Big East Summer Capsules: Syracuse Orange

Posted by mlemaire on July 19th, 2012

While most relish the onset of Summer, college basketball junkies do not. Most of the news surrounding the sport is recruiting rumors and commitments or injuries and transfer news. In order to help keep folks up-to-date on what their teams are doing during the summer, we put together these summer capsules for each team in the conference. Next up is Syracuse.

1. Now we know, this season will be the program’s last hurrah in the Big East.

Most knew this was coming, but now it is official. The Orange will bolt for the ACC in July 2013 after reaching an agreement with the Big East, and they will be taking one of the conference’s most storied basketball programs with it. I don’t care how you slice it; this is bad news for people who enjoy Big East basketball. The ‘Cuse was a perennially elite team, and no matter who the conference tries to woo to replace the Orange, they won’t be able to fill those shoes. There are a whole slew of rivalries that will be cast aside, and Jim Boeheim, one of the game’s all-time great talkers, will be taking his sarcastic wit to slightly warmer climates. The Orange are going to continue to be one’s of the game’s best programs on a yearly basis, but for those of us who grew up on John Wallace, Etan Thomas, and Gerry McNamara, the move is going to be a bitter pill to swallow.

2. The coaching staff goes national.

For yet another summer, Jim Boeheim will be lending a hand to USA Basketball.

At this point everyone who cares knows that Jim Boeheim has been an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski on the Olympic team for some time now. But some may not have realized that assistant coach Mike Hopkins will also be coaching for the country, as he is the co-head coach of the National Select Team and both coaches have said they expect to learn a lot from the experience. Boeheim has also admitted that their absence puts a stress on recruiting, although he downplayed its impact. This will be the first year that Boeheim has coached for Team USA in July, which is usually the summer month when he does the most recruiting. Still, the Orange also haven’t exactly been on the downswing when it comes to signing talent in recent years, so Syracuse fans should probably take this as a positive.

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Big East Morning Five: 02.01.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on February 1st, 2012

  1. Providence has struggled to find wins in conference play, currently sitting in last place at 1-8.  However Ed Cooley and company continue to win on the recruiting trail as multiple reports revealed yesterday that Arizona transfer Sidiki Johnson will become a Friar.  No official announcement was made by the school at the time of this writing, but once all of the Is are dotted and Ts are crossed, Johnson will be slated to make his Providence debut next December.  The 6’8” power forward should add much needed frontcourt depth. Johnson, a top 100 prospect in the class of 2011, enhances an already high-profile 2012 recruiting class for Providence that includes two top 25 talents in shooting guard Ricardo Ledo and point guard Kris Dunn to go along with sharpshooter Joshua Fortune.  As presently constituted Providence does not have an open scholarship, but rumors have circulated recently that redshirt junior Bilal Dixon will transfer to Towson for his final year of eligibility. Johnson appeared in only three games for Arizona this season (0.3 PPG, 0.7 RPG).
  2. The latest chapter in the Bernie Fine saga has taken a soap-opera-like twist. An affidavit filed by Gloria Allred, the attorney representing Fine accusers Robert Davis and Michael Lange in a defamation suit against Syracuse University and head coach Jim Boeheim, alleges that Laurie Fine, wife of Bernie, had sex with a number of Syracuse players over the years. The suit says Boeheim defamed Davis and Lange when he questioned their motives for accusing Fine of molesting them and indicated they were lying for financial gain. In the affidavit, Davis, who is also on record as having consensual sexual relationships with both of the Fines, said Laurie Fine’s activities were common knowledge around the program and therefore Boeheim had to know what was going on. “Players used to talk openly about it as a known fact,” Davis said. Mrs. Fine’s attorney, Edward Z. Menkinquickly lashed back against Allred and the accusations. “This is both desperate and disgusting, an example of a lawyer flailing about to keep a dying lawsuit in the public eye,” Menkin told The Syracuse Post-Standard.
  3. Never thought you’d see Marquette’s Davante Gardner and the word thin in the same story?  Well, Gardner suffered a sprained knee against Villanova on Saturday so the Golden Eagles were without their 6’9”, 290–pound forward/center for last night’s 66-59 victory over Seton Hall. This further depleted an already thin Marquette front line as Gardner had been starting and playing increased minutes in the absence of Chris Otule, who is out for the year after suffering a knee injury in early December.  Gardner has responded positively to the increased role (11.4 PPG, 6.3RPG since the Otule injury heading into last night’s game), and is listed as day-to-day. Marquette next plays Saturday afternoon at Notre Dame.
  4. Louisville is another team that has been beset by injuries this season and their lack of bodies has meant trial by fire for freshman forward Chane Behanan.  To Behanan’s credit he has responded well and is churning out a solid rookie campaign. While Behanan’s steady progress has perhaps kept him under the radar and overshadowed by bigger freshman names such as Andre Drummond and Moe Harkless, it appears the secret is leaking out.  Behanan has started 22 of 23 games and is averaging 24.4 minutes per game.  Despite the heavy workload in his first year, rather than wearing down it appears that Behanan is gaining steam, posting averages of 12.7 points and 9.0 rebounds over Louisville’s last four games versus his overall season totals of 9.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
  5. The Big East continues to find itself the subject of realignment fodder as CBSSports.com reported yesterday that Louisville is “aggressively pursuing a Big 12 invitation.” As noted here at the time, Big 12 officials met last week to discuss the possibility of further expansion. While obligatory statements like, “There is nothing imminent” came out of that meeting, you can bet people did not just show up for the free Frescas and wing dings.  The Big 12 is sitting at 10 teams right now, or at least will be once West Virginia’s situation with the Big East has been worked out, and needs to decide whether it wants to stand pat or keep adding schools.  If they do expand further, doing so with one additional school does not seem to make sense.  But get this, the Big 12 actually going to 12 members probably does. If so, the Big East will remain firmly entrenched in the Big 12’s crosshairs for the foreseeable future.  As the CBS piece points out, Cincinnati would pop up next on the rolodex after Louisville.

Fresca Fuels Big 12 Expansion, Or Maybe Not (Photo: Fresca.com)

                                        
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Big East Morning Five: 12.14.11 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on December 14th, 2011

  1. News from the Bernie Fine saga has slowed to a trickle in recent weeks but that doesn’t mean it is done causing Syracuse headaches. Today brought word that accusers Mike Lang and Bobby Davis have retained noted publicity hound Gloria Allred to sue the university and Jim Boeheim for defamation. It is difficult to feel for Boeheim in this situation because he brought it upon himself with his strong comments in the wake of the initial news. If you thought Boeheim and his team were going to face distractions before, things are probably going to get a lot worse now that Allred will have microphones in front of her face. The most intriguing dynamic in all of this is that the Orange are good enough and deep enough to overcome these serious obstacles, but we will have to wait to see how they handle the microscope.
  2. Seton Hall is off to a great start at 8-1 this season and they should be getting more help in the frontcourt when talented freshman Brandon Mobley returnsafter he was cleared to play Sunday against Mercer. Mobley is a skilled offensive player but Pirates’ fans should temper their expectations as it will take time for him to adjust to live game-action. At the same time, Kevin Willard’s team is thin at the forward position and adding a player like Mobley will give him some flexibility.
  3. After Temple students taunted Villanova with eight roll-out signs and beat the Wildcats in their latest annual matchup, maybe Villanova should start letting its students bring signs into the games from now on. It can’t hurt. The Wildcats are off to a lackluster start and even needed to come back from a halftime deficit to beat Boston University last night. It certainly doesn’t look like much has changed for Jay Wright and his team after last season’s late meltdown. Mouphtao Yarou is quickly becoming a solid two-way big man but Maalik Wayns reminds many of Corey Fisher, and it is because of his shot selection and penchant for turnovers rather than his star qualities. The team can still make the NCAA Tournament but they are young and it may be another year or two before they are true contenders again.
  4. I love Andy Glockner from Sports Illustrated and there is nothing wrong with his latest article, but I was hoping for a theme less obvious than  ”Connecticut is getting really good again.” As always, Glockner excellently analyzes UConn’s first nine games and highlights the emergence of Ryan Boatright and Andre Drummond as big reasons for the team’s recent success. But I am not buying the take that this team isn’t generating a lot of buzz, especially considering they had a preseason first-team All-American, another preseason Freshman of the Year favorite, and a preseason Top 5 ranking. They haven’t really surprised anybody, as they remain a very good team and a national title contender.
  5. The DePaul Blue Demons don’t spend much time in the focus of Big East basketball fans, but Oliver Purnell is starting to get the resurrection of the program going, beginning with recruiting. Freshman Jamee Crockett is an excellent example of Purnell’s early work. Now a starter, Crockett is becoming a consistent scorer for the Blue Demons and his athleticism is a welcome spark for a team trying to compete in one of the nation’s most difficult conferences. He probably won’t make a big difference this season, but it is still a good sign for Purnell and his ongoing rebuilding effort.
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