Thursday, January 07, 2010

Orange victory train rolling again

Admit it. At 13-5 in favor of visiting Memphis, you were concerned yesterday. All of a sudden all the good thoughts that had been built up in the beginning part of the season were starting to go away. All of a sudden this looked like the Syracuse of old.

And then the offense made some plays, Scoop Jardine seemed to stabilize things, and the defense bothered Memphis. All of a sudden things were back to normal. Bobby Knight boasted on the broadcast that he wrote down at halftime that Syracuse would win by 15.

It made sense. Truth is as an Orange fan, you had to feel pretty comfortable at halftime. The game with a good Memphis team was tied. And you knew the Orange hadn't played well. Yet there were signs that the Orange was on the verge of playing well again.

The second half was essentially all Orange. Wes Johnson, Arinze Onuaku and Kris Joseph led the way for Syracuse. By the U8 timeout the outcome had pretty much been decided. As it turned out Syracuse won by 17 and completed its non-conference schedule undefeated.

So now its on to the Big East, where there are no Columbias, no Colgates, no Maines and teams that have a history of dealing with the Syracuse zone. The Orange is already 1-1 in the conference this year. We'll see what happens. The good news is Syracuse showed that it can still play to the top level that it had exhibited in the early part of the season.

Now we have to find out if the Orange can find a way to handle the physical play that will come with Big East play. Saturday's loss to Pittsburgh showed the Orange that it needed to refocus its attention. Wednesday's night performance shows that the Orange has done that in many ways. We'll see if they build on that as the Big East schedule really gets going.

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