard confirms story that Malcolm Cater was indeed arrested for burglarizing apartments on south campus. Cater is due to be arraigned Sunday morning. Doug Marrone has released a statement: "I'm aware of the criminal charges filed against Malcolm Cater by the Syracuse Police Department. Cater is no longer part of the Syracuse football program." Click here for the full report from the Post Standard.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Syracuse to Host "Rival" Colgate Saturday


Many of us two-sport Syracuse Orangemen fans will remember meeting Colgate on the gridiron September 25th in the Carrier Dome. Let's be honest, we should all be at a minimum two-sport Orangemen fans! For those of you who missed it, Syracuse and Colgate have a long history of playing each other in football. A very long history. How about on the hardwood?

Syracuse is 117-45 against the Colgate Raiders All-Time. The first game was played in the 1901-02 season according to The Post Standard, and Syracuse has won 44 straight games against Colgate. In the "perfect season" of 1913/1914 Syracuse beat Colgate 29-28 in double overtime. Syracuse held Colgate to 5 first half points, however Colgate would score 21 in the 2nd half to force overtime.

In the first overtime, neither team scored. In the 2nd overtime, Syracuse managed 3 points while Colgate scored only 2. As the final horn rang out, Colgate appeared to have won the game with a buzzer beater, but the referee waved off the basket saying time had expired. Lewis Castle, Syracuse All-American, finished with 15 points on that day.

Then in 1927 Syracuse traveled to Hamilton, NY to take on Colgate, their biggest rival at the time. Colgate was unveiling a brand new gym, Huntington Gymnasium, however it would not be a happy affair for the home town fans. Syracuse "destroyed" Colgate 33-13 and ended Colgate's 10-game winning streak in the process.

In a clear sign of the times, the 1947 match up saw Syracuse traveling to play a Colgate team that would feature two future New York Knicks: Ernie Vandeweghe and Carl Braun. Syracuse won the game 66-65. Billy Gabor scored 23 points to lead the Orangemen. An interesting note about the 1947 Syracuse Orangemen, a fire destroyed Archbold Gym, and Syracuse had to finish their season without a home court to play on or practice in. The team went 9-4 following the fire, and had a final record of 19-5.

Syracuse and Colgate have played every season since 1993. Last year, Syracuse beat the Raiders 92-58. Unfortunately for Colgate, it's not 1947 anymore, and their basketball program has seriously fallen on hard times. The Raiders are 0-7 this season coming into the Carrier Dome, and are coming off a 68-57 loss to the St. Francis Terriers. They are averaging just 61 points per game and shoot 40.2% from the floor.

Yaw Gyawu (6'5" 219 pounds) is the team leading scorer, averaging 13.7 points 5.3 rebounds and 1 assist per game. He is shooting 45.5% from the floor this season. On November 19th of this year, Gyawu scored 9 points and grabbed six rebounds against #1 Duke on the road. Mike Venezia (6'1" 188 pounds) is averaging 9.2 points per game, however did not play against St. Francis on Tuesday. Nick Pascale (6'10" 256 pounds) and Josh Brandenburg (6'11" 263 pounds) are the big men for the Raiders, with Pascale averaging 17 minutes 5.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Brandenburg averages 15.7 minutes per game with 4.4 points and 2.6 rebonds per game.

Syracuse (9-0) will look to score early and often on the Raiders, and should have no problem dismantling Colgate, who hails from the Patriot League. Expect the starters to be resting comfortably on the bench by the middle of the second half, and we will probably see some minutes off the bench for Mookie Jones and James Southerland.

Tip-off is Saturday Night at 7:00PM from the Carrier Dome, and the game will be televised live on The Big East Network (SNY). Check in with The Cuse Connection for complete recap and analysis after the game.


photo (Billy Gabor) and game information courtesy of the Syracuse Basketball Vault Book.