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Three Times in Three Seasons, Babers Shakes Up the Staff

Posted on June 21, 2018 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora


  As Dino Babers steps into his third season at the helm of the Syracuse Orange football program, he has once again chosen to make moves with his coaching staff, something he has done when he came in for his first year and again in his second season.

  This time, the moves are Landan Salem coming onto the team as the director of player personnel and Dave Boller becoming the director of recruiting operations. Salem takes Boller's position from last season with Boller moving into the position vacated by Asil Mulbah, who left to join the Buffalo Bills' scouting department inside the National Football League (NFL).

  Coming from his previous post at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), where he worked under head coach Lane Kiffin as the director of player personnel and pro liaison last year. While with FAU in 2017, the team went 11-3, achieved the Conference USA East Division title crown, and advanced to the Boca Raton Bowl, defeating the University of Akron.

  Before FAU, Salem worked collegiately with the Illinois (player personnel and special teams' assistant), Michigan State (recruiting assistant), N.C. State (assistant director of player personnel), and Pittsburgh (director of video scouting and summer camps) programs.

  He graduated from the University of Illinois in 2014.

  Before graduating from Illinois, Salem interned with the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League (AFL) in 2011 and the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL in 2013.

  Speaking on Boller, he has 30+ years of experience in college and professional football, including close to 20 years evaluating NFL players.

  Before joining Syracuse, Boller was the University of Louisville's NFL liaison and director of on-campus recruiting (2015) and then their director of high school relations (2016).

  Prior to being a member of the Louisville staff, Boller spent 19 seasons in the NFL, most recently with the New York Jets, where he was an area scout from 2012-14, evaluating offensive and defensive line prospects in the Western half of the United States.

  Boller served as a consultant from 2010-12 for teams inside the NFC side of the NFL, providing his take on college and pro prospects and wore the hat of assistant pro director from 2007-09 for the Detroit Lions, aiding the team's general manager with salary cap matters, performing evaluations for both active players and free agents, and assisting with the weekly advance report for the coaching staff.

  He also worked as a scout for the St. Louis Rams (2004-07), Philadelphia Eagles (1998-2004) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers ( 1995-98 ). While a scout for the Eagles, Boller was on the staff that drafted former Syracuse quarterback Donovan McNabb, making him the 2nd-overall pick of the entire NFL Draft in 1999.

  Before that, Boller was in the collegiate ranks as the director of football operations for the Arizona State Sun Devils from 1985-95. At this his alma mater, he oversaw the Arizona State football budget, organized recruiting events, planned travel, housing, and meals for the team, and set up the school's official visits.

  With Boller moving into his new role and Salem joining the team, Syracuse's recruiting staff is now as follows:

Dave Boller, Director of Recruiting Operations

Landan Salem, Director of Player Personnel

Kramer Cook, Assistant Director of Recruiting

Ryan Nix, Creative Director

Laurene Porillo, Administrative Specialist

Corey Carpenter, Quality Control

John Gunter, Quality Control

Tyus Battle Enters Draft, Doesn't Hire Agent

Posted on April 20, 2018 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  Syracuse Orange shooting guard Tyus Battle, coming off of his sophomore season, has declared for the National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft, but has not hired an agent as of now, I can confirm from speaking with sources close to the situation.

  No surprise here, at least not from this here writer's point-of-view.

  Battle tested the waters of the NBA Draft Combine after his freshman season, gathering information and ultimately returning to the team.

  Therefore, this move to enter the NBA Draft but not hire an agent is the same move he made a year ago, and who could fault him?

  He gained knowledge on what NBA scouts thought of his game and now, a year later, he can get updated information on what they think of him currently, with another season under his belt.

  What happens from here will be interesting, because the draft is fluid, meaning that if Battle gets great feedback, he could hire an agent and go or if the feedback is that NBA scouts still want to see more before spending a high draft pick on him, he comes back and works on his game like he did last year.

  To say he is leaving or not leaving Syracuse University right now is throwing a prediction with little weight into the wind.

  Not until he hears from scouts will he know his stock, and that is what will most likely lead the way in his decision-making.

  Fans might not want to hear this, but it is sit and wait time.

  The NBA Draft Combine will happen May 16th through the 20th in Chicago, Illinois.

  From there, Battle will have until Monday, June 11th, to take his name out of the NBA Draft if he decides to return to Syracuse.

Destinations for Dez

Posted on April 17, 2018 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  After we all picked our collective jaw off of the floor following the Dallas Cowboys' decision to release wide receiver Dez Bryant effective immediately with no trade or gaining of anything, we had to start thinking of where would be the best landing spot.

  Unfortunately for Dez, the Cowboys decided to wait until the 11th hour to release him, with teams in the process or having already signed receivers.

  Add in teams shifting their focus to the NFL Draft and the imperfect storm for a receiver looking for an opportunity to be the top dog rolled onto Dez's doorstep.

  With that being said, there is about 1/3 of the 31 teams not named the Cowboys that could be a good fit for Bryant.

  The Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, and Jacksonville Jaguars all make sense as a potential new home for Dez.

  Detroit has not had a true #1 receiver since Calvin Johnson decided to retire from the NFL, a decision many felt was very premature. They have a packed room of runners to help balance the offense and open the game up, with the addition of running back LeGarrette Blount offering a strong option they did not have in recent years, not to mention a runner coming off of back-to-back Super Bowl championships, with two different teams (New England Patriots followed by Philadelphia Eagles).

  Los Angeles could use some assistance with their receiving core. Sammy Watkins showed some positive flashes but has moved on to the Kansas City Chiefs. Cooper Kupp was up and down last season and Robert Woods offered some aid in the open field, but dealt with injury. So, depth is a need for the Rams. However, the signing of Brandin Cooks, who spent last season with the Patriots, could put a snag in the team going hard for Bryant.

  Arizona needs help. Larry Fitzgerald is a force that many struggle to contain and he is seemingly timeless, but there will come a day where he hangs up the cleats. Outside of Fitz, the Cardinals has struggled to find dominant, consistent receivers that are not on and off the injury report in a calendar season. Food for thought, though, is that Arizona may need Dez more than Dez wants to be there, with a new quarterback and new head coach saddling up for the first time together in the 2018-19 season.

  New York...the Jets that is...are in need of assistance all over the field and all throughout the offense, so if Dez wants to make money, this could be a landing spot, but if he wants to win, and now, the Jets do not look like the organization to help bring that want into reality. The team has Teddy Bridgewater as their best bet at quarterback right now after spending the majority of the past two seasons off the field due to injury, along with Josh McCown who has done more with less, but is not the guy that the Jets are putting all of their marbles on. New York may be banking on a rookie quarterback and that will be a roll of the dice for the Jets and for Dez if he was to go there.

  Baltimore has been suffering from injuries and depth issues in the receiving core for the past few seasons. They went and got Michael Crabtree who had been with the Raiders and John Brown who has spent all of his four NFL seasons with the Cardinals to aid them in having new blood, hopeful health, and more than one option for quarterback Joe Flacco. With that being said, the Ravens have proven recently that some depth is good, but more depth is better, with them having to reach further and further down the depth chart due to injuries. Having Dez Bryant, Michael Crabtree, and John Brown has the makings of a potential powerhouse receiving core and would provide quality depth if injuries arise. The only issue is that Flacco tends to be close to even in touchdown-to-interception output, so the quarterback situation is not the best fit of the 10 teams given in this analysis.

  Cleveland has been making moves and keeping their draft picks. They have been bringing in talent without giving up the opportunity to draft potential future stars. Dare I say that the Browns may be at their smartest since their return in 1999? With Josh Gordon back from a long, seemingly neverending suspension and Jarvis Landry coming over from the Miami Dolphins, there are two potential #1s already on the roster. Young receiver Corey Coleman has had the injury bug, but he has given some signs of hope for Cleveland. This receiving core with Bryant would be potentially one of the best in the league, at least on paper. The question is, "Who is throwing them the ball?" If the Browns draft a quarterback, then newly-signed Tyrod Taylor may not be the guy. Albeit the Browns, who are coming off of an 0-16 season, the moves they are making are providing an attractive opportunity for veterans and rookies to at least consider.

  Houston has quarterback Deshaun Watson, who before injury ended his rookie year last season, appeared to be bringing some excitement to a team that has had a two- or three-headed quarterback as of late that never panned out. Dez lining up opposite DeAndre Hopkins would make the Texans' offense more dynamic and he could still remind the Cowboys what they are missing by staying in the state of Texas and excelling with a team of a different blue.

  Oakland somehow got Jon Gruden to leave the broadcast booth and come back down to the sideline. The opportunity to be a part of Gruden's return could be something special, because Gruden seemingly would not come back just to coach a mediocre franchise that he does not see improving. Derek Carr has been a capable quarterback that could get better, but in all honesty, he has not had the rushing attack or proper scheming of the backs to help take pressure off of him. New leadership can help change that and if Carr gets some of the weight off of his shoulders, watch out, because he has the makings of being a highlight reel. Jory Nelson has come over from the Green Bay Packers and with the Kansas City Chiefs moving to a new quarterback, the Denver Broncos trying to figure themselves out, and the Los Angeles Chargers always seeming to be pretty good but not good enough, the AFC West is ripe for the taking, and that could help Dez return to the postseason.

  San Francisco is making moves. They are not doing the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. The Niners have Kyle Shanahan as head coach who used to oversee the prolific offense of the Atlanta Falcons. He has a receiving core with no true #1. Dez could come in and arguably become their top guy over Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin. Their NFC West division is also ripe for the taking and the Niners have not been shy about spending money to improve their squad. The question that remains is if Jimmy Garappolo is all the hype and more or if he is like other backups of stars who look good for a few games.

  Jacksonville was just a few points away from their first Super Bowl appearance ever. Since then, they have kept the majority of their hungry, forceful, and nasty defense together. They have kept their quarterback in Blake Bortles, have a bruising rusher in Leonard Fournette, and improved their offensive line with the addition of guard Andrew Norwell who was with the Carolina Panthers. The only big change is that they parted ways with the top two receivers on their depth chart, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. There is room on the Jaguars for a man hungry for a run and coming to Jacksonville looks to be the best bet for Dez to get a taste of something he has never had before, a seat at the Super Bowl table.

ACC Men's Basketball Match-ups for 2018-19

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) has released all 15 of their member institutions individual conference schedules for the upcoming 201-19 season, offering who each team will play in a home-and-home series as well as the teams they will only play at home or on the road. Below are the schools' schedules:

Boston College:

Home/Road: Louisville, NC State, Notre Dame, Syracuse

Home: Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, Pitt, Virginia

Road: Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest


Home/Road: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Pitt, Syracuse

Home: Boston College, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

Road: Duke, Louisville, Miami, NC State, Notre Dame


Home/Road: North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia, Wake Forest

Home: Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami, NC State

Road: Florida State, Louisville, Notre Dame, Pitt, Virginia Tech

Florida State:

Home/Road: Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami, Wake Forest

Home: Duke, Louisville, NC State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech

Road: Boston College, North Carolina, Pitt, Syracuse, Virginia

Georgia Tech:

Home/Road: Clemson, Florida State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech

Home: Boston College, Louisville, North Carolina, Pitt, Wake Forest

Road: Duke, Miami, NC State, Syracuse, Virginia


Home/Road: Boston College, North Carolina, Pitt, Virginia

Home: Clemson, Duke, Miami, NC State, Notre Dame

Road: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest


Home/Road: Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

Home: Clemson, Georgia Tech, NC State, Notre Dame, Pitt

Road: Boston College, Duke, Louisville, Syracuse, Virginia

North Carolina:

Home/Road: Duke, Louisville, Miami, NC State

Home: Florida State, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech

Road: Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Pitt, Wake Forest

NC State:

Home/Road: Boston College, North Carolina, Pitt, Wake Forest

Home: Clemson, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech

Road: Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Miami, Notre Dame

Notre Dame:

Home/Road: Boston College, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Virginia Tech

Home: Clemson, Duke, NC State, Syracuse, Wake Forest

Road: Florida State, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, Pitt


Home/Road: Clemson, Louisville, NC State, Syracuse

Home: Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech

Road: Boston College, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia, Wake Forest


Home/Road: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Pitt

Home: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, Virginia

Road: North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest


Home/Road: Duke, Louisville, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech

Home: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Pitt, Wake Forest

Road: Boston College, Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, Syracuse

Virginia Tech:

Home/Road: Georgia Tech, Miami, Notre Dame, Virginia

Home: Boston College, Duke, Louisville, Syracuse, Wake Forest

Road: Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, NC State, Pitt

Wake Forest:

Home/Road: Duke, Florida State, Miami, NC State

Home: Boston College, Louisville, North Carolina, Pitt, Syracuse

Road: Clemson, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Virginia, Virginia Tech

The Madness Wasn't Over for Syracuse

Posted on March 29, 2018 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  It turns out that the madness of March was not over for the Syracuse Orange.

  Following his participation in the McDonald's All-American game, Darius Bazley decided to take a different route in his basketball career, a route that did not go through Central New York.

  Bazley, a commit of the Orange for the incoming 2018 recruiting class, went back on his vow to Syracuse in favor of letting his amateur status fly out the door completely.

  Instead of heading to college, Bazley will bypass higher education for an opportunity in the G-League, the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s developmental league.

  Following the recent McDonald's All-American game, Bazley will showcase his talents in the Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit, both in April of this year.

  From there, Bazley will celebrate his 18th birthday in June, which will make him eligible to put his signature on the dotted line for a G-League contract in September and place his name in the G-League's upcoming draft in October.

  No matter who he plays for in the G-League initially, no NBA team will hold his rights until he is officially drafted by an NBA squad in the 2019 NBA Draft.

  Syracuse still has Buddy Boeheim and Jalen Carey set to join the team as members of the 2018 incoming recruiting class.

  Returnees for the Orange will be point guards Frank Howard and Howard Washington, Jr., shooting guard Tyus Battle, forwards Marek Dolezaj and Oshae Brissett, and centers Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe.

  Guard/forward Elijah Hughes will also be eligible to play for Syracuse after sitting out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer rules, and will have three seasons of eligibility in total.

A New Player on the Radar for Syracuse Basketball

Posted on March 28, 2018 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  The Syracuse Orange, fresh off of a run to the Sweet 16 of this year's NCAA Tournament, are already switching gears to planning for the future.

  A new player on the horizon for the Orange is Jae'lyn Withers, a 2019 prospect out of North Mecklenburg High School in Huntersville, North Carolina. 

  He stands 6'8" - 6'9" and could play small forward or power forward for Syracuse, as they look to build front-court depth.

  Withers has already peaked the interest of fellow Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) schools Boston College, Clemson, N.C. State, Virginia, and Virginia Tech, receiving offers from each thus far.

  To see highlights of Withers, CLICK HERE

Oh So Close in Omaha

Posted on March 24, 2018 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  The first time the Syracuse Orange and Duke Blue Devils met this season, the game went in Duke's favor, by double-digits, with a 60-44 win for the Blue Devils at home in Cameron Indoor.

  This time around, both teams were away from home, and out to the midwest of the United States, in Omaha, Nebraska.

  Duke got things started with a layup by true freshman guard Trevon Duval, but Syracuse quickly answered with a dunk from junior center Paschal Chukwu.

  True freshman forward Marvin Bagley, III, responded right back with a dunk of his own, which was followed by a three from Orange sophomore shooting guard Tyus Battle that gave the Orange the lead at 5-4.

  Syracuse would not trail from that moment, at the 18:09 mark, until the 9:49 mark of the first half, when sophomore center Marques Bolden laid it in to place the Blue Devils ahead by one, 18-17.

  There would be six lead changes and three ties from there.

  A three by senior guard Grayson Allen with under a minute before the half placed the Blue Devils up seven, 34-27.

  The Orange got back to block a fast break and redshirt-freshman forward Matthew Moyer saved the ball, but Moyer would throw it away and Syracuse would head into the half down by seven, with Duke scoring the final 10 points of the opening half.

  Syracuse wasted no time in the second half, scoring on their first two possessions, bringing the game to within three, down 34-31. Before this, the Orange had no attained any points since the 5:20 mark of the first half, and no field goals since the 5:33 mark of the opening half when true freshman center Bourama Sidibe tipped the ball in.

  The Orange would score the first six points of the second half when Chukwu followed the two aforementioned field goals with a make at the rim that got Syracuse within one, down 34-33 at the 17:55 mark.

  True freshman guard Gary Trent, Jr., attained the first field goal for the Blue Devils in the second half on a jumper at the 17:30 mark.

  True freshman forward Marek Dolezaj responded with a baseline jumper after a Duke turnover, and just like that, the Orange were within one yet again, this time at 36-35.

  Battle would give Syracuse another opportunity to tie the game with an spin and acrobatic move toward the basket, making the one-handed jumper, but he would miss the subsequent free throw.

  Syracuse got more help from Battle in a 3-on-2 fast break, where he sent the bounce pass to Dolezaj who finished with a dunk to get the Orange within one possession, at 42-39.

  However, after beginning the second half 0-for-6 from beyond the arc, Trent knocked down Duke's first three of the half to give the Blue Devils a 45-39 advantage.

  Duke got out to as much as a nine-point lead in the second half

  True freshman forward Oshae Brissett got the Orange back within two possessions, making both of his freebies, to get the score to 50-45.

  Dolezaj would elevate for a one-handed turnaround jumper to bring the Syracuse deficit to three, 50-47, but true freshman forward Wendell Carter, Jr., would go up against multiple Syracuse defenders and finish at the rim to extend Duke back out to a two-possession advantage.

  With 8:16 to play, the Blue Devils committed their seventh foul, that coming from Carter, meaning the Orange would be at the line after every foul from there on out. Brissett went 1-for-2 on the free throw that followed Carter's foul, and then attacked the rim for two to get the Orange within four, 54-50.

  Down by five, Syracuse would turn the ball over on back-to-back possessions, which led to consecutive field goals for Duke, and all of a sudden, Duke was back up by nine, this time at 62-53, with just over four minutes to play.

  Battle rose up and launched a three with 2:20 left and it dropped into the nylon to bring the Orange to a five-point deficit at 63-58.

  Brissett made a tough leaner to bring Syracuse within three and Trent responded down the lane, making it 65-60 Duke with 51.7 seconds to go.

  Carter, who committed the foul that put the Orange in the bonus, also was responsible for the foul that placed them in the double-bonus. Junior point guard Frank Howard made both free throws with a little over 40 seconds to go, and it was 65-62 Blue Devils.

  With 21.8 seconds left on the clock, Syracuse was forced to foul and Allen made both. Battle's three would be off the mark to follow, but Dolezaj would knock the ball in at the rim and it was back to a three-point lead for Duke, 67-64.

  Allen would be fouled again and miss the front end of his 1-and-1.

  With seven seconds left, Battle was fouled before he could attempt a three. He went 1-for-2 at the line, and it was 67-65 Blue Devils.

  Trent was fouled with 6.3 seconds to play. He went 2-for-2 at the line and that would do it as Battle's shot fell off the mark to end the game at 69-65 in favor of Duke.

  The Blue Devils move onto the Elite Eight and the Orange will return home after an exhilirating, entertaining, and hard-fought finish to their season, ending with a 23-14 record.

Syracuse Doesn't Deserve It, Huh?

Posted on March 18, 2018 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  Two years ago, the Syracuse Orange and Michigan State Spartans could have met in the Round of 32 but the then 2nd-seeded Spartans fell to the 15th-seeded Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee before that could happen.

  Here in Detroit, Michigan, the opportunity did present itself for the now 11th-seeded Orange to take on the 3rd-seeded Spartans in the Round of 32 inside of the Midwest portion of the NCAA Division-I men's basketball tournament.

  Michigan State opened the stat books first with two free throws from sophomore forward Nick Ward, followed by a three by sophomore guard Joshua Langford to get the Spartans out to an early 5-0 lead.

  Syracuse true freshman forward Marek Dolezaj started attacking early, driving to the rim which did not fall and then taking a jumper that did, giving the Orange their first points of the game, down 5-2.

  Fellow true freshman Oshae Brissett went to the rim and attacked for his own first two points of the game, getting Syracuse within one possession, 7-4, in the first four minutes of regulation.

  A steal and lay-in by junior point guard Frank Howard would be followed by Dolezaj in the lane for two of his own to give the Orange their first lead of the contest, at 8-7.

  Brissett went inside the arc and made his first jumper after missing two three-point attempts, stretching Syracuse out to a three-point lead, 10-7.

  The Orange would allow three straight offensive rebounds in one trip down the floor for the Spartans, which eventually ended in a three-pointer by sophomore guard Cassius Winston to give lead back to the Spartans, at 12-10.

  Howard attacked the basket inside nine minutes left in the half and made a tough shot off the glass with a hand in his face, and would make the following free throw to put the lead back in the hands of the Orange, 14-12.

  Winston would bring the lead back to Michigan State with a three and then beat the shot clock with an assist to Ward for a dunk to give the Spartans a 17-14 advantage.

  With 4:37 to play, junior center Paschal Chukwu had picked up his third foul of the game.

  Howard brought the game back within three off of a jumper that answered sophomore guard/forward Mile Bridges' first field goal of the game, placing Syracuse behind 20-17 to Michigan State.

  He would connect at the charity stripe shortly after to bring the Orange within one, at 20-19, and Brissett would make his first deep shot of the game, a three that would tie it at 22 apiece with about a minute before half.

  Junior guard Matt McQuaid would get a chance before half and Moyer would block his try. 

  But then, in a strange turn of events, McQuaid caught the ball and pushed it toward the basket. It hit the backboard and rolled in and the Spartans, as a result, broke the tie and took a 25-22 lead into the locker room.

  In total, there were five lead changes in the first half.

  The Orange got out of the half down three on a miraculous shot, despite the Spartans doubling their rebounding output, with 24 to 12 by the Orange. Michigan State owned the offensive glass, with 11 offensive rebounds to Syracuse's one in the first half.

  Winston opened up the second half with his third three-pointer of the game, and Brissett followed with making all three of his free throws after getting fouled beyond the arc.

  Sophomore shooting guard Tyus Battle's first field goal of the game would come inside 18 minutes remaining in the second half, getting Syracuse within three, 30-27.

  Howard and Battle would connect on baseline jumpers, with Battle being fouled as well and making the subsequent free throw to bring the Orange with three once again, 35-32.

  But Bridges, who was held to just three points in 16 minutes of the first half, would answer with a make from beyond the arc to get the Spartans back out to a two-possession lead, at 38-32.

  From there, Syracuse would get out to an 8-0 run, gaining on Michigan State, down 38-37.

  As far as fouls go, the Orange, with 11:56 to play, had three players with three or more fouls, Chukwu with four, Dolezaj with three, and true freshman center Bourama Sidibe with three.

  Ward would end the offensive run by the Orange, with a make at the rim, but Howard would reply with a tough make inside the arc at the other end, getting Syracuse back within one, at 40-39.

  Inside nine minutes to play, Syracuse had four players with three fouls or more, Chukwu and Sidibe with four followed by Dolezaj and Howard with three.

  Bridges would slam the ball so hard at the 7:28 mark that he would fall, but raise Michigan State to a 44-39 lead.

  Coming out of the following break in the action, Battle connected on a jumper and his following free throw to get within two, 44-42.

  Howard, however, would commit back-to-back fouls and just like that, with 6:39 to go, he had fouled out of the game. He finished with 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting, with two rebounds, one assist, one turnover, and one steal.

  Battle got the Orange within three, 48-45, at the charity stripe with 5:26 to go and Brissett took the ball down the lane for a hard-fought two points to bring the game to 48-47 Spartans.

  Dolezaj would fight hard underneath the Michigan State basket to gain a rebound and got fouled, making both free throws to give Syracuse a 49-48 lead, their first lead of the second half.

  Freshman forward Xavier Tillman would make one of two at the line to bring the Spartans to down one, 50-49 close after.

  Battle would come down and nail a jumper inside a minute to give the Orange a 52-49 lead with 45.4 seconds to play.

  Brissett fouled McQuaid before Michigan State could attempt a three and McQuaid made both in his 1-and-1 situation, bringing the game to 52-51 Syracuse.

  Then, Brissett threw the long ball to Battle who chased it down and got fouled with 6.1 seconds remaining. Hearing many in the crowd against him, Battle went 2-for-2, giving the Orange a 54-51 advantage,

  Sophomore guard Braedon Bayer followed by fouling Winston before he could attempt a three, and Winston made both, bringing the game to 54-53 Orange with 3.7 seconds to go.

  Syracuse just got the ball in before a five-second violation and Tillman fouled Chukwu, fouling out of the game and putting Chukwu on the line with 2.4 seconds on the game clock. Chukwu would go 1-fo-2 at the line to raise the Orange to a 55-53 advantage.

  A last second heave by the Spartans would not fall as the Orange improve to 23-13 on the season and have gained their place in the Sweet 16.

  Even more impressive is that Syracuse won this game having to play the last six minutes and change without their point guard.

  Battle led the way for the Orange with 17, followed by Brissett with 15 and Howard with 13.

  Winston led all Spartans' scorers with 15, followed by Bridges with 11 and Ward with 10.

  But Syracuse did not deserve to even be in the NCAA tournament.

  Isn't that what people were saying?

  The pundits, the talking heads, the "gurus" of basketball.

  Huh. Interesting.

  Keep talking though.

  The Orange seem to like that.

  They just let it roll off their shoulders as they keep rolling in the tournament.

  Syracuse will now face conference foe, the Duke Blue Devils, in the final 16 in a contest set for Omaha, Nebraska.

Purdue Survives & Advances Past the Hungry Bulldogs

Posted on March 18, 2018 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  The Butler Bulldogs, a 10-seed, advanced past the 7th-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks here in Detroit, Michigan, to find themselves pitted against the 2nd-seeded Purdue Boilermakers in the Round of 32, following Purdue's win over the 15th-seeded CSU Fullerton Tigers.

  Butler got things started with a layup from senior forward Tyler Wideman.

  Senior guard P.J. Thompson brought things even at 8-8 for Purdue off of his make from beyond the arc.

  Redshirt-sophomore forward Sean McDermott answered with a three of his own for the Bulldogs, gaining the lead back, now at 11-8. 

  Butler would hold onto the lead from the 16:29 mark all the way to 2:54 remaining, a span of over 13 minute, before Purdue regained the advantage at the 2:53 mark, off of two made free throws by sophomore guard Carsen Edwards that brought the score to 31-30 Purdue.

  After losing the lead for a few seconds, the Boilermakers would hold onto the advantage for the final 2:25 of the first half, after two free throws by redshirt-freshman center Matt Haarms.

  At the break, Purdue led by four, 40-36, after trailing by as many as nine in the first half.

  Butler began the second half with two buckets that helped them get the advantage back, thanks to a tip-in by McDermott followed by a three by senior forward Kelan Martin, bringing the score to 41-40 Bulldogs.

  There would be two lead changes and one tie to follow before Purdue broke the tie with 15:59 remaining in the game, making it 48-45, off of a three by senior guard Dakota Mathias.

  The Bulldogs cut their deficit to two possessions twice in the final five minutes and 11 seconds.

  A 6-0 run by Butler that began at the 3:43 mark had the Bulldogs within two, 73-71, with 1:47 to go.

  Sophomore guard Kamar Baldwin stole the ball away from the Boilermakers and tried to take on multiple defenders instead of choosing to dish it off, and was blocked heading to the rim.

  Purdue's Thompson missed the front end of a 1-and-1 attempt with two seconds remaining and Martin rebounded the ball, calling timeout with 1.8 seconds left.

  Baldwin broke free for the last second heave, which was close, but did not fall for Butler, as Purdue moves onto the Sweet 16 to face the 3-seed Texas Tech Red Raiders with a 76-73 victory.

  Senior forward Vincent Edwards was the leading scorer for the Boilermakers, finishing with 20 points, going 6-for-8 from the field.

  Martin led his team for the second time in Detroit, scoring 29 in this game to follow his 27-point game previously versus Arkansas.

The Orange Keep Rolling, Onto the Round of 32

Posted on March 16, 2018 at 11:55 PM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  Stop me if you have heard this before: Jim Boeheim will be opposite Jamie Dixon on the sidelines of a head-to-head match-up.

  Now wipe the tears away of missing the old Big East and what the Pittsburgh Panthers versus Syracuse Orange rivalry felt like back when Dixon was at the helm of Pittsburgh.

  We are in the NCAA Tournament now, and it is Boeheim versus Dixon, but the TCU Horned Frogs against the Syracuse Orange this time around.

  After a hiatus of two regular seasons without coaching against one another, Boeheim and Dixon were ready to lead their respective squads in this one, a game that saw five lead changes in the first eight minutes and change.

  A jumper in the lane by true freshman center Bourama Sidibe gave the lead back to the Orange at the 12:03 mark of the first half, 12-11.

  True freshman forward Marek Dolezaj released a shot in the lane that dropped into the nylon and followed with a quick release from beyond the arc that beat the shot clock.

  Before making this shot from beyond the arc, Dolezaj had only one made three-pointer in 34 games in this his first collegiate season.

  Fellow true freshman forward Oshae Brissett made a move and had a relatively wide-open lane, but missed. Fear not, as Dolezaj cleaned up at the rim, giving him 13 points with approximately four minutes before the half.

   The Orange missed an alley-oop opportunity and the Horned Frogs attained theirs at the other end, bringing the Horned Frogs within one of the Orange, 27-26.

  That play at the rim was completed by TCU senior guard Kenrich Williams, who had an encore play with one second left on the game clock, also at the rim, giving TCU the lead at the half, 28-27.

  Before the Horned Frogs gained the lead with one second remaining in the first half, the Orange had held the advantage for 12 minutes and two seconds, from the 12:03 mark to the moment Williams laid it in with one second left before the break.

  In the second half, TCU was the first to score, courtesy of senior forward Vladimir Brodziansky's layup 51 seconds in.

  Brissett would respond immediately with a baseline jumper, but Brodziansky would reply to that with another layup, getting the Horned Frogs ahead by three, 32-29.

  Dolezaj would finish an alley try by junior guard Frank Howard who sent him the ball in transition that he slammed home, and would seemingly be looking to send his own alley try to the rim that ended up going in, bringing Syracuse within one, 34-33.

  Sophomore shooting guard Tyus Battle would connect from long range to give the lead to the Orange for the first time in the second half, 36-34. This three already out-scored his total from the first half, two points.

  Williams would continue to capitalize around the rim, dunking the ball to tie the game at 36-all at the 14:16 mark.

  A free throw by junior forward J.D. Miller would bring the lead back to the Horned Frogs at 37-36 shortly after.

  Sidibe, who had gotten the lead back for Syracuse approximately eight minutes into the first half, did it again with 11:18 to go in the game when he fought to keep possession for Syracuse and elevated for two at the rim to make it 38-37 Orange.

  TCU would come within one of Syracuse five times in the final six minutes and 46 seconds of the game.

  Junior center Paschal Chukwu, standing at 7'2", would knock down two free throws to give the Orange a 50-47 lead, and when the Horned Frogs came within one, Battle would elevate in the lane for a difficult one-handed make to get out to three points of separation, at 52-49.

  A leaner in the lane followed by junior point guard Frank Howard, bringing the Orange out to a five-point lead, 54-49, with just over a minute to play.

  Redshirt-freshman forward Matthew Moyer came up big in the final 30 seconds, attaining possession by the TCU basket and going 1-for-2 at the charity stripe to extend the Orange out to a 55-50 lead.

  Chukwu did what any big man does not do, and continued to make free throws, going 2-for-2 to end the game as Syracuse moves on to face the Michigan State Spartans in the Round of 32, following a 57-52 victory.

  The freshmen led all scorers for the Orange, with Dolezaj getting to 17, three shy of his single-game career-high of 20 (versus the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the first round of the 2018 ACC Tournament), and Brissett finishing with 13.

  Williams and Brodziansky led the way for the Horned Frogs, with 14 and 13, respectively.

  Syracuse is now 22-13 on the season, and lives to fight another day.