Wednesday, March 30, 2016
"Award Tour" - A Tribe Called Quest Phife Dawg passed away last week at the age of 45. I was never a huge Tribe fan, but I acknowledge their place in hip-hop history. I chose this song for the line "I never let a statue tell me how nice I am." I take it to be his way of saying he doesn't care about a Grammy Award. But if you extrapolate that out, you can derive a deeper meaning: "don't let other people influence how you feel about yourself." Shit is deep.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Just because I was sure that I had fallen asleep on the couch when Syracuse trailed Virginia by 15 points with 9 minutes to go and dreamed what happened next, I decided to go back and watch that final stretch again. And since Texas A&M's epic comeback against Northern Iowa deserved a breakdown in its own post, this one did as well. Syracuse score listed first, throughout: 9:47 left: Michael Gbinije hits two free throws. 39-51 9:31: London Perrantes hits deep 3, his 6th of the game, taps his forehead. 39-54
Monday, March 28, 2016
I admit it. I gave up. And this wasn't one of my half-hearted, prepare-for-the-worst give ups, this was the real-deal, game's-over, start-dealing-with-the-hurt give up. There were 9 and a half minutes left. The Orange had gotten behind by 16 points. Then they cut it to 8. Virginia hit 3 3-pointers and it was back to 15. And I'm pretty sure everyone reading this had pretty much the same thoughts. But not Chase. I told him it was over, hoping that if we started mourning early, the grieving process wouldn't result in tears when the stone-cold truth finally set in. Chase said "it's never over til it's over." And even more importantly, he believed it. It's great to be 8. I'm still in shock over what transpired over the next 10 minutes and I promise to watch that stretch again and have a more detailed, thoughtful, basketball analysis of one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the NCAA Tournament. But for now I just want to speak from the heart. I have always given Coach Boeheim a tough time for mostly 3 things but they all changed tonight: 1) His prickliness. He's a grumpy old curmudgeon. Sometimes it's cute and acceptable, other times it's rude and condescending. Tonight, even though he barely cracked a smile he said he's never been prouder of a group than he was of this team. 2) His tournament record. Yes, it's good, and he's now going to his 5th Final Four, but with all the great teams, 1 title seems too few, especially considering all the upsets (Navy, Richmond, Vermont, Texas A&M, Marquette, Dayton) all double-digit seeds that knocked off superior Orange teams. And until tonight, the Orange had never pulled off a major, shocking upset in the tournament. 3) His strategy. He plays 2-3 until the cows come home and if you can beat it, well then, he'll shake your hand and offer kind wishes for luck in the next round. Tonight he changed, he adjusted. He saw that when given time Virginia was picking apart the zone and nailing 3-pointers from the place now known as Curryland. But he made an adjustment, threw something at them that they weren't expecting and it helped them win the game.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Today has the potential to be a monumental day in Syracuse basketball history. By the end of the day, we could have not one, but two teams in the Final Four! At 3:30pm the women play followed by the men at 6. Entering the women's tournament it seemed like a 3-team race. UConn would likely win, Notre Dame and South Carolina had a chance. Both those teams lost only one game all season, to UConn. But Friday night, not only did #4 Syracuse knock off South Carolina, but Stanford beat Notre Dame. In both those regions the 7-seed beat the 2 and the 3, setting up 4 vs. 7 in both regionals for a date in the National Semifinals. Syracuse's 7th-seeded opponent however is Tennessee. The second-best program in women's college basketball history. But this is not the Tennessee teams you may remember under Pat Summitt. This is the highest seed the Lady Vols have ever gotten. Syracuse lost to them once already this season, 57-55 in Tennessee. A brief aside about why I like women's basketball: Yes, I prefer men's. But the games are close enough to still be basketball and different enough to still be interesting. The skill level in men's is obviously higher. But the women play a more wide open game (because they're smaller, they cover less floor space), they pass more and because they don't shoot 3s as well (Syracuse has 3 players shooting 31% or higher on at least 145 attempts), they don't just stand there jacking them up. But my favorite difference is the emotion. The players aren't in college trying to kill time before they go pro. In the NCAA Tournament, win or lose every player on both teams cries.