Monday, January 31, 2011

Is This Rock Bottom ??

Well, that sucked. The Syracuse Orangemen's 18 game winning streak seems like it was all a dream right about now as the Cuse is in the middle of a 4 game losing streak. Watching Duke lose to St. Johns yesterday helped me keep my head up, but in the end Syracuse has lost to two teams that we haven't lost to in years. Literally. Syracuse hasn't lost to Marquette since the 1980's.

Another slow start. Unfortunately or fortunately, however you want to look at it, Morgan State and Norfolk State played the longest 3 minutes of basketball in recorded history and Cuse fans watching on ESPNU were tortured until they were able to join coverage around the under 12 minute time out in the first half.

Marquette jumped out to a 10-3 lead and was in control the entire first half. When the half-time buzzer rang the Orangemen found themselves down 11 points. Once again, Syracuse was getting beat on the glass and being careless with the basketball. On Syracuse's final four possessions of the first half they turned the ball over three times.

The most frustrating part of the second half was when Syracuse was down one with the ball in Marquette's end and COULD NOT INBOUND THE BALL. Inbounding the ball is certainly day 1 stuff, however this Syracuse team could not overcome the inbound pass on two occasions with a chance to take the lead. The Orangemen were able to tie the game, but could never get over that hump.

Once again Syracuse was out-rebounded, although this game was by a narrow margin (2). Baye Moussa Keita led the Cuse in boards with 7, and added 4 points and 2 blocks before fouling out. He played some major minutes for the Orangemen and helped out on the glass on a day when Rick Jackson was held to just 4 rebounds.

Rick Jackson finished the day 6 of 7 from the floor for 14 points, however he was held to a season low in rebounds. Kris Joseph led the Orangemen with 18 points. The most interesting person on the floor was Scoop Jardine, however.

Scoop Jardine finished with a career high 13 assists and 13 points on 5 of 12 shooting. He also was credited with 5 turnovers, although in true Scoop fashion of late, it felt like many more. There were times late in the second half when I honestly felt worried every time Scoop touched the ball, and since he's the team's point guard, that's not a good feeling to have!

Speaking of point guards, Dion Waiters did not spend one second off the bench in this one. While Jim Boeheim took to the airwaves last week and said there was no issue with Dion Waiters, it's extremely curious to notice he didn't get any playing time on Saturday. Mookie Jones picked up 4 first half minutes while another regular contributor, James Southerland, also sat on the bench for the duration of the game.

In Southerland's place, freshman C.J. Fair had another strong outing. In 15 minutes of action Fair finished the day shooting 5 of 7 from the floor for 10 points and picked up 3 rebounds and 3 blocks. C.J. Fair should continue to see increased minutes, as his shot selection is always in high percentage areas and he is not afraid to pick up rebounds in the lane, something James Southerland has struggled to do of late.

Where do we go from here?

The loss, Syracuse's 4th straight, drops the Orangemen to 5-4 in Big East play and 18-4 overall on the season. It also drops Syracuse to 7th in the Big East Standings. The Cuse took another hit in the rankings this week, coming up 17th in both the AP & ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Polls. This week is a tremendous opportunity for Syracuse to get off the canvas and salvage a season which once seemed so promising.

The Orangemen will first travel to #5 UCONN on Wednesday at 7PM. Syracuse will follow that up with a trip (which is by no means a vacation) to Tampa, FL to take on USF at 2PM. If Syracuse can find a way to win these two games, that will do a lot towards increasing the confidence around this program.

On a side note, if there was one class I wish all SU players would enroll in, it would be "How To Draw a Foul." It's been 5 years since I was a student at Syracuse University, is that course still offered?

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