Syracuse Loves Making Things Interesting

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Syracuse Loves Making Things Interesting
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

As much as I love this year's squad, man do they like to keep games in doubt right to the final buzzer. In what has become somewhat of a trend as of late, we had a 23-point lead (!) before nearly blowing the entire thing and losing to hated rival Georgetown. Like seriously, this "making games exciting" thing needs to stop.

I was in class until halftime for this one, so I missed the great start by Syracuse, but I was watching for most of the good stuff. Here's some quick thoughts about what transpired:

  • For one, the foul count needs to be mentioned. Really Jim Burr, James Breeding, and Jamie Luckey, 48 freakin' fouls called? Isn't this supposed to be Big East basketball, where games are meant to be the survival of the fittest? We had DaShonte Riley playing in the last minute of a game versus our rival and the No. 10 team in the country! Those last two fouls that were called on Rick and Arinze were absolutely minimal contact. This was a big game played with a lot of passion, so I think I speak for everyone when I say to "The Three J's," just let the guys play.
  • I think the fouls on our bigs were a huge part of blowing that lead, but regardless, letting a team come back from 23 in about five minutes is inexcusable. This is like the fifth time this year Syracuse has let a team come back when they should have won by about 20. Greg Monroe annihilated our post players, even causing the intolerable Dick Vitale to say he "has never seen Monroe want to win so badly." Yeah, that's probably because he's too busy watching the ACC, but regardless, it's never a comment that you want an announcer to be throwing out for someone playing your team. Sure, we've had our share of big victories this year, but we need to find that killer instinct of putting away games for good. And we better find it fast, because as much as I hate saying it, that's not a trait found in teams looking to make a Final Four run.
  • Huge, HUGE shot by Kris to close out the game with under 10 to go. After an otherwise very forgettable game, Kris Jo stepped up big time to close that one out. What I liked even more about his driving layup? I could feel it coming. I actually texted KShaw and my buddy Drew going into the timeout that Kris was going to score, and about two minutes later that's exactly what he did. He's really come on this year closing games out, even dating back to a couple huge jumpers versus North Carolina in the Garden. Not only can he finish in big spots, but Kris' Twitter also features at least one laugh-out-loud post per day. He's both clutch and hilarious. I continue to be pleased with the entire Kris Joseph experience.
  • Andy stepped up huge again, dropping 26 points and maintaining that key senior leadership throughout the game. I actually liked the small lineup we had on the court to close out the game. Rautins, Triche, Joseph, Johnson, and Jardine? Who are you leaving open out of that bunch? Any guy on the court could kill you if you slip up and leave them open. While we most likely won't see this again unless the foul situation is bad, I really don't mind going small for key scoring situations like the one last night.
  • Um, Scoop, just because you took over Paul Harris's jersey number doesn't mean you have to start performing like him with less than a minute in close games. Apparently Scoop felt like we all needed a reminder of just how many mental lapses good ole Dugga gave us in his time on the Hill, because he's had some near catastrophes in the past week. First the drive with 30 seconds left on the clock against UCONN, then it was a play at the end of yesterday's game. It may have been overlooked by many, but at the end of the game last night Scoop attempted to block Chris Wright's three-pointer at the buzzer. You're up by four points Scoop, meaning the other team has literally no chance of winning unless you foul them and they hit a three. Why is he even within five feet of him there? Wright missed, Scoop didn't foul, the Orange held on, no big deal. But it's stupid habits and mental lapses like those that can completely blow a game. I'm begging you Antonio, please don't pull a Paul/Devo and go anywhere near a three-point shooter in that situation ever again.
  • Last but not least, let's discuss Wesley. In what's becoming the elephant in the room, Wes once again had a lackluster second half last night by scoring just two points, and those were on free throws. I absolutely love Wes as much as anyone. I've said multiple times that he is our best pro prospect since Carmelo, hands down. But if you're gonna be a star player and get all of the attention that comes with it, you need to finish games. Strong. Quiet second halves have become a constant trend with Wes in the past month. I know he's been battling injuries, and I know he still does great things like rebound, block shots, and play strong defense in the closing minutes. However, when the game gets tough, you need your star to put the ball in the bucket. Wes is almost too nice of a guy, a la Dwight Howard, to be the alpha dog when the time comes. He needs to start demanding the ball and putting up shots, because zero field goals on the road trying to close out a game just isn't gonna get the job done. We all know you're better than that, Wes, so next time this happens, let's see a little fire out of you! Get mad, demand the ball, and go to work. No one is going to blame you for taking shots in the big moments. That's what All-American candidates do.
At the end of the day, Syracuse is still undefeated on the road and at 25-2, just clinched a bye in the first round of the Big East Tournament. Despite that scare of a colossal collapse, we also need to remember we were leading by 23 as well. We just need to work on FINISHING. I'm willing to bet that JB and the boys will figure it out by March.

- Jake the Snake
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