Friday, January 11, 2008

Sifting through the losses

A pair of ugly losses for the college basketball teams I root for earlier this week. I've tried to find some good in them. But really am having trouble with that.

Syracuse - The Orange struggled mightily after looking decent in the first six-eight minutes of the game in Cincinnati. The Orange saw an early lead turn into a 12-point halftime deficit as the Bearcats defense and tenacity on the offensive boards were too much for the Syracuse youth.

The loss came after the Orange seemed to be getting things going heading into their first road Big East game. Since Eric Devendorf was lost for the season with a knee injury, the Orange never seemed to be bothered by the loss. But on Wednesday night, it was apparent how much they miss the junior shooting guard from Michigan.

Also missing was the inside scoring that had become a constant from Arinze Onuaku. The big fella managed only 3 points, while getting only two shots from the floor.

The big disappointment for the Orange had to be giving Cincinnati 17 offensive rebounds. This has been a problem in the Orange's recent losses. When Syracuse has been successful, they have rebounded well. But in their last loss, Rhode Island outrebounded the Orange by 12. The Rams also had 16 offensive rebounds that night.

The other problem was the lack of performance from Jonny Flynn. The freshman from Niagara Falls has been sensational, and we'll count this as just an off night. But he's had two now. And each time the Orange has run into serious problems. Syracuse needs Jonny Flynn to play well, we probably already knew that. But if we had any doubts, it was confirmed at UC.

The Orange goes back on the road Sunday afternoon. I expect a better performance. I think the young team did show a little bit late, when UC missed some shots and Syracuse forced a tempo more to their liking. I think they'll respond with a good performance at West Virginia. Not sure it will be enough. It's always tough to win in Morgantown.

Mount St. Mary's - The Mounties fell back into the quagmire that is the middle division of the NEC with a 70-59 loss at Quinnipiac on Thursday.

The loss may have even been uglier than it sounded when you look at the final number. MSM relies on the scoring of Chris Vann and Will Holland. Neither produced anything positive for a team that has lost five of six. Vann did not make a trey for the first time all year, finished with just four points and was never really a part of things as he was just 2-of-7 from the floor. Holland finished 3-for-13 and 1-of-7 from behind the arc. But the Texan sophomore needs to keep shooting the ball.

The pace of the game was fairly moderate. Still the Mount managed only 59 points. It took the Mount 73 possessions to get those 59 points. And when you're only getting .8 points a possession, it is going to be tough to win. 9 assists (6 from Jeremy Goode - who also led the team with 15 points) on 24 baskets isn't the best of numbers. And indicates the Mount has to do better with its halfcourt offense.

Quinnipiac actually had five less possessions and scored better than a point per possession. The disparity is the largest since the American loss that pushed the Mount to 0-4 back in November.

The Mount has some time off before they host St. Francis (PA) (4-12, 1-4) at the ARCC next Wednesday night. There are some similarities for this game and the game against Loyola that started the Mount's six-game win streak in December. The Loyola game was also off a fairly decent break, and after a horrible offensive and defensive effort in the previous game. Both games are/were televised, and Mount legends were having their numbers retired. So here's hoping that it gets the Mount going again. See I couldn't be negative the whole way.

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