Syracuse Basketball: 6 Reasons Orange Fans Should Rejoice About Joining the ACC
While many fans of Syracuse are disappointed in the school's decision to flee the Big East for the ACC, others see a unique opportunity to strike NCAA tournament gold while the iron is hot.
Sure the rivalries of the past may only continue on an irregular basis, but Syracuse is playing some of its best basketball in years, and a change in conference may give some advantages to the school from "Salt City" that it otherwise would have never enjoyed.
Here are some reasons to turn that frown upside down and look forward to the trip to Tobacco Road.
A History of Winning
A founding member of the Big East Conference, Syracuse has played in, arguably, the best basketball conference over the past 30 years. The 1990s were a somewhat off period for the Big East, but what is forgotten is that from 1989 through 1992, the Big East went from five personal fouls to foul out of a game to six.
This increased aggressiveness cemented the Big East's already black-and-blue image, but it hurt teams when the tournament came around and players had to stifle their aggressive style.
Nevertheless, Syracuse has managed to amass an all time record of 76-48 against schools from the ACC. That's a winning percentage of over 60% and a good indicator that no matter what style or environment another school presents, Syracuse has been successfully adaptive.
The Rebirth of the Carrier Dome
Syracuse faithful have been filling the seats of the "Loud House" since it replaced Manley Field House in 1980. With home games often reaching 30,000 fans, the Carrier Dome's average attendance is greater than every team in the NBA. With the cavernous angles and deafening roar of the crowd, the Carrier Dome frequently wreaks havoc upon visitors not up for the challenge.
Since its opening on Nov. 29, 1980, the Carrier Dome has hosted 68 games in which the crowd has been 30,000 or greater. Syracuse is 46-22 in those games. The crowd of 34,616 against Villanova in 2010 is an on-campus NCAA attendance record.
But while opposing Big East schools dislike travelling to the Carrier Dome, they have become somewhat accustomed to it. It goes without saying that playing any road game can be a great obstacle, very few schools in the ACC, or nationwide for that matter, can brag of such an advantageous home court.
The first time Duke or North Carolina travels to Syracuse for a conference game should do away with the old record as attendance could top 36,000.
Hello, Old Friends
For almost every basketball coach in America, a move to the ACC would be a very intimidating task. Jim Boeheim is not one of those coaches.
Besides being fifth on the all-time wins list and second on the active list behind Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Boeheim has held his own against some of the greatest coaches in basketball history. If you just consider the Big East, there has been Lou Carnesecca, John Thompson, Rollie Massimino, Rick Pitino (a product of Boeheim), Jim Calhoun and PJ Carlesimo just to name a few.
Roy Williams would definitely love to have his last few games against Boeheim back, including the national championship game with his stacked Kansas Jayhawks in 2003.
Krzyzewski and Boeheim have been coaching Team USA together since 2005 and have developed an immense respect for each other. Boeheim's confidence, or rather lack of intimidation, will serve the Orange well.
Variety of Schedule
Currently in the Big East, Syracuse plays 18 conference games. The ACC currently plays 16.
Even if the ACC raises the amount of conference games played, the ACC is much more top-heavy than the Big East. Syracuse has been accused for many years of playing a soft preseason schedule, and some years, that seemed to hold true.
A reason for this is that the Big East schedule is so grueling that Syracuse saw no benefit to a tough pre-Big East schedule.
With the lack of depth in the ACC (compared to the Big East), Syracuse will need to schedule some out of conference games to suit its needs for preparation for the postseason that includes less Colgate and more Michigan State.
Syracuse is already one of the deepest teams in the NCAA, going two-deep in every position. This promises to stay true with new recruits Dajuan Coleman and Jerami Grant.
Along with Rakeem Christmas and a reinvigorated Fab Melo, Syracuse will have big men in place to attract some of the flashier guards from the mid-Atlantic States that it otherwise would not have been able to recruit.
Being the new big kid on the block means that a kid from North Carolina who normally would have chosen either Duke of UNC might take a look to upstate New York.
Syracuse can only gain in this aspect.
The 2-3 Zone
Most teams play the occasional zone defense, while making man-to-man defense their bread and butter. Syracuse's patented 2-3 zone should prove to be quite a mess for its new foes in the ACC.
First, Syracuse almost exclusively uses the zone and consequently knows how any team will attack it because the ways to beat an effective zone are very limited.
They include high percentage outside shooting and inside-out play by running the point at the foul line with his back to the basket. Teams don't see enough zone defense to quantify practicing for it, which is another advantage for Syracuse.
Throughout the 2-3 zone, Syracuse will be able to dictate the pace of its games because it is easy to break out of fast and even easier to slow the pace down of a game if need be.
Carmelo Anthony, during Syracuse's 2003 championship run, credited the 2-3 zone as one of the biggest factors in Syracuse's ability to win. He noted that no one knew how to play against the zone.
In the Big East, the teams are used to the zone, but while they know how to play against it, it doesn't mean they have the ability to do so. A well-executed zone is a thing of beauty and nearly impossible to penetrate. Syracuse has one of those zones.
After a few years, ACC coaches will develop a method of attack against the Syracuse zone, but until then, it may be easy pickin's for the Orange in the ACC.