Friday, December 21, 2007

Syracuse on National Blog

I was given the opportunity to write for the national college basketball blog Storming the Floor about the men's basketball season so far.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Otto's Army at Women's Basketball

Otto's Army is going to create a student section for this Thursday's game against Penn State. The ladies are 5-1 with their only loss coming to North Carolina. Penn State enters the game coming off a win against top ranked Duke. They enter the game with a 6-2 record with two wins against ranked opponents (Duke and Pitt). So again come out Thursday at 7:00 in the Carrier Dome and support the Women's Basketball team. If you can't make it to the game Z89 will have the coverage.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A founding father weighs in

This hurts.

The issues I’ve heard going on with the student section are disheartening and I’d like to comment on a few things. But before I do that, I want you to know that I never intended to be “that guy” who graduated but always seems to find a way into supposedly petty current student happenings at the university. Let me assure you that when you do see my name or face around an issue, it is because whatever is going on is of huge importance to me. I loved and cherished my time at SU and want you all to leave with the same positive feelings that I did.

When the bunch of us founders graduated in May and left the brainchild that is Otto’s Army behind, we thought we got the message across. I thought, at least, that its core values would be upheld.

If you attend SU sporting events, you are part of Otto's Army. It is not an elitist group and does not separate students from one another for seating purposes or otherwise. It is a group promoting spirit for SU athletics, a fair and fun student fan environment, and for the betterment of our relationship with the community. We do this through events and gatherings, representation of the student body to university and athletic administrative bodies, and service to our university and community.

The most active student fans have been doing great work for our athletic department and in supporting our teams. We hosted the Winter Carnival Pep Rally, we advertised and helped get more than 200 students sitting TOGETHER at the first men's lacrosse game last year (which typically has poor or scattered student attendance), and we raised thousands of dollars for Relay For Life.

However, there have been current students contacting me, distraught that the student section may be heading in the wrong direction. As I watched the Tulane game tonight, I noticed some of those complaints come to life. They became very real when I received phone calls and text messages after the game from upset student fans.

The Dynasty

I love the Dynasty gesturing and posing and think it created a unifying element for the team.

It should have stayed at the pep rally. I don’t think it is necessary for me to go on about how bringing stuff like that over to games that count make the team look way to focused on their ESPN image. After a completely senseless loss to UMASS, it looks like our team got the picture from Jimmy B. I didn’t see any posturing or diamond-throwing against Tulane.

Do I like that students still use the hand sign during games? Not particularly, and I can’t totally fault people for using it to be more personal with the team. I do, however, have a problem with the athletics department running promotions for Manny’s version of the dynasty t-shirt. And I have an even bigger problem with our own bookstore trying to cash in on this arrogance.

Most of our players aren’t 10 games into their collegiate career and you have to go turn their heads into hot air balloons. Selling that shirt represents the opposite of what should exemplify a collegiate athletics program – respect, humility, and pride. How is anyone going to take us seriously when the institution itself anoints them as gods? Could they win the championship in their time here? I do hope so, but it is not necessary to endorse the kind of behavior that the team now (hopefully) has behind them.

Player-Fan Interaction

I only read on blogs and message about the incident that occurred between Eric Devendorf and a student fan at the tail end of the UMASS loss.

I don’t support heckling your own college team. If you’re one of the culprits of this in our student section – and I know there are some – please stop. If you’re dissatisfied with their performance, just be quiet. They’ll get the message. These kids work hard to put on a good show for you and, although you’re probably ready to retort that they get free tuition – think about all of the money their talents bring to SU every year.

Alas, they sometimes make mistakes on the court. Dimwitted, ridiculous, “oh my god are you serious?” mistakes. You know what screaming and yelling at your peers on their home court accomplishes? Not a damn thing except making one of them snap at the end of a bitterly frustrating game. Eric should have kept his cool, yes, but what kind of messed up fan situation is it that we need to debate about an altercation between people on the same side?

Actually, heckling and fighting with your own team does appear to accomplish something. According to students who contacted me after tonight’s game, Eric looked angrily at the student section, and a number of reporters sought out “that kid” who fought with him. This is not the kind of attention our program needs.

The Hey Song

I watched the game tonight and noticed that people were singing it with about 10 minutes left and ‘Cuse clinging to a slim double digit lead.

Let’s go with bullet points for this one, because it’s getting late and I’m realizing how ridiculous it is that I actually need to write some of the stuff in this post out, most of which should be common sense. The Hey Song does have the words “suck” “shit” and “fuck” in it. This makes it incredibly fun to sing, which brings me to my first point:
  • The Hey Song has the words “suck” “shit” and “fuck” in it. Some of the community dislikes it and the university officially dislikes it for that reason. We should not overuse it, lest we might (a) sever important relationships with the community and (b) face action from the university.
  • In my 4 years at SU, if we sang the song before the game was in hand, 99% of the time someone on the opposing team would have the 5 minutes of their life, we’d lose, and make us wonder why we were so stupid to prematurely declare ourselves the victors. Ask Quincy Douby. And that brings me to…
  • The Hey Song is a song of victory. It really should be brought out in moments of true elation, unexpected outcomes, and torrential beat-downs against hated rivals. Did that happen tonight? No. I saw people singing the song with 10 minutes to go with a minor lead against a school whose shirts we recently sold in our own bookstore to aid their hurricane ravaged campus. Yea, we ended up winning by 13, but they also lost to Buffalo by 14 a couple of nights before.
During my junior and senior years, we pretty effectively taught people the simple principles of The Hey Song: please, don’t be a prick. If you started the song for the sake of starting it, or because it “is a totally awesome song” or because you thought you needed to cheer louder, you missed the point completely – and you eventually listened to us who directed you to hold and cherish the song’s sacred words for the most spontaneous and fulfilling times. Now, I’ve heard that those same cries for moderation are falling on deaf ears.

My red-eyed conclusion

It’s now 3:30 in the morning and I’m still here pouring my heart out about this stuff. I could’ve still been at the bar putting $20 in the Buck Hunter machine or, better yet, sleeping. Instead, I answered the calls and text messages of my fellow befuddled Orangemen and Women who are not quite sure why there were students fighting with each other during tonight’s game.

I really do care about every one of you.

So, I’ll leave you with this: being an SU student is an amazing experience. Being an active SU sports fan while being an SU student is a couple of steps from heaven. Being in the student section is something you’ll keep with you long after you graduate, so don’t degrade it all with politics, anger, and cockiness.

Support your team whether at their highest highs or lowest lows. Or, if you really need to, just be quiet.

Don’t take for granted your 4 year excuse to be completely wild and rowdy at sporting events – no one looks at you strange. In fact, they love your enthusiasm.

Most of all, treat your onlookers, your team, and your fellow students with respect, humility, and pride.

-Menotti Minutillo
Founding Member, Otto's Army
Syracuse University Class of 2007

Saturday, December 1, 2007

To Hey Song or not to Hey Song

Before I go into the debate on the Hey Song, here it is in two forms:

National Championship Celebration:

After 2007 Georgetown game:

Tonight the Hey Song was done twice during the second half of the Tulane game. First with nine minutes left after I think a Jonny Flynn three in the corner. During the timeout that immediately ensued, the student section did the Hey Song under the direction of Otto's Army President Darryl Patteson. About three minutes left, the student section does it again, I can't really remember what happened before that, that prompted us, I think it was a Devendorf three. There were some students that did not approve of the Hey Song either time. Against UMASS with 17:41 after the Jonny Flynn no look to Donte Green dunk, the Hey Song was imminent. The students down in the floor seats didn't approve and it never happened. Syracuse went on to lose the game. So the debate exists: To Hey Song or not to Hey Song.

To Hey Song: Tonight the student section wasn't really going again partly due to a pretty boring game and probably because the team was coming off a loss. The Hey Song with nine minutes left really got the students going for about two minutes until the technical fouls got whoever wasn't into the game into the game. After the Hey Song, students were pounding the benches and chairs for the first time during Tulane offensive possessions. The UMASS game had a weak student section again, and probably would have been energized with the Hey Song. From that timeout on, UMASS slowly got back into the game and then finally put S.U. to bed late. In football the Hey Song is done after every touchdown when Syracuse has the lead. The Hey Song was done twice in the Rutger's game before the Scarlet Knights even scored, and look how that game turned out, but no one complained we were doing it then.

To Not Hey Song (The reasons I could come up with why someone against the Hey Song. If there are more post a comment.) : The student section shouldn't be doing a cheer which signifies that the game is over until the game is out of hand. There was nine minutes left against Tulane and 17 against UMASS. That is a lot of time for bad stuff to happen. The Hey Song should be reserved for big games.

To Hey Song: Name the most well known student section. Most will say Duke, and most will say they hate them because they are cocky. The Hey Song makes you look cocky and that's what you want. You want the opponent coming in knowing the student section hates you, despises you. Last time I checked, you don't want the rivals coming in saying, "jeez that student section likes to cheer, but they aren't cocky, they don't act like there is no doubt their team is going to win the game."

To Not Hey Song: It was said that the Hey Song makes Syracuse look cocky, and make S.U. look really bad if Syracuse was to lose the game. You don't want to cheer too obnoxiously when you are losing or have the chance to lose because that will also make you look bad should you lose.

To Hey Song: When your team is losing, you need to cheer harder and louder to encourage them. Now you wouldn't Hey Song when losing, but the student section should get as loud as possible during the game.

I'm for the Hey Song and tried to give all the reasons I could think of or heard already why someone would be against the Hey Song. I'm sure there are probably more for both sides. So what are your thoughts?

Friday, November 30, 2007

World's Largest Game of Freeze Tag

The S.U. Winter Carnival during the week of Febuary 20th will potentially feature a Guinness World Record. Organizers are trying to put together the World's Largest Game of Freeze Tag on the Quad. There aren't really any details other than it's a goal. I've done a little research and from what I could find, there is no existing world record for freeze tag.

The Winter Carnival features events such as a human dog sled race, Winter ball semi formal dance, concerts, and other competitions.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

UMASS, We Played Like A--

Wow what a disaster. Every aspect of that game went wrong. Defense...Offense...Crowd...the relationship between students and players.

I guess I'll start with the obvious, the defense or lack there of. This has already been beat to death by everyone so I'm just going to put the final nail in the coffin. Yes, they don't get on defense, and yes they allow a lot of wide open looks, but something that isn't really getting air time is the defense's inability to create turnovers. A team cannot score if they don't shoot on their possession. Obvious right? Well S.U. isn't getting steals or forcing bad passes. The defense forced turnovers on just 13.6% of UMASS's possessions. To put that into perspective, Syracuse's season rate is just over 17% which is 318th in the country. Syracuse forced 11 turnovers in an 80 possession game which is unacceptable. In a fast paced game turnovers exponentially increase. An 80 possession game should result in 18-20 turnovers for each team.

Now with the offense. Okay they scored 100 points. Their offensive efficiency was 123, best for the year. The problem, they can't score against a 2-3 zone. They had 20 points to start the game in 5.5 minutes against the man to man. UMASS switched to zone and Syracuse scored about 8 over the next 7 minutes or so. The same happened in the second half. UMASS started in man, switched to zone, and UMASS came back.

Third thing that wasn't good. The student section was DEAD during most the game. Not many cheers started down on the floor. Darryl, Otto's Army President and Ryan tried starting stuff all game, but nothing really caught on. I think part of it was every time we scored, UMASS came right back and got a score before we could even start cheering.

Final thing, Eric Devendorf snapped and went off on someone in the front of the student section when he and the rest of the team was criticized. I'm not a hundred percent sure what was said, but Devo had heard enough and guys on the bench needed to physically restrain him. I'm really surprised no one from press covered this because they were right in the middle of it. Devendorf continued yelling towards the crowd as he walked off the court.

Check out the blogs on the Orangelinks blogroll to the right. Great info from all those guys everyday.

Monday, November 26, 2007

UMASS Preview

If you thought Siena or Washington played fast, just wait until UMASS enters the Dome Wednesday. They get up and down the court incredibly fast. They average 81 possessions a game which is good enough for 7th most in the country. What does this mean for Syracuse? Well they better be ready to get down court after they score. No admiring the great play they made or standing around in disbelief they didn't get a foul. Now I love the whole crowd involvement thing with the Dynasty symbol as much as anyone else in that student section, but too much celebration is going to get them down, and down in a hurry. Also, with Syracuse's rather small rotation fatigue could become a factor for Syracuse if this becomes a track meet. UMASS has nine players that are seeing significant minutes.

UMASS will give Syracuse fits if Coach Boeheim decides to go with the 2-3 zone. The Minutemen have attempted 132 threes in just five games. That accounts for nearly 44% of their shots. 6 players are averaging 2 attempts from long range a game. For a team that shoots a lot of threes, they do not knock down their free throws, shooting just 67.7% from the charity stripe.

The Minutemen have three offensive threats: Gary Forbes (23 ppg, 7.6 rebounds), Ricky Harris (18.2, .415% from the field), and Etienne Brower (15, 5.5 rebounds). This team lacks a defined point guard that distributes the ball. No Minuteman is averaging more three assists per game.

Here's three things this team doesn't do well: 1. Rebound. They are out rebounded by almost five per game. They are 314th in the nation in offensive rebounding. 2. Free throws, see above. 3. Two point defensive FG%. Their opponents are shooting 52% from inside the arch. A lot of this can be attributed to their fast play allows opponents easy baskets in transition.

My final prediction: Syracuse 89, UMASS 84.

This is a side note, but I've been watching Wake Forest for the first time since Skip Prosser's death. Wake Forest looks pretty good under Dino Gaudio, but then it's pretty easy to look good when their opponent Iowa can't score. At all. Period, Iowa just can't score. They really miss Adam Haluska and it doesn't really seem like they are buying into new headcoach Todd Lickliter's new grind it out slow it down system. Lickliter's Butler teams averaged under 10 turnovers a game, best in the nation last year. In the first half of this game, Iowa turned it over 14 times already. The Hawkeyes are playing good defense under him which is a staple of Lickliter.

Syracuse 61, Lehigh 54

The ladies moved above .500 again when they defeated my hometown Lehigh Mountainhawks 61-54. The game was one of the last games for the women's team in Manley Field House as from now on their games will most likely always be in the Carrier Dome. The game was at Manley because of the football game that ended late Saturday night. But back to the actual game, the Orange jumped out to and 11-2 lead and didn't ever look back. Nicole Michael got on track for the first time this year leading the team with 18 points, but turned the ball over four times. Her biggest problem last year was her habit of turning the ball over too much, but that was partly caused by Michael being the centerpiece of the offense. This year she has several other scorers around her like Chandrea Jones, Erica Morrow, Fantasia Goodwin, and gasp I say it Vaida Sipaviciute. They also hit the boards harder, a theme for the first three games. S.U. out rebounded LU 50-28, led by Chandrea Jones's 10 rebounds. Three point shooting has also been a problem as they hit just 4 of 21 threes. Overall this team does look much better than last year, Syracuse lost a tough one to Lehigh last year in Bethlehem, PA.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday's GOI

As Syracuse gets pounded here are the other games S.U. fans should care about:

(5) Georgetown 57, Ball State 48. Ball State clearly outplayed Georgetown in the second half but it wasn't enough to comeback from a large first half deficit. Ball State slowed down a highly efficient Hoya offense.

(6) Louisville 66, UNLV 48. This game was in Las Vegas so it was a trap game. The Cardinals were able to pull away after trailing by one early in the second half.

BC 76, Rhode Island 72. Rhode Island plays S.U. five games from now, and finally suffered their first loss of the season.

Marquette and duke will finish in a little bit.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday's GOI's

(13) Marquette 91, OKST 61. Marquette came back strong in round two in Maui. Jerel McNeal scored 20 and Ousmane Barro had 10 rebounds. During the first half the Golden Eagles were putting on a defensive clinic. This was one of the strongest games I've watched so far of any of the ranked teams.

Connecticut 89, Gardner-Webb 72. This was the second meeting between the two in about a week. UCONN got the best of GW in both games. UCONN got out to a strong lead in both games and cruised to victories in both games.

Seton Hall 94, Loyola 80. The Pirates finally get an easy win after two double overtime victories against Robert Morris and Monmouth. No matter how they are winning, the Pirates are off to a 3-0 start. They play a relatively weak non-conference schedule, so there is very likely Seton Hall could go into conference play with at most two losses.

Rutgers 55, Dartmouth 50. The Scarlet Knights win an ugly one. They needed a second half comeback after trailing 27-21 at half. JR Inman had another 10 rebounds to lead Rutgers to a 4-1 start with their loss to Florida.

St. John's 76, Sacred Heart 49. St. John's easily handles winless Sacred Heart. Really not much to say about this one.

Virginia 72, Drexel 58. Virginia controls this game from the beginning practically. Sean Singletary drops another 24 on the Dragons. Virginia beat probably the best team in an early season tournament based in Philadelphia which leaves the Cavaliers as the hands down favorite to win the tournament.

Women's Basketball

The men's team brought in arguably one of the best, if not the best recruiting class in the nation, but we cannot forget the ladies.

Coach Quentin Hillsman has spent the last several years recruiting the nation's best women's basketball players. His work has resulted in the incoming class that was ranked 11th. It included standouts Erica Morrow, Tasha Harris, Chandrea Jones, Vionca Murray. This year's class announced this week is ranked 13th in the country. The class includes four top 60 players and the 30th best Junior college transfer. The seniors, rank, and highschool: Tyler Ash, 24th, Liverpool in Syracuse. Shakeya Leary, 54th, New York City. Lynnae Lampkins, 58th, Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Troya Berry, 59th, Flint. The Junior college transfer is Lynnise Nixon from Philadelphia.

I personally am very exciting for the future of Syracuse women's basketball. This program is clearly on the rise. Coach Q has this team headed in the right direction. It clearly showed at Midnight Madness. They showed a great ability to shoot and score.

The team started off the season by squeaking out a win over Coppin State, but in their second game, they were beaten pretty badly by 6th ranked UNC 97-72. The Orange can take many things out of that game. First, they hit free-throws, draining 25 of 29 shots. I had live stats up the entire game from collegesportstv and noticed the 'Cuse was outrebounding UNC the majority of the game. The Orange finished down 8 in rebounds, but showed great poise on the boards hauling in 24 offensive rebounds. The ladies also forced 27 UNC turnovers. The Orange shot just 29% for the game and 20% in the first half which was the major difference. If they shoot even 30% in the first half and 35% for the game, this is easily just a 10-15 game. To me, that is making great strides for a program that historically has rarely ever been able to complete with top notch programs.

The ladies are back in action Sunday against my hometown college of Bethlehem: Lehigh Mountain Hawks. Last year Syracuse went to Stabler Arena and lost a close game. Expect this year to be much different in Manley Field House.

Monday's Games of Interest

Today's GOI:

(13) Marquette 74, Chaminade 63. This game was within a few points late in the second half. Chaminade is a Division II team for anyone who doesn't know. That is just inexcusable on Marquette's part. Poor shooting performances and a scrappy Chaminade team kept the Silverswords in this til almost the very end.

Georgia Tech Ramblin' Wreck 70, Notre Dame 69. Notre Dame loses again, yesterday to Baylor, today to the Yellow Jackets. South Bend we have a problem. Those are two teams the Irish cannot afford to lose to early on if they want to be seriously considered a tournament team. They are going to have to really play well the rest of the non-conference schedule and put together a solid 11-7 or 12-6 in the Big East to have any chance of dancing with those two loses.

Belmont 85, Alabama 83. Belmont now has two wins over BCS schools: Alabama and Cincy. Go Atlantic Sun early in the year.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ohio State Scouting Report

Ohio State enters Wednesday's game with Syracuse with a 2-0 record with a 91-68 win over UW-Green Bay and a 68-54 win over Columbia in the first two rounds of the Preseason NIT.

BUCKEYE OFFENSE: In those two games the Buckeyes ran a highly efficient offense, with a 122 rating, which means in 100 possessions they'd be expected to score 122 points. That's 14th in the nation right now, but when their opponents defensive strength of schedule is factored in, that rating drops to 105. Ohio State has held onto the ball very well this year, turning the ball over just 14% of the time. Syracuse turns the ball over 24% of the time. Ohio State only returns one legitimate three point threat from last year. Jamar Butler is 9-18 from three this year in two games. The rest of the team is just 8-26. The 2-3 Zone should work against OSU if Syracuse can make sure that they limit Butler's attempts from three. As long as the Orange do not let Butler try to shoot them out of the zone, they should be alright. The zone should also make OSU's 7 foot freshman center Kosta Koufus a non-factor. Another weakness for OSU's offense is their foul shooting. In two games, the Buckeyes shot a mere 61% from the line.

BUCKEYE DEFENSE: Ohio State's defense struggled against Columbia and UWGB in two aspects. The three point shot and an inability to force turnovers. They forced turnovers on only 13.9% of the opponents possessions, good for 330th in the nation. The three point shot accounted for 48% of OSU's opponents field goal attempts. OSU's effective three point FG% is good, but a high number of threes means an overall less efficient offense. The Adjusted efficiency rating for this defense is just 100.2. Two things OSU does well: Block shots and prevent offensive rebounds. The Buckeyes are 19th in the nation in percentage of opponents possessions that end in block shots (19%).

Overall, S.U. can win this game by playing an active two-three zone, letting OSU hoist threes as long as it's not Jamar Butler doing the shooting. The Orange also need to hold onto the ball and get good looks from three because OSU plays strong interior defense.

Thanks to Ken Pomeroy and Ohio State Athletics for the Statistics. Ken Pomeroy's blog can be found on the right.