Bleach: March Madness invades thinking

first_imgWith no Florida or Mexico trip to occupy my Spring Break this year, I did what any good college basketball fan would do: parked it in front of a TV and grew emotionally attached to large men I have never met before in my life (I’m looking at you, Cole Aldrich).While other students were screaming over the music so friends could hear them in a Panama City Beach dance club, I was busy yelling at the high-definition athletes to throw the damn ball in the post and explaining to Clark Kellogg why coaches don’t foul when they are up by three with 10 seconds left in the game.Just like 780 athlete-students (give or take), I had entered into tourney mode.Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. Break ended and I went back to classes without a hitch like everybody else (except, of course, the athlete-students who will blow off school to prepare for the NBA Draft and the others who will just blow off school for fun).But when I sat down to write this column, I found I couldn’t escape my tourney mode daze with the Sweet 16 fast approaching. Instead of the concise, organized ideas I normally have for this column, a bunch of random thoughts were flipping on and off in my head like two simultaneous games in overtime on CBS.Why fight it, I figured.Like the 16 games we will see over the next four days, here are 16 sweet observations, thoughts and tangents about the Madness of March (hopefully they will be less predictable than the actual tournament).1. Let’s be clear. Arizona did not deserve to make the tournament. Yes, they have won two games. Yes, they are talented. But getting hot at the right time doesn’t justify an otherwise incredibly mediocre season. In fact, it proves they just underachieved all year instead of playing at a consistently high level. I would rather watch a deserving St. Mary’s and Patty Mills any day.2. Ty Lawson’s toe injury is not over with yet. Though the speedy point guard played well last weekend, one little piggy being hurt often bothers athletes more than they let on. Just remember if/when he sits out the second half of a game…3. In an age with PowerPoint and whatever presentation tool Apple computers use, the bracket went old school and reverted to chalk.4. Despite coach John Calipari denying free throws were Memphis’ Achilles heel, the Tigers lost in the finals last year converting only one of their final five attempts from the charity stripe. This season, UM jumped up 8 percent to a respectable 69.5 percent from the line as a team.5. Fearless prediction No. 1: Despite Memphis and Missouri being two of the fastest-paced teams left in the tournament, the game won’t be the high-scoring thriller most are expecting. Both schools set the tone with their defensive acumen first.6. The SEC and Pac-10 combined to put one team — the dominant force that is Arizona — into the second weekend of the tournament. Way to represent.7. The Big East, on the other hand, proved once again how ridiculous the conference actually is. The usually reliable Pomeroy ratings screwed up somewhere placing the beasts from the east behind the ACC and the Pac-10.8. Why does anyone outside of North Carolina ever root for Duke?9. Star-driven teams are finding it increasingly difficult to succeed in the tournament. Wake Forest (Jeff Teague), Arizona State (James Harden) and Florida State (Toney Douglas) all tripped up with a lack of balanced scoring to support the future NBA players.10. Fearless prediction No. 2: Gonzaga will try on the glass slipper once again (if a four seed can really be a bracket buster) and knock out North Carolina. I wouldn’t want to be a water cooler around Tyler Hansbrough if it actually happens.11. Not so fearless prediction: Someone from Syracuse is going to score a two-point takedown on Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin. My money is on the lovable Eric Devendorf.12. Shouldn’t Billy Packer be brought back for this weekend? After whining about too many mid-majors playing in 2006, Packer must be exhilarated to see so many big boys competing the second weekend.13. It seems like the referees giving two quick fouls to some team’s most important player might end up deciding a lot more than fans are comfortable with. I say let the boys play.14. Although college ball was obviously top-heavy talent wise this season, every contender still has a serious flaw to deal with. Whether its lack of perimeter shooting, a short bench or a stubbed toe, whichever team wins six straight will be the one that handles its weakness best.15. Fearless prediction No. 3: The Big Ten has flown under the radar the entire tournament. Either Michigan State or Purdue will step on some toes at the dance before it is all said and done.16. Despite the complaints about a lack of upsets, the competitive and quality basketball played over the next four days will make everyone forget about that darling Disney princess Cinderella.Michael is a junior majoring in journalism. Have a problem with the inner workings of his mind? He can be reached at mbleach@badgerherald.com.last_img read more

Maragos reflects on UW football career

first_imgFormer Wisconsin free safety Chris Maragos high fives fans at Camp Randall Stadium following the Badgers\’ season-opening victory over Northern Illinois. Maragos is one of four graduating seniors considered to have a good chance of finding himself on an NFL roster through the draft or free agency.[/media-credit]Although the 2010 NFL Draft remains more than two months away, training is nearly a full time job for those hoping to be selected by an NFL team in late April.Out of a senior class of 18, Wisconsin has four players — Garrett Graham, Jaevery McFadden, Chris Maragos and O’Brien Schofield — who are expected to land with an NFL team as either a draft pick or non-drafted free agent.Over the next two months, The Badger Herald will sit down once a week with Racine native and former UW free safety Chris Maragos to reflect on his collegiate career and discuss the process of reaching the next level.Below is part one in an eight-part series.Badger Herald: What is your favorite place that you’ve played during your career in the Big Ten and elsewhere?Chris Maragos: Camp Randall Stadium. You can’t beat Camp Randall, but if I had to say an away game, because I’m biased toward Camp Randall, I have to say — you see, I didn’t go to Penn State, so that’s one stadium I haven’t seen — Michigan was just average I thought, Ohio State was pretty cool, that was definitely a cool one. But I’ll tell you this, though, when we went and played Fresno State last year, that was crazy.Their fans were so nuts, we’re coming out and their fans were like on the cages banging it and stuff, ripping over the security guards and barking at us. It was intense; that’s probably the rowdiest I’ve ever seen.BH: Are there any games from your career that you look at and know you’ll never forget?CM: There’s a lot that I’ll never forget. The Fresno State game this year and the Northern Illinois game, those are always going to be fond memories and really dear to me. And the Michigan game just because it was senior day, and my family was there, and it was the last game at Camp Randall, so that’ll be a lasting memory.BH: Looking back on the season, do you feel like you made the most of your senior season at the University of Wisconsin? Is there anything else you wish you would’ve done?CM: I think I did. But if I could come back for another 10 years here and play for the Badgers, I would. I wouldn’t even want to go on and try to play in the NFL if that were the case. I’d love to just stay with this program, stay with the university, be around this great place and you know, just continue to play football. But that’s not the case.I think with my limited time here at Wisconsin, only being able to play two years at defensive back, I really feel that I’ve had a full five years just because I really feel that in that short amount of time I really maximized and got the most out of my playing experience. And you know, I can take those memories and life lessons with me and take it further.BH: Which was better, the overtime interception against Fresno State or the fake field goal touchdown run at Ohio State?CM: Those were both fun, but I have to say the interception, because it was more like a game-clinching type thing. But I’ll tell you what, that touchdown at Ohio State was a big time rush. It was pretty cool because it all just worked out perfectly for us to run that play.That week, we were only going to run that fake from the right hash, and it just so happened that on third down we didn’t get it and we were on the right hash and we were from the 9-yard line, so it was like the perfect distance for us to go for it. The only problem was that we could only run it against one of the looks that Ohio State gave us and they only came out in that look like one out of every three field goal block attempts.We just had to get the right look for the play, and we got the look that we wanted. So, I gave the green call, peeled around the edge, Garrett made a nice block and I just took it in. It was fun.BH: More importantly, though, did you ever go back and give Scott Tolzien the high five he was looking for?CM: You know, the funny thing about that is that was the joke in the locker room for at least two weeks. We’d be out on the practice field and be like, ‘Great throw, Scott,’ you know, like real sarcastic and slapping his hand and stuff. So, that was a big time joke. But it was funny because Jim Rome had it on his TV show and Scott didn’t know about it.So, everybody’s in the locker room like ‘Hey, man, all right Scott,’ and he’s just like, ‘Why is everybody high-fiving me?’ You know, the coaches are high-fiving him and finally somebody tells him about it and he took it like a champ.BH: What did you think of the Wisconsin football award ceremony, and in particular, was it better to get an award or give out the captains’ award?CM: Probably to give one. It’s nice to get recognized for accomplishments, but any time you can it’s always better to give the award to someone else. That’s more gratifying and satisfying than receiving an award for what you’ve done. But overall, the ceremony was great; and it was a lot better having Matt Lepay to keep people from speaking too long.BH: Along those same lines, what was it like watching Mike Lucas interview your parents?CM: It’s pretty cool, because you talk to your parents, but you don’t really talk to them on that level a lot. It’s not like I’m ever interviewing them or asking them questions like that. I mean, I know they love me and how they feel about me, but it’s really cool to see the story or the insight from their perspective because all I ever see it from is mine and from a football side of things.Seeing it from a parent’s side or an outside perspective is really neat to see. I’m just so blessed to have the parents that I have. They’re really phenomenal; and even Serah, my fianc?e, I’m really lucky to have her — she’s definitely the better half, that’s for sure.BH: With the way the season ended, having more than 50 family members in attendance down in Orlando and winning the bowl game over Miami, what was that like as a way to end your career at UW?CM: I couldn’t ask for a better way to end my career. The only better way to end it would be to continue it in the NFL and keep playing football. It was a fun year. We really exceeded a lot of people’s expectations; but we didn’t exceed our expectations, because we knew we were going to be good in the off-season at this time last year when we were training.So, you know, we went out there on Saturdays and we showed what we can do, and it was a lot of fun. One of the greatest experiences of my life.last_img read more

Imperfect Orange win at Louisville puts SU in national conversation

first_img Published on January 20, 2013 at 6:45 pm LOUISVILLE, Ky. — To beat No. 1 Louisville on the road, Syracuse would certainly have to put together one of its best performances of the season.The Orange players knew they couldn’t come out flat and expect to win as they did against South Florida. They knew they couldn’t do just enough to get by as they did against Providence.They needed to play great to beat the Cardinals. Anything less was sure to end in a loss.“We just wanted to come out here and play one of our best games,” SU guard Brandon Triche said, “which we didn’t.”And yet, Syracuse still left the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday with its biggest win of the season, a 70-68 comeback victory over the favored Cardinals, effectively ending UofL’s reign atop the AP Poll after one week while thrusting itself back into the discussion with the nation’s elite.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAs Triche said, SU’s performance was far from perfect.Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams, an All-American candidate, looked lost at times against Louisville’s unforgiving defense and finished with eight turnovers compared to seven assists. The Orange’s frontcourt trio of Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman and Baye Moussa Keita were virtually nonexistent offensively, scoring a combined nine points. And don’t forget, the absence of James Southerland, the team’s second-leading scorer, also meant the absence of its best 3-point shooter – leaving all the weight on Triche’s shoulders in this big-time showdown between the Big East’s best.To beat No. 1 Louisville on the road, Syracuse would certainly have to be better than that.But the Orange overcame every obstacle, making the imperfect victory all the more impressive. SU made a statement with this win, announcing itself as one of the teams in the national title hunt to anyone who wasn’t quite sure.No. 6 Syracuse proved that it belongs alongside Indiana, Duke, Kansas, Michigan and Louisville – the top-5 teams in the country that all received votes for the top spot last Monday.Just ask Louisville head coach Rick Pitino.His club was on a roll, ripping off 11 straight wins since its lone previous loss to Duke. Behind their smothering defense and balanced lineup, Louisville was never tied and never trailed an opponent in the final 10 minutes of its previous 10 games.“It’s not easy to beat our basketball team and they did it so they deserve a lot of credit,” Pitino said.Credit goes to Triche for pouring in 18 of his team-high 23 points in the first half to keep Syracuse in the game; and for taking over at point guard – becoming the team’s primary ball handler while Carter-Williams moved off the ball – where he calmly got the offense started against the Cardinals pressure.Credit goes to Carter-Williams for overcoming the rough first half, in which he turned it over six times, to spearhead Syracuse’s late comeback. The sophomore scored 11 of his team’s final 13 points, assisted on the other and came up with two game-clinching steals to shock Louisville in the final minute.Credit goes to Jerami Grant for playing a solid all-around game in a career-high 35 minutes as he replaces Southerland in the rotation. The freshman played poised and in control, hitting his share of big shots to finish with 10 points.And credit goes to C.J. Fair for quietly logging 40 minutes in yet another steady performance. The lefty forward gave Syracuse an experienced presence in the lane on both ends of the floor and chipped in with 10 points and eight rebounds.In the words of Triche, “it’s all about team” for Syracuse.“If one person’s struggling, someone else is going to do it,” the senior guard said. “That’s what we did tonight.”They also proved, despite their flaws, that they’re one of the best teams in the nation.There’s still plenty of basketball to be played, but this victory meant a little more than any other so far this year.That much was clear as the buzzer sounded and Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim gave a rare display of excitement, giving a sweeping fist pump before walking toward the Louisville bench to shake Pitino’s hand.But Boeheim was quick to dismiss any significance of the win over the No. 1 team and conference favorite at the podium after the game.“I think they’ll be the team to beat in the country when it all comes down in the end,” Boeheim said of Louisville.By season’s end, Syracuse could be the team to beat. Whether Boeheim likes it or not, after Saturday, his team’s in the discussion.Ryne Gery is a staff writer at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at rjgery@syr.edu Comments Related Stories WINGS CLIPPED: No. 6 Syracuse beats No. 1 Louisville 70-68 on road behind Carter-Williams’ clutch 2nd-half playFreshman Grant continues stellar play, finishes with 10 points in win over LouisvilleTriche holds off Louisville early, earns praise from Pitino in upset of No. 1 LouisvilleDefensive struggle, late heroics mirror 2012 Syracuse win at LouisvillePoll: After upsetting No. 1 Louisville, where should Syracuse be ranked?center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Coffey drains clutch 3-pointers in season-best performance in win over Rutgers

first_img Published on February 20, 2013 at 1:34 am Contact David: dbwilson@syr.edu | @DBWilson2 Syracuse clung to a double-digit lead late in the second half. But Rutgers wouldn’t go away. Every time the Orange scored, the Scarlet Knights answered on the other end.With less than a minute and a half remaining, Rachel Coffey dribbled around the perimeter, searching for an open shot. Eventually, she found enough space and drained a 3-pointer. RU answered, but Coffey wasn’t done. Elashier Hall found the junior wide open in the right corner on the next possession. Another 3.“Obviously, Rachel Coffey was tremendous,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “She was tremendous. She made some huge shots in that second half.”The back-to-back 3s helped seal Syracuse’s 58-45 victory over Rutgers (14-11, 5-7 Big East), and highlighted an explosive second half that culminated with a season-high 17 points for Coffey.Though Coffey failed to tally even one assist – same was the case for starting point guard Cornelia Fondren – she was the Orange’s (22-3, 10-2) leading scorer at halftime, albeit with a measly five points on 1-of-5 shooting, and more than made up for her lack of execution as a distributor with her scoring output.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe first half was admittedly frustrating for Coffey. The turnovers piled up as entry pass after entry pass got knocked away and left her with four giveaways heading into the break. Her 3-pointers, with the exception of one that fell through, bricked and rimmed out. A 3-point heave in the final seconds of the first frame bounced out, and Carmen Tyson-Thomas’ follow missed as well. SU headed into halftime trailing 19-15 in a sloppy game.“First half, I was frustrated,” Coffey said. “I didn’t make any shots, so I knew I had to do something to come up big. I had no assists, so I had to do something, so I made shots.”Star center Kayla Alexander was relegated to the sidelines for all but five minutes of the first half due to foul trouble, and finished with just seven points on 2-of-8 shooting. Coffey accounted for a third of the team’s points in the opening frame, and kept Syracuse alive in a game that could have been lost.The overall offensive production wasn’t pretty. Coffey ended up the only player in double figures and the Orange shot just 26.6 percent from the field. But Coffey bailed SU out.Brittney Sykes sprinted down the court for a fast break just more than five minutes into the second half. Syracuse had a chance to take its first lead, but the guard missed the transition layup. Coffey, though, was there for the offensive rebound and putback to give the Orange its first lead of the game. To that point, Alexander had taken just one shot.“We have too many threats on our team. So I slack one day, someone else is going to pick it up the next day,” Alexander said. “Today it was Rachel, and that’s teamwork. There’s 14 of us, and any one of us can show up any given day.”Coffey’s putback was the only non-3-pointer she attempted. After nailing one in the first half, it took her until the 3:40 mark of the second to try another. Then she knocked down back-to-back 3s.She followed her two straight 3s with a miss, and didn’t shoot again. But by then the game was all but won for Syracuse.“I just try to play,” Coffey said. “When I’m open, I’m going to shoot it. Late clock, I’m going to shoot it. Every time I shoot it, I want to make it, so it’s not really any different.”The only blemish on Coffey’s strong second-half performance was the lack of assists. She turned the ball over once more in the final frame for a total of five, without even one helper.The Orange as a team finished with just seven assists compared to 17 turnovers, and its two point guards failed to register a single assist between them. But Hillsman can’t be too concerned. When asked if the dearth of Coffey’s assists is a concern, the head coach didn’t hesitate with an answer.“No,” he said, shortly. “We won.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

First ACC season presents tough tests highlighted by Florida State, Clemson, winnable games

first_imgPenn State, Saturday Aug. 31* Carrier DomeSyracuse faces Penn State for the first time since 2009, when the Nittany Lions topped the Orange 28-7. PSU is coming off of an 8-4 season, despite the heavy sanctions placed on the team in light of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. The Orange has faced the Nittany Lions more than any other team in program history, playing 70 times since 1922 and every season since then until 1990, after SU joined the Big East and PSU went to the Big Ten.*In MetLife StadiumNorthwestern, Saturday Sept. 7 Carrier DomeThe Wildcats dropped the Orange to a season-opening loss last season, despite a 482-yard, 4-touchdown performance from Ryan Nassib. It was the 10th meeting between SU and NU and evened the all-time series, dating back to 1940, at 5-5. Head coach Scott Shafer’s team looks to retake the all-time advantage facing quarterback Kain Colter, who passed for two touchdowns and ran for one in last year’s game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWagner, Saturday Sept. 14 Carrier DomeWagner head coach and athletic director Walt Hameline initiated the scheduling of this matchup, according to The Staten Island Advance. The Seahawks are a Football Championship Subdivision team, and played their first Football Bowl Subdivision opponent last season when Wagner lost 7-3 to Florida Atlantic from the Sun Belt Conference.Questions remain whether this game will count toward Syracuse’s bowl eligibility. Deputy director of athletics and scheduler Herman Frazier told Syracuse.com that Wagner confirmed the game would. The NCAA allows one FCS game to count toward bowl eligibility each year, as long as the school gives 90 percent of its allotted 63 scholarshipsduring a “rolling two-year period.” Wagner, though, only offers 40 scholarships. Last year’s Florida Atlantic contest never became relevant, as FAU finished 3-9.Tulane, Saturday Sept. 21 Carrier DomeSyracuse and Tulane last met Oct. 8, 2011, in front of 23,188 in the Superdome. The Orange won 37-34 as Ross Krautman kicked the game-winning 21-yard field goal as time expired. Antwon Bailey rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. It was the first time an SU team had played in the Superdome since Carmelo Anthony’s Orangemen won the national championship there on April 7, 2003. The Green Wave finished 2-10 last season.Clemson, Saturday, Oct. 5 Carrier DomeSyracuse’s Atlantic Coast Conference opening game should be one of its toughest, and certainly its hardest, in the Dome. In each of the past two seasons, the Orange has knocked off a top-15 team in the Dome, but those have come later in the season. SU will likely have a startling welcome as it goes against the Tigers, who have been the ACC’s most consistent program in recent seasons, and returns All-American quarterback Tajh Boyd and star wide receiver Sammy Watkins.North Carolina State, Saturday, Oct. 12, Raleigh, N.C.Syracuse makes its first trip to the heart of ACC country as it travels to Raleigh, N.C., for the first of several winnable league tilts on the road. Both teams leaned on the strength of their veteran quarterbacks – Mike Glennon for North Carolina State and Ryan Nassib for the Orange – but their departures leave big shoes to fill. This game, like so many on SU’s schedule, will come down to how quickly the inexperienced quarterbacks can develop.Georgia Tech, Saturday, Oct. 19, Atlanta, Ga.Syracuse’s second ACC road trip takes the Orange down to Atlanta, where it will get its first of potentially many opportunities against Georgia Tech’s vaunted triple-option attack. Though the Yellow Jackets had a pedestrian 7-7 season, they still took home the ACC Coastal Division championship after a 6-6 regular season before losing to Florida State in the conference championship game. The trip to GT is yet another winnable game for the new-look SU squad.Wake Forest, Saturday, Nov. 2 Carrier DomeSyracuse returns to the Dome after two weeks away to face another mediocre ACC foe in Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons failed to qualify for a bowl game last season, and their only two ACC wins came against doormats Virginia and Boston College. The Orange comes into this one off of a bye week and kicks off a grueling stretch of five games in November that takes the Orange to the end of the season.Maryland, Saturday, Nov. 9, College Park, Md.Syracuse starts its final third of the season with a trip to Maryland. The Terrapins went 4-8 last season and only 2-6 in conference play. They also lost their final six games of the season. Due to a rash of injuries, Maryland had no stability at the quarterback position. Five different players went under center during the season, and Maryland hit rock bottom when linebacker Shawn Petty moved to quarterback. Much like Syracuse, the Terrapins will have a quarterback competition starting with spring football practice. Maryland finished the 2012 season last in the ACC in total offense. With the Terps coming off of a bad season and having plenty of question marks heading into 2013, there’s no question this could be a good game for the Orange, despite playing on the road.Florida State, Saturday, Nov. 16, Tallahassee, Fla.When Syracuse travels down to Tallahassee, Fla., it’ll be in for one of its toughest games of the season. Florida State is a perennial power in the ACC. The Seminoles finished last season ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. They were first in the ACC in scoring defense and third in scoring offense. Florida State ended the year with a 12-2 record and went 7-1 in the ACC, capped with a win over Northern Illinois in the Discover Orange Bowl. FSU will have a new quarterback after EJ Manuel, who averaged 242.3 yards per game in 2012, graduated and is moving on to the NFL. Even still, the Seminoles are poised to be one of the top teams in the ACC in 2013. This is going to be a very challenging game for Syracuse.Pittsburgh, Saturday, Nov. 23 Carrier DomeSyracuse knows Pittsburgh well. The two announced their departures from the Big East together, and are heading to the ACC for their inaugural seasons at the same time. The Orange beat the Panthers 14-13 in a Friday night game this past season. Pittsburgh finished last season 6-7, 3-4 in the Big East. The Panthers will have a new quarterback after Tino Sunseri graduated. This is a winnable game for the Orange, especially since it’s at home. Pittsburgh is not going into the ACC with the same momentum Syracuse is, so the Panthers could struggle in their first season in a competitive conference. While the Orange will also have a number of new starters on both sides of the ball, SU beat Pitt last year, knows the Panthers’ schemes and has the advantage of playing in the Dome.Boston College, Saturday, Nov. 30 Carrier DomeSyracuse closes out the regular season against former Big East foe Boston College. The Eagles had a miserable season last year — they finished 2-10 and went just 1-7 in the ACC. BC finished 11th in the ACC in scoring offense and ninth in scoring defense. The Eagles ranked near the bottom of the conference in almost every category. The season ended with the firing of head coach Frank Spaziani and the hiring of former Temple head coach Steve Addazio. Syracuse beat Addazio’s Owls 38-20 down in Philadelphia to close out this past regular season. Hosting a struggling Boston College team in the final game of the regular season is big for Syracuse, and with Pitt the week before, the Orange could finish the year 2-0. If Syracuse still needs one or two wins for bowl eligibility at this point, the Orange has a cushion the last two weeks of the season. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Related Stories Syracuse announces inaugural ACC football schedulecenter_img Published on February 27, 2013 at 12:16 amlast_img read more

Big men on campus: Forwards Christmas, Coleman spend offseason working on offensive game

first_imgThe lack of offense from Syracuse’s big men was a theme throughout most of last season, but the deficiency was at its worst against Louisville on March 2.Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman and Baye Moussa Keita combined for two points. Each attempted one field goal, and Christmas was the only one to convert his. On the other end of the court, Louisville big man Gorgui Dieng dominated the inside with 11 points and 14 rebounds, powering the Cardinals to a five-point victory in a low-scoring Carrier Dome battle.Syracuse’s big men know how to anchor the middle of head coach Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone. They know how to crash the boards and they know how to grab rebounds. But if they can assert themselves in SU’s offense, it would serve as a much-needed boost to the rest of the team as it transitions into the Atlantic Coast Conference.“I think there’s going to be some opportunities there for them to score and I think we’ll have good balance,” Boeheim said, “because I think we have guys that can shoot and score at the forward and guard positions.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange lost three of its top four scorers from last season, who averaged a combined 38.8 points per game — slightly less than three times the offensive production the big men mustered.In their absences, much of the weight of putting the ball in the basket will be on the shoulders of SU senior C.J. Fair, the ACC Preseason Player of the Year.He’s confident that the big men can help pick up some of that slack.“Last year, the inside wasn’t really our strong suit, but I think this year, it’s going to be much stronger,” Fair said. “You can tell they worked on their game a lot and improved this year. They’re not scared to miss a shot.”Last year, Syracuse’s guards and small forwards accounted for 83.3 percent of SU’s scoring output. Christmas, Coleman and Keita collectively averaged just more than 13 points per game.“I think this year, we definitely came back bigger and stronger,” Coleman said. “Definitely more offense-minded this year, and just can’t wait for the season to start.“If we need a basket down low, I think I can step in and do that.”As soon as last year’s Final Four run came to an end, the big men — labeled by many as the team’s weakest position — fired up their preparation for what they hope is a comeback season.Coleman, Christmas and Keita reported for duty at the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center five days a week throughout the offseason. Once the basketballs come out, the on-court drills begin.They practice three simple post moves: stationary hook shots, hook shots off a drop step and up-and-unders. Hold the ball high in the air, don’t hesitate and go up strong to the rim. Take your six shots and rotate.“Just doing everything to perfection. We don’t do more than three moves. We try to perfect three moves and then move on,” Christmas said. “We do it every day. It’s like daily vitamins for us.”Outside of the key, the big men work on coming off screens and knocking down 15-17- foot jumpers, which assistant coach Mike Hopkins said will help develop their shooting stroke at the free-throw line.After putting in an hour and a half on the court, the big men head to the workout room, where they spend another hour and a half enhancing their physiques with weightlifting and running.And all that sweating has paid off.Coleman said he is entering this season 10-15 pounds lighter. The knee that sidelined him for eight games last year is now at 100 percent.His trimmed frame, assistant coach Adrian Autry said, will be the first thing people notice about Coleman this season. His slimmer build and work ethic have translated to the low post, where he’s refined his skills, Autry said.The sophomore has improved his use of both hands to finish at the rim, Autry said, and is shooting the ball 15-17 feet away from the hoop.“He’s getting more confident and comfortable with what we’re doing and understanding schemes,” Autry said. “I think the biggest thing is getting that year under his belt, getting himself in condition.”Sam Maller | Asst. Photo EditorOn the other hand is Christmas, who has always had a reputation for being an imposing, shot-blocking defensive presence near the rim.He backed that up as a freshman two years ago in the NCAA Tournament. With starting center Fab Melo out, Christmas filled in admirably during the Orange’s journey to the Elite Eight, posting 18 rebounds in SU’s first two tournament matchups.But he hasn’t been well known for his offensive abilities. Until now.Fair has noticed a considerable change in Christmas’ poise, and Autry raved about how much effort Christmas has devoted to developing a jump hook.The big men competed with each other for playing time last year, but a major theme throughout SU’s offseason has been Christmas and Coleman learning to play on the court together, Hopkins said.“When they’re in the game together, they’ve got to be able to impose their size and their will and their athleticism,” Hopkins said, “and really get some easy putbacks for that lineup to be fairly effective.“But they’re really effective when they can put that other guy right in the paint underneath the basket, where all they have to do is what? Turn, face and finish.”That combination so far, Coleman said, has featured him at the five and Christmas playing the four. That’s where they played in SU’s season-opening scrimmage against Holy Family last Friday.The duo has started to establish high-to-low post chemistry, Coleman said, and the SU coaching staff expects that connection to strengthen with time.Hopkins pointed to Syracuse’s trip to Canada this summer as the epitome of how powerfully the Orange’s big men can dictate the team’s success. Engaged in a “dogfight” against the University of Ottawa on Aug. 24, Syracuse led by just six at halftime.But out of the break, Coleman spearheaded a 22-2 run with eight points en route to his dominant 26-point performance. When Coleman headed to the bench, Christmas stepped up to hit two jumpers and put the game further out of reach.Christmas finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds in what ended up being a 23-point victory for the Orange.Now the real deal waits ahead, and Syracuse’s big men welcome the challenge.“We’ve been getting prepared for this and we’re ready,” Christmas said. “This year, we want to come in, get the ball and just go after it.” Commentslast_img read more

Syracuse takes down Texas in Paradise Jam

first_imgAfter four tune-up nonconference games, Syracuse flexed its muscles in its second real test of the season Thursday night.The Orange (6-0), which cruised to victory in its previous four games by an average margin of 52 points, stayed hot and defeated Texas (3-2), 77-65, in the Paradise Jam at St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Thursday night.Four scorers reached double digits for the Orange as sophomore Brianna Butler spearheaded the offense with 18 points and fellow guard Brittney Sykes added 17.After opening its season at Washington State – a Pacific-12 Conference member – SU faced teams from the weaker Ivy League, Mid-Eastern Athletic and America East Conferences. But with its strong showing over the Big 12 Longhorns, Syracuse proved its four blowout wins were no fluke.“I believe we had more intensity than them,” senior guard La’Shay Taft said in a postgame Orange All-Access interview. “We played hard, we tried after all the loose balls, do our jobs and we handled it.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange held a strong grip early on and led for most of the game’s first 10 minutes. A 3-pointer by Brady Sanders put Texas ahead 15-13, but SU’s Taylor Ford connected on a 3 at the 8:30 mark for the last lead change of the game.Ford’s shot from deep sparked a 9-0 run over two minutes that sprung Syracuse in front by seven points. Behind Butler’s nine first-half points and 12 turnovers committed by Texas, the Orange led by as much as 11 in the opening frame, but only took a five-point advantage into the locker room at halftime.A Longhorns free throw to begin the second half sliced the lead to four, but a Butler 3 and Sykes layup pushed it up to nine. Texas drew within seven points twice within the first six and a half minutes of the second half, but never cut the lead shorter than that.Taft hit a 3 to extend the Orange’s lead to 42-32 at the 13:35 point. The shot, followed by two more Taft 3-pointers within the next minute, started a 19-9 stretch that essentially put the game away for SU.“She was huge,” head coach Quentin Hillsman said in a postgame Orange All-Access interview. “She’s a rhythm shooter, so once she starts making shots and got going, I knew we had to continue to go to her and get her open looks.”Syracuse’s advantage ballooned as high as 23 points. The Longhorns rode a 17-8 run over the last three minutes, but it was too late. By the final whistle, Texas turned the ball over 23 times and handed SU’s offense plenty of transition chances.“We did a really good job of capitalizing on them, too,” Hillsman said. “At the end of the day, it’s about getting more possessions and creating opportunities for ourselves and our team did a very good job of doing that.” Comments Published on November 29, 2013 at 1:46 pm Contact Phil: pmdabbra@syr.edu | @PhilDAbb Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Syracuse guard Sykes to undergo surgery to repair ACL and meniscus in right knee

first_imgSyracuse sophomore guard Brittney Sykes will undergo surgery to repair the torn ACL and meniscus in her right knee, SU Athletics announced in a release Friday.Sykes — Syracuse’s leading scorer and a member of the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team — was injured on a drive to the basket with 12:46 remaining in the Orange’s 59-53 win over Chattanooga in the first round of the NCAA tournament on March 22. She didn’t return to that contest, and sat on the bench for the entirety of Syracuse’s second-round loss to Kentucky two days later.The diagnosis came after an MRI was performed this week, after the Orange was eliminated from the tournament Monday.“I am 100 percent dedicated to rehabbing and coming back strong for the upcoming season,” Sykes said in the release. “I am looking forward to being back on the court with my teammates making Syracuse proud.”A date for surgery will be set following a reevaluation, the statement said. Sykes averaged 16.7 points per game and shot 51 percent from the field this season — both team-highs.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Brittney is obviously a very important part of our team, on and off the court,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said in the release. “I have all the confidence in the world that she will fully dedicate herself to rehabbing the injury and coming back better than ever.“And we will be there to support her every step of the way.” Comments Published on March 28, 2014 at 6:29 pm Contact Josh: jmhyber@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Grossi chips in goal, assist in Syracuse’s tie with New Hampshire

first_img Published on October 11, 2014 at 9:06 pm Contact Liam: lpsull01@syr.edu Midway through the second period, freshman forward Stephanie Grossi stepped onto the ice for Syracuse during a line change.With both Syracuse and New Hampshire knotted at one, Grossi picked off a loose puck that a defender had attempted to clear in UNH’s zone. She swiftly fired off a shot that went past New Hampshire goaltender Vilma Vaattovaara’s glove and found the back of the net for a score.“I think the puck just had eyes,” SU head coach Paul Flanagan said. “The goalie just missed it. She was on her way down because of Steph’s quick release.”Grossi contributed on both of SU’s scoring plays and continued her strong play this season by netting one of the team’s two goals and collecting an assist on the other in Syracuse’s (1-1-2) 2-2 tie with New Hampshire (1-3-1) on Saturday afternoon at Tennity Ice Pavilion. The freshman also led the Orange with eight shots.Flanagan praised Grossi’s ability to make plays and her ability to keep the game simple. He said that her skill, awareness and smart play make a huge difference on the ice for the team.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU junior defender Nicole Renault took a pass from Grossi and slipped a shot past Vaattovaara just 93 seconds into the game.“I came out of the corner with the puck and Renault was open, so I slid it down to her,” Grossi said of her assist on the play. “She didn’t have much room, but she got through.”Renault said that Grossi did most of the work to create the team’s first score, threading a tight pass for the assist despite two UNH defenders being draped all over her.Grossi’s goal in the second period came after the Wildcats had answered Renault’s goal with one of their own to close out the first period. Grossi’s goal, one she called “lucky,” again gave the Orange the lead.Saturday afternoon marked only the fourth game of Grossi’s collegiate career, but that isn’t apparent based on her performance.Syracuse totaled 40 shots for the entirety of the contest and Grossi was responsible for a fifth of those. One of her eight shots was in the overtime period, in which SU only managed to shoot three times.“She was huge,” Renault said of Grossi. “You can’t even tell she’s a freshman out there.”In addition to leading the team in shots on Saturday, Grossi also tops the Orange with 22 shots on the season — eight higher than the next player, junior Melissa Piacentini, who led the team in goals last season.Grossi has shouldered some of the scoring load early in the season. Her goal on Saturday gives her two goals on the season, which leads Syracuse.Flanagan believes Grossi’s play Saturday afternoon was a bright spot for the Orange in a game after which he was disappointed. The team dominated territorially in the second period and the team didn’t bury enough of their scoring chances, Flanagan said.“I think some of our less-skilled players who try to make the game difficult should try to pay attention to Steph,” Flanagan said. “I think she’s a great role model as a player. She’s one of our top players right now.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Panhellenic Council hosts author Liz Funk

first_imgStudents gathered Wednesday night at the Kappa Kappa Gamma house to hear Liz Funk, author of Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls, discuss the importance of young women balancing achievements with leisure.Speaking out · Liz Funk, above, said that young women should not be afraid to spend more of their time on leisurely activities. – Kevin Fohrer | Daily Trojan“The requirements of being an ‘it girl’ have changed,” Funk said. “It’s not enough to just be pretty. They need to be smart, charming, people pleasing and of course, nice.”Funk argued that the perfectionism women are striving toward is the result of a domino effect. If one girl sees the positive outcomes that a “super” or “it” girl achieves, whether it be a top university admittance or an award, others model themselves after this ideal. She said that the solution is for girls to take time to find themselves through leisure.“You need to start being yourself and doing things in an authentic way,” she said. “When girls start being themselves, others will follow.”Funk suggested that young women take time to focus on hobbies as a way to relax.“It’s critically important to have downtime,” she said. “And by that, I mean time where you don’t check emails, where you paint your nails, or don’t go anywhere near your textbook.”The event was hosted by the Panhellenic Council in an effort to help Greek women and the surrounding community understand that taking time for oneself is necessary for a healthy and fulfilling life. The speech was accompanied by a workshop where those in attendance spoke about their personal struggles with trying to be a “super girl.”“Despite that today’s young women have more opportunities than ever before, they’re under intense pressure … to be a perfect 10 and excel in everything they attempt,” Funk said.The author also said that young women are reluctant to slow down and take time for themselves because they feel that their communities would disapprove. She stressed that competition with close friends and other’s perceptions of them make young women question whether they are good enough without their extracurricular and achievements.“It’s kind of a façade, they’re really kind of exhausted,” Funk said. “Being constantly on the move and constantly part of some project … if many young women felt that they could slow down, they would.”Mackenzie Roof, event organizer and vice president of athletics for Panhellenic, explained that women in the Panhellenic community are often involved in many extracurricular activities, which can often be overwhelming.“Add to that their sorority commitments, exercise, eating and sleeping, it’s hard for many people to find time just for themselves,” Roof said. “I hope that this talk can encourage girls to realize that taking time for yourself is not a selfish thing — it can sometimes be the best thing for your future.”Funk has given presentations about this issue to nearly 100 colleges throughout the United States, including Cornell University, Duke University and New York University.Women in the audience had mixed reactions to Funk’s ideas. Eleni Sehremelis, a junior majoring in human biology, disagreed with the speaker.“While I do think it’s important to have some downtime, I think it’s important to be active with your school work and your academics because that is what going to get you far in life,” Sehremelis said.Not all were dismayed by Funk’s words, however. Some took the advice to heart. Jessica Bjerke, a junior majoring in business administration, was motivated to take a load off her busy schedule.“It made me want to make more time to just relax,” Bjerke said.last_img read more