Monday, March 15, 2010

One Less Plastic Easter Egg

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff, Buy Earth Friendly Office Supplies

I remember exactly where I was and what I did.

I was in the Living Room of the old house on Baltimore Street, it was around Easter time and Caton liked to hunt the eggs. Didn't matter if I filled them or not. We had an Easter Egg hunt every day that year. But after the overtime loss to Vermont in the first round of the 2005 tournament, there was one less egg to find. The basket sat on the coffee table in front of me...and when the clock expired on the loss, I grabbed the nearest one and across the room it sped. Smashing hard off the wall and falling to the floor, where it lay cracked. One less Easter egg to find.

That was five years ago -- but I remember it like it was yesterday. And now the NCAA has decided to go drudge up old memories. Memories that were better left to fester - and hopefully one day be forgotten.

There was definitely the thought that maybe that Syracuse team was special. Special enough to go deep into the NCAA Tournament. Special enough to go further than the #4 seed would suggest. But it never happened. The NCAA dumped the Orange in Worcester, Mass - a short drive from the Vermont campus - and everybody in the Arena became a Vermont fan - or so it seemed. Just like everybody had become a UMASS fan when the Orange played the Minutemen there in 1992 or somewhere around that time.

So when the names first came up yesterday, the immediate thought of any Syracuse fan had to be - "You've got to be kidding me, them again?" And an immediate sense of fear. I know it was mine. I mean why couldn't we just get Lehigh as the reports had suggested all week.

Then I started to realize it didn't matter. This wasn't the same Vermont team. They didn't even had the same Coach. Heck, Tom Brennan's star has lost so much glitter since that day that he lost his ESPN retirement job to boot. Now the Catamounts are led by Mike Lonergan, who wanted nothing more than the Mount coaching job at the time that the Orange was losing that night. Heck, Lonergan was probably still stewing that he didn't get the job. He'd join Vermont the next season.

I saw this Vermont team play this year. A solid bunch, but nothing spectacular. Well Marquis Blakley might be spectacular. Certainly athletic - and a nose for the basketball and the rim. But not sure how well he'll fare against the Orange zone. Although they will want to put a body on him when the shots go up, because he does get to the boards. But he's undersized which will be a big factor in this game. He has the ability to step outside, but not to consistently shoot over the zone.

If anyone is going to that it will be Kris Joseph's big brother Maurice. He has a nice touch from the outside, decent size, but I wouldn't put him in the caliber of shooters who have torched the Orange zone in the past.

So here we are - five years later - in the same place (the first round of the NCAA tournament). But it is oh-so different from five years ago. This isn't a Vermont team with NCAA experience. It isn't even a team that won the America East regular season crown - that honor went to powerhouse Stony Brook. This isn't a Syracuse team amidst controversy over playing time. This isn't their backyard, it is ours.

So don't expect any surprises on Friday night. Expect a rout. Syracuse has the ability to go inside and punish this team - and I think they will. The Vegas line says 20. Anything less than that will be a surprise.

But hide the eggs; just in case.


  1. Richard11:00 PM

    Do not get me wrong, I do not dislike the 'Cuse, however, I have one thing to say.........and that is.....unchain ...The Animal!!!! Marqus is one of my favorite players that I had the pleasure to see in recent times. I have YET to see a team that could contain him- and make him not a factor at all. That wild-thing is always a factor whenever he steps on the court in competition. I admire Marqus so immensely. At his height and physicality, you would be more than likely to see him penned up in a cage(bench). This guy is fearless though! Cmon Raff you can't tell me you don't admire this wild dude. I am a major Blakely fan- if you couldn't tell. I also cannot wait to see one of the next future pro stars in DC- when I see Larry Sanders of VCU. Oh this time is so exciting and so life consuming. I love this time of year!!! This week is the busiest of all. My brain is frozen on people like The Animal and countless other Cinderellas, but HE is no Cinderella-Marqus Blakley. Beware the Ides of March, for even though the 'Cuse plays a few days past that date, they still have to hold the Animal at Bay! I am nutz--aren't I? So is Dick Vitale, and you know how rich he is!

  2. Richard11:12 PM

    Raff, I thoroughly and absolutely loved your story again. Yes Blakely is undersized but I have seen him quadruple teamed and still destroy defenders for a bucket. You better hide them eggs really good- cuz The Animal will surely sniff them out!

    Raff, I am sitting back now wondering what you would write if it were the fabled Mounties against Syracuse? Then theyd have to contain another two-headed animal named Beidler and Barber-the Beast! hahahahahaha. Love ya Rafferzzzz.

  3. Richard3:38 PM

    One more thing- Jay wright absolutely blows as a head coach!!!